Iron Man: Armored Adventures season two story editor Brandon Auman talks to Marvel Animation Age about adapting one of the most acclaimed Iron Man tales ever told - 'Armor Wars!' Continue reading to learn what is in store for Iron Man: Armored Adventures!
Marvel Animation Age: The Iron Man: Armored Adventures episode "Armor War" debuts on Wednesday (8:30pm on Nicktoons Network), adapting arguably the biggest Iron Man story ever told. What kind of pressure did you feel tackling this story, and what did you do to give it a fresh, modern spin?
Brandon Auman:Well, it's a little daunting adapting a classic comic arc that has endured for 30 years or so. We wanted to stay true to the original story but obviously reinvent it for a new audience, while making sure it fit snugly into our series. We tried to pull the bigger story beats, action scenes and themes directly from the original 80's comics, and I think it works. Our version of 'Armor Wars' carries over into the next 7-8 episodes... it's an entire arc. And I gotta mention that it's kicked off this Wednesday by Kevin Burke and Chris "Doc" Wyatt, fellow The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes writers.
MAA: Marvel Comics has done a few different renditions of 'Armor Wars' since it originally appeared, including an all-ages version (Iron Man & The Armor Wars) and an Ultimate version (Ultimate Iron Man: Armor Wars). How much inspiration did you draw from each?
BA:We drew from pretty much all of the versions of 'Armor Wars.' We already had the Ghost steal Iron Man's armor; that was pulled loosely from Ultimate Iron Man. In the original 80's 'Armor War's the culprit was Spymaster. Originally I was going to introduce Spymaster, but the two spies are similar in so many ways, that we just decided to stick with Ghost. We were only allotted a specific amount of new character designs for the second season, so we had to be a bit choosy. But we are actually closer in story and plot to the original 'Armor War's than the All-Ages and Ultimate versions.
MAA: "Armor Wars" kicks off a huge story-line that will unfold up to episode #13. Will 'Armor Wars' be the dominant theme throughout the next batch of episodes, or the string that holds each episode together? Will there be a solid beginning, middle, end to the 'Armor Wars' story?
BA: Yeah, it has a structure to it. The beginning is definitely "Ghost in the Machine," and if you watch these new episodes in a row, the arc will be apparent. It will all come to a head with episode 13, "Heavy Mettle". It'll be a fun ride. Iron Man does... questionable things to get his armor back, but he feels justified because his enemies stole it from him. It's a little dark at times... Iron Man doesn't always win, which I think is interesting.
MAA: How much input did David Michelinie and Bob Layton have, the original scribes behind 'Armor Wars' in the 1980s, when they were brought in to help adapt their story? Did they have any troubles adapting the story to a very different Tony Stark?
BA: Not at all! David and Bob picked up on the reinvention right away and were off and running. They actually love the show and were excited to adapt one of their own 'Armor Wars' (or 'Stark Wars' originally) comics into the Armored Adventures universe. Their episode is called "Fugitive of S.H.I.E.L.D." and it intros a new kind of tech, based on Iron Man's armor designs. It was great working with two of the old school masters. These guys are real comic book legends; they invented Rhodey, Justin Hammer, The Ghost, and dozens of other Iron Man villains. Andrew Robinson, who wrote the "Ghost in the Machine" ep, put me in touch with Bob Layton... so much thanks goes to him.
MAA: Who will Iron Man be duking it out with during this storyline? Care to drop any hints?
BA: We have mentioned a few in the past: Doctor Doom, Titanium Man, Iron Monger. It doesn't get much bigger than that in the Iron Man: Armored Adventures universe. In the original comics, Iron Monger was actually introduced well before the 'Armor Wars', but it seemed logical to intro him here. Titanium Man is a part of the original 'Armor Wars' arc, so we pulled some ideas from that specific issue and put it directly into his debut episode. We'll also see some new villains not mentioned in any interviews, but I'll tell you one: Firepower. A classic villain from the 'Armor Wars' comics. Hmmm, if I say anymore, our producer Megan Thomas Bradner will kill me.
MAA: Do you think your version of 'Armor Wars' stays true to the original, and it is something the long-time Iron Man fans will enjoy?
BA: I hope so! There are elements taken directly from the original: Tony going rogue to get his armor specs back, the invention of negator packs to take down his stolen armor, and seeing some villains directly from the comics, like Firepower.... yeah, I think the long time fans will dig it. An older fan of the 80's comics will see a lot of references. Of course the show is geared for a younger audience. Some of the older fans bemoan the fact that it's a reinvention and Stark is a kid. For being such diehard fans of Iron Man, they seem to completely ignore Ultimate Iron Man by seminal sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card. In that series, Tony Stark created the armor as a kid. Anyway, the show is really geared for a smart young audience, but it openly embraces the older fans.
MAA: On a semi-unrelated note, fans have noticed a sizable gap between the end of the first season and the beginning of this one. Why did it take so long for the second season to air? Can you give us a quick rundown of how this series is produced? Did the gap allow for more breathing room when it came to coming up with this season's major storybeats (such as the 'Armor Wars' arc)?
BA: They waited to see if the first season would be a success, then they had to draft a new deal... this stuff can take a while. And of course it takes time to write the scripts, storyboard the eps, and animate it. I started coming up with stories back in February or March 2010... so you can see how long it takes, just on the actual production side. And the gap didn't provide any kind of leisure for coming up with new stories. As soon as I was hired to story edit the new season, we were off and running! I didn't have a lot of time to craft a show bible and I think even less time to write the first two episodes. But it was a great deal of fun, one of the best times I've had working on a show. Everyone at Marvel was amazing, and the writers were just awesome.
MAA: Lastly, tell us why we should tune in on Wednesday for "Armor Wars!"
BA: Because it's freakin' 'Armor Wars'! Haha! If you've read the original comics, or any of the recent versions of 'Armor Wars,' you know its one of the most action-packed, dramatic and darkest times in Tony Stark's life. We get to see Iron Man confront brand new armor-clad villains... wearing armor Stark designed! We get Doctor Doom and the biggest version of Iron Monger ever seen! And most exciting of all, we get Tony Stark skirting the line between hero and vigilante!
"Armor Wars," the first episode to kick off the Iron Man: Armored Adventures multi-episode 'Armor Wars' arc, airs Wednesday at 8:30pm (ET) on Nicktoons Network!
Marvel Animation Age would like to express our thanks to Brandon Auman for participating in this Q & A!
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