• Home
  • Comics
  • Movies
  • Videos
  • Games
  • TV
  • Characters
  • Shop

Iron Man: Building Blocks

Iron Man: Building Blocks Pt. 1

Kieron Gillen prepares for the Secret Origin of Tony Stark!

By Ryan Haupt

Kieron Gillen has already shaken up the world of the Armored Avenger by sending Tony Stark to the stars in IRON MAN. Now he intends to project readers back into the past to explore the origin of everyone’s favorite super hero industrialist! Kieron sat down with us to tell us a little bit about what he has planned for the upcoming “Secret Origin of Tony Stark.”

Iron Man #9 cover by Greg Land

Marvel.com: How did you first come up with doing the story of “The Secret Origin of Tony Stark?”

Kieron Gillen: There’s a really big idea at the core of it. When I had that idea, I was walking around the airport. I was thinking about Tony in space. Marvel had just emailed me and said that the 50th anniversary [of Iron Man] is coming up and maybe we can have a story that harks back to the beginning of Tony. I was immediately thinking “how on Earth could I possibly do this?” I have Tony Stark in deep space at this point! I stopped and laughed. I shook my head and took a couple of steps. I pitched this really big idea and Marvel looked it and said it make sense. And that’s what’s scary about it. It leads towards stuff that fundamentally changes Tony’s idea of self. That’s where it kind of came from.

The problem is that I don’t want to give too much away. I’m going to talk around stuff. I’ll tease stuff and we’ll talk about [the] period and elements without giving away too much.

I laid the story out and sent it to Marvel and they loved it. The fact that the idea is as big as it is, it went up and down to the highest levels at Marvel and into the realm of lawyers and all that kind of stuff.

Marvel.com: Does the idea have anything to do with the 50th anniversary or was that just the inception of how you decided to do a story about the origin?

Kieron Gillen: I’ve been thinking a lot about time. If you look at the Marvel timeline, it explodes. [Laughs] You don’t think about that too hard if you want to try to do a story that’s kind of like 30 years [in the past]. I deliberately played it coy with Tony in the current issues. “It’s your birthday, Tony, it begins with a three.” So is he more like Robert Downey Jr. or is he early 30’s? I didn’t really care to explain that because it’s kind of irrelevant. But I wanted to do a story that felt retro or had a part of it that felt retro. The idea that it could have come from 50 years ago. That kind of 60’s vibe. Despite Tony being 30, I wanted the story to have that kind of 60’s approach.

Iron Man #9 preview art by Dale Eaglesham

In fact, most of it is set in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is a town where 30 years ago, it’s still Vegas. It’s still the modern age. It’s a matter of “Ocean’s Eleven” the 60’s version or “Ocean’s Eleven” the noughties version. They’re still fundamentally identifiable as Vegas. You’re still wearing the suits; you’ve still got that look to it. That’s what I want to do. So even if this book is a modern classic and it’s still read in 30 years’ time, they kind of recognize it as, “Oh, I get it. It’s Vegas.” And this is clearly a 60’s influenced story but at the same time making it work within the Marvel continuity. So that’s the 50th anniversary thing, the story goes through Tony in deep space doing what he’s doing, and the bits that go back to his conception and birth.

Marvel.com: The cover of IRON MAN #9 is a picture of a baby wearing the original Mark I Iron Man helmet. I wasn’t sure if we’re going to see Tony as a baby or at least at an earlier part in his history…

Kieron Gillen: It’s about Maria and Howard [Stark] and them having a baby. It’s about the problems they face having a baby and everything around that, and what parents would do to have a child. All of that stuff. It’s literally the origin of Tony Stark. That’s the story. It’s the Stark origin story, essentially. In a very literal way as in: where did Tony come from?

Marvel.com: Howard Stark has been portrayed in a couple of the movies, such as “Iron Man 2” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” I would imagine that most people are coming in to your story with that kind of image of Howard Stark in their mind. Did that play in to your interpretation of the character at all?

Kieron Gillen: Yeah, a bit. You try and square it, in that he’s been one way in the movies and another in the comics. You try to work out a way to synthesize it that’s interesting. There’s something about the patriarch in Howard, despite being a playboy. There’s this great panel of him sitting in a chair with a glass of brandy and he has this big mustache. Dale draws a mean mustache.

Marvel.com: Dale has a drawn a couple of mustachioed characters. When he gave Reed Richards a beard, it was awesome.

Iron Man #12 cover by Greg Land

Kieron Gillen: Maria is someone we have seen less of. Matt Fraction did an eight-page backup story showing how Howard and Maria met. My interpretation of Maria draws quite heavily from that. She’s not like Howard where he’s involved in the prototypical weirdness of the Marvel Universe. She’s very much a civilian but also very capable. Picture a 1960’s leading lady. That’s the way I’m writing her. She’s the Cary Grant in this. A lot of the people they meet are very much period archetypes. I want it to feel very 60’s. I want the future scenes done in the hyper-bright style we’re doing with Greg [Land] and the flashback scenes done in a more flat coloring style. We want the flashbacks to feel like that.

Check back tomorrow for part two where we learn a bit more about how Kieron plans to rewrite the very history of the Marvel Universe! “The Secret Origin of Tony Stark” begins in IRON MAN #9 on May 1!

Related Characters

MORE IN Marvel NOW! See All

MORE IN Iron Man: Building Blocks See All

MORE IN Comics See All