In the mainstream Marvel Universe right
now, "invincible" isn't the adjective fans apply to Iron
Man. The "Civil War" has made the character quite unlikable.
But Marvel isn't just for reading anymore, and fans wanting
Iron Man back as a hero need look no further than their
latest animated offering, The Invincible Iron Man.
Better directed than the Ultimate Avengers
offerings, the movie helmed by Frank Paur accomplishes two
things. It restores Tony Stark's reputation as a hero by
going back to the beginning (even if it's a brand new beginning)
and delivers plenty of action.
Let's face it; superhero fans love seeing
their favorite characters beat up the bad guys. We can talk
about nuance and characterization, but if we don't buy the
fights, the movie's a waste. Though the movie sets up a
big showdown between Iron Man and the Mandarin, the real
battles come between the armored Avenger and five "elementals."
During those sequences, the animation switches
from standard 2D to computer generated, and they're very
satisfying. Well-choreographed, they're also cleverly plotted,
moving the story along fairly well and picking up on threads
seeded throughout the movie. Plus, I've got a soft spot
in my heart for the use of a Marvel villain whose name rhymes
with Bin Bang Boom. (The character design isn't quite right,
likely because Paur wanted some sort of visual complementing,
but production notes say that's who it is.)
story placing Tony Stark (Marc
Worden) in peril isn't half-bad, either. Greg Johnson
constructs a scenario that the upcoming live-action film
would do well to borrow from. It pays enough homage to the
original comics origin without too much of that pesky political
also relies on a newly standard storytelling trope, that
"the Iron Warrior" has been prophesied to stand against
the Mandarin. In the movie as edited on the DVD, this gets
revealed slowly, but an alternate opening lays it out clearly.
not sure which way would have made it more palatable, but
it does make for a more thoughtful climax than just beating
the crap out of the villain. Well, that and Worden's performance
as the strangely sincere playboy that Stark has been off
and on over the years.
The other conflict in the movie comes from
boardroom drama, and that fell flat. Yes, the father/son
strife between Howard and Tony Stark has potential, but
it seems too patly resolved. For that matter, so does the
issue of Tony's bad heart, which originally is the whole
raison d'etre for building the armor. Instead, here
it seems more like he needs a plate until a skin graft could
be made, because he's been secretly creating a variety of
Iron Man suits for a long time.
So the script inexplicably cuts down on
the melodrama of the heart problem, yet leaves mystical
warriors and a dragon to fight?
entertaining as the movie is at times, it still suffers
from a problem that the previous two offerings had - it
doesn't sit comfortably as adult or children's fare. Instead,
it's just at that awkward in-between phase. Which probably
means that teens would love it if they would deign to watch