Jason Griffith (Yu-Gi-Ohi)
Ted Lewis (Pokemon)
Dan Green (Grave of The Fireflies)
The story was written by comic book legend Warren Ellis and for those expecting anything similar to the feature film adaptations may be very disappointed. “Extremis” is a much smaller feeling arc, with only two action set pieces, one midway through the program and one at the end; instead the story explores the characters of Tony Stark as well as some spots of insight into the mysterious villain, Mallen. Mallen, a conservative extremist, is the guinea pig for a strain of the Super Soldier Serum known as Extremis. Once the serum alters our crazed foe forever, he embarks on a wave of destruction against the government and innocent civilians alike, aided by his near supernatural powers including super strength and pyrokinesis. Initially Tony is called into investigate the theft of the serum by a scientist friend Maya Hansen.
Ellis’ story takes an almost leisurely pace before Mallen and Stark face off for the first time, allowing viewers a glimpse into the mind of Stark via two notable scenes. The first is an interview for a documentary by an ultra liberal filmmaker, who tries to eviscerate Stark on camera, accusing him of war profiteering, immediately following a very friendly introduction off-camera. Ellis’ political statements are very obvious, and Stark’s calm, collected verbal destruction of the filmmaker is very similar to the eventual final confrontation with Fallen. Stark represents the middle ground of political ideology in the story, demonstrating the faults of extremism on both sides of the fence; the Extremis strain itself though is a fly in the ointment that ultimately forces Iron Man to understand that unchecked extremism sometimes must be met with equal or greater retaliation.
The second scene, taking place between Stark, Maya, and an older mentor figure. Here Ellis captures the strong distinction between Stark the man, and Stark the man behind Iron Man. The mentor brings Stark down a peg, pointing out how is flashy empire doesn’t benefit humanity nearly as much as the quiet, uncelebrated work of scientists such as Maya. The more Stark feels the burden of humanity from mentors as well as board members, the more he’s compelled to make his persona as Iron Man a legacy that will help mankind for as long as possible. When it comes time for Stark to don the suit though, “Extremis” isn’t nearly as exciting.
The motion comic style is extremely effective for the character moments, but the uneven approach to action, namely the use of the 3D CGI models for various elements, cheapens the overall effectiveness of the motion comic format. Ultimately, “Iron Man Extremis” is an enjoyable but flawed story and motion comic presentation. Voice acting is generally solid, with the actor handling Mallen being the weakest link. There are a few overplayed moments, especially in the beginning, with the actress playing Maya sounding like she didn’t have a full grasp on her character. Fortunately, the voice actor handling Tony captures the cool, confident, and brilliant aspects of the character as well as the doubt and sometimes self-hatred. The actors all are best when they are given Ellis’ best material to work with: the dialogue driven moments, which are arguably the most fascinating and engaging aspects of the production, mixing a moderate ideology with some well-developed character study.