Brandon Auman may not be an immediately familiar name, but he's been responsible for some of the best-known and most-watched adventures of Marvel and DC superheroes, as well as other animated characters like G.I. Joe, for a number of years. His new film, Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore, recently came to video and features not only Iron Man and War Machine, but Black Widow, The Punisher and other Marvel Universe guests. And with The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus on board as Frank Castle/The Punisher, you know that all fanboy eyes were on the direct-to-video movie. (And in case those fanboys blinked for a second and missed it, The Technovore is not a new creation for the film or his previous TV appearances, as many fans thought; he actually appeared -- albeit briefly-- in an Iron Man arc in the '90s.) Having worked on Iron Man: Armored Adventures and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Auman is no stranger to most of these characters--although obviously The Punisher tends to get circulated quite a bit less on kids' shows than other Marvel characters, and he was a prominently-featured part of this movie's promotional campaign. But what would somebody who's been working on the kids' shows do when cut loose with a bigger budget and a PG-13 rating? Auman joined ComicBook.com to talk about Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore, the movie's unique challenges and what makes it different from previous iterations of the characters he's worked on for television. ComicBook.com: Obviously you've got a relationship with the Iron Man character that goes back a ways, and you've got some experience doing both features and series...but what's the difference in terms of the way you approach a character in a feature film versus writing an episode of a series? Are there different goals you're setting out to accomplish with each?
In animation it's more about the long-term growth of the character, his ups and downs, his wins and defeats, over the course of a bigger arc. But TV series are always geared toward younger kids nowadays. And there is a structure to these types of shows, a paradigm. We wanted the Technovore film to be action packed and exciting, but less mainstream. More adult, stranger, more philosophical, anime brings all of that. There is a dreamlike surreal quality… It's almost like an art film at times. It's very Japanese, and that's what I love about it, watching our Super Hero story pass through the Madhouse anime filter, and reemerge as something completely different.
You've written for Avengers, Super Friends and G.I. Joe...and this Iron Man film is guest-star-packed. Is there something about these larger-than-life stories that you enjoy writing for a crowd? Auman:
I loved all of these characters as a child, they feel so ingrained in my psyche and they've become archetypes in my subconscious. I suppose I love writing huge stories, epics really, with world-shattering stakes. At the very least, they're more fun than writing romantic comedy movies. Jeez, I couldn't even imagine having to write that.
Did you draw from any particular arcs in the comics to develop either the plot or the character interactions in this movie? Auman:
I drew from Matt Fraction's comics and his Ezekiel Stane character, but aged him down a little and then Madhouse aged him down a lot! I was fascinated by how young and innocent they made him, although I wasn't that surprised, his type of character is kind of a staple in anime. I also adapted a little bit of Extremis, and obviously the Technovore storyline from the comics.
What's appealing about the character of Technovore? I mean, as far as I know he's only had the one appearance in the comics, but you've used him not only in the film but also in the animated series, right? Auman:
You mean Iron Man: Armored Adventures or The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes? Yeah, he is just a modern, very different kind of villain, who feels more relevant than ever. Bio-tech isn't that far away. We'll be growing technology instead of assembling it.
Is it nice to have a kind of almost-clean slate to start with when you're writing a character not many people are connected to like that? Auman:
Definitely. We spoke about other villains early on, including Ultron, the Mandarin and even the High Evolutionary. In fact, in early discussions Zeke would become a cyborg who rejected his biological side and became 100% machine. It would have been a radical new Ultron concept, but alas… it's fine though, because I got to write a 2-part Ultron episode for The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.