Iron Man: Extremis Motion Comic Review and Panel Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated April 17th, 2010 at 4:09 pm,

iron man extremis motion comic Iron Man: Extremis Motion Comic Review and Panel Discussion

Part one of the six issue Marvel motion comic Iron Man: Extremis debuted on iTunes, XBox Live, PlayStation Network and Microsoft Zune today for $1.99. This afternoon, in a special panel discussion at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, I was able to watch the first 20 minute episode of the series and listen to Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada and Iron Man: Extremis producer Ruwan Jayatilleke discuss the project and the state of motion comics in general.

An adaptation of a popular 2005 Iron Man story from writer Warren Ellis and artist Adi Granov, the plot revolves around a military-sponsored nanotechnology serum called Extremis. When the serum is taken by an anti-government militia man, Tony Stark must become Iron Man to stop him. Unfortunately for Tony, when he is defeated he must use the Extremis serum himself to save his life. As a result of taking the serum, Tony gains significantly advanced strength and agility, but he also becomes more aggressive.

Thematically, the story shows Tony Stark as he struggles with the guilt of being a former weapons manufacturer and, as Iron Man, being a sort-of weapon himself. Both Warren Ellis’ revised origin for Iron Man and Adi Granov’s art from the Extremis storyline were major influences on John Favreau’s 2008 Iron Man film.

Motion comics occupy a unique space in the sphere of comic book consumption. While they are certainly more involved than traditional comic books, they don’t quite reach the complexity of a full blown animated film. As such, they are the perfect type of content for comic companies to sell digitally via mobile devices such as the iPhone or the new iPad (a tactic that Marvel has been pushing aggressively to gain new readers).

Iron Man: Extremis is Marvel’s fourth motion comic outing to date and the company’s most impressive offering by far. Purely from a visual perspective, Extremis is worth watching. Using complex CGI technology, Extremis enhances the already stunning artwork of the original comic book, literally allowing Granov’s characters to pop off the page with bright and richly textured colors. If I owned an iPad or a similar digital devise, I could easily see myself buying something like this for morning commutes.

iron man extremis motion comic 2 Iron Man: Extremis Motion Comic Review and Panel Discussion

As rich and satisfying as the visuals were, however, I was less impressed by how the characters were animated. The basic idea behind a motion comic is to bring a static comic book page to life. Unfortunately, to accomplish this task, the animators must sometimes force physical action that seems unnatural or stiff.

For instance, in a comic book panel, you might see a static character simply pointing toward the sky. For a motion comic, however, you will see that same character’s arm swing from the ground toward the sky. In a traditional animation, this scene would be drawn over a sequence of frames, allowing for the arm to raise in one smooth movement. With motion comics, however, the movement is much more rigid. In general, this was not a problem and I definitely enjoyed the comic, but in certain scenes I found it to be distracting.

Luckily, Marvel is just touching the tip of the Iceberg when it comes to their motion comic technology. When I asked Joe Quesada about the stiffness of the characters, he explained that the technology was constantly evolving and would improve with each new release.

“Remember the first CGI movies, or what special effects used to look like? All this stuff is in its infancy, and literally every minute new technology gets developed and its stuff that we apply to what it is that we’re doing.”

Quesada also noted the limitations of motion comics such as tight deadlines and smaller budgets.

“The trick with motion comics is to apply very sophisticated technology within a certain shortened time period…If we had millions and millions of dollars to spend on these and months and months and months to really devote to every single nuance, then it would look like sophisticated computer graphics…My goal with motion comics personally from an artistic sense is to someday look at these and go, “Wow, those are incredibly archaic” to where we’ll be five years from now.”

Producer Ruwan Jayatilleke added that for Marvel’s next motion comic project (the subject of which he wouldn’t disclose), the company would be employing new techniques and taking advantage of new technologies.

“I would say for our next project…the solution that I’m looking at is we get to play a little bit more with 3D architecture and actually building a depth to the environment.”

For a closer look at Iron Man: Extremis, check out  the first trailer for the series below.

If you’re interested in downloading the first episode, you can find it on iTunes here.

Do you think motion comics are an interesting new medium? Would you purchase Iron Man: Extremis?

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TAGS: iron man

19 Comments

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  1. I wonder if this is going to be just another way of viewing comics… who knows, in twenty years' time, maybe paper comics will have been entirely replaced by motion comics. In the 21st century, most people see comic books as a rather outdated medium. I don't see this evolution as necessarily being a bad thing… the fact that there are no printing or distribution costs involved could allow the comic companies to pass on that saving to the readers, which would help to overcome the conception that comics are a very expensive form of entertainment in relation to how much enjoyment you can get from them. They may be expensive to prdouce, but I suppose a small number of high-quality comics is better than a large number of low-quality comics.

  2. I wonder if this is going to be just another way of viewing comics… who knows, in twenty years' time, maybe paper comics will have been entirely replaced by motion comics. In the 21st century, most people see comic books as a rather outdated medium. I don't see this evolution as necessarily being a bad thing… the fact that there are no printing or distribution costs involved could allow the comic companies to pass on that saving to the readers, which would help to overcome the conception that comics are a very expensive form of entertainment in relation to how much enjoyment you can get from them. They may be expensive to prdouce, but I suppose a small number of high-quality comics is better than a large number of low-quality comics.

  3. Nice job. Really didn't need the unconvincing mouth movements though. Sometimes less is more. Too reminiscent of the '60s Iron Man cartoon show: static panels from the comic with only the lips moving. I suppose it's the future and all that, but I don't look at motion comics as much more than a promotional tool for the real low-tech, 2D thing. They haven't come into their own as a medium yet. There are basic comic techniques they can't communicate (or are going to have to find a way to communicate unique to themselves), like the layout and composition of an entire page – not just what's happening within individual panels. Watchmen and Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, for example, both used traditional grid layouts which increased the impact of the larger panels and splash pages in a way that wouldn't come across if you were seeing them as simply one panel in a sequence.

    Good idea to get the Extremis concept to a wider audience. At some point in the movies they'll have to consider an upgrade to the suit that goes further than Stark getting bolted into it like a medieval knight, which looks great, but also weirdly archaic in view of the total biological interface notion of the Extremis armour.

  4. I think that Marvel and DC should start investing in ways to make comics available for digital download. I mean instead of motion comics why not just have your regular comics available to download to your computer. Something like a pdf or a Marvel styled itunes. This way makes comics more accessible. It could come with a subscribe feature that automatically updates a series for you.

  5. Lastdragon

    DC is slacking but Marvel has digital downloading of comics. They also have a mobile app for downloading comics. Just check out the website.

  6. Ugh, I don't like Extremis at all. They should've gone with Armor Wars.

    Heath

  7. I know, I was just suggesting that they improve on that instead of motion comics

  8. I prefer the traditional way of reading comic books.

  9. I could not download this because it say it is only availible for US iTunes store.
    Why exlude a worldwide marked? Been so exited to se this and now i cant… Anyone know were i can Pay and download this Legaly? Never pirate downloaded anything, but limiting accesss to certain groups, i can understand why people are tempted to download a pirate copy. Got customers worldwide who gladly wants to pay for this and watch it.

  10. I love Adi Granov's style, everything is very crisp looking, nothing looks rough at all. I wonder who did the music too, I love it! Marvel should come out with full feature CGI films in the vein of the Final Fantasy movies.

  11. Some movies I'd like to see in full CGI would be :The Micronaughts, Rom The SpaceKnight, The Inhumans, and The Squadron Supreme, and Guardians of The Galaxy.

  12. It's very easy to see that Granov's inspiration for Tony Stark was Tom Cruise. Very smooth and sharp imagery though. I want to see more.

  13. They could possibly go the way of using panels that you click on to get the narrative and keep more of the comic feel. Perhaps using flash/java to enlarge the panels as you move to each one or just key panels. Check how Imax did it for Hubble; http://www.imax.com/hubble/
    That way you can go back and forth. Check out how Big Lots does it; http://ads.biglots.com/customer_Frame.jsp?drpSt

    The more complicated you make it the less like a comic book it becomes and more like an animated movie. If you go that far people will wonder, why not just make an all digital movie out of it? In other words, if you take the whole process too far you don't have a comic anymore you have a movie.

  14. After just watching the trailer I have to agree about the mouth moving. Why not just make it a voice-over? I'm not generally a comic reader but I've read a few. Isn't this type of exposition usually handled with either thought-bubbles or overlaid square boxes? Having him “speak” these thoughts seems odd and out of place.

  15. i'm fans of Iron Man, i will watch this video. thanks.

    FREE Comics and Manga Download

  16. I’m a fan of Iron Man, but was not a fan of this really. I like the story, and I like motion comics very much, but this is a badly done one. It’s rated as one of the worst in the motion comic community.
    See http://www.digitalmotioncomics.com/motion_comic/iron-man-extremis for it’s score.

    “Quesada also noted the limitations of motion comics such as tight deadlines and smaller budgets.”

    He thought the budget was too small because he got ‘motion comics’ all wrong. He blew the budget on ridiculous FX and 3D modelling. He should have a look at spiderwoman, Buffy or Time Jumper. They are motion comics, Iron Man is a crappy film anamatic.

    “All this stuff is in its infancy… new tehcnology blah blah” They don’t need new technology to be good. He really really missed the point and wasted a lot of money and a good title.

    • I understand what your preference is based on the motion comics you praise, Lyon. But there’s a difference between “missing the boat” and wanting to do more than the narrow definition you seem to think applies to motion comics. You really think Joe Q didn’t see Spider Woman? I’ve seen all the motion comics you noted, I even bought the DVD’s that came out years ago that had little more than panning over the art.
      As for the motion comics community, does it consist of more than the 10 people who voted on the link you provided? To say it another way, people on iTunes, Amazon and other sites have given it much better reviews. But maybe they aren’t motion comic purists, and maybe that’s the audience Marvel was hoping to reach. So I don’t think you can actually claim he “missed the point.

      • I see my name in your post so clearly you are responding to me – but who is the rest of your post to? purist, missing the point, narrow definition etc. What does this have to do with my post?

  17. Hello people. I looked this up on amazon and it doesn’t have many positive reviews there either causing me want to wager a bet that mr. GD worked on extremis and is a little over protective of its shortcomings. Please don’t make things up. Sorry GD but it is not entertaining and i’m gonna go with the Lyon.

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