With the release of Iron Man 3 in theaters next month, Marvel is once again flooding the markets with tie-ins, crossovers, one-shots, and direct-to-DVD movies featuring everyone’s favorite billionaire playboy Tony Stark
One of the DVD movies being released is Iron Man: Rise of Technovore from Marvel Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, produced by Madhouse and written by Tokyo Gore Police‘s Kengo Kaiji. It’s not the first time Marvel has dabbled with anime, but in the case of Iron Man it seems like an obvious fit. With giant robots, intricately detailed Mechs, and some creepy villains, it feels like a no-brainer that Iron Man belongs in this genre more than the West’s traditional animation.
Along with Iron Man, a few other Avengers and allies make appearances throughout the film; Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Nick Fury & S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Punisher. Even though the film has no ties to the Marvel Universe blockbusters, Marvel is still keen to push Black Widow, Hawkeye, and a black Nick Fury into pop culture.
While Matthew Mercer (Resident Evil Damnation) is the voice of Tony Stark, the main name on the marquee is Norman Reedus (Boondock Saints, The Walking Dead) as the Punisher. From the press release of the film to the opening credits, Reedus’ name is all over the place because of his recent popularity in The Walking Dead television show. So while he’s supposed to be the main pull, the Punisher is only on screen for maybe 10-15 minutes before disappearing completely. And if I’m being perfectly honest, Reedus’ voice didn’t exactly match with the Punisher’s look and feel. Mercer on the other hand was a good choice for Stark, for he easily transitioned from serious Tony to joking Tony without it feeling off.
While the Iron Man and War Machine armors were fantastically rendered in that Anime style, some of the CG backgrounds felt a little subpar. Naturally the action and fight scenes made for great eye candy, but sometimes when flying over landscapes the terrain looked like a zoomed-in view of Google Maps. The film itself is for more mature audiences (PG-13), and because of it the Anime style fit the more serious tone. People didn’t just get knocked out in fights, they were actually killed in front of Iron Man despite his best efforts to save them.
The villain of the film, the Technovore, is based on a villain of the same name in a two-issue arc back in the early 1990s. In Iron Man #294-295 written by Len Kaminski and illustrated by Kevin Hopgood, Iron Man battles a self-evolving artificial organism (Technovore) that takes over a satellite in orbit and kills the crew. By the end of the arc Iron Man doesn’t even defeat the Technovore by himself, but rather is saved by The Goddess who is trying to recruit him for her Infinity Crusade. In the film writer Brandon Auman (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) takes the Technovore and morphs it into a completely different concept, where it’s still an artificial organism, but it’s been created by Ezekiel Stane as a more superior armor to Stark’s.
The animation was good for the most part, but the story was a little complicated at times. There was even an instance where it felt like it was borrowing heavily from the one scene in Akira featuring Tetsuo.
DVD extras include “Tale of Technovore,” the making-of documentary of the film, and “S.H.I.E.L.D.: Protecting the Marvel Universe,” a look at the history of S.H.I.E.L.D. in comics, both short features aimed at fans that aren’t too familiar with the Marvel Universe.
Overall, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore isn’t a must-own. However, it does show Marvel gradually getting a better grasp of the Anime stylings, and definitely shows potential to produce some better direct-to-DVD Anime films in the future. If you come across it on Netflix, by all means watch it, but in the end the film just makes me hungrier for Iron Man 3 this May.