Not so long ago, motion comics were all the rage. They were advertised everywhere in magazines and in comics. Then, just as quickly as they came, they disappeared. I paid no attention to to them when they first came out, thinking “why watch a comic when I can read it in less than half the time?” To my surprise, I discovered that, when done right, motion comics provide a form of entertainment that lies somewhere between the stunning visuals of big budget movies and the simplified animation of straight to DVD features. When done wrong, they can be a challenge to get through.
Iron Man: Extremis was done mostly right. The computer generated images weren’t perfect, and I wish they would have taken an approach similar to the Astonishing X-Men motion comic and just transfered the comic visuals with as much fidelity as possible to the screen. By using computer generated visuals, they set themselves up to look inferior to other companies like Pixar. Sure, the graphics were better than the CGI of Reboot (anyone remember Reboot?) and Titan A.E., but they weren’t up to the same standard as the film industry.
Once I got past the CGI, I became enthralled with the six part series for its strong and thrilling story. Iron Man Extremis is based on a six issue series written by Warren Ellis, a writer who has achieved a strong following over the years by telling dark and often chilling stories that delve heavily into sci-fi concepts. His series Planetary is amazing, but I’ve found much of his work with superheroes to be hit or miss. His writing for JLA, for example, didn’t do much for me, but with Iron Man Extremis he knocks it out of the park.
The story begins with a villain named Mallen who causes disorder and destruction everywhere he goes, claiming many lives in the process. On his tail, Tony Stark discovers Mallen’s edge comes from a newly created drug called Extremis and, after suffering a big defeat and narrowly escaping with his life, he decides to fight fire with fire.
The Extremis storyline affected the Iron Man series greatly. By the end of it, a darker, tougher Tony Stark emerges, which would set up Matt Fraction’s later work with the series nicely.
As the title suggests, this story is pretty extreme, and the motion comic doesn’t filter out the violence for broad appeal. For that, watch the Iron Man movies. There’s a startling amount of blood and visceral action scenes in Iron Man: Extremis, so this one’s not recommended for the kiddies. Adults though will enjoy how engaging the story is and how it’s set against a plausible political backdrop.
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Here is the trailer for Iron Man: Extremis.
If you like Iron Man Extremis, you might also like this article about Iron Man 2.0.