Brandon Auman On Action, Loss And Obsolescence In ‘Iron Man: Rise Of Technovore’ [Interview]
Tony Stark thrusts off on his third solo live-action adventure in just a few short weeks, when Iron Man 3 bursts into theaters on May 3. But that’s not the only place you can see ol’ Shellhead in motion this year.
Earlier in April, Marvel released their latest anime effort starring everyone’s favorite billionaire playboy philanthropist: Iron Man: Rise of Technovore. With a story from Brandon Auman that features fan-favorite Marvel heroes like Black Widow, Hawkeye and The Punisher (voiced by The Walking Dead‘s breakout star Norman Reedus), Rise of Technovore brings us a Tony Stark at his lowest, unsure of his place in the future, and fueled by vengeance over the murder of a close friend – at the hands of a brilliant and enigmatic enemy, Ezekiel Stane.
We spoke with Auman for much more on Technovore, and also got a tease of his other Tony Stark movie hitting shelves this year, “Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United.ComicsAlliance: Brandon, let’s start out with three words that define what Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is all about to you.
Brandon Auman: Hmm… I would say “action,” “loss,” and “obsolescence.” Strange choices, right? Action of course doesn’t need an explanation; there is a lot of it crammed into 90 minutes. There are amazing fight scenes, aerial battles, undersea chases, clashes with a giant monster, you name it. Loss because it’s a central theme; Tony loses [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS], Zeke Stane lost his father… both are driving forces, even if Zeke doesn’t want to admit it. Another interviewer brought up obsolescence, which was dead-on. Not only that, but the fear of obsolescence, especially when you’re an inventor like Tony Stark. You wonder when the next genius – someone younger and smarter than you – is going to emerge and build something better. And that fear manifests in the form of Zeke Stane, this crazy young genius inventor who is very similar to Stark, only with serious issues, largely due to loss and neglect. He wants to lash out at authority figures… he wants to dismantle the system.
CA: In Rise of Technovore, we see a lot of different versions of Tony. We see Tony the loser, a man brought to his knees by personal tragedy. We see Tony the renegade, hellbent on vengeance. We see Tony the thinker, problem-solving his way toward the finish line. And that’s not all. Can you talk a bit about the different kinds of Tony we see in this film, and which aspects of the character you were most interested in exploring?
BA: All of them, really! I wanted to see all of Tony Stark’s facets, starting with the cocky, fun playful nature we’ve come to know, to a Tony shattered by the loss of his best friend – to the Stark driven by revenge, and then experiencing empathy with his enemy… something he rarely does, because usually they’re straight-up evil. I wanted to see the unabashed superhero… but also the caring side of Tony Stark. Ezekiel is so young; Tony sees a lot of himself in the kid. Both lost their fathers, and Tony was forced to kill Obadiah, so he feels partly responsible, even though he was defending himself.
CA: Flipping that last question, what aspects of Tony do you wish Technovore had more time to spend on?
BA: Well, having written the story but not the script, I wish that Tony’s character would have been written a little differently. But considering that Iron Man is a relatively new character in Japan, I thought Kengo Kaji’s script was interesting, and Madhouse did a fantastic job bringing Iron Man to the screen. It’s a fun ride, filled with action, ideas, philosophy… it feels very Eastern, in execution and structure, which I love. Not your typical Iron Man!
CA: Technovore is a team-up film for Tony in many ways – he’s working with Rhodey, S.H.I.E.L.D., even the Punisher at one point. And you’ve worked on another team-up film featuring Stark: the animated movie Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United, coming out at the end of 2013. Obviously, Hulk and Iron Man are a very popular pair after The Avengers last summer. How much did that film’s approach influence your own approach to writing the characters in Heroes United?
BA: Quite a bit. But Henry Gilroy and I were also heavily influenced by the comics. Now that the live-action movies are so huge, some people think that whatever animated film or series comes out is going to be tied directly to it, but that’s not the case at all. Heroes United isn’t necessarily tied to the MCU, and neither is Technovore, at least not directly – more of an alternate universe. Also keep in mind, Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United is geared for a much younger viewing audience than Technovore. They are very different.
CA: Tony is an interesting case, because he’s a lot of fun when he’s off on his own, but he’s also a lot of fun when he’s pinging off of other players, like Hulk or, in the case of Technovore, the Punisher. Were there any Marvel heroes or villains you wish you could have included in either Technovore or Heroes United, characters you hope to pit against Tony at some point down the line?
BA: I’d love for him to confront Ultron, Mandarin or Doctor Doom. And I’d love to send Stark into the future, where he could see how his tech influenced the world, even shaping it into a technological wonder, but not understanding it with his current knowledge, and realizing that his armor is obsolete – everyone in the future has access to super-high tech armor.
CA: Tony Stark is a big deal right now, arguably Marvel’s biggest at the moment. And the hype is only growing, with Iron Man 3 hitting theaters this summer. What do you find fascinating about Tony Stark’s current place as a popular culture icon? Why do you think Tony and Iron Man are resonating so strongly right now?
BA: I don’t think it’s because he’s a billionaire playboy superhero or any of that, we’ve seen that type of character a million times. I think it’s because his technology seems so feasible. It’s on the verge of happening within the next couple of decades. It feels more like grounded sci-fi than standard superhero fare. You watch it thinking, “Yeah, this is what’s next. My future grandkids could easily be walking around in these suits!”