In 2007, Marvel released an animated version of Iron Man’s origin story.
Cast and Crew Information
Marc Worden as Tony Stark / Iron Man
Gwendoline Yeo as Li Mei
Fred Tatasciore as The Mandarin
Rodney Saulsberry as James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Elisa Gabrielli as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
John McCook as Howard Stark
James Sie as Wong Chu
Stephen Medillo as Boyer
John DeMita as Agent Drake
Written by Avi Arad, Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle
Directed by Patrick Archibald and Jay Oliva
Arrogant and selfish engineer is forced to become an armored crusader to save his own life while accidentally unleashing something which we assume to be a terrible evil.
Rhodey. That’s a character that works.
The final cut doesn’t explain why people are scared of the Mandarin, who the elementals are and why they care about these events enough to take part, or a few other things. The other things, while important, are less frustrating because they don’t seem to exist. The DVD has an alternate opening sequence as one of the bonus features, which is three minutes and eleven seconds of some pretty damned vital exposition. The animatics give away key points, though, so I recommend listening to that sequence without watching the screen before watching the feature.
Like some of our other reviews in this series, this gets originality points for being a complete revision of the origins of both Iron Man and the Mandarin. Too bad it’s such a nonsensical one. I give it 4 out of 6.
The animation is frustrating. There are moments and images that clearly cost a lot of money for this type of direct to video release, but they are badly mixed and often bookended with cheap sequences. It often feels like a video game, with bad hit detection, surface textures changing suddenly and inappropriately, and other such problems. It makes the entire production feel cheap, even though it couldn’t have been. I give it 3 out of 6.
The story is missing some important pieces. Tony becomes unselfish and altruistic in the coda with nothing before that to really cause the change, and you need to go to the special features to understand the villains. In short, the “feel good” moments are here, but the character moments that justify them just aren’t here. I give it 3 out of 6.
The voice acting is limited by the casting. Tony’s voice is far too soft for the character, and Li Mei lacks the strength the character needs within. In fact, of all of the lead cast, only Rodney Saulsberry is really satisfying. I give it 3 out of 6.
The production is weak. The replacement opening sequence with live action foundry work feels out of place, the action sequences are paced too slowly, and compression artifacts abound. I give it 3 out of 6.
The emotional response is weak. There just wasn’t enough reason to care about the characters or the outcome. I give it 3 out of 6.
Overall, this is more violent than the live action version and not as well done. Stick with the original live action version for all ages of audience. I give it 3 out of 6.
In total, The Invincible Iron Man receives 22 out of 42.