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by Vince Brusio

It's safe to say that if you surf the Web or watch TV you know that Iron Man 3 hits theaters May 3rd. The trailers are everywhere. And we mean EVERYWHERE. The film takes the Iron Man mythos in a new direction, as in this movie fans are treated to several versions of the armored Avenger past the introduction of War Machine in Iron Man 2. But the excitement for ol' Shellhead right now is not just limited to the premiere of Iron Man 3, as Kieron Gillen’s story arc in Iron Man #9 for Marvel NOW is ideally timed for the attention that's once again on genius/hero Tony Stark. In this exclusive PREVIEWSworld interview, Kieron explains how he's seized the moment and poured new concrete for an Iron Man foundation that will be talked about at the comic shops long after Iron Man 3 leaves the movie theaters.

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PREVIEWSworld: With the release of the film Iron Man 3, the timing of your story arc “The Secret Origin Of Tony Stark” in Iron Man #9 is ideal. People new to the Iron Man mythos — if curious about the character in comics — could easily pick up issue #9 and conveniently get on the ground floor of Tony Stark’s transformation into the golden Avenger.  Could you tell us what ideas were thrown around between you and the editorial staff in regards to this timing of this arc, and how it played into your plotting for the story moving forward?

Kieron Gillen: The inspiration for the arc came from the timing, really. In fact, it's as much the 50th anniversary of Iron Man as Iron Man 3. It's such a big thing, and the editors suggested we do something that harked back to the very beginning of Iron Man. And after a moment of growling, the core idea just dropped on me. I was walking around an airport, and I actually stumbled in my step. I then laughed, thought I couldn't do it... and then realized I absolutely could. The rest is Marvel History. Or will be. You know what I mean.

The story is actually welcoming to people coming from the movie, not by showing what they know, but expanding that into areas that are entirely new. This is a "what happens if this happened to Tony" sort of situation. And I'll stress it's the secret origin of Tony Stark, not the secret origin of Iron Man. We know the origin of Iron Man. This, you don't know. Nobody knows.

In terms of my plotting, this is a this-changes-everything arc, both for Tony and the direction of the run. Everything before is basically leading towards this, and everything else is the repercussions  It's really the biggest story I've ever done for Marvel, I think.

PREVIEWSworld: It’s a very exciting time to be working on the Iron Man comic, given the timing of the release for Iron Man 3 in theaters. It’s likely that more eyes will be directed towards your work, given the media attention for the film. No pressure, right? But the truth is that you’re used to taking on big challenges. You’ve worked hard at writing Uncanny X-Men for Marvel, as well as AvX: Consequences, which transitioned the Marvel universe into Marvel NOW!  So based on your experience and success with X-Men, how did that play into your expectations of what you could accomplish writing Iron Man given the timing of the new film?

Kieron Gillen: As I noted earlier, this is a story which takes what people know about Iron Man and detonates it. The aim for me, in terms of the movies, is offer what they can't have. The idea is always "I want the story to be big and compelling enough to sufficient to build a movie around."  You write it as the primary source, which is exactly what it is.

PREVIEWSworld: Here’s a technical question. In the Iron Man series you’re focusing on a new suit that can be modified on demand. In the trailer now for Iron Man 3, viewers are treated to a scene where Robert Downey Jr. jumps off a building to be enveloped in his suit in mid-fall. Has the new evolution of Tony’s suit been a topic of conversation between you and the different Marvel camps? Do you think there’s further room for improving on Tony’s suit?

Kieron Gillen: I think there's always room for improving on Tony's suits. That Iron Man is never going to be "finished" is part of the appeal. Tony wouldn't know what to do if he ever did, I think. But no, there's been no talk between the different camps. Or at least, no talk I've been involved in.

PREVIEWSworld: What Iron Man stories of the past would you look to for creative inspiration? What previous Iron Man creators help give you a frame of reference for how to think like Tony Stark? Or have you been told that past is not precedent, and that you should experiment to see what you could do given that you’re spearheading Marvel Now! stories?

Kieron Gillen: As much as Iron Man's long history is always there, I tend to think the modern age of Iron Man kicked off with Ellis and Granov's “Extremis.” For me, that conceptual rewiring of approach broke the path that lead to where we are now, in comics and movies most. My first arc was a little nod back to “Extremis,” but hopefully with embracing and extrapolating its key idea ("A programming system for humans"). That's the thing for me: going back and extrapolating on something that exists is a powerful thing, but if you just recapitulate it, it's a waste of everyone's time. Especially on a book with such a futurist bent as Iron Man, y'know?

In terms of the “Secret Origin of Tony Stark,” most of my influences come from outside of the Iron Man canon. The core element basically mashes the two great myths of Nevada together — Vegas and Area 51. If I was to be forced into doing an elevator pitch, I'd probably say something like "It's got an Oceans 11 meets The X-Files sort of vibe" before becoming all ashamed of doing an elevator pitch. Shame. SHAME.

PREVIEWSworld: Death’s Head and Iron Man team up in issue #9. Team-ups are always a good formula for rock ‘em sock ‘em action. If the House of Ideas took the gloves off and said “go crazy” and you could team-up Iron Man with anyone for a fantasy football-type slugfest, what hero/villain would you choose to hook up with Iron Man for an ultimate World War III knockdown?

Kieron Gillen: Hah. You're right. Rubbing characters up against unexpected characters and seeing what happens is one of the joys of the gig. And the joy of the gig is that you never know: maybe I'll get to write that team-up/slugfest chaos. So I'll keep quiet.

But I note your question was a little wider. As in, anyone, in any world, as if Marvel went mad and decided "To hell with the IP laws, Kieron! Do whatever. We've got your back!".

Hmm.

Drop Iron Man into Mirkwood and have him team up with Beorn from the Hobbit, for ursine-shapechanging and honey-cakes eating.

Or, alternatively, write him into the Brothers Karamazov. Great book, but could have totally have done with a slugfest or eight.

 
Iron Man #9 in comic shops 5/1.