Iron Man: Armored Adventures Animated Series

Brandon Auman on Writing Iron Man: Armored Adventures

Series Story Editor Brandon Auman looks back at Season 2, Vol. 1, now on DVD!

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By Christina Pham

Shellhead’s already blasted his way to shelves in the “Iron Man: Armored Adventures” Season 2, Volume 1 DVD, but we’re itching to share more about Tony Stark and the gang! Here’s the scoop on what it took to put the series’ second season together, with Head Writer/Story Editor, Brandon Auman!

Screenshot from "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" Season 2, Vol. 1 now on DVD

Auman’s known for his contribution to the video games “Dead Space: Aftermath” and “Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic,” but he definitely knows his way around the Marvel Universe, as well. With episodes of “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!” and season one of “Iron Man: Armored Adventures” under his belt, he picked some bigger shoes to fill after becoming the Head Writer/Story Editor for season two of Iron Man’s solo series!

Now continue reading to see what Auman has to say about his experience with “Iron Man: Armored Adventures,” and remember to check out Season 2, Volume 1 on DVD now!

Marvel.com: Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you started working in animation?

Brandon Auman: I was actually a toy designer for a few years, but wanted to break into feature movies like every other writer in Hollywood.  I wrote dozens of scripts, a book of short stories, a novel...and finally, with enough persistence, got some movie projects off the ground.  Well, at least half-way off the ground.  More like "hovering" a little.  They didn't get made, but it did lead me into working in animation. I started off with a short that won the Cartoon Monsoon shorts program years back. One thing led to another, and here I am.

Hammer Tower concept art from "Iron Man: Armored Adventures"

Marvel.com: What was it like transitioning from a writer in season one to Head Writer/Story Editor in season two?

Brandon Auman: It was a little tricky transitioning at first, as we were on a tight deadline.  We needed to write all 26 episodes within about nine months, so it was crazy for the first few episodes. But once I settled in by "Ghost in the Machine" it got a lot easier. Marvel was so cool to work with, [and] almost everything I pitched out of the gate got approved. How often does that happen? 

Marvel.com: How did you decide on which stories to feature, such as Armor Wars or Iron Man 2099? What was your strategy behind it?

Brandon Auman: Well, I discussed the arcs early on with Cort Lane and Megan Thomas Bradner, producers on the series, and we quickly figured out that the first half of the season would be Armor Wars, and the second half would resolve the Makluan Ring saga. Then I had a short period of time to write up a bible and pitch what all 26 stories would be. A little bit of trivia--I pitched a Thor story early on but it didn't happen, and we almost had Wolverine make an appearance.

Screenshot from "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" Season 2, Vol. 1 now on DVD

Marvel.com: Which Iron Man stories influenced your perception, or take, on the characters in “Iron Man: Armored Adventures”?

Brandon Auman: Everything from [the] ‘60s and ‘70s comics, especially the [David] Michelinie and [Bob] Layton books. Late ‘80s and early ‘90s were big for me too, and current comics like Extremis and the Matt Fraction books. Some of the characters were a total reinvention, like Justin Hammer, who was based off of the original Hammer character but obviously aged down and made more psychotic. Black Widow and Hawkeye are based off their ‘60s counterparts, with a mix of Ultimates thrown in for good measure. Doctor Doom is more of my own reinvention. I just wanted to streamline his origin for our universe. I wanted to get to the core of Doom, who is my favorite villain ever. 

Marvel.com: Since the main characters are teenagers in high school, did you aim to highlight themes and problems normal teenagers may encounter?

Screenshot from "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" Season 2, Vol. 1 now on DVD

Brandon Auman: The first season and the first half of the second season, we definitely shot for that, but I started getting bored of the high school drama and wanted to focus more on adventure and intrigue in the second half. I wanted to move into more exciting territory, but the teenage themes are still there--trusting your friends, sacrificing your ideals for the good of others, facing your fears--themes that appeal to kids, but are really universal for all ages. 

Marvel.com: Throughout season two, which new characters did you enjoy featuring the most and why? 

Brandon Auman: I really liked Justin Hammer as a villain--he's so over the top and insane. All the writers seemed to love writing him. I thought Doctor Doom, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Rhona were great, [and] It was a lot of fun bringing back the Hulk. He's awesome in the Avengers movie [and] one of my favorite heroes in the Marvel Universe. I thought Andros Stark [in] “Iron Man 2099” was a great character. I dig villains who aren't exactly villains per se, but characters who believe they are good or righteous in their own mind. To a certain degree, Andros was right. He was doing the heroic thing. He was even willing to wipe himself out of reality to save the world. I love those types of characters.  

Hammer Tower concept art from "Iron Man: Armored Adventures"

Marvel.com: Digging down on some specific episodes, "The Invincible Iron Man Part 1: Disassembled!" had a lot to do. Given the revelations of the end of season one, how did you decide he shouldn't find his Dad right away? 

Brandon Auman: Well, it just seemed to make logical sense.  I wanted to save the big emotional reunion between Tony and his dad until later in the season.  It changes the dynamic of the show quite a bit.  Also I considered that Gene is off searching for the rings, and he's going to need some help out there.  He's not going to let Howard off so easily, when he knows more about the rings than anyone.  Plus, Gene is going to need a character to talk to... it would be boring to have him off alone, talking to himself! So all of those factors seemed to work together.

Marvel.com: In Episode 202, "The Invincible Iron Man Part 2: Reborn!" you introduce Iron Man's new armor. What was the thought process behind giving him new the duds? 

Brandon Auman: Well, I figured it's a new season, time for a new suit! I wanted to show how powerful Whiplash has become, so for Whiplash to destroy the old suit and hurt Tony...we're instantly upping the stakes.

I thought the suit needed more details, needed to look heavier and shinier. At the time, “Iron Man 2” had just come out, and the suit in that movie has the triangular [chestpiece], so I wanted to mirror that as well.  It kept what worked well and tweaked it, so it was more an upgrade than revision.

Living Laser concept art from "Iron Man: Armored Adventures"

Marvel.com: In Episode 203, "Look Into the Light," you bring back the Living Laser, a character from season one. What interested you in the villain? Did you feel his story was unfinished somehow?

Brandon Auman: We initially brought him back for production reasons.  We had to wait for the designers to build new villains, so we had to dust some older characters off, like Living Laser, and create stories around them. He fit into our current story because we could show the level and sophistication of Hammer's tech...and simply because I like Living Laser.

Marvel.com: In Episode 204, "Ghost in the Machine" we get our first quality time with Howard and Gene Khan. How did you find a balance between their story and Tony's in the series?

Brandon Auman: I wanted to do some stories focusing on Gene and Howard and show more of the Makluan Ring hunt, with actual battles against the Ring Guardians. But we simply couldn't do it. We were constrained by how many new CG models we could build in season two, so I had to get a little tricky with the hunt for the rings. We could "tease" a guardian, but not actually animate it, which was a juggling act at times. I would have loved to see the Melter or the Sunturion come to life and kick butt, but it just couldn't happen for the sake of production. We opted to use the new character models we were allotted on "bigger," more meaningful guest stars, like Doctor Doom, Hawkeye, Black Widow and so on.

Screenshot from "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" Season 2, Vol. 1 now on DVD

Marvel.com: This is also an episode where the bad guy basically wins. What, if any, was the discussion about the ramifications of Ghost discovering Tony Stark's identity? Did it play out exactly like you intended? 

Brandon Auman: It did.  And we'll see what all this means by the end of the season. You'll just have to wait until the last episode! 

Marvel.com: In "Armor Wars" we see Tony Stark's worst nightmare start to come true when Stane decides to use the Iron Man technology to build his own high-tech armor for not-so-noble purposes. On its surface it seems a story about Intellectual property and how you can't control how technology is used, pretty heady stuff for kids!  How did you find the "in" to the story to make it more approachable for the younger viewership?

Brandon Auman: Well, it's as simple as "don't steal stuff and claim it's your own!"  Kids can get that easy. Don't copy my homework and pass it off as your own. Don't take my art project and copy it, and pretend you created it! I think kids get that. They seemed to really love that episode. And the older fans dig it too, you know? Because it's pretty similar to the old school Armor Wars comics. And kids are waaaay smarter than we give them credit for anyway.

Marvel.com: Episode 206, "Line of Fire," kicks off what becomes an ongoing plotline in the series between Pepper and Tony, that she has feelings for him. Here it's presented as a bit of jealousy and her fib that she and Happy have a date. What was the thinking behind this? 

Brandon Auman: We wanted to play with Tony and Pepper's relationship more, simple as that. And we will touch on that more as the season plays out. It's just a lot of fun to watch these characters that have always had a history in the comics flirt with each other. Makes for interesting situations and tension, and the fans seem to love it!

Pick up “Iron Man: Armored Adventures” Season 2, Volume 1 on DVD now, and catch new episodes Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on Nicktoons!

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