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Directed by: Patrick Archibald and Frank Paur
Written by: Greg Johnson, based on the comic book and characters created by Stan Lee
Starring: Marc Worden, Gwendoline Yeo, Fred Tatasciore, Rodney Saulsberry, Elisa Gabrielli, and John McCook

Rated PG-13 (for action violence and some sensuality)
Originally Released: January 23, 2007
Available on DVD:
Running time: 83 min.

ONE time of my favorite superheroes in the mighty Marvel pantheon has always been Iron Man. I don’t know if it was the technology, the awesome armor, or the fact that — like a comic book James Bond — he surrounded himself with beautiful women and cool gadgets. To my delight, Iron Man has become the first hero to be spotlighted in a Marvel animated feature in The Invincible Iron Man.
The Invincible Iron Man

Tweaking the origin story, The Invincible Iron Man retells the beginnings of a self-centered industrialist transformed into an armor-clad hero.

Industrial billionaire Tony Stark (Marc Worden) finds his project to raise an ancient buried Chinese city sabotaged by a local group called the Jade Dragons, who fear an ancient curse. The Jade Dragons attack — killing the crew and capturing Stark’s chief engineer Jim Rhodes (Rodney Saulsberry).

Stark flies to China to investigate and is captured in a sneak attack that leaves him with shrapnel stuck in his chest. To save his life, Stark and Rhodey (with the help of a fellow prisoner) fashion a device to keep his heart beating. Little do their captors realize, however, that they are also working on a suit of armor and a plan to escape.

Even if they do escape, Stark and Rhodey may be too late to stop the ancient curse as the four Elementals attempt to retrieve the rings of power and resurrect an evil emperor called The Mandarin.

The original Iron Man story in Marvel Comics has been updated to tell a modern story of capitalism without the overtones of war and politics. Instead of Vietnam during the war, it is set in modern day China. Stark, too, is remolded — a pacifist rather than a profiteering defense contractor. Of course, the most interesting change is the addition of Rhodey into the origin story. This supporting character, who came much later in the comics, now aides Stark in building his first bulky Iron Man armor.

Despite these differences, The Invincible Iron Man tells an interesting story that pits modern Western technology against ancient Eastern mysticism. As the ancient prophecy unfurls, Stark’s world collapses. His board of directors fires him from his own company, and he ends up a wanted man on the run. Instead of giving up, he fights back and uses his armor to stop the Elements from seizing the rings of power. It’s a story of magic versus machine, of knights in armor against wizards.

For die-hard fans of Iron Man, The Invincible Iron Man is a nice appetizer. Despite being an origin story, it manages to give fans a glimpse of more than a single suit of armor. It’s a start, but leaves the audience wanting more. With it’s unexpected twist, the story even leaves open the possible return of The Mandarin.

The DVD features a number of bonus features including: an alternate opening sequence; “The Origin of Iron Man” featurette; “The Hall of Iron Man Armor;” a look at the upcoming Marvel animated feature, Doctor Strange; and more. The Invincible Iron Man will be available on DVD on January 23, 2007 for the suggested retail price of $19.98.

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