Welcome to VOCIFERY, my attempt to re-watch every piece of media in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – every movie, every television series, every one-shot, every web series, and every tie-in comic book, using the Wikipedia entry on the MCU as a guide, before the release of Avengers 4 in May 2019. Join me as I write my thoughts about what I’m seeing, as I see it!
Also, spoilers follow – if you’re worried about that kind of thing, view before reading.
Iron Man: I Am Iron Man! comic book tie-in (2010)
Iron Man 2: Public Identity comic book tie-in (2010)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as we know it today, is a vibrant place full of content – almost twenty feature films, a metric ton of television series, and so much more. It is a huge universe of interconnected content.
Yet the early going is entirely based just around the films. We get seven films into the franchise before the first series – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – appears in the timeline, and there are three films in the first week alone of this project.
For today though, we’re taking a look at the first couple of tie-in comic stories, Iron Man: I Am Iron Man! and Iron Man 2: Public Identity, both of which were released in early 2010 ahead of the premiere of Iron Man 2 and act as a catch-up and a prequel, respectively, to the movie.
Iron Man: I Am Iron Man! is very much a straight adaptation of the first Iron Man film, recapping the key events of the movie in a scant two issues while catching none of what made the film a success. The books stick to the major events: Stark’s escape from Afghanistan, his attempted shutdown of Stark Industries, the party scene in the middle of the film, his heroism in Gulmira, and the final act of the film in which he faces down Obadiah Stane and reveals his identity to the world.
In fact, the only new information in these books comes in the form of two previously unseen Nick Fury scenes.
The first takes place after Stark’s escape from Afghanistan: S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell (who later shows up on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and in Captain America: The Winter Soldier) spots Stark on radar and reveals this to Fury, who orders Sitwell to notify the Department of Defense – implying that S.H.I.E.L.D. were monitoring Stark for longer than we thought, and played a key role in Tony’s rescue.
The second scene is an extension of the post-credits sting: the film ends with Fury saying “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative”, while the book carries the scene on with Tony flat rejecting Fury’s offer and referring to him as “Mr Furry”, and ending with Fury calling Coulson from his car and ordering him to recruit Natasha Romanoff.
All in all, Iron Man: I Am Iron Man! is a bit of a waste of time – especially having watched the film two days ago – though these added scenes are interesting, and serve to up the interconnectedness going forward.
By comparison, Iron Man 2: Public Identity is an entirely new story, set between the events of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, which serves to fill some of the gaps ahead of Iron Man 2.
Even though the books start with a flashback – to Howard Stark and Anton Vanko working together and eventually parting ways; Vanko’s son Ivan ends up becoming one of the primary antagonists of Iron Man 2, Whiplash, in part because he feels the elder Stark ripped off his father’s ideas and took credit where it was due to him – the past plays a relatively small role in this prelude to the film, with the majority of the action taking place in the present.
Public Identity finds Stark enjoying the lavish super-celebrity lifestyle his heroics actions have afforded him. In fact, this hard-partying, heavy-drinking version of Stark skews much closer to the actual comic book version of Stark than the films do, with a handful of scenes dedicated to showing how his actions frustrate those around him, including Pepper and Rhodes.
We also find Tony working with news crews to further his personal brand, liaising with WHIH (the official news channel of the MCU) to provide camera equipment, ensuring that they’ll report on him a particular way, and sharing footage of his latest endeavours with them as part of his on public relations efforts.
All of this serves to lead-in to the introduction of several events from Iron Man 2 – namely the introduction of rival weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer, the report Rhodes is forced to turn in about his friend, and the government hearings about the role Stark should play in military activities.
It is an interesting way to go in this prequel comic, and sets up why Tony Stark is behaving the way that he does in the film, and elaborating on the military frustration with this “weapon” that refuses to bend to their will. It is also interesting how the comics actually seem more interconnected than the films do. Iron Man 2 does a lot of heavy-lifting in terms of universe setup (more on that tomorrow) but these books feature more Coulson and Fury, and feature General Ross in a supporting role.
These two books were interesting from that perspective – and if these tie-in comics continue to flesh out the wider cinematic universe, they could become one of the highlights of this little re-watch project.
Next: Iron Man 2!