By Alex Zalben
In yesterday's "Iron Man #17," ***spoilers*** it was revealed that Tony Stark was adopted, and he had a secret brother he previously didn't know about. So yeah, big stuff. To find out more about the shocking end of the issue, and what ramifications it might have for the Marvel movie-verse, we talked to writer Kieron Gillen:
MTV: I'm gonna jump ahead to the end of the story, and ask about the exchange Tony has with Arno. I imagine a fair amount of thought went into Tony's monologue about his parents, and being adopted, so I'm curious how you hit on this version, and what made it the right way to go?
Kieron Gillen: Iteration, for a start. This issue is probably the one that's been most tweaked and rewritten in my entire time at Marvel. Pretty much everyone saw it, from the top to bottom of Marvel, and every decision has been argued over repeatedly. It's doubly trick as while it's also the climax of the story that started eleven issues ago, it's also a book that would have a lot of eyes on it, so needed to be comprehensible to people just picking it up by itself.
That's just production stuff though.
For me, Tony was a a smart guy. When he wasn't able to activate the Godkiller, he would have started thinking. That he wasn't the man who 451 thought he was one explanation. In which case... who was he? And since then, he's been playing around with the possibilities, and it's only upon his return to Earth than he gets a chance to really dig into it, to confirm or deny his many suspicions. He hits the archives in 16, and then discovers it and heads off to find Arno. So maybe he gets it at an intellectual level, but he doesn't get it on an emotional level until he says it. No, it really is true. It's very Tony that he's ahead of the reader on the intellectual level of working it all out, but only experiences the confirmation when we do.
I just wanted to get the humanity of it. The start of the conversation is understated and stumbling, distracting it with humour, wanting to avoid the point for as long as possible. Big long implied pauses. After all the space opera I've been dealing with, I wanted this to be as down-to-Earth as humanly possible.
MTV: Tony has always had his friends and confidants, but he's essentially built his own family. How much does it change the character to truly have a family member in Arno?
Gillen: That was a big part of my attraction to this story. Like many Marvel heroes, Family is a key part of Tony and I thought it'd be interested to bring it to the fore – especially a brother is so similar to him in some ways and so different in others. Tony's spent his life as an Iron Man. Arno has spent his life in an Iron Lung. From the start of my run, I've had Tony questioning what he's managed to achieve. Yes, he's done great things – but could he have done more? Arno brings that into sharp focus. The developing relationship between the two, and how they both feel about family, is really deep in the heart of the book from now on.
MTV: Arno, as we know from the comics, is the evil Iron Man 2020… Is this the same guy? A different guy? Stay tuned and see?
Gillen: Stay Tuned And See, I'm afraid. Time travel in Marvel is always more than a little tricky. I was aware of when using Arno now would be a really good time to introduce an actual Iron Man of 2020 into the contemporary Marvel Universe. 2020 isn't that far away. That Marvel fans know about the Arno Stark of 2020 does add a certain dramatic tension to the book, if you see what I mean.
MTV: You very specifically put in this issue that Arno can't be cured, according to him… Is that putting a definitive end to that plot point, or are we going to see Tony trying to cure him anyway?
Gillen: What Tony can do for Arno and what Arno will let Tony do for him is certainly a question we're exploring. In the case of the issue, I wanted to make it clear it wasn't an easy fix. In the same way we needed to be clear why Arno felt he had to stay in hiding all this time. Last thing you want is floating “Wait, what about, XYZ?” in the readers mind.
But it's more about Arno and Tony for me. The push and pull of them. Tony isn't the only one with an Ego in this room.
MTV: Did you have any eye towards the movies when you wrote this? Meaning, knowing you were adding Iron Man's brother to the mythos?
Gillen: I knew it was the biggest story I'd done at Marvel, in those terms. My aim on a book is only ever to add things to the mythos. Tony being adopted? That's an interesting source of stories that doesn't remove any story possibilities that already existed. Tony having a brother? Exactly the same. It's not as if Howard being involved in unusual stuff back in the day is an invention either, with his background in the marvel universe.
MTV: Not that these revelations aren't big enough, but are we done with Howard and Maria's machinations? And 451's?
Gillen: Heh. Well, the point of doing a story like this isn't just for the issue. The point of doing a story like this is for the stories that it allows us to tell. The saddest thing in 17 for me is Tony's realisation he will never speak to Howard and Maria about this stuff. The gap between the living and the dead can't be closed. There's things he doesn't know. That one day he could know them is certainly a story.
While 451 isn't mentally with us any more, Tony did bring his corpse back to Earth. He certainly is involved in where we go next, with Arno and Tony's plans to build an IRON METROPOLITAN in the next arc. Tony went into space to find knowledge, basically a holy grail. And 451 is it.
Iron Man #17 is currently on stands from Marvel Comics.
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