So, last month while trying to work vigorously on my graphic novel, I was struck with inspiration once again. The Avengers. It is definitely one of the top films of this year, and there has been so many good ones and there as of yet to be more good ones to be released! However, The Avengers really spoke to me as a narrative, which is based solely on the character arcs (which is based primarily on Joss Whedon's writing!). I really enjoyed the different places this cast of characters were coming from and how they came together to fight and avenge the earth! Even the villain was fascinating to me and so I decided to get my ideas out through an ambitious art project. I started with Iron Man, who is my favorite avenger. His story arc was already strong and came from the genius of Jon Favreau who made Iron Man and Iron Man 2. What draws me to Tony Stark's story is not only because he is played by the fabulous Robert Downey Jr., but is the journey his character goes through and still is going through. A lot of what Iron Man is about is the idea of change, redemption, renewal of character, inner transformation. This idea is exemplified through this process of Tony Stark becoming the Iron Man; his core reactor that is keeping him alive playing a key part in that metaphor. In Iron Man we meet Tony Stark, an ambitious genius who is highly successful, but completely narcissistic, consumed with pleasuring himself and uncaring of anyone around him. From out of that deadness, he is given a second chance and a new life. In Iron Man 2, we find Tony facing his worst enemy again, himself, and slipping back into old habits until he is able to once again be "renewed", represented in his creating the new element for his core reactor. So, this idea of needing to be transformed or sanctified continually that plays out in the character of Tony Stark as he is physically becoming Iron Man is fascinating to me because it is very much like the transformation that we can find in Christ and His Spirit that is meant to dwell within us. Christ's death puts to death the old man and His resurrection gives us new life which is renewed day by day, to one degree or another. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..." Romans 12:2. "[...] But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:11. "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Tony Stark's character arc is furthered in The Avengers where he is faced with having to work with a team, something he does not do well. His arrogance, overbearing wit, and seeming uncaring for the seriousness of any situation clashes hard against the dutiful and selfless member of the Avengers, Steve Rogers (Captain America). Finding nothing impressive about Mr. Stark whatsoever, Steve claims that when it comes down to it, Tony Stark would not have the courage or the character to make that sacrifice for the sake of his country or his team. I love how this comes around full circle in the end, when Tony Stark makes that choice of self-denial and nearly dies because of it. This act of self-sacrifice would have been unthinkable for the man that was first presented to us in Iron Man. That is why I am pretty excited for Iron Man 3, which seems to be continuing this theme.
All of this to explain the thought process that went behind this image that I created of the character. I chose to do the image in a more painterly style, with a combination of my pencil work and Photoshop painting. I am still striving for that movement in my artwork, and so I elongated the figure and had the background push and pull the eye around him. The piece is entitled New Element and I have placed emphasis at the core of Tony Stark, which is the heart of Iron Man. So the core reactor is the focal point with the color red emphasizing this idea, and then the colors run out into more neutral tones as you get further away from the center. I have also put in an almost silhouette image of his lovely Pepper Potts, who is very crucial to his transformation. She is his colleague, support, and dearest friend. It is by her pushing him and believing in him that keeps Tony in check and inspires him. She is very crucial to the character of Iron Man and his motivations.
Here is a detail:
What I am aspiring to do with this Avenger's Project is to make these "character study" pieces of each character and bring that to life through my style. I will, however, only be creating them as inspiration leads. So far I only have fully fleshed out ideas for Hawk Eye/Black Widow (I am combining them) and Loki. I am also going to be juggling this amongst my other projects, so we will see what goes on. For now I hope you enjoy this artwork of Iron Man and my thoughts on the character.