The Invincible Iron Man is the third animated feature from Marvel Animation and Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The video was written by Avi Arad, Greg Johnson, and Craig Kyle; produced by Frank Paur; and directed by Patrick Archibald and Jay Oliva. It was released on January 23, 2007, partly to promote the first live action Iron Man film from Marvel Studios and tells a similar retelling of the origin story. Despite the title, Tony Stark is never called Iron Man and is referred to only as either Tony or the Iron Knight.
In China, James Rhodes (Rodney Saulsberry) of Stark Enterprises oversees the excavation of the temple of the Mandarin. The team is attacked by the Jade Dragons and Rhodey calls Tony Stark requesting more defenses, but Tony (Marc Worden) refuses to allow guns. Back in New York, the company's board of directors are angry at Tony for his expensive excavation as well as his secret project. When the board dismisses him, Tony becomes angry with his father, Howard (John McCook), who sits back letting this happen.
Rhodey manages to raise the temple before monsoon season but the Jade Dragons attack, kill the Chinese workers, and capture Rhodey. Pepper Potts (Elisa Gabrielli) informs Tony who travels there to help. Upon arrival, his convoy is attacked and he is gravely injured. The Jade Dragons force a man named Ho Yen to heal Tony while he befriends Li Mei (Gwendolyn Yeo). The five Demon Elementals awake attacking the Jade Dragons. Howard is informed of his son's capture and that the Jade Dragons have acquired Stark weaponry. Ho Yen tells Tony of an ancient prophecy regarding the resurrection of the Mandarin before their captor, Wong Chu (James Sie), shoots him. Tony and Rhodey build the a set of armor to help them escape. Wong Chu is killed by Li Mei who then recognizes the armor as the figure of the Iron Knight, who is destined to kill the Mandarin.
Arriving in America, Tony and Rhodey are confronted by S.H.I.E.L.D., who think they ran guns to the Jade Dragons. Tony thinks his father sold them out to protect the company. The two escape and sneak into Stark Tower with Pepper's help. They enter a secret vault where Tony reveals that he built dozens of armors. Tony dons an armor and sets off to stop the prophecy. He enters an underwater temple in the Atlantic Ocean confronting the Demon Elementals but he is beaten. When he returns, Tony confronts his father blaming him for the guns. Howard claims he was just protecting Rhodey but Tony points out their rocky relationship since the death of his mother.
Rhodey and Pepper are arrested so that Tony can use another armor to fight the Elementals in a South American volcano. Tony destroys several of the Elementals and acquires one of the Bands of the Underworld. Returning home, Tony is warned away from capture by Howard. Li Mei then helps him flee the country going back to the Mandarin temple. Tony acquires the other Bands and gives them to Li Mei, who reveals that she is the last decedent of the Mandarin and destined to resurrect him. While Tony fights the last Elemental and the living Terracotta army, Li Mei resurrects the infamous ruler. Mandarin (Fred Tatasciore) possesses his granddaughter and overpowers Tony. Tony is able to reach Li Mei who stops because of her love for him. She removes the Bands destroying Mandarin but is killed in the process. Once home, Tony is cleared of all charges. He buys up the company, promotes Rhodey, and turns control over to his father. The two decide to work together as Howard fires the board.
The movie received mostly mixed to negative reviews, and is usually considered the worst of Lions Gate's Marvel animated videos. Critics have enjoyed the changes and updates to the character feeling that it makes sense in the context of the story. They also enjoy that Iron Man gets his own film after being a secondary character in Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers II. However, most point out that the movie lacks proper character development. They generally feel that the movie moves too slowly in the first half and lacks proper story in the second. It is often negatively compared to the critically acclaimed live action film, which was released over a year later, saying that the latter version did the same thing but better. They also point out that Tony lacks enough positive attributes to counter his negative. The villains are commonly derided as the Elementals lack personality and Mandarin isn't on screen enough.
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