Behind Iron Patriot's Post-IRON MAN 3 Marvel Universe Return

Credit: Marvel Comics

Though the worlds of Marvel movies and Marvel comic books are still very different places storyline-wise, there are ongoing efforts to make the published product a friendlier environment to the audiences of the ultra-successful Marvel Studios films.

The recently relaunched Secret Avengers is an apt example, co-starring recent comic book convert Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D., plus the former Marcus Johnson; now going just by "Nick Fury" and sporting a more-than-passing resemblance to Samuel L. Jackson. In this week's Secret Avengers #4 by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross, A.I.M. unleashes a slew of Iron Patriot armors — in an issue released just five days after the domestic opening of Iron Man 3, which featured the armor in an integral role, used on screen by James Rhodes (Don Cheadle).

It's clearly more than just good timing, and we talked with Secret Avengers series editor Lauren Sankovitch about why the book was the right place to reintroduce the armor (originally used by Norman Osborn during the "Dark Reign" era of 2009), and how Iron Man 3 helped inspire a very different type of Iron Patriot story.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Newsarama: Lauren, it's been known that Iron Patriot — in some form — would be a part of the Marvel NOW! Secret Avengers since the book was first announced back in October, likely in no small part helped along by the armor's newfound visibility thanks to Iron Man 3. What made Secret Avengers the right place to re-introduce the concept to the Marvel Universe?

Lauren Sankovitch: With a movie on the horizon and the Iron Patriot languishing in the MU storage closet, the armor was ripe for a rebound. For an armor that carried quite a stigma in parts of the Marvel Universe (the look on Daisy’s face in issue #3 could have curdled milk), we wanted to think bigger… and stranger… for its reentry into service. What you’ve seen so far in #4 is just the tip of the iceberg.

Nrama: The timing of this issue is notable — much like how Thanos' appearance in Avengers Assemble last year came days after Avengers was released in theaters, less than a week after Iron Man 3 has been out in the US, we have an issue full of Iron Patriot armors. Was that something a precise plan, fortuitous timing, or a little bit of both?

Sankovitch: While I could say we totally planned it all from the very beginning (the geniuses we are!)… it was definitely a case of a little of both. We knew we’d have the issue out near movie time, and the actual on-sale date was a pleasant bonus.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: Though the Iron Patriot is used in a very different way in Secret Avengers #4 than in Iron Man 3 there are also similarities, like the A.I.M. connection. Was there a deliberate balance there for you and the creative team — doing something that would be structurally recognizable to a movie audience, but presented in a way that made sense for this world? Or just what fit the story?

Sankovitch: At the top, Nick knew that our enduring big bad for this series would be A.I.M. so a lot of the who/why was already sussed out when we started putting ink to paper on the Iron Patriot(s).

Of course we’ve been cognizant of Iron Man 3 as well and as we get further into Nick’s story, we’ll be taking the Iron Patriot(s) in a direction that I think will both surprise and excite our readers.

Nrama: It can't be overlooked that James Rhodes appears in this issue — so given that, should it be assumed that the Iron Patriot story has a ways to go yet, and may possibly indeed end up with Rhodey in the armor?

Sankovitch: Clearly, with him being in the issue and all, Rhodey has a role to play… and if you check out Secret Avengers #6… I promise all of your burning questions will be answered.

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