Cover of Iron Man: Extremis (2006).Hardcover collected edition, cover art by Adi Granov.
|Publication date||January 2005 - April 2006|
"Extremis" is a six-issue story arc from the comic book series Iron Man (vol. 4), published in issues one through six in 2005 and 2006 by Marvel Comics. It was written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov. "Extremis" redefines the status quo for Iron Man, increasing the power of his armor significantly.
"Extremis" received mostly positive reviews, and is often listed as one of the best Iron Man stories. Elements of "Extremis" were adapted for the 2008 film Iron Man and the Iron Man: Armored Adventures episode "Extremis", and it serves as the primary source material for the 2013 film Iron Man 3. 
"Extremis" was second story arc after the "Disassembled" story lines (which ran through various Marvel Comics, but mainly affected the Avengers), as of the fourth volume of Iron Man overall.
The story was meant as a sort of "new start" for the character—to redefine him from his origins as an arms dealer, to be the "test pilot for the future" Ellis intended him to be. The story rarely mentions any of Iron Man's past, and references to the rest of the Marvel universe are limited to brief, passing mentions of the Avengers and Fin Fang Foom. Warren Ellis admitted he had intentionally not read any Iron Man material besides the very earliest issues.
This is similar for Adi Granov: "My first official introduction to the character occurred a year prior to Extremis. [...] Upon reading the script, I realized how realistic Warren's approach was to the story. [...] When illustrating the book I wanted my art to mirror the realism in Warren's writing [...] I felt that Warren wrote a story that's a sort of techno-thriller action story and I wanted the art to reflect this. [...] I saw Iron Man as not just a superhero in a suit; rather he is a pilot or weapon. To me, the Iron Man armor is more akin to a jetfighter than it is to an outfit.
The story, which lasts about three to four days in comic book time, takes place at an undefined time between the founding of the New Avengers, and the Stamford catastrophe (which led to the Marvel Civil War).
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (April 2013)|
The story arc incorporates an updated origin for Iron Man, in which Tony Stark is a weapons designer whose weapons are being used against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the years just prior to the second Gulf War. During an inspection tour, one of Stark's own bombs detonates, sending a piece of shrapnel into his chest, nearly killing him. He is then captured by Afghan terrorists. As with the original origin story, Tony co-creates his first suit of armor with Ho Yinsen and escapes the terrorists, with Yinsen killed during the escape.
Three men furtively enter a disused slaughterhouse in Bastrop, Texas, where two of them inject a willing third, whom they call "Mallen". This injection contains an experimental drug which makes him fall to the floor in immense pain. A bizarre physical change overtakes him; his horrified compatriots flee the room but lock him in it.
In his Coney Island workshop/garage, Tony Stark is awakened from fitful sleep to undertake his morning ritual (of struggling to look his reflection in the mirror in the eyes) before leaving for a scheduled interview with journalist John Pillinger. Pillinger discovers, in on- and off-camera conversation with Stark, that Stark's guilt is not chiefly for his history as a weapons designer (in flashback we see a younger Stark injured by a land mine of his own invention -- the actual beginning of this new, Ellis-reworked, origin story) he is most regretful that the world-changing, humanitarian improvements he had hoped to fund with his weapons sales, have not yet materialized. "Have you changed anything?" he asks Pillinger, and it is clear that both men are anguished by the question.
The injected man's body, still lying in the Bastrop warehouse, is now covered completely in a bizarre layer of scar tissue.
Days later at Futurepharm Corporation offices in Austin, Texas, Dr. Aldrich Killian commits suicide at his computer; his suicide note informs co-worker Maya Hansen that he has stolen and "loosed" the company's immeasurably dangerous Extremis serum for some compelling-but-undisclosed purpose. Hansen phones Tony Stark (an ex-lover), who speeds off to his private airport after taking her call while flying high above New York State in his Iron Man suit.
Back in the Texas slaughterhouse, the two men return to find their companion—nearly normal again in appearance, despite nearly punching through the locked metal door—is conscious and alive.
Stark arrives in Texas by private plane amid a teleconference with his board of directors, rejecting their requests that he resign as CEO of his company (knowing that, with him gone, they would resume weapons-making). Arriving at Futurepharm he learns from Hansen only that the stolen project involves "robotic microsurgery"; they don't know who has it now (as they cannot hack Killian's computer). Stark satellite-emails Killian's entire hard drive to be hacked by one of his contacts, and, to distract Maya, he jets her to San Diego to talk with their old friend and teacher Sal Kennedy.
Kennedy speaks about the role of psychedelic substances in the early-human evolution of hunters, and how using these substances can help one understand the brain's "operating system"—and even rewrite it, once understood. Kennedy even pays a small homage to the late Terence McKenna. He goes on to discuss technological development in general, dubbing it the "creation of better hunters", and his two students in particular: dubbing Hansen "the Edward Teller of biology", and Stark, "the Dean Kamen of technology". They banter at length about the disappointments of great minds (Kamen, despite his many good works, famous only as the inventor of the Segway; and, Clive Sinclair revolutionizing Britain's computer industry, yet only being remembered for the C5 - "A Segway with pedals"). Kennedy laments that the epitaph for many such ingenious individuals is "Almost Useful"—all three of them, included.
Meanwhile, the three men from the slaughterhouse arrive at the Houston's FBI field office, and the injection survivor gets out. While Kennedy harangues Tony and Maya on their military work and thus-far-failed promise, the survivor walks empty-handed into the FBI station—face distorted in a rictus of hate—and easily slaughters every armed or unarmed person he sees (often with his bare hands, and incinerating some by flames in his breath).
Maya catches the story on the news, realizing that the terrorist—and his fifty casualties—must be her fault, and the result of her project, which she calls "Extremis." Tony calls for the plane to be ready to take them to Austin, and for his armor to be there, too. Back in the van, the killer rejoins his confederates and tells them that he is only getting started.
In flight back to Texas, Maya tells Stark that Extremis is a military nanotechnology serum -- (yet) another attempt to recreate the Super-Soldier Serum—which interfaces with the brain's 'repair center' and directs the body to rebuild itself from scratch, as if it were all wound tissue to be replaced. The design for the new body is programmable prior to injection, and can involve superhuman abilities, giving it an (untested) military application. Maya had taken the military contract to develop it, despite her true intent to use its proceeds to fund and advance her anti-cancer research. Stark receives a call from his hacker friend, which reveals that Killian gave Extremis to a local domestic militia.
Tony debriefs area police authorities with a transmission to Avengers Mansion before landing and, alone once more, dons the Iron Man armor. While heading back to Bastrop, Texas in the van, Mallen briefly flashes back to how he witnessed his entire family's death as a child, in an ATF raid on their house. Iron Man, tracking the van from above, disables it and battles Mallen; but, is roundly defeated by Mallen, with civilian casualties. Mallen flees, leaving Stark trapped beneath a car with armor at zero power and flames approaching; but, Stark saves himself and the car's passengers by raising his armor to 1% power by drawing from the flames' thermal energy.
Tony phones Maya and has her people airlift him to Futurepharm, where, in a private medical bay, she removes his armor, revealing his previously secret identity. His internal injuries from the fight are critical, and Tony has realized that the only way for him to survive them—and to upgrade his response time enough to defeat Mallen—is to undergo the Extremis process, himself. He remarks that it is the second time he has had to test a weapon in order to survive a deadly injury. Maya fears that Stark won't survive the process, but Stark insists; so, she injects him with the serum and he convulses, falling into a coma.
While in a regenerative coma, Stark relives his origin story as Iron Man, starting with his first mortal injury.
24 hours into his coma, the scablike cocoon which has enveloped his body bursts; Stark awakes healed and newly fit. An internal control sheath for his Iron Man armor is now contained within his body, able to emerge upon mental command. The sheath lets him "lojack" himself not only into his armor, but phone, computer, and even global satellite networks. He unveils new, suitcase-sized Iron Man Armor, which self-assembles around his body when thought-commanded. He sets off after Mallen.
Tapping into the SI satellite cluster, Iron Man finds Mallen heading towards Washington, DC. The two fight, but now it is Mallen who is outmatched. Stark pleads with Mallen to surrender, working hard not to kill Mallen while defending himself. Stark claims that Mallen's story terrifies him because it so much like Stark's own—down to the fifty Al Qaeda he killed trying to free himself and his fellow prisoner in the first Iron Man armor. The difference: Stark is trying to rise above killing and make a difference, whereas Mallen can not see the future. Mallen eventually gets the upper hand in the fight by lunging at Iron Man, he then declares that he will kill the future, anyway, he begins to rip apart the metal of Stark's chest plate: either this action, or Stark acting out of desperation, releases a bolt of energy which impales Mallen, mortally wounding him. As a mercy killing, Stark decapitates Mallen with repulsor rays.
Torn with anger and guilt at having once more had to kill, Stark returns to Futurepharm to act on his realization that Aldrich Killian could not have opened the company vault alone. It is now clear that Maya must have helped steal and release Extremis in order to provide her project with a human test subject that could prove its viability in combat. Doing so would save her military funding, which she would continue to divert into cancer research. Maya confesses to Stark, and the troops he brings with him arrest her; but, she declares that he is no better than she. Tony agrees, with the qualification that at least he is trying to be better than she is, and because of that, he'll be able to look himself in the mirror the next morning.
Extremis has been referred to as a "virus" constantly since the story. The verbatim description offered by its inventor Maya Hansen, goes: "...Extremis is a super-soldier solution. It's a bio-electronics package, fitted into a few billion graphite nanotubes and suspended in a carrier fluid. A magic bullet, like the original super-soldier serum—all fitted into a single injection. It hacks the body's repair center—the part of the brain that keeps a complete blue print of the human body. When we're injured, we refer to that area of the brain to heal properly. Extremis rewrites the repair center. In the first stage, the body essentially becomes an open wound. The normal human blueprint is being replaced with the Extremis blueprint. The brain is being told the body is wrong. Extremis protocol dictates that the subject be placed on life support and intravenously fed nutrients at this point. For the next two or three days, the patient remains unconscious within a cocoon of scabs. (...) Extremis uses the nutrients and body mass to grow new organs. Better ones..."
Effects of the Extremis process, apart from the changes specific to Tony Stark, included: greatly accelerated healing; immensely-boosted immune system; generation of "new, improved organs" (Tony's cardiovascular and respiratory systems were greatly upgraded); and, the side effect of increased aggressiveness. Tony Stark had the super-powers removed from the Extremis compiler, though, effectively 'exchanging' them for the ability to interface directly with machines and his own armor; but, Mallen retained said super-powers, resulting in his high-level super-strength, super-speed, advanced invulnerability, and the abilities to breathe fire and project arcs of electricity from his hands, as well as being completely bullet-proof[volume & issue needed]
As well as the obvious physical changes, Extremis also affected Stark mentally, allowing him to process information at light speed, on a subconscious level, to help him better cope with the direct technological link he now possessed to his armor (even as his standard thought processes remained at a human norm). As a result, his brain, taking in more information than he could consciously process, began to sublimate it into his unconscious mind, causing Stark to experience occasional hallucinations of particularly relevant information, manifesting as people whose deaths he felt personally responsible for—such as Captain America or Happy Hogan—making him aware of facts that he had noted subconsciously while not recognizing their relevance or existence on a conscious level (such as that a member of the Initiative had lied about his powers or that Maya Hansen was actually alive after her death was faked). Doc Samson speculated that the hallucinations appeared because the excess information was filtered into the same place Stark subconsciously stored his guilt to stop himself facing it.
When the Mandarin attempted to release Extremis on a large scale as part of his plan to 'reshape' the human race, it is revealed that Extremis can only be successfully used on people who possess a rare genetic sequence, found in only 2.5% of the human population; this percentage includes Tony Stark and Maya Hansen, but does not include the Mandarin. Anyone without this sequence who is exposed to Extremis will be killed by the system.
During the 2010 "Stark: Disassembled" storyline, Tony was forced to erase portions of his memory in order to prevent Norman Osborn from gaining access to the list of people registered under the Superhuman Registration Act. These actions resulted in his falling into a persistent vegetative state, in which his brain was unable to even regulate the autonomic functions of his body. During this period, Stark's colleagues played a recorded holographic message from Tony, which revealed that when the extraterrestrial Skrulls invaded Earth during the 2008 "Secret Invasion" storyline, they attacked Tony's Extremis, permanently shutting it down. Stark's mind was 'rebooted' using information that he had saved when he first injected himself with Extremis, with the result that he lost all memory of the actions he had committed after receiving the Extremis upgrade, although he has spent time researching his activities between then and his restoration. Tony later discovered that his brain still had access to Extremis, which he began using again.
In other media 
The Extremis mini-series was loosely adapted as an Iron Man: Armored Adventures episode of the same name. In the episode, the Extremis formula is re-imagined as an attempt to recreate the Super-Soldier Serum that granted Captain America his powers. Mallen (here an ex-agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. rather than a terrorist) injects himself with the formula after being fired by Nick Fury, and badly injures Iron Man during their initial encounter. Tony then injects himself with a little bit of the modified version of the Extremis formula, allowing him to fully interface with his armor (along with all other forms of technology) and defeat Mallen. According to Andros Stark, in the future everyone has an upgraded version of Extremis, and he himself (in 2099) runs version 16.5 named JARVIS.
Each of the three respective Iron Man films (and the cross-over film The Avengers) have taken cues from the Extremis story arc:
The origin and armor of Iron Man used in the 2008 film Iron Man closely resemble those introduced in "Extremis". Based on his work on "Extremis", artist Adi Granov was brought on as a producer for the film, and he created the final designs for Iron Man's armor. On the DVD of Iron Man, "Extremis and Beyond" is included as a special feature. In other featurettes, Adi Granov and Warren Ellis were interviewed on the origin, the suits, John Pillinger (the interviewer), and the suit being on a crate, not a briefcase.
In Iron Man 2, a small plot arc of the story involves Tony trying to find a solution to the palladium poisoning from his Iron Man arc reactor, eventually coming to create a new element for a pacemaker resembling Extremis armor. He also reveals a suit of armor that originates in the form of a briefcase.
In Iron Man 3, the Extremis storyline is largely adapted into the film, as well as Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen, who are played by Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall respectively, being included as major characters. In the film, Stark implants himself with microchips, which enables him to suit up in his Mark 42 armor at his will, in any occasion; this is similar to how Stark can instruct his armor to assemble at his own will after undergoing the Extremis process. As with the story arc, Killian and Hansen developed Extremis, although Killian's role in the film was expanded to him becoming the main antagonist (though amalgamated with the Mandarin), as well as being the founder of Advanced Idea Mechanics, which consists of numerous soldiers he experimented on with Extremis (consisting of Eric Savin, Ellen Brandt and Jack Taggart among others). Killian also subjected himself to the virus. Extremis's healing abilities are also shown in greater depth, to the point that those injected with Extremis can regenerate damaged limbs, with the original soldiers regrowing limbs lost in combat and Killian regenerating his left hand after Tony cuts it off during a fight (although they are still vulnerable to particularly serious damage; Savin is killed by a blast through the chest from Stark's chestplate, much like Mallen in the original storyline).
Video games 
Hasbro has released a 6 inch Marvel Legends Extremis figure and variant blue stealth version in 2012 and a 3.75 inch version in the Marvel Universe toyline. The MU version has been reissued in a comic pack. There was also an extremis like figure in the Iron Man 2 toyline.
A 6 inch action figure of Iron Man featuring the Extremis armor was released in the first wave of the return of Marvel Legends in 2012 with a blue stealth variant. A re-release of the figure in darker colors was planned for the movie based toy line "Iron Man: Armored Avenger" (which featured comic book characters and armors such as Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man, as well) before the line was cancelled.
Motion comic 
In 2010 Marvel Knights Animation created a motion comic with 3-d Cell shading graphics. The six-part mini-series was released by Shout! Factory first on DVD, and then later coupled with Spider-Woman: Agent Of S.W.O.R.D. on Blu-ray.
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2009)|
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- Alan Kistler (2008-04-30). "10 Must-Read Stories Before You Watch 'Iron Man' in Theaters". Comicmix.com. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
- Ultimate Bookshelf 2.0: Iron Man, IGN
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- "Episode 42". toonzone.com.
- Iron Man: Extremis Director's Cut #1.
- Iron Man vol.4 #3
- Iron Man vol.4 #9
- Iron Man vol.4 #25
- Iron Man vol.4 #24
- Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Stark: Disassembled Part 2: Digging in the Dirt" The Invincible Iron Man #21 (February 2010), Marvel Comics
- Matt Fraction (w), Salvador Larocca (a). "Stark Resilient Part 1: Hammer Girls" The Invincible Iron Man #25 (August 2010), Marvel Comics
- Forging Iron: Adi Granov talks Iron Man, Newsarama, September 11, 2007
- Neil Miller (2008-08-08). "Iron Man Looks Like a Badass on his DVD Cover, Too". Filmschoolrejects.com. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
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