Written by David Holland
I’ve been enjoying this recent animation kick that I’ve been on. We started things off with two Avengers films, but this week we are going back to tell Iron Man’s origin story. This is a story unlike any Iron Man story in the MCU, and they told it without needing to rely on the charm of the most forgettable SNL cast member.
More like Robert Downey WHOnior, am I right?
Every once in a while we have to update the origin story for some familiar characters. Sure, Thomas and Martha Wayne can get shot in any old alley in just about any decade, but some characters’ origins were anchored in specific points in time and that means we need to tell them again in a new way. The first Iron Man origin placed him in Vietnam in the comics. The MCU would later update this to the Middle East. In this installment, Iron Man gets his start in China. Instead of fighting other versions of his own technology, like the three MCU movies, Iron Man finds himself facing off with an ancient enemy. It is pretty cool to see Tony Stark take on the Elementals, Fing Fang Foom, and the Mandarin himself. One of the benefits to animation as a medium is that you can tell a different kind of story without needing to worry about how you are going to pull off special effects or how believable it is going to be. In this movie we get to see Tony’s technology go up against the Mandarin’s magic. As much as I thought the “Mandarin” of Iron Man 3 was a clever misdirection, it is nice to see the iconic villain in the flesh… sort of.
If you squint, he still gives off Ben Kingsley vibes
This movie keeps up a pretty breakneck pace to accomplish everything that it needs to. The Jade Dragon attack cripples Tony, who then creates his Mark 1 armor in order to escape. Then Tony and Li Mei go on a quest for the rings that raise the Mandarin and Tony gets to show off his different types of armor while he fights the Elementals. Stark finds himself removed from Stark Enterprises and in trouble with the law before being betrayed by Li Mei as she helps raise the Mandarin. Since this is a solo installment and there is no need to worry about sharing screentime, it doesn’t feel like anything is getting left out of the story even as it moves quickly and includes plenty of action.
The animation style isn’t my favorite. This could absolutely be personal preference, especially since I’m not sure how to describe exactly what bothered me about it. It doesn’t feel polished. Movements are jerky instead of smooth. I am on the record praising Batman: The Animated Series as the pinnacle of animated superhero shows, and I found myself longing to go back to an older style that might sacrifice a bit of depth for a smoother finish. Again, I’m not an animation expert so this might just come down to preference, but a there were a couple of times it pulled me out of the story.
An action-packed Iron Man story unlike any in the MCU.
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