Before Iron Man made his debut on the big screen, Marvel Animations released an animated film in 2007, exploring a variation on the character's origins. The film uses the premise that Iron Man has to battle the forces of the Mandarin, in this film a long-deceased Chinese emperor, before they can resurrect their master and bring about the end of the known world.
The film has not been received particularly well, especially in comparison of the previous Ultimate Avengers films (though notably, Marc Worden reprises his role as Iron Man in this film and would do so again for Planet Hulk). However, some elements of the film do seem to have left a lasting impression upon the franchise, Marvel even seems to have adopted the opening musical score as the main theme for the character, which has even been heard used in Iron Man: Armored Adventures and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!.
The Invincible Iron Man provides examples of:
- Adaptational Badass: The Mark One armor is bigger and looks more badass than its comic counterpart. Although it being more competently made than the comic Mark One is actually justified by the fact that, Tony already had experience creating Power Suits.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: In the comics, Pepper Potts has red hair (part of the reason for her nickname). In this feature, she has brown hair.
- Adaptational Heroism: While still a brutal man, Wong Chu is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is trying to prevent the Mandarin's resurrection. His kidnapping of Tony isn't because he wants weapons, but because Tony uncovered the Mandarin's lair.
- Adaptational Nationality: Pepper Potts, an American in the comics, is English in the film.
- Demonic Possession: Li Mei is possessed by her own ancestor The Mandarin.
- Expy: The Mandarins elemental servants seem to be based on some of the other members of Iron Man's Rogues Gallery: the fire elemental is Firebrand, the air elemental is Whirlwind, the water elemental is the Blizzard, and Tony even calls the earth elemental "the Earthmover".
- Spared by the Adaptation: Unlike the comics, Howard Stark is very much alive.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Jade Dragons are willing to commit acts of terrorism if it means the Mandarin never returns.