He may be a megalomaniacal psychopath, but Norman Osborn is a fair man. When he began his Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe, he wanted to do right by the mutant populace. He even came directly to one of their representatives, Emma Frost, and said, “Help me to help you.” All Norman asked for in return was that mutantkind not cause any problems for him… but that didn’t happen.
In “Utopia,” the six part “Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men” crossover, which begins in June, the mutants of the Marvel Universe step out of line, causing Osborn and his teammates in the Dark Avengers to come to the mutant sanctuary of San Francisco to dish out some discipline. Since Matt Fraction, the writer of the crossover, regularly pens the monthly adventures of the “Uncanny X-Men,” his take on Marvel’s mutants is already familiar to many readers. But how will he tackle Osborn and the Dark Avengers? To find out, CBR kicks off IRON PATRIOTISM, a multi part feature where we speak with Fraction about his take on each of the Dark Avengers. Today we examine the man in charge, team leader Norman Osborn, AKA the Iron Patriot.
Fraction has actually been writing Osborn for months now. The character regularly appears as the chief foil in his “Invincible Iron Man” series, where Osborn is using every resource at his disposal to bring in the fugitive Tony Stark. The crossover marks the first time Fraction gets to write Osborn suited up in his Iron Patriot armor, though, and the writer feels that the former Green Goblin’s persona changes significantly depending on his attire. “Norman in a suit and tie is a snake-oil salesman. He’s the perfect manipulator,” Fraction told CBR News. “As the Iron Patriot, Norman is a man of action. He gets to let his inner demon out of the bottle a bit.”
As the Iron Patriot, Osborn also has a certain amount of theatricality to him, and Fraction has found the chance to highlight the character’s inner showman to be highly enjoyable. ” When he’s in the Iron Patriot armor, he’s Bush in that fucking flight suit,” the writer said. “It’s the best of all photo opportunities. And I love writing Norman in the suit with the helmet off. He might as well be wearing a crown.”
To fans well-versed in the continuity of Marvel Comics, Osborn is a murderous villain. But to the citizens of the Marvel U, he’s anything but, and Fraction feels that’s one of the reasons why Norman has become such a powerful and dangerous figure. “He’s not the Green Goblin anymore. My temptation as a writer is to always write him as a villain. It’s a thing that I constantly have to pull myself back on,” Fraction explained. “You have to make him seductive and appealing so you understand how people would agree with him. Norman doesn’t want to put mutants in concentration camps, he wants to keep people safe, it’s just that he wants to make his opponents look shitty while doing it. So Norman as a seductor of the people is great to write and really challenging and complicated.”
Of course Osborn’s abundant charisma isn’t the only thing that makes him dangerous. He may not dress up like a grinning emerald monster anymore, but that doesn’t mean Osborn has beaten his inner Green Goblin. “He’s batshit insane. He’s a psychotic killer and it requires a superhuman act of will to keep the Goblin quiet,” Fraction said. “As he’s manipulating his own inner demon and the world, he’s becoming more and more powerful, and sooner or later he’s going to inevitably explode. He’s a lovely kitchen table with a fantastic banquet from which the world may feast, but underneath that is a slowly ticking time bomb.”
For Fraction, the only thing more fun that writing Osborn in “Dark Avengers/ Uncanny X-Men: Utopia” is playing the Iron Patriot off of the story’s huge cast of characters, particularly the X-Men. “Writing scenes with Norman and Emma Frost is great,” the writer said. “And my first Cyclops and Norman scene is a little like Pacino and Deniro’s scene in ‘Heat.'”