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Featured TV on DVD Review: Iron Man: Extremis

November 29th, 2010

Iron Man: Extremis - Buy from Amazon

Iron Man: Extremis is a six-issue story arc that first appeared in The Invincible Iron Man. It led off the latest incarnation of the comic book line that started in 2005 and it was an obvious influence on Iron Man, especially his new origins. But how well will in translate into the Motion Comic format?

The Movie

The story is split into six episodes, each based on one of the issues of the comic and each running from 10 to 20 minutes, mostly on the lower end of the scale. The longest is the first episode, which makes sense, as it has to do the heavy lifting in setting up the plot. The show begins in an abandoned slaughterhouse with a man being injected with something, which has immediate, and rather painful looking results. We then flash to Tony Stark, who appears to have slept in his lab, again. He's got to get up and do an interview with John Pillinger, a leftist documentarian. John Pillinger accuses him of being an arms dealer and profiting on the death of others, while Tony Stark ends the interview by accusing John Pillinger of wasting his life on lost causes.

We then learn that whatever it was that man was injected with was stolen from the Futurepharm corporation, and the man responsible, while still convinced he did the right thing, is unwilling to face the consequences, so he kills himself. His co-worker, Maya Hansen, is an old friend of Tony Stark, and she contacts him to help investigate. She explains that it was Extremis that was stolen, a new Super Soldier Serum, but she doesn't know who he sold it to. And before he can get that information, there's an attack on the local FBI headquarters by some... thing. It looks human, but it has superhuman strength, bulletproof skin, and it can even breathe fire.

Tony Stark has to go after this guy, but it looks like technology has passed him by and his suit just doesn't have the same reflexes as Extremis was able to give to the man (whose name we later learn is Mallen). Tony's going to have to do something extreme to even the odds.

The six-episode arc uses flashbacks to explore the new origins of Iron Man, which essentially updates the time line from the Vietnam War to the first Gulf War. (Like I said, it's very similar to what we saw in the movie.) In that way, it is practically the perfect storyarc to choose for a project like this, as it will bring people up to speed, even those who have little to no knowledge of Iron Man. Through flashbacks, we also see the origins of Mallen and how they in some ways mirror those of Iron Man, so it has strong writing as well. There are a few action scenes, but not many, so the Motion Comic technology isn't overextended.

As far as the Motion Comic technology goes, this does appear to be a marked improvement over Astonishing X-Men: Gifted in that regard. However, I do prefer the earlier release's writing.

I do wish when they put together the DVD they would have combined the episodes into one without the breaks for each episode. There's close to 10 minutes of unnecessary opening and closing credits. A simple title card break would have been better.

Also, subtitles. Include subtitles.

The Extras

Extras start with a 17-minute making of featurette, which deals with the creation of the original comic, as well as the motion comic. It's an even mix of talking head (Adi Granov, the artist) and clips from the show. There are a trio of Behind-the-Scenes featurettes with the actor that provided the voice for Tony Stark, the animators, and other voice actors. There are a couple image galleries, while the extras round out with a music video and a short stop motion animated What The--?! The image galleries are interesting, but short, while the other two have very limited appeal.

The Verdict

With Iron Man: Extremis, Marvel is showing that the Motion Comic medium isn't going away, as long as they keep choosing projects that excel in terms of writing and art over those that are heavy in the action. The DVD has a few special features that are worth checking out, and a couple that feel like filler, and while it is not as good as the previous release was, it is still worth picking up.

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