The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Iron Man’ falls far short of invincible namesake

Tae Andrews | Thursday, February 1, 2007

For those college students socially adept enough to have never picked up a comic book in their lives, Iron Man doesn’t carry the same superhero name recognition as a Batman or a Spider-Man. As such, most undergraduates may be unaware that Marvel recently released “The Invincible Iron Man,” a reboot of the Iron Man mythos, for the faithful in the form of a straight-to-DVD animated classic. At least, that’s what the goal was.

Sadly, even Iron Man’s rocket shoes can’t launch this clunker of a flick off the ground. Although the DVD features pretty good animation, bad dialogue and the typical convoluted plot associated with animated movies put a whole lot of chinks in Iron Man’s armor.

Iron Man’s alter ego is billionaire playboy Tony Stark, the founder of Stark Enterprises, a multi-billion dollar tech company. Basically, imagine Bill Gates with game: a computer technology nerd with the suave skills of Justin Timberlake, plus a pretty sweet Fu Manchu mustache (granted, this is not an easy thing to imagine, but that’s why it’s based off a comic book). Plus, with all of his mechanized joints, Iron Man can do “The Robot” just like JT. In fact, it seems like he’s always doing “The Robot” as he clunks and clanks his way through the DVD.

After an early attack leaves him with a damaged heart, Tony Stark manages to soldier on. Despite his bum ticker, the tin man still has a heart of gold, an iron will and a steel resolve to fight crime (and evil supernatural beings).

As these things tend to go, the plot is pretty far out there. Stark Enterprises has a project to raise an ancient buried city in China. However, midway through the project, evil magical demons called Elementals pop up like supernatural Whack-A-Moles. Obviously, the next logical step for these dark forces of nature is to try to raise the Mandarin, the evil and all-powerful leader of an ancient dynasty. With the world in peril, a man in a robot suit is called upon to save the day. In other words, standard comic book fare as far as the plot goes.

Although the use of Chinese mysticism is an interesting angle to take in the re-telling of the Iron Man story (a similar Eastern influence worked well in “Batman Begins,” another superhero re-launch movie), here it seems as though Iron Man’s GPS navigation system went haywire and he accidentally landed himself in “The Last Samurai.”

Iron Man fans will no doubt enjoy the appearance of Tony Stark’s best friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes. However, perhaps the most disappointing thing about the movie is that Tony Stark doesn’t even spend the majority of time as Iron Man in his usual red and yellow get-up. No, instead he plods around in a grey bucket of bolts with a microwave oven for a helmet.

Unfortunately, by the time The Invincible Iron Man saddles up and reaches its “climax,” Tony Stark’s palm blasters are firing blanks: the bizarre plot makes the final showdown somewhat less than epic. Animated classics aside, the film’s bad dialogue and worse vocal performances cause the whole movie to ring more hollow than an empty suit of armor. Fortunately for the diehard tin can head fans out there, this is only Marvel’s first try at making an Iron Man movie. Although this first stab at the character can be considered an unqualified swing and a miss, unsatisfied fans are still better off waiting for the live action version, directed by Jon Favreau, due out sometime in 2008.

Here’s to hoping the second time is the charm.