Adi Granov has arguably influenced Iron Man more than any other artist of his generation. Granov first helped redefine the character’s design and powers with writer Warren Ellis for the 2005 Marvel Comics miniseries “Extremis,” before going on to design the main armors for director Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2” films.
The current box office mega-hit “Iron Man 3” took its main inspiration from Granov’s “Extremis” storyline, which introduced the Extremis virus and significantly increased Tony Stark’s abilities and armors.
Granov recently spoke with Comic Book Resources about “Iron Man 3,” revealing his thoughts on the film, how he felt it did at adapting “Extremis,” why he’s excited for the new “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, his current relationship with Marvel Studios and much more.
CBR News: Adi, what did you think of “Iron Man 3?”
Adi Granov: I thought it was a lot of fun. It had a lighter mood than I expected, which seems to go against the popular opinion that it was darker. I’ve only seen it at the premiere though, so it’s really hard to judge objectively until I see it again.
How well do you think it brought your and Warren Ellis’ “Extremis” storyline to the big screen?
Well, I don’t think it should be judged against the comic, but seen on its own merits. It took the basic idea and some of the visual elements, but made it into something different. It was definitely lighter, in my opinion, than the idea in the comic, but larger in scale. I think the domestic terrorist angle is made more terrifying in the comic, to the extent that I am surprised we were ever allowed to do it, while in the movie it is made more appropriate for a blockbuster film. Visually, the Extremis design and transformation are in the realm of horror, which obviously wouldn’t work for a big action movie, so it was made more audience friendly, less scary, more dazzling.
When did you first find out “Iron Man 3” would be adapting “Extremis?”
At the very start before there was a script. When I did some designs at the beginning of pre-production “Extremis” featured heavily.
Have you spoken with Warren Ellis about “Iron Man 3?”
I ran into Warren at the premiere, but didn’t really talk to him about the movie aside from the usual pleasantries.
What did you think of the Mark 42 armor?
It was the first main armor in the films which I didn’t work on, so it was a different experience to see it. It features many familiar elements developed over time, but with some new ones which gave it a different feel. While the suits from Mk1 to 7 have a definite linear progression, this one is more of a break from it, which seems appropriate. I still miss the mostly red look, but nothing wrong with having something different for a while.
Which was your favorite of the many armors shown in “Iron Man 3?”
Actually, it’s not an Iron Man armor, but the Iron Patriot. I really like the various design elements and how well integrated they are. I also prefer it in the War Machine guise. I recently did a cover featuring this armor which allowed me to study the design closely and made me like it even more.
The new suits clearly still take a lot of inspiration from your previous designs. What’s it feel like to see people building on your foundation like that?
Phil Saunders and Ryan Meinerding worked on the suits with me in the past, so they were able to carry on the lineage, so to speak, unbroken. I think a lot of the elements we established early on are still evident, but as the films got bigger and the studio larger, it has been a gradual, and natural, process of the artwork getting more distant. I prefer the immediacy of the comic world, which was largely preserved on the first “Iron Man” film as it was a smaller production. But more on point, it’s flattering to see so much of my work still retained throughout.
Was there a feeling of how important the “Extremis” arc would be when you and Warren Ellis were working on it? Not only did it reinvigorate the “Iron Man” comics, it also inspired “Iron Man 3” directly. It could also be argued that your design work in “Extremis” could be linked to the success of the first “Iron Man” film that used some of those designs.
At the time I was only concerned with doing the best work I could. I knew that the book was important for me personally, but I had no perspective to judge its overall importance. It was only after Jon Favreau and I established contact that I realized how important the book has been in kickstarting the movie process.
What’s your relationship withÂ Marvel Studios like today? Any plans to contribute designs for any future movies?
My relationship with Marvel as a whole is great. I have a long-standing contract with the comic side and will continue working with them for a long time. Movies aren’t my primary focus, so I don’t live in Los Angeles, but, as with any other work, if it comes along and I can fit in, I’m more than happy to do it. I like creating artwork, that’s my only focus, no matter what the ultimate product.
What’s your favorite Marvel movie? Which unreleased Marvel movie are you most excited about?
I think, on a personal level, the first “Iron Man,” as it was such a significant step. It was quite a personal journey working on it as well. And, obviously, “The Avengers,” as it pulled off something very difficult in such a fun way.
As for the future films, I’m really interested in the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
What excites you about “Guardians of the Galaxy?”
I really like the characters and the vast possibilities with the space setting. It’s the kind of property which, if done right, could be fantastic, or, on the other hand, could fail spectacularly if the overall feel isn’t right.
If you could bring one character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who would it be?
Galactus. And I mean the proper giant man in an amazing space armor/suit Galactus.
When can fans expect to see you penciling interiors again?
There are always talks about it, but it has to be the right project from many different perspectives. I did an issue of something coming out soon, but no immediate plans to do a whole book. If I was just to pencil it, then I could do it on a regular schedule, but everyone, including Marvel, want my painted style, and that is very time consuming and such a huge time commitment from my side, that it’s hard to make work.
Which comic is coming out soon?
“Astonishing Captain America.”
What other projects do you have coming up?
I am doing a lot of covers, a lot of advertising and packaging illustrations, some toy/statue designs, some game stuff, etc. It’s been a very busy year so far.
What advertising are you working on? Do you do a lot of that type of work?
I do a lot of it as it’s often tied in with the movies. I think my style connects the comic world well with the mainstream, so I am often asked to do packaging and licensing stuff related to Marvel properties. I can’t talk about specific projects until the respective companies announce them. The most recent one which has been made public is packaging illustrations for an alloy Iron Man Mk7 figure from Play Imaginative, and design and illustration for the whole lineup of the “Avengers” figures from Kotobukiya, the sketch for which has been shown a while ago, but I believe the final hasn’t yet. Marvel also often ask me to work on their various mainstream tie-ins with companies outside of entertainment, such as medical, military, etc., which I really enjoy doing as it’s exposing my work and comics in general to completely different audiences.
“Iron Man 3” is in theaters now.