Superhero Shorts: Iron Man in 60 Seconds
Superhero Shorts: 8-Bit Cinema: Iron Man in 60 Seconds
Welcome to another edition of Superhero Shorts, where each time I feature a different short film based around superheroes and have a brief chat with the creators. This time I’m talking with Norwood Cheek and David Dutton who have pared down the first Iron Man movie into a brief 60 seconds. Not only that, but they have also turned it into an 8-bit style animation. As usual, you can watch it below, or you can watch it on Cinefix’s YouTube Channel. You can also view some of David’s other works at Dutton Films.
While I have seen this concept done before in a longer form, specifically when I featured Doctor Octoroc’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Game, but I never get tired of it especially when it’s done well. Iron Man is perfectly suited to be compared to Megaman, in fact I’ve even done it myself, but the designs here are perfect, especially when Tony takes his helmet off and has that classic wild Megaman hair. The moments from the movie are very recognizable even if they don’t all fit into Megaman stages, both the Bonus Stage and the Test Flight feel like classic Nintendo era ideas. It goes by super-quick being only one minute long, but it’s a lot of fun to watch, and something that’s easily watched multiple times. But enough from me, let’s hear what Norwood Cheek, the producer, and David Dutton, the animator have to say.
BW: Who was it that first came up with the idea to turn the first Iron Man movie into a Megaman-inspired 8-bit animation?
David Dutton: The idea was mine to make it Mega Man based. Norwood came to me saying that he wanted to retell Iron Man in 60 seconds, and also in a video game format. After talking about the idea, we came up with 8-Bit cinema.
Norwood Cheek: David went into developing the look of the game, but was unsatisfied with the pixel looks he was creating. While brainstorming with Henry, David’s brother, on the title screen music – they came across Mega Man II.
DD: I’ve always been a fan of megaman and instantly knew it’d be perfect to scrap everything and create the episode in that world of art. It was just a no brainer, since it’s so mech based. The Megaman enemies would be perfect for the different Iron Man Marks and bosses. And what’s great about Megaman himself; there were so many video references of him moving online. So it was easy to draw out his frame by frame animation.
BW: Obviously Megaman plays a large part in the design, but what are some other 8-bit games that you drew inspiration from for some of the other stages?
DD: I loved the Megaman series growing up and owned all of them on the NES. The stages are almost entirely based on the Megaman style, except the desert level borrows from LINK (Zelda 2), which I always remember had great desert towns. The cave level was all designed from scratch. I tried to make it look like Mario’s cave levels but it was too different from the rest.
NC: I spent most of my youth in an arcade in my hometown mall – these were the days of Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Wizard of Wor. I played all of them obsessively throughout junior high and high school. Missile Command was and still is my favorite. So I’m mainly inspired by the arcade (stand-up) versions of games.
BW: I’ve worked in arcades for over 10 years now and also really love all the stand up cabinets, though arcades have changed so much since then. What was the most difficult character to translate to 8-bit?
DD: Definitely Iron Monger. He’s so clunky, and since he was so large, it was harder to draw him. He had so many pixels! But the old Megaman bosses had minimal mobility which was great for Iron Monger. I watched the action scene from Iron Man 1, and Iron Mongers moves were all power moves, which made him great for a boss.
BW: Were you surprised by the success of the short? At the time I’m writing this it’s already passed 500,000 views in just a week.
NC: Of course you never know with YouTube how something will catch on, but David and I were very confident as we felt like it turned out exactly how we had hoped it would – which of course is rare with most any video.
We’re really stoked that people are excepting the show and can’t wait to make more.
BW: I’m sure you’re continuing the series, will you stick to 8-bit style, or will you also include 16-bit or other animation styles? Also, do you already have plans for the second one?
NC: 8-bit cinema will definitely continue. We are working on Star Trek – thru the lens of the game Gradius. Then we want to try retelling some films that aren’t sci-fi. It’s an exciting challenge to figure out how to boil a movie down to 60 seconds of story, and then watch Dutton animate it and bring it to 8-bit life.
DD: I love 16-Bit era (SNES and GENESIS) and wouldn’t rule out those games despite our title.
BW: How would you see the Avengers as video game characters?
DD: Wow, you can go so many ways with this. Avengers could be a fun RPG game I think. With funny dialogue.
BW: And finally, what is your favorite superhero movie?
NC: I lean more towards sci-fi heros – Neo from the Matrix is an incredible hero, also Deckard from Blade Runner.
DD: I’m a Spider Man guy, but also a sucker for Hellboy.
Thanks so much for your time, I loved the Iron Man short and am looking forward to your take on Star Trek and whatever else you come up with in the future, good luck with it! Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.