|INTERVIEW - BRANDON AUMAN
Iron Man: Armored Adventures story editor Brandon Auman sat down with Marvel Animation Age to discuss the upcoming two-part finale of the popular Nicktoons Network CG-animated series. The final two episodes of Iron Man: Armored Adventures bring together a host of ongoing plot threads and different characters, resulting in an epic-sized story that brings a host of new challenges to Tony and his friends. "The Makluan Invasion, Part One" debuts Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 at 8:30pm (ET/PT) on Nicktoons Network, with the conclusion "The Makluan Invasion, Part Two" airing at 8:30pm (ET/PT) on July 25th, 2012. Continue below to hear more from Auman as he discusses the second and final season of the Armored Avenger's first CGI-animated role.
Marvel Animation Age: To get right to it, can you break down what we can expect in these final two episodes of Iron Man: Armored Adventures. How has the show been building up to these final second season episodes?
Brandon Auman: It's all about Iron Man and his team vs. Mandarin and his ten rings. Mandarin has become all-powerful with the rings and intends to "restore order to the chaos of the world". He doesn't see himself as a villain, he just sees himself as a powerful warrior-king in a long lineage and he must do whatever he can to uphold his birth-right. He truly sees himself as a hero, not a villain in any way. He believes that Iron Man is a stumbling block to achieving his destiny. The show has been building up to this over two seasons, so we finally get to see "Mandarin unleashed".
MAA: The two-part finale seems to fall along with some of the other big events that have been sprinkled throughout the season. Is it difficult to find a way to keep raising the stakes week after week? Is it safe to say this is the biggest threat Tony and his friends have had to face?
BA: Definitely. As you can see from these commercials... it's a full-out Makluan alien invasion! It doesn't get any bigger than that. Without spoiling too much... as Howard Stark said earlier in the season, bringing together all ten rings could have dire consequences... and they do. Whereas the original ancient Mandarin knew how to use all ten rings correctly, Gene doesn't understand the full power of the rings. He doesn't realize that all ten rings sends off a signal that will summon the Makluans and their mothership. When Iron Man and his team realize what this means, it will be too late. So yeah, Tony and team are gonna face the biggest threat of their super hero careers.
MAA: The second season of Iron Man: Armored Adventures seems a bit more .... confident than the first. Naturally, the first season of a show always has a bit of a learning curve. What do you think you improved upon in this second season compared to the first?
BA: Well, Chris Yost is not an easy story editor to follow. I just tried to extend what he started and bring my own spin to things. Tony is naturally more confident because he's getting older and smarter. Of course he will become the cocky genius we all know and love from the comics and movies... even if his origin story is different in our universe. So we wanted to push him in that direction. If anything I hope I brought bigger threats to the new season. Doctor Doom... Magneto... Titanium Man... the Makluan aliens... all of these villains - these huge threats - help elevate our hero because he has to stand and deliver. A hero is really defined by his enemies and challenges. I tried to shy away from the high school antics in the second half of the season because I wanted to "bridge the gap" between teenage Tony and more "adult" Tony. Well, at least a little bit.
MAA: A bit of a follow-up: How has this show – and the characters - evolved from the first season? What changes have you noticed in them?
BA: I think Tony has definitely gotten cockier and smarter. His relationship with his father has grown, and his vision of the future has broadened. Rhodey has become a true hero in his own right. He's gotten better and more confident as War Machine. And now that Pepper has her own armor - well, she's become a heroic force and not just the eyes and ears of the team, sitting in the sidelines. I wish we would have gotten a third season because it would be great to have the three of them go on more missions together. But at least we did get 52 episodes, which ain't bad!
MAA: What are some of your favorite highlights from the second season? What sticks out as some of the best moments?
BA: Wow, there are so many cool moments throughout the season, it's hard to pin them all down. I really loved the Doctor Doom episodes. Justin Hammer was a lot of fun... I think the series needed an insane wildcard to keep Tony and his crew on their toes. I dug Iron Man 2099, the return of the Hulk, Extremis, the Iron Monger episodes, the Controller... and of course the last three episodes with the Makluan invasion. But to tell you the truth, I am really proud of all of the episodes in season 2. We at least tried to tell some different stories. We had such a great writing team. It was a total blast to work on.
MAA: This show has made some controversial deviations from the source material during its run, such as making Tony a teenager and keeping his father alive (in a great first season finale twist). How closely did you listen to fan reactions when you took over at story editor, and what type of influence did it have on your work?
BA: I didn't listen to that much fan reaction... I tend to shy away from it. I don't read a lot of boards... it can make you crazy. I just went with my gut feelings on things. If you get caught up in fan reaction, you will always second guess yourself. And it runs the gamut of needs... every fan has a different idea on how things should play out.
MAA: As a follow-up to the previous question, how has this interpretation of the Iron Man mythos benefitted from taking these risks? What have you been able to do here that couldn’t be done in any other interpretation of the character?
BA: Well, making Tony and his crew a few years younger is a risk... of course you don't want to alienate the core fans. Most of the people who complained were probably older. They tend to forget that this show is aimed at a younger audience who doesn't know the character as well as the older fans. We developed the show before the first Iron Man movie came out, so no one could have even predicted how big that movie would do. I think what we could do that other versions of Iron Man haven't been able to do was possibly appeal to those younger fans. Young fans who may not be able to "vibe" with an older business man playboy Tony Stark. We tried something different... at the very least. I guess you either like it, buy the changes for this universe... or you don't.
MAA: To bring it back to the two-part finale, starting this Wednesday, can you give us an idea of the scale for this two-part adventure. Season one’s two-part finale was big, but this seems to be epic on a scale this show has never seen...what can you tell us about it?
BA: It's pretty epic in scale, so we really had to push the envelope in terms of production/animation. There are a lot of superheroes in the finale. It gets huge. And a lot of aliens and cool vehicles and fighting and explosions... I think... I hope... fans will like it.
MAA: Lastly, to wrap things up, can you drop one last teaser for this two-part finale adventure ... something to really make viewers excited to see Tony’s last animated adventure?
BA: I'll just say in part two - the finale - we have a massive team-up... Avengers style! And the funny thing is, we wrote this before we even knew what the Avengers movie was all about!
Marvel Animation Age would like to express our thanks to Brandon Auman for participating in this Q & A!