THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
It is worth noting that The Invincible Iron Man was released nearly a year-and-a-half before the character was incarnated with the live-action Iron Man (2008) and its sequels Iron Man 2 (2010) and Iron Man Three (2013) starring Robert Downey Jr. Thus it is a little perplexing watching this, which gives Tony Stark a very different origin story than the Marvel Universe incarnation where the live-action film had Tony Stark made a prisoner of rebels in Afghanistan and fashioning his own heart and suit, here he is made a prisoner of rebels in China, where Rhodey Rhodes builds the heart and the two of them construct the Iron Man suit. Rather than the flirtatious relationship Tony has with Gwyneth Paltrows Pepper in the live-action films, here she seems unflatteringly drawn to resemble a middle-aged schoolmistress with a British accent. There are other slight differences like where the film gives us the impression that rather than the red and gold armour being the iconic Iron Man suit, it is merely one of several different suits that Tony Stark has built for different uses.
The set up of the film also feels wrong. For one, it is not even clear for at least the first half of the film that we are getting an origin story, leading one to keep wondering where Iron Man is. The one thing that the film does well is when it comes to portraying the knockdown superheroic action scene where the respective directors have done a fine job of copying what worked well in the various Bruce Timm films.
The major miscalculation though is the central villain of the piece. The Mandarin is the No 1 nemesis of Iron Man in the comic-books and has a detailed history as a scientist who grew up in pre-Communist China where he gained superhuman abilities after discovering ten rings of power from the alien Makulan. The Mandarin is also an accomplished martial artist and wields great technological innovations. However, The Mandarin that we see here is but a pale shadow of that no more than an ancient Chinese sorcerer that people are trying to raise back to life. His powers are clearly not from alien science but magic. The worst part though, for a villain of such stature, is that the film only revives him in the last ten minutes. All the battles throughout are fought between Iron Man and the unspeaking Elementals, while even the climax features no showdown between the two of them but consists of Iron Man imprecating Li Mei to fight against The Mandarins possession of her body and let her true nature win out, whereupon she does so, despatching him with nothing more than a show of pretty lights. Mindedly, this is still more of an incarnation of The Mandarin than the feeble joke we received in Iron Man Three.
Marvel spun out a further animated Iron Man film with the anime-styled Iron Man: Rise of Technovore (2013) and the CGI animated Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United (2014).