Following up the first Marvel Knights Animation/Shout! Factory release, Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, comes another movie tie-in: Iron Man: Extremis. This disc contains six motion comic episodes, each from 10-14 minutes. (The first is 20 minutes long.)
The storyline is based on the comic of the same name by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov, a revamp of the Armored Avenger for the modern technological age, where computer chips replace the original transistors and hardware. (It also reportedly influenced the movie, as Granov worked as a visual designer on the film.)
You don’t need to know anything about Iron Man, since this is meant to be a kind of fresh start, and the story downplays any Marvel universe connections or previous tales of the character. It’s very talky, but that works well for the limited animation found in a motion comic. Early on we see Tony Stark being interviewed, which allows for lots of information to be conveyed about his past and backstory, as rewritten here. (He was injured in Afghanistan instead of Korea, for example. He also tends to talk to himself a lot, translating the narration box to the screen.)
He’s challenged about being an arms dealer, a part of the background that’s needed revision in the modern era. The story goes on to explore what happened with a scientist’s suicide and his project involving bioelectronics and nanotechnology, resulting in major changes to Stark’s armor. The art is gorgeous, as expected, movie-style and near-realistic with a painterly influence.
I guess it’s nifty if you want to listen to a comic, but it’s nowhere near as compelling as the “real” movie. I liked the X-Men one better, because there were more characters to follow and more action. (The studio provided a review copy.)
As previously noted, there are several bonus features on this disc:
- A Conversation With Adi Granov — 17 minutes of him explaining the “reboot” and updates to the character.
- Behind the Scenes — Three parts, one each for Edge Studios (3 minutes, talking with the guy who voices Stark), Magnetic Dreams (6 minutes, producing the motion comic from the original), and Marvel.com (4 minutes, more on the voices for some reason).
- A music video for the theme. As with the other disc, I was already really tired of the music, since it plays over all the credits and menus.
- A slideshow of character art, showing the Iron Man armor over the ages — but without artist credit — and another artist gallery with Granov’s work on Iron Man (covers and pinups).
- An Iron Man What The–?! segment, using an action figure for a comedy sketch about a game show. Guest stars Brian Michael Bendis.
- The trailer for this disc, plus trailers for the X-Men, Black Panther (see below), and Spider-Woman motion comics.
Coming Next: Black Panther
The next release in the Marvel Knights Animation line will be Black Panther, due out January 18. Billed as “Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.’s Black Panther”, since it’s based on their graphic novel, this collection of six episodes features guest appearances by the X-Men and Captain America.
It’s the show originally developed with BET but instead released on iTunes and video game networks. The voice cast includes Djimon Hounsou as Black Panther; music artist and actress Jill Scott as Storm; Kerry Washington as Princess Shuri; Alfre Woodard as both Dondi Reese and Queen Mother; Carl Lumbly as Uncle S’Yan; and the legendary Stan Lee as General Wallace.
The plot features T’Challa, the young warrior-king of Wakanda, facing off with Klaw and super-powered mercenaries. It’s the same list price as the other two volumes, $14.97, but includes fewer announced bonus features:
- Looking Back at Black Panther with Reginald Hudlin
- Exclusive music video