Tony Stark, in his Iron Man armor, prevents an attack from a mysterious new foe, but innocent bystanders are killed, including his best friend War Machine, Lt. Colonel James Rhodes. Detained for questioning by S.H.I.E.L.D., Iron Man escapes, determined to find the mastermind behind the attack. Pursued by Black Widow and Hawkeye, Iron Man enlists the help of the ruthless vigilante The Punisher. But can the Armored Avenger handle what he finds when he catches the person responsible and is forced to face his deadliest weapon, a biotechnology called Technovore that could wipe out all life on the planet?
The Black Widow, Hawkeye and War Machine make lively cameos, as does the Punisher, who practically steals the show with his deadpan humour and military issue coffee. Another positive is the animation, which is dynamic, with impressive photo-realistic environments, and makes great use of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and its associated weaponry. And last but not least there’s a big, slashy, gooey Akira-style showdown as that techo-organic stuff grows to monster size and tries to swallow a whole city. So it has its moments – probably enough to keep Marvel fans happy. Anime aficionados, on the other hand, might not be quite so galvanized. The disc comes with two short, gushy but actually quite informative featurettes.
This being an anime, it wouldn’t be complete without some overly philosophical posturing, and nearly all of the scenes with the Technovore have it in spades. It’s in these scenes where I also noticed a lot of cost cutting animation techniques such as just showing a character’s torso and lower jaw, or their face from the nose up, which avoids having to animate the lip synch. I know that it’s a common technique but it was a lot more noticeable in this movie partly due to the contrast between the slow, static scenes with the Technovore and the fast paced, laser filled action sequences between Iron Man and his opponents.
The overly philosophical dialogue at times is a bit of a bore and could’ve been trimmed down a bit although I did like the inclusion of Ezekiel Stane. Anyone that is a fan of the films will enjoy this and see that it doesn’t steer too far from the style we all love. Anyone that is a fan of anime will see that it holds true to everything you love about the genre. By the time we get to the end, Stane’s armor rebels and goes all Akira on his ass, turning him into a monstrous creation that still remains intent on taking over Stark’s satellite and ending all life on the planet. I can say, though, with certainty that I would have enjoyed this movie more had its animation not been so limited and unappealing.