Plot: Tony Stark is always battling problems left and right, but two recent concerns have risen to the top of his radar. Stark Industries pulls in a lot of income, but Tony’s refusal to manufacture weapons has raised the ire of some of the company’s investors, so some on the board seek oust Tony from his position of power. A chance to do so comes up when a secret project of Stark’s uses millions in resources, but Tony won’t reveal the nature or direction of the research. At the same time, Tony’s excavation of an ancient ruin in China has also caused him some headaches. A local crime syndicate known as the Jade Dragons has tried to shut down the excavation, as a legend tells that if the city is raised, dire consequences could result. Can Tony navigate these sensitive situations and will he reveal the nature of his secret project?
Entertainment Value: This is an origin tale for Iron Man and while it makes some alterations from the original comic book spin, most of the changes seem logical and just update the narrative a little. I do think this take on his origin is a little too light, as it glosses over some important aspects of Stark’s persona and the eventual use of the Iron Man armor, but this is an animated feature aimed at a younger audiences, so I can see why a lighter touch was used. I also was let down by the finale, which mostly played out without Iron Man’s direct involvement. I wanted an epic, grand battle to introduce the armor and all that, but no such luck. But the movie does deliver some fun fights and action set pieces, as well as some humorous banter, especially between Stark and Pepper. The pace is brisk, though I wish more action were present, but the movie does have some solid character development.
The visuals here are passable, but don’t have the polish you’d expect from such a top tier brand like Marvel. Most of the animation is hand drawn, then some CGI is added for certain characters and set pieces. I like the hand drawn elements, which seem in line with other cartoons from the same time frame, but the CGI elements aren’t meshed in very well. This leads to a lack of cohesion between the two styles, which looks a little weird and makes the production values seem jank. But aside from a lack of polish when it comes to the CGI integration, I think the animation is on par with other Marvel animated features. The voice cast is good, if not all that memorable, but that could lay more with the material than the performances. The cast incldues Marc Worden, Fred Tatisciore, Elisa Gabrielli, and Gwedoline Yeo in prominent roles, while other familiar voice over talent is sprinkled throughout the smaller parts. This is a little rough around the edges, but I think The Invincible Iron Man is a passable take on an animated origin story, so fans of Iron Man should appreciate this one.