By Marc Strom
With “Iron Man 2” soaring across theaters worldwide, fans can now delve even deeper into the film’s story with a number of comics following the live action characters beyond the screen.
In addition to three Digital Comics focusing on Nick Fury, Agent Phil Coulson and the Black Widow (all available right now exclusively on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited), readers can learn just what happened to Tony Stark between “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2” when IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY #3 concludes this Wednesday (in comic shops everywhere!).
Alejandro Arbona, the editor tasked with overseeing both the digicomics and PUBLIC IDENTITY, says that the collaboration with Marvel Studios came about as a natural way to expand Iron Man’s story beyond the movies.
“Marvel.com and Marvel Studios had already collaborated on some Iron Man movie-centric stories for Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited,” notes Arbona. “So during the buildup to ‘Iron Man 2,’ the guys at the studio proposed that we do it again, and right from the beginning the idea was to start building a bigger world around the continuity featured in the movies. Right away we started kicking around the projects that eventually became IRON MAN: I AM IRON MAN! and IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY. But we also wanted to start feeling out the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the agents who play a role in the movies, which led us to three short stories about Nick Fury, Agent Phil Coulson and Black Widow.”
For these stories, Arbona and the creators worked closely with Marvel Studios to ensure that the comics remained faithful to the world of the film.
“Collaborating with Marvel Studios was really stimulating, and fruitful,” remarks the editor. “We worked with Brad Winderbaum, Jeremy Latcham and Will Pilgrim, mostly over email and phone, and they provided a ton of cool and helpful information to help us figure out what Marvel concepts exist in that movie world, where the stories are going to go, what elements to show, which ones not to show yet, what teases and surprises we want to keep in our back pocket for later, etc. They also brought to bear all the story sense and brainstorming prowess that helps make the movies so solid, and really weighed in with valuable notes and advice to make these stories as strong as possible.”
The exclusive digicomics focus on three of the members of Iron Man’s supporting cast, namely Nick Fury, Agent Coulson and the Black Widow.
“We started out with the goal of telling short ‘tangent’ stories that occur around Tony Stark and Iron Man, between the scenes, so to speak,” explains Arbona. “From there, we also wanted to flesh out some of the characters who don't get as much screen time but who are nevertheless key players in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both in the movies and in the stories we're telling in print. Fury and Coulson had their parts to play in ‘Iron Man,’ but in ‘Iron Man 2,’ the two of them and Black Widow are obviously starting to become three big guns in this world, so there were definitely more stories to tell.”
As Marvel Studios continues to build their Cinematic Universe, these stories will help flesh out the world of “Iron Man 2” and tie it to the stories of both past and future Marvel films.
“The fans have seen by now that these movies all exist in a single world together,” remarks Arbona. “Nick Fury shows up in ‘Iron Man,’ the super-soldier serum and Tony Stark show up in ‘Incredible Hulk,’ and so much wonderful stuff shows up in ‘Iron Man 2’ that I won't mention in case you haven't seen it yet—and in which case, what the heck are you waiting for? So with these comics, we want to show readers more of that world, that connective tissue between all the movies, and a little bit more of how the characters interact. For example, when Tony Stark spoke to General Ross at the end of ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ you could tell they already knew each other; they spoke about some shared history they'd had together. Well in IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY you see when they first meet, and what that shared history is.
“That's a big one, but there are some other Easter eggs here and there; Fury's keeping an eye on Bruce Banner in one of our Digital Comics Unlimited exclusive shorts, for instance. I was just watching ‘Iron Man 2’ myself, and having worked on PUBLIC IDENTITY, I was actually really enjoying seeing the stuff pay off that we had set up in that series, stuff like knowing more of the backstory between Howard Stark and Anton Vanko, Ivan's father, or about Tony's strained relationship with the military that makes him so intransigent during that Senate hearing. And as we move forward, and get more movies on the horizon, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows more, you'll see more and more and more of this great, world-building stuff.”
Arbona worked closely with PUBLIC IDENTITY writer Joe Casey and Justin Theroux, who wrote the screenplay for “Iron Man 2,” in developing the story behind the three-issue tie-in series.
“Breaking the story was super fun,” he remembers. “After we'd all read the screenplay, the brainstorming kicked off with Justin telling us about the themes he, [director] Jon Favreau and the producers had talked about for the movie, a sort of allegory for nuclear non-proliferation with Tony's concern about his technology falling into the wrong hands, and the issue of him not trusting anyone else with his suit, and the way he does come to trust Rhodey [Lt. Col. James Rhodes]. [We also talked about] the relationship with his father [and] that sort of thing. Justin also talked to us about cool stuff the filmmakers discussed that wouldn't fit in the movie, like scenes of Iron Man helping out in hot spots around the globe—that's where Justin first threw out the idea of Iron Man clearing a minefield easily and harmlessly, like we saw in [PUBLIC IDENTITY] #2.
“So with everything we got from those early story discussions, we started shaping a story that would touch on the central themes. The important thing was that it had to come organically from the stuff that happened in ‘Iron Man’—what would happen to a man who'd just revealed his super hero identity to the world?—and it had to move us toward the stuff we knew was going to be important in ‘Iron Man 2.’ And let me tell you, having just re-watched ‘Iron Man’ a couple of weeks ago, read over the three issues of PUBLIC IDENTITY again after wrapping up the series, and seeing ‘Iron Man 2’ this week, they really move along a single central throughline that's really sweet to see all together at last.”
Here's more about the complete IRON MAN: PUBLIC IDENTITY series:
IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY #3
COVER BY: Adi Granov
WRITERS: Joe Casey & Justin Theroux
PENCILS: Barry Kitson
An all-new, exclusive story officially set in the world of the IRON MAN movies! Co-written by IRON MAN 2 screenwriter Justin Theroux and IRON MAN: ENTER THE MANDARIN writer Joe Casey, with art by Barry Kitson (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN)! Find out HERE how Tony Stark gets from point A - the "I am Iron Man" press conference from the blockbuster hit IRON MAN - to point B when the story of IRON MAN 2 begins and Tony is butting heads with the U.S. government. Everybody wants to get their hands on Tony Stark's game-changing Iron Man technology...and Tony knows the damage his armor could wreak in irresponsible hands. But a reckless military leader gets involved - a familiar Marvel face with close ties to Tony's past - and he's got his own plans that don't involve waiting for Stark to just hand over the suit... Rated A ...$3.99: In comic shops everywhere Wednesday, May 12!
IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY #2
IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY #2 cover by Brandon Peterson
COVER BY: Brandon Peterson
WRITER: Joe Casey
PENCILS: Barry Kitson
An all-new, exclusive story officially set in the world of the IRON MAN movies! Co-written by IRON MAN 2 screenwriter Justin Theroux and IRON MAN: ENTER THE MANDARIN writer Joe Casey, with art by Barry Kitson (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN)! Find out HERE how Tony Stark gets from point A - the "I am Iron Man" press conference from the blockbuster hit IRON MAN - to point B when the story of IRON MAN 2 begins and Tony is butting heads with the U.S. government. Everybody wants to get their hands on Tony Stark's game-changing Iron Man technology...and Tony knows the damage his armor could wreak in irresponsible hands. But a reckless military leader gets involved - a familiar Marvel face with close ties to Tony's past - and he's got his own plans that don't involve waiting for Stark to just hand over the suit... Rated A ...$3.99: In comic shops NOW!
IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY #1
IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY #1 cover by Brandon Peterson
WRITERS: Joe Casey & Justin Theroux
PENCILS: Barry Kitson
An all-new adventure set in the movie world of IRON MAN and IRON MAN 2! When Tony Stark announced "I am Iron Man" at the end of the blockbuster Hollywood mega-smash, his life changed forever. When IRON MAN 2 opens, it's months later and the world is totally different. What happened during that time? How did Tony Stark put a new chapter in the history books? And how did Iron Man break and rewrite all the rules? Find out in this OFFICIAL in-movie-continuity story! Rated A ...$2.99: In comic shops NOW!
Read these exclusive "Iron Man 2" digital comics right now:
Top intelligence agent and paramilitary operative the Black Widow is assigned by S.H.I.E.L.D. to work undercover as a notary public within Stark Industries and get close to Tony Stark.
Coulson and a rookie S.H.I.E.L.D. agent are drawn into a terror plot perpetrated by the insidious organization, the Ten Rings in this story set in Marvel movie continuity!
Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. keep tabs on Iron Man...or is it the other way around?
IRON MAN 2- NICK FURY: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Written by: Joe Casey
Art by: Tim Green II
Only available in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited
Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, aka the super hero Iron Man in this sequel to the 2008 blockbuster. RDJ, Paltrow, Cheadle and Rockwell are joined by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Mickey Rourke as Whiplash. Jon Favreau once again takes up the directorial reins for Marvel's armored avenger.
"Iron Man 2" is one of a continuing slate of films being produced by Marvel Studios based on the Marvel characters, including "Thor" on May 6, 2011, "The First Avenger: Captain America" on July 22, 2011 and "Marvel Studios' The Avengers" on May 4, 2012.
Stay tuned to Marvel.com for the official word on all things to do with Marvel movies!
Find out when the movie opens in YOUR country with the official "Iron Man 2" international release schedule!
The official Marvel Shop features all things Iron Man!
Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes!
Required Reading: check out key Iron Man collections available now in bookstores everywhere!