I've always liked the Iron Man character, with his cool red and gold armor, his rocket boots, his palm-lasers... just a bunch of awesome gadgets packed into an extremely tough but flexible high-tech battle suit. You won't find any stupid cape or cowel on this guy! He previously appeared in Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2, but then I got really excited when I learned that Marvel was making a full-length animated feature.
Unfortunately, my excitement and anticipation for this film turned to disappointment after actually experiencing it. Perhaps it is my fault... perhaps I was expecting too much... perhaps I was just setting myself up for a letdown... perhaps this is actually a really great movie, and I'm just not seeing it because preconceived notions about The Invincible Iron Man... nah, it's none of that, this movie was just dumb and boring. Where do I even start? Well, how about I start with the good stuff. I liked the 3D-animated portions. These mostly involved the Iron Man suits, but also included the four elemental bad guys. Iron Man's two main suits, the original bulky gray one and the sleeker red-and-gold one were really cool looking. They both had great designs to them, and worked well with the 3D cell-shaded animation. The first shot of Tony Stark in his ferocious looking gray suit was simply awe-inspiring.
Okay, that's about it for the good stuff, so now lets move on to everything else. How about the story? For some lame reason Tony Stark wants to spend billions of dollars to raise the ruins of a long buried Chinese kingdom. Uh.. why? Is taking a ladder down too so much of a hassle that instead of using that money to better lives you have to raise and entire kingdom AND risk destroying it if something goes wrong? The writers should have stopped right there and said to themselves "hey... this is kind of stupid... maybe we should re-think this part". But they didn't, so lets continue....
The ancient Chinese kingdom is raised under the supervision of Tony's closest friend, James Rhodes. There is a group of Chinese called the Jade Dragons who are none to happy about this whole raising of the kingdom thing, mainly due to some prophecy about the evil dead dude being resurrected when the city is raised. Of course, James and Stark don't believe this, but that doesn't stop the group from stealing weapons that James had shipped over (without Tony's knowledge) to help protect the raising. So bang, boom, blam, all the workers are killed and James is kidnapped. Tony hopes on his jet, flies down there (on his jet, no iron man suit of armor yet), is injured in an explosion... and is then kidnapped.
And now we come to the origin of Iron Man... which is not actually the origin of Iron Man. You see, in the real origin story (as far as I remember it), Tony is injured so bad that he has to wear this big bulky device around his chest to keep himself alive. Having this huge chest piece attached to him 24/7 completely changes him. He cannot be the same playboy billionaire that he was, and this changes his attitude. He no longer cares only for himself, and is inspired to create an entire mechanical suit and use it to fight evil. Thus Iron Man is born. This origin story is cool, and makes sense. But this is not what we get in this animated series.
Tony is injured so bad that he is only being kept alive by this huge contraption that is completely enclosing his body... built by the doctor that's working for the guys that kidnapped Stark and James. When Stark regains consciousness and realizes what kind of shape he's in, he tells James something like "let's see if we can't streamline this a bit". Next scene... the device that is keeping Stark alive now looks like a sticker somebody slapped on this chest. Yeah, I'd call that streamlined! Then the dude who kidnapped them comes in and tells them to lower the ancient kingdom back to where it was. They're given like a week to work on a device that will do it, but instead of working on the device Tony builds an Iron Man suit of armor. When the week is up, he gets in the armor, James holds on to his back, and they fly away.
In the meantime, four supernatural elemental dudes (earth, water, fire, and wind) that appeared out of nowhere once the city was raised are going to the four corners of the earth (do sphere's have corners?) to find some rings that will resurrect supreme evil dude, AKA the Mandarin. Unable to go home due to being framed for selling weapons to the dudes that kidnapped them, Tony and James sneak into Tony's lab where Tony has already built like a hundred different Iron Man suits. What? Are you kidding me? He had all those suits this whole time? Okay, whatever. So he takes one and goes after one of the rings, encounters the Elementals, realizes that the prophesy is real, and tries to put things right... by fighting supernatural beings... with a non-supernatural battle suit... and somehow that works....
Now I do have to say, the action was fun to watch. There wasn't very much of it, and it was always him against supernatural beings which never made much sense to me, but for what little action they did have it was still enjoyable to watch Iron Man flying around and attempting to kick butt. Why didn't they have more of this? We see his really cool gray suit briefly during his origin, 34 minutes into the movie. Then we see his not-so-impressive-looking underwater suit for a short underwater battle 48 minutes in. So it's not until about 5 minutes short of an hour that we finally get to see his famous red-and-gold suit!
Anyways, we all know that by the end, evil dude Mandarin will be resurrected. What we don't expect is that Iron Man doesn't actually fight him. He fights a mystical supernatural dragon just before hand, but when he actually goes up against Mandarin, all he does is dodge and get beat up. Not a very impressive final battle if you ask me. There is a naked chick involved, which would have been cool if she were actually naked, but nope, they always have something covering her naughties. And that kind of begs the question, why is this rated PG-13? There is no nudity or bad language, and not even much violence. I don't remember seeing any blood... people do die but I don't recall actually seeing it happen. Seems much more like it deserves a PG rating.
There are a couple nice special features on the disc, such as The Origin of Iron Man featurette and The Hall of Iron Man Armor, which shows and explains about Iron Man's various armors throughout the comic book series. There is also some concept art, which I guess some people tend to like, and an alternate opening sequence. But all-in-all, I was far from impressed by this release. There wasn't enough action, not enough of actually Iron Man doing his thing, and just the overall story felt retarded. I sure hope the live-action film that's in production turns out way better.
Past and present collide in this epic adventure that reveals the origin of Iron Man. While raising the ruins of a long buried Chinese kingdom, billionaire inventor Tony Stark digs up far more than he bargained for. He unleashes an age-old prophecy that foretells the resurrection of the Mandarin, the emperor of China's darkest and most violent dynasty. In order to confront the destructive force, Tony creates an armored suit infused with high-tech weaponry. To stop the evil that he himself has raised from the earth, Tony must become his greatest invention ever�Iron Man! The newly born champion must travel to the four corners of the earth to battle the Mandarin's henchmen, the Elementals�four magical warriors who harness the power of the elements�earth, water, wind, and fire�with deadly chemistry. But is the Iron Knight, as he his known in the prophecy, strong enough to defy fate and turn back the malevolent forces hell-bent on earth's destruction?
DVD Special Features
- Alternate Opening Sequence
- "The Origin of Iron Man" featurette
- "The Hall of Iron Man Armor" featurette
- A Look at upcoming Marvel Animated Feature Dr. Strange
- Trailer Gallery