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 form the earth, Tony must become his greatest invention everâ"Iron Man! The newly born champion must travel to the four corners of the earth to battle the Mandarin's henchmen, the Elementalsâ"four magical warriors who harness the power of the elementsâ"earth, water, wind, and fireâ"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?
Marvel Comics' armor-clad superhero Iron Man gets another update in this animated feature, which incorporates much of his mythology in its energetic storyline. Here, millionaire Tony Stark (voiced by Marc Worden, who performed similar duties for Marvel's Ultimate Avengers and its sequel) is inspired to create his iconic suit after being injured at an archaeological dig in China. His heroic alter ego isn't the only thing to arise from the dig; the ancient city harbors a quartet of elemental spirits, who seek to resurrect the Mandarin and continue his reign of evil. Hardcore Marvel fans may decry some of the deviations from the original Iron Man text (Stark's father Howard is alive and well in the feature, and the suits are already in development by the time Stark is injured), but the prevalence of numerous figures from the source material (in addition to the Mandarin, there's James Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, Pepper Potts, the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Wong Chu, and glimpses of several incarnations of the Iron Man suit) and the overall vigor of the story and the quality of the 2-D and 3-D animation should please most viewers, and makes for an enjoyable alternative to the impressive 2008 live-action film. Extras include a making-of featurette which discusses Stark's 1960s origins in the comic book and the direction taken in the movie, as well as a terrific gallery of Shellhead's various suits worn throughout his storied career. A glimpse at Marvel's next animated feature--Doctor Strange--is also included. Note for parents: The Invincible Iron Man contains some intense violence and implied nudity, so discretion should be taken before screening for very young viewers. --Paul Gaita