The Invincible Iron Man
The Invincible Iron Man 2007
Over a year before Iron Man hit theaters welcoming our Marvel Studios overlords they released another origin movie for ol’ Shellhead direct to DVD. There are honestly very few similarities to the two movies, and this is only the third animated Marvel movie after the Ultimate Avengers 1 & 2 and honestly it shows. After seeing what Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau did with the character in the years that followed, it feels so weird to go back to the totally selfish, uncaring playboy shown here. The other characters also feel much more shallow than they have become with Rhodey being the only character to come off as good or better than he’s seen in the movies so far, though he disappears halfway through the movie. It’s interesting to see a different take on the origin story, and they do even introduce the Mandarin, though I highly doubt there will be any connecting thread between this Mandarin and the one in Iron Man 3, but there are so many better versions of Iron Man to watch out there.
The story starts off somewhat similar to the Iron Man origin we know, there’s a weapons deal gone wrong, Tony Stark gets mortally wounded and captured, but saved thanks to an enemy doctor. He then creates his first Iron Man suit, claiming it’s something for his captors, and uses it to escape to freedom. But there are many differences, instead of a weapons deal, Rhodey is leading an excavation team to raise a buried temple in China and is captured along with Tony, which makes little sense as to how he survived the capture since he really wasn’t needed. Not only that, but we soon find out that Stark’s Iron Man armor isn’t really the Mark I, but the Mark XVII-something. When they return to Stark’s office, he reveals dozens of suits and yet it appears that none of them have really been field tested. This is important because two of the suits he uses are for deep sea use and one to withstand being submerged in molten lava! He is also wanted as a fugitive because he was framed to be selling his weapons to the Chinese terrorists.
Anyway, I should get to the villains of the movie who for the most part are four Chinese Elemental robots. Sure, it could be armor but except for maybe the Earth Elemental, they all look like robots to me. They are collecting the five rings which will resurrect the Mandarin. If you couldn’t tell, I didn’t care for the designs on the Elementals, and not only that, but most of them are defeated way too easily. One of them takes a single shot from Iron Man’s repulsor arm cannon. The Jade Dragons, which I believe were the name of the Chinese group that captured Tony are fairly unremarkable, as the only member with much of a presence is the woman who of course falls for Tony before ending up as the leader of the group.
Tony’s allies are also fairly uninteresting. I’ve gotten used to the Gwyneth Paltrow style of Pepper Potts who easily keeps up with Tony because ultimately she cares about him, but this version felt too much like just his British-sounding-for-some-reason assistant who occasionally goes beyond the call of duty. Tony’s father Howard Stark also plays a fairly important role as a member of the board of directors at Stark industries, but it’s hard to get much of a feel for him as the antagonistic and seemingly-uncaring father, which makes it less of an impact when he finally shows him some respect and a hint of fatherly love later on in the movie. I think Rhodey was the best character on Tony’s side, with a big presence early on in the movie, but he completely disappears during the second half. You’d think that with all those armors, Rhodey could hop in one at some point.
Tony himself was also a bit of a mixed bag, I did actually enjoy the little bit of a playboy personality that we get to see in the beginning, but he felt like he turned over a new leaf way too quickly and by the end wasn’t really the Tony Stark that we’ve since come to know and love, he lost too much of his edge and it also ended in a way that we’ve seen more than once, and from movies that came before this one. The love story also felt a little forced, it had some good elements mixed in with a lot of cliche.
The animation itself is somewhat interesting. It has kind of a CGI celshaded look to it, where many of the robots have a three dimensional quality to them, though I suspect it may be closer to rotoscoping. Either way it looked ok, it wasn’t impressive but it didn’t look bad, it just got the job done. The voice acting in the movie was a bit of the same as well. Marc Worden voices Tony Stark well enough, as he does in several other of the earlier Marvel animated features. If you’re a fan of Iron Man or Marvel, there’s plenty of great stuff to look up before getting around to this one, but it’s not completely without its merit. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.