Though Stark's wide array of armors have many different abilities, they are alike in that they are made of incredibly strong materials bolstered by a force field. Every suit has a self-contained environment, assorted on board weapons systems, enhanced strength, flight, and various communications arrays and sensors (such as radar and radio). Furthermore, they typically have multiple power sources including a secondary solar energy collection function in the event that conventional recharging methods are unavailable. Older versions of the armor could also fold virtually flat, allowing Stark to store them in his bullet-proof briefcase.
The defining ability of Tony's armor are the repulsors situated in the gauntlets. They originated as a hand attachment, but have since become standard armament. They have been referred to as being magnetic,a blast of charged particles, and as a force beam.
A later variation on this are the Pulse Bolts, bolts of concussive energy that actually gain energy the further they have to travel, up to a limit of roughly three football fields (about 329 meters).
Another defining trait is the chest-mounted "uni-beam."
Contrary to its appearance, most of Stark's armors are not metal suits. His standard armor suit consists of approximately two million grain-of-sand-sized discrete units, which are shaped to have as large a surface as possible to optimize their effectiveness. The basis of the suit's structural integrity is the powerful force field which permeates the armor's "cells," as well as the whole configuration when active. Each of the "cells" is a tiny unit in its own right, contributing energy and computing power to the entire armor; this is also why the suit can remain functional even after having sustained considerable damage. The basic principle of the suit is holistic; each part contains the whole, as it were. When inactive, the entire suit can collapse on the microscopic level, the cells "folding" in on themselves to take up a smaller volume, like a three-dimensional accordion pleat.
While Tony Stark designs every aspect of the armor, the complexity of the design requires that production be entirely automated. Each cell is constructed by using specialized bacteria — the bacteria consume minute amounts of specific metals, arrange themselves on pre-tagged areas on the "chip wafer," then die, leaving a very small amount of iron, or gold, or gallium-arsenide. This method allows great precision in determining the thickness of circuitry.
All the details of the armor's construction listed above are laid out in the Iron Manual. However, some armor which appeared after publication of the Iron Manual may well use entirely different methods of construction.
Armors of the 1960s
* First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #39
Tony Stark's gray armor was built around an iron chest plate designed to prevent the piece of shrapnel he'd received in Vietnam from traveling to his heart and killing him. The armor, made from ordinary iron, provided protection from physical attacks, small arms fire, temperature extremes, some energy forms, and acid. Powered by flat linear armature DC motors (rechargeable via any electrical outlet), the exoskeleton boosted the strength of the wearer by about 10 times, and employed negative feedback for motion sensing. Air pressure jets allowed for extended jumps, but not true flight. Weaponry included a chest-mounted mono-beam (proton beam generator; useful range was only a few yards), a miniature hacksaw that extended from the gauntlet's fingertips, and magnetic turbo-insulators that allowed Stark to magnetically deflect metal projectiles or bring metal objects to him. Sensors consisted of a short-wave radio. All of the armor's devices and functions were manually controlled by the wearer. Stark constructed at least one updated, form-fitting version, still rigid, upon his return to the United States.
In order to make the armor less frightening to the general public, Stark created a gold-colored version with a wide array of improvements over the original. The new armor used the three dimensional, collapsible micro-structure now common in Stark's suits, so that it could be folded up and stored in his briefcase while inactive. The chest plate was streamlined so that it could be worn under normal clothing without being noticeable. The suit had a semi-rigid interior with 3D knitted metallic exterior of a lightweight iron alloy, providing the same protection as his old suit did. This was also the first suit to be equipped with a force field generator. Power was still provided by flat linear armature DC motors, now rechargeable via solar recharger as well as electrical outlets, and motion sensing was still provided by negative feedback. The Mk I boot-jets provided limited flight; steering while flying was accomplished by bodily movement. Weaponry consisted of the chest-mounted Mk II Monobeam (usable as either a concussive force beam or a heat beam), a sledgehammer, hacksaws extending from the fingertips, hand drills, electromagnets allowing him to pull things to him and push them away, and an electrical field generator. Communications and sensor arrays consisted of a loudspeaker, short-wave two-way radio, radar, and a tape recorder. When one iteration of this particular armor was partially destroyed by the Melter, a super villain who could dissolve iron and iron alloys with a special ray, Stark built an exact copy out of aluminum which was unaffected.
* First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #40
Red & Gold
Stark's trademark red and gold armor arose from a battle with a villain named Mr. Doll, who could control the gold armor through a replica figurine. To circumvent the villain's ability, Stark withdrew and constructed a new suit with a significantly different look and a lighter build- thus allowing him to devote less of his own strength to moving the armor and more to fighting Mr. Doll's influence-, resulting in the streamlined red and gold suit.
The red and gold armor was composed of an ultra-fine 3-D knit alloy and incorporated motors into the knitting to allow full mobility. While it ran on the same type of power, the power consumption was much more efficient. The boot jets were upgraded to chemically fueled thrusters, which provided a much faster flight speed. Weaponry consisted of the chest-mounted Mk II Monobeam (useful range was still only several yards), repulsor rays, a proton gun, and powerful electromagnets to pull metal objects to him or repel/push them away. Communications and sensors consisted of a short-wave radio. Other features included an image reproducer and collapsible roller skates. Most functions were controlled by miniature electronic switches mounted on the insides of various pieces of the armor such as the helmet and the gloves; by pressing various combination's of them, different systems were engaged. The switches in the helmet were enabled by the wearer's tongue; other functions were utilized with wrist-mounted controls.
Beyond these features, Stark also occasionally experimented with cosmetic modifications such as adding a nose indentation on his faceplate, or rimming the face-plate with rivets.
While the appearance of the armor changed only slightly, over the years its technology improved by leaps and bounds, resulting in vastly increased strength, speed, and firepower. Control of the armor was slowly shifted from motion feedback and internal buttons to cybernetic controls, which could sense and interpret the wearer's own brainwaves and respond accordingly. The pacemaker function of the chest plate was also eventually abandoned, as Stark's heart was repaired using artificial tissue.
It is hinted that Tony Stark based the new cosmetic improvement on a childhood fantasy, as the red and gold color scheme came from his elementary school's colors, and the whole "Iron Man" motif from the eponymous song by Black Sabbath.
* First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #48
Armors of the 1970s
The armor, including the red and gold color scheme remained largely intact, although non-cosmetic improvements were constantly made, and the suit became stronger and more adaptable in steps.
A depolarizing armor, in deactivated mode literally as thin, light and comfortable as woolen underwear, was introduced in #85, but proved too vulnerable and was soon replaced with a more conventional design.
Also, for a while the armor sported a Dr. Doom-style nose piece - an adaptation made to make the helmet more comfortable. But it attracted so much ridicule that Stark did away with it on that consideration alone.
Armors of the 1980s
During this period, Stark came to realize there were several situations where his regular model armor, while functional in most environments or situations when necessary, was not wholly appropriate. In response, Stark began to develop numerous specialized suits for special missions.
Space Armor, Mark I
While based on the same design principles, this suit's matrix was formed non-collapsible to increase its protection from the rigors of deep space; also, its specialized nature made collapsibility unnecessary. Power was provided by a Mk IV micro-nuclear supply pack, supplemented by solar power converters. Systems were controlled via a cybernetic interface, though it proved to be overly sensitive; when Stark first used the armor he had difficulty triggering the appropriate command to activate the feature he wanted. The suit was designed for extended time outside of the atmosphere, up to two days in orbit (food and catheterization capable). The life support, boot jets and altitude maneuvering were powered by an on-board supply of liquid oxygen. Weaponry consisted of palm-mounted third-generation Repulsors (electron beams which require laser ionized path of air to travel through the atmosphere; the beam is moderated using a pulsing beam and early form of adaptive optics; objects are jolted away from the beam path by the combination of ionized air and the accelerated neutron beam) and a chest-mounted Unibeam (a variable intensity light source usable as a spotlight or a laser; the pentagon shape of the emitter allowed for more accurate laser pulsing while in an atmosphere), and epaulet-mounted concussion-burst cannons. Sensors consisted of radar, sonar, infrared scanners, and radio. Additional features included ECM against radar and sonar, and the fully articulated hands could be fired out on retractable cables for use as long-range grapples. The most obvious feature on this special armor was its ability to attain escape velocity without aid of an external thruster, unique to this Iron Man version; however, the nuclear jets which allowed this made the suit bulky, heavy and awkward in Earth's gravity. The dangers inherent in an atomic-energy based propulsion system of such immense power seem to have driven Tony Stark to build the thruster unit which he has been using ever since.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #142
Stealth Armor, Mark I
The Stealth armor is another of the specialized suits of armor developed by Tony Stark for specific missions, similar to the Space Armor; indeed, its creation was inspired due to him being tracked by radar during his use of the Space Armor. The Stealth Armor was designed using current "stealth" technology to allow Iron Man to foil detection devices and slip unknown in and out of restricted areas. This sleek, jet black suit (composed of impact resistant carbon-composites overlaid on top of layered "flex-metal" which can condense itself like a 3-dimensional accordion pleat) was a polarized metal mesh armor that uses every bit of space for detection and evasion components, and therefore was originally designed with no weapons. Most of this armor used solar power to charge the batteries and run most of the integrated circuitry, though the pods on the sides were batteries that could maintain the suit's functions for a short time. It was able to recharge itself from electrical sources, a thermocouple to siphon power from extreme heat or cold, and solar power. The suit utilized force field technology to render Iron Man electronically invisible- a layer of low density plasma would be held in place by a focused magnetic field, and the tripole waveform reflected radar, along with a wave modifier that bent the radar around it. To quash any detectable infrared signature, the armor's boot-jet exhaust was "washed" by bursts of super-cooled air. The micro-turbines on his jet boots possess assisted air liquification devices, rings of liquid oxygen jets, that cool the boots' emissions.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #152
After climbing back out of the gutter where he had landed after Obadiah Stane's psychological attack had devastated him, Tony Stark started to construct a very basic armor out of spare parts he asked as payment from the companies he advised.
More symbolic than anything, this armor had a strong resemblance to the very first, gray armor. While far more advanced than most earlier armors, it was inferior to the regular model Jim Rhodes was using at the time. It was eventually and unceremoniously destroyed by one of Stane's mechanical pawns. Nevertheless, it served to channel Stark's emotional distress into creative paths and paved the way for the armor that came next.
Stark began creating the Silver Centurion armor as a method of working out ideas and experimenting. The S-circuit, which uses its energy more efficiently, is an example of the breakthrough developed by Stark, using the armor as a model. With the destruction of Circuits Maximus by Obadiah Stane, Stark donned the newest set of armor to battle the foe that stripped him of his business, his friends, and almost his life. The battle with Stane was the first field test of this armor, and resulted in the defeat of Stane and the destruction of Stane International.
The suit had a rigid interior and a 3-D knitted metallic exterior, providing protection from physical attacks as well as acid, heat, cold, most forms of energy, radiation, and electricity. A 3-D knitting pattern on a sub molecular construction level gave the armor itself more strength, while allowing for the most comfortable suit interior. By expanding the field that keeps the armor rigid, the armor could encase itself in a protective force field that was effective against most forms of attack; Stark could also use this field to polarize the armor to either attract or repulse other items via magnetic polarity. Most of this armor used solar power to charge the batteries and run most of the integrated circuitry, though the pods on the sides were batteries that could maintain the suits functions for a short time. It was also able to recharge itself from electrical sources, a thermocouple to siphon power from extreme heat or cold. Flight was accomplished via Mk IV boot-jets (which incorporated high-speed duo-source turbines), supplemented by a booster pack that enabled the armor to attain speeds up to 750 mph (1,210 km/h) in the air and 180 mph (290 km/h) in the water. Weaponry consisted of a chest-mounted Mk III Unibeam (search light, heat beams, tractor beam, laser beam, and ultraviolet light beam), palm-mounted Mk III Repulsors (laser-guided particle beam emitters), pulse bolts (slow-moving high energy plasma discharge "torpedoes" that build in intensity as they travel through the atmosphere, picking up static and ambient energy and thus doing more damage the farther they travel), and a sonic emitter (generating high-frequency sound waves). Sensors consisted of a full band audiovisual transceiver, radar, sonar, infrared scanners, and an electromagnetic scanner that could, by measuring the variances in the magnetic fields in structures, reverse-engineer a schematic of the layout where power lines ran inside of the walls and overlay the layout onto the visual display inside the helmet. The suit also had power cords in his belt that he could connect to any kind of power conduit and siphon that energy to add to his reserves. One notable feature of the suit was the hologram emitter, which could generate up to 12 simultaneous images of the armor. It could also be used to generate a "chameleon field" around itself; the computer in the armor would analyze its surroundings and generate a hologram to make it blend in with the surroundings making it effectively invisible visually and to cameras. Unfortunately, the "chameleon effect" module interfered with the cybernetic controls of the armor, providing nasty feedback and massive headaches.
The Silver Centurion armor- or at least a copy of it, given that the original was destroyed towards the conclusion of the " Armor Wars"- was recently used by Tony Stark to defeat the Mandarin, when his Extremis abilities were temporarily deactivated due to concerns regarding his mental health.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #200
This unit was designed for salvage missions at the bottom of the deepest oceans -- while Stark's conventional suits function underwater, they were noisy, inefficient, and they leaked. The exact composition is unknown; it is assumed to be composed of the same layered "flex-metal" micro-scale suit tiles fabricated by genetically engineered metal-affinity bacteria which assemble themselves in specific orderly arrays and then expire, leaving behind various metallic deposits which form all the metal shapes and micro-electronic circuits. A new aligned-crystal production process allowed the construction of a large, semi-spherical headpiece, as transparent as glass. This unit possessed several ocean-specific weapons, such as the electric field of an electric eel, a camouflage 'ink cloud' and small 'manta ray' torpedoes. It also comprised an inner "Escape Suit" that could be jettisoned from the main suit in case of emergency (this inner suit possessed a Unibeam, 2 torpedoes, and the holding bay). Functions were controlled by cybernetic interface.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #218
Stealth Armor, Mark II
This armor was nearly identical to the Mk I Stealth Armor, with two additional features. The first was a camouflage effect, similar to the chameleon effect generated by the Silver Centurion armor. This suit's camouflage effect was entirely manually controlled, providing the wearer with invisibility to visual or camera detection, but only against backgrounds that are mostly of one color. The second addition were palm-mounted Mk IV Repulsors, though they only had enough energy to fire three shots at full power.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #229
During the Armor Wars, Iron Man found himself facing the government-sanctioned armored assassin Firepower. Against this walking, flying armored arsenal, even the Silver Centurion armor did not stand a chance, and it was destroyed. Reluctant to enter the fray again, but forced into action, Tony Stark designed a new suit, even more powerful and versatile than its predecessor, designed specifically to negate Firepower's original advantages, such as a means of disrupting Firepower's targeting systems, a gauntlet-generated energy shield, and more powerful boosters for increased speed. It made short work of Firepower, and Stark was so horrified of the destructive potential of the armor should it fall into the wrong hands, he resolved to destroy it. Fortunately, he changed his mind. The neo-classic armor resembled the classic armor which had endured for many years, with some minor cosmetic changes. Its appearance changed somewhat, mainly becoming more bulky, ostensibly to increase thruster power (its massive boot-jets earning it the some-time nickname "coffeepot armor"). It was also the first armor to incorporate a beta-particle generator, radically reducing Iron Man's external power needs and boosting his already formidable might.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #231
This armor appears in the conclusion of the Camelot saga. When Iron Man
was fighting Dr. Doom( now wielding the power of the Excalibur), his armor could not bear the damages inflicted by the Excalibur. So, when Iron Man found the sword's scabbard, it merged with his original armor, giving it a new look and several mystic abilities. What Iron Man wished, turned into reality.
The scabbard was separated from the armor, when Doom thrust the sword into the armor's chest plate.
* First appearance: Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #3
Armors of the 1990s
Space Armor, Mark II
A new space armor design intended to function for weeks on end without maintenance, recharging or restocking of resources.
It was able to evade the sophisticated sensors on Kree and Shi'ar spaceships as well as interface with their technology.
It also possessed an extremely powerful self-destruct mechanism via its fusion reactor.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #278
Critically wounded by a bullet near his spine, Tony Stark was paralyzed from the waist down. After some soul-searching, he designed an armor which would enable him to walk. While his paralysis was ended by the implantation of an organic microchip, this proved only the start of his problems, as the biochip was revealed to be a parasitic life form, designed to consume his own nervous system and replace it with one that could be controlled from the outside. He now needed the support armor even more to protect himself from the people who controlled his body, since his armor cybernetically responded to his own brain. The cybernetic interface and battle computer were integrated with the Telepresence Neural Net, a more subtle armor he used to simulate his degenerating nervous system. While it was still worn as a suit of armor, the functions and muscle control were carried out by the suit, not by the wearer.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #280
Main article: War Machine Armor
This suit was created initially by Stark to deal with the Masters of Silence threat; a later version, JRXL-1000, was designed and built for, and worn for a while by James Rhodes. It was designed for all-out warfare, and was also known as the "Variable Threat Response Battle Suit." It was not collapsible, and included far heavier carbon-composite-based armor as well as improved tactical computer systems and automatic targeting. Since the Masters of Silence were protected against Iron Man's usual weaponry (Repulsors and Unibeam), those weapons were removed from the first version of the armor. In both iterations, the shoulder mounted weapons are modular and can be removed and replaced. In the first version, both the double-barreled cannon and the laser blade were fixed (the flamethrower was built over the laser blade casing). In the Rhodes model, the wrist weapons became modular too.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #281
- Repulsors (Rhodes model only): Laser-guided particle beam emission units mounted in the palm of each hand.
- Unibeam (Rhodes model only): Multi-band light and force beam emitter. Can be adjusted for a variety of effects such as searchlight, heat ray, tractor beam, laser, image inducer and broad-spectrum (UV to Infra-red) light beam.
- Pulse Bolt Generators (probably Rhodes model only): Plasma discharges that build in intensity as they travel through the atmosphere, picking up static and ambient energy, for a more powerful effect than the repulsors.
- Force Shield: A focused photon emitter on the back of his left wrist that shapes into a shield.
- Electromagnetic Pulse: knocks out electrical systems within range, including those of the armor itself, which reboots after six minutes.
- Double-barreled cannon (wrist-mounted): Wrist-mounted, fires various ammo types. Ammo is user-selectable and is fed from belt circling the upper wrist.
- Flamethrower (wrist-mounted): Largely ineffective while in-flight, but highly effective on "cleaning up" after fighting.
- Laser Blade (wrist-mounted)
- Mini gun (shoulder-mounted): Shoulder-mounted and using an electronic firing system. This is a state-of-the-art Gatling-type machine gun firing case-less ammunition. It can be loaded with a wide array of various bullet types including stun and armor-piercing. Default load out is 1800 rounds of depleted uranium bullets which are fired electrically, minimizing moving parts.
- Micro-Rocket Pack (shoulder-mounted): Similar to an assault helicopter rocket pack, holds a variety of up to eight rockets, including High Explosive, Concussion, Smoke, Flare, and Miniature Nuclear.
- Particle Beam Discharger (shoulder-mounted): also called plasma cannon.
- Single barrel missile launcher (shoulder-mounted): similar to a man-portable missile launcher, this weapon holds only a single shot.
- On one special occasion, the armor was coated with a hyper-refractory prismatic polymer which could deflect the piercing rays of the Living Laser even at maximum power.
Though similar in design to both the Neo-Classic armor and its remote-controlled counterpart, the NTU-150 incorporated the new SE Telepresence technology, enabling the unit to be operated under full Virtual Control. This unit was not a wearable suit of armor; rather, it was a fully articulated device controlled by the mental impulses of the user via a remote headset apparatus. The remote headset transmitted commands to the active unit in much the same way as the human brain transmits commands to the central nervous system (in this case, it is via a subspace radio connection, lessening reaction time to almost zero). Similarly, the visual, aural, and (to a lesser degree) tactile information collected by the NTU-150 could be interpreted by the user's brain in the same way as normal sensory data. The primary difference is that the sensory data collected by the NTU-150 includes a full range of electromagnetic spectra and computer-processed data normally unavailable to humans, while the active devices contained in the unit includes not only analogues to the human body, but weaponry, data collection and processing hardware as well, all under autonomic and voluntary nervous system control. In contrast to traditional robotic devices, the NTU-150 contains no mechanical framework to mimic the action of the human body; the unit's outer shell is articulated by a multiprocessor-controlled structural integrity field which allows for a much greater range of movement.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #281
This unit is a drastic departure from all of the previous armors. Instead of a single cohesive unit, each piece of the armor is a stand alone subsystem that can be interchanged at will. As such, while the overall unit is still referred to as the Mark 11, the actual configuration at any given time will vary. The shell was composed of layered "flex-metal" which could condense itself like a 3-dimensional accordion pleat. Micro-scale suit tiles were fabricated by genetically engineered metal-affinity bacteria, which assembled themselves in specific orderly arrays and then expired, leaving behind various metallic deposits which form all the metal shapes and micro-electronic circuits.
The Modular Armor is rather well-known outside of comics due to it being the main armor in the Iron Man animated TV series and Capcom's Marvel vs. Capcom video game series. The Modular Armor was effectively destroyed by The Sentient Armor, a later and more sophisticated design.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #300
Hulkbuster Armor, Mark I
The Hulkbuster armor is a heavy-duty exo-frame (an add-on to the Mk. XI Modular Armor) designed for maximum strength amplification at the cost of reduced versatility and mobility. As its name suggests, it was specifically designed for hand-to-hand combat with the rampaging Hulk. The armor was rated with a lift (press) capacity of 175 tons. During its maiden run, the armor enabled Stark to hold his own in sustained physical combat with the Hulk. In subsequent battles with the Hulk, however, Stark has declined to utilize this armor, so it is unclear whether it is indeed capable of defeating the Hulk.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #304
Very little is known about this armor. Stark- or possibly an evil doppelganger- used it to travel to an Arctic bunker.
It is hypothesized that the armor may have special thermal units for added wearer insulation. It also looked very striking, being blue and silver in color, and possessing a unique hexagonal chest beam.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #318 (July 1995)
This armor may reflect the mindset that resulted from Tony Stark being controlled more and more by Immortus. He did away with the still perfectly serviceable (and because of its very nature still state-of-the-art) Modular Armor and constructed a much more specialized armor; this one, with hindsight, was definitely designed for combat. In fact, it is possible it was designed to take on the Avengers.
Its appearance was simpler, sporting rivets as its only decoration. Bulky gauntlets housed more powerful repulsors on top of the wrist instead of in the palm of the hand. As Tony was dragged deeper and deeper into Immortus´ plan, it seemed his armor reflected this, going from blood-red and gold to darker burgundy-and-bronze.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #319 (August 1995)
This armor's design history is unknown; it stands out because it, out of all the other armors in the armory, it was picked by "Teen Tony", a Tony Stark who had been plucked out of an alternate time stream many years in the past to help fight his present-day self who was believed to be controlled by Kang the Conqueror (actually Immortus, but this was unknown at the time). It is referred to as the Retro armor here because some of its design details reflect a 1950's car. It was otherwise unremarkable and was destroyed by the present-day Tony Stark in minutes.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #325 (February 1996)
Teen Tony Armor
- MARK 1 (Iron Man volume 1 #326): Not a full armor, but only a chest plate to keep the young Tony’s heart beating. Was soon upgraded with a pair of gauntlets.
- MARK 2 (Iron Man volume 1 #327): A chest plate and gauntlets, but more powerful and with superior shielding against energy attacks.
- MARK 3 (Iron Man volume 1 #328): Based on the mark 2, this was the first full-body armor constructed by the young Tony Stark – out of bits and pieces cobbled together on a moment’s notice. It was created to fight the super-cold villain Frostbite and therefore particularly geared and manipulating heat and cold.
- MARK 4 (Iron Man volume 1 #329): Finalized armor, like a streamlined, upgraded version of the mark 3, with design elements of model 16. It only partly consisted of solid metal; parts of the limbs’ armor were holographic force-fields (which were visually indistinguishable from the original golden armor).
* First appearance: Iron Man volume 1 #326 (March 1996)
Heroes Reborn Armor
During the Onslaught event, Tony Stark was one of the heroes who sacrificed himself to defeat the menace, and consequently was shunted into a newly created pocket universe by reality-altering mutant Franklin Richards.
In the new universe, every person had a new, but complete history- including a childhood, youth and adulthood- and no memory of their original universe. So Iron Man had to be reborn- and he was, this time not as a result of a booby trap in the Far East, but a direct encounter with the newly born Incredible Hulk. His chest pierced by shrapnel from a crashed helicopter, Tony Stark had no choice but to don an experimental exoskeleton (Project: Prometheus Rising) which had cost the life of one of his closest friends before. He had to keep wearing the chest plate constantly to keep his shredded heart beating thereafter.
The paradigm of this armor was quite different from the one Iron Man had worn for years in the baseline universe, but the arrangement of weapons, and, oddly enough, the color scheme, remained similar. Its sensors seemed somewhat more advanced. It remained cloaked when not worn, but could join up with the chest plate in seconds when called.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 2) #1 (November 1996)
Heroes Return Armor
Fresh upon his return from the " Heroes Reborn" universe, Tony constructed this armor which served as a new beginning, combining cutting-edge technology with classic lines. The armor possessed energy-absorption strips, as well as a "horned" faceplate, reminiscent of the first red-and-gold armor, and a pentagonal chest beam.
Later, Tony was forced to abandon this armor, when doctors told him that the powerful energy fields of the armor were deteriorating his health, killing body tissues.
Tony has currently returned to the Heroes Return Armor in the aftermath of Secret Invasion in Iron Man (vol 5.) #10 (April 2009).
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #1 (February 1998)
Prototype "EM-safe" armor
Experimental armor incorporating safe power systems, necessary when it became apparent the constant exposure to the powerful energy fields inside the Iron Man armor were harming Tony's health. Iron Man transported to the moon to help the Fantastic Four; however a malfunction caused a brief battle between Iron Man and the FF. Despite its rough, unfinished state, it still played a vital role in defeating Ronan, the Kree Supreme Accuser.
* First Appearance: Fantastic Four (vol. 3) #15 (March 1999)
Incorporated 'safe' power systems, which insulated the wearer. Too large to fit into the traditional suitcase, it instead transformed into a compact, flight-capable module. It became sentient due to the Ultron Imperative (although the original tale controversially involved the Y2K bug as the explanation) being unwittingly implanted in it by Jocasta. As a sentient unit, it was a superior fighter to Iron Man, but its artificial nature rendered it fairly predictable when Tony was forced to fight it on a desert island, allowing him to set up elaborate traps to confront it while it was occupied with a signal from the Avengers. It possessed a strong desire to be with Tony Stark, an apparently initially sincere affection which soon grew into possessiveness and deadly obsession. In the end, however, the armor, which had intended to replace Tony altogether, sacrificed itself to save his life when he suffered a potentially fatal heart attack, ripping its own cybernetic heart out and shunting it into his creator's body. Later, the Sentient Armor was revived by the misguided Sons of Yinsen who sought to use it to resurrect their prophet, Ho Yinsen. Unfortunately, Ultron's consciousness quickly dominated the armor, even joining with his head, lost during the events of the " Ultron Imperative"-story. In the end, the armor was presumably destroyed when New Timbetpal, the massive floating city of the Sons of Yinsen, crashed.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #15 (April 1999)
Armors of the 2000s
Outer Atmospheric Armor
A completely new space armor design. It requires a booster rig for takeoff, and has therefore been trimmed down to reduce weight.
While it offers less protection than previous models, it is also stealthier and far more maneuverable in space, using anaerobic jets for propulsion. It contains a special compression gel to protect the wearer from G-forces, and automatically seals any leaks. To accommodate re-entry, the unit possesses a massive, expanding solar sail.
* First Appearance: Iron Man: Bad Blood (miniseries) #4 (December 2000)
This armor's main difference from its predecessors is its sheer size; the torso and shoulders in particular are massive. Its development, starting from scratch, resulted mainly from Tony's fear that an innate factor had resulted in his previous armor developing sentience. Its appearance also differed markedly from the Sentient Armor, perhaps to make it seem as different as possible: it possessed a circular chest beam, a greatly altered overall configuration (including many "industrial-style" details such as external tubing, earning this suit the ignoble nickname "udder armor") and a restyled helmet.
The armor is powered by a Beta Particle Generator and solar power converters and controlled by a Cybernetic Interface and Battle Computer to enhance reactions when in combat. It can absorb directed energy attacks as well as massive non-directional energy discharges (like explosions). It also possesses a new force field.
The golden sections of Iron Man consisted of S.K.I.N (Synth-Kinetic Interface Nano-fluid), a liquid alloy that can be manipulated to conform to any desired shape. It is lightweight but has immense structural integrity, being harder than titanium and approaching low-grade adamantium. S.K.I.N. can be contracted to fit into a small container or stretched/shaped into another form. The alloy's wondrous properties were developed by Askew Technologies, and the exact elements incorporated into the S.K.I.N. remain unknown. Tony had set up the S.K.I.N. of his armor to be stored in a small container. On his command, the S.K.I.N. spilled out and assumed its default armor configuration.
The larger size of the armor accommodated storage of several new systems, including an improved sonic array, upgraded chameleon field, energy blade, missiles and even a number of grapefruit-sized, spherical drone units which could hover and fly autonomously, and serve as scouts or remote-controlled weapons.
Unfortunately, this design had to be abandoned after Ultron proved how easily he could make S.K.I.N. (or a human being it was bonded to) jump through hoops.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #42 (prototype); Iron Man (vol. 3) #44 (finished design)
After the S.K.I.N. fiasco, Tony once again more or less redesigned the armor from scratch. Improved scanning included GPS and a particle mist that could be used to 'mark' targets. The armor, which went through various evolutions, had originally a generally segmented, almost insect-like appearance; later, it became heavier, more industrial, and the ultimate form of this armor (through trimmed down) made Tony sigh "It's difficult to believe I used to be able to fit this inside a briefcase".
Carbon dioxide provides underwater propulsion; immediate satellite up linking even from miles underwater was possible.
Repulsors were improved with a 'crowd control' setting. The armor could also release a (tentatively called) "deflector pulse", a shaped force field blasting outward from various points on the suit. Armor could also release a devastating "blockbuster" blast utilizing uni-beam and repulsors in concert, but more potent than either.
When commanded, the armor could also adopt a hovering, non-humanoid, autonomous combat mode, equipped with energy and projectile weapons.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #50 (March 2002)
Stealth Armor, Mark III
Similar to Stark's earlier Armor, the Mark III Stealth unit was also specifically designed to combat the Black Panther's anti-metal vibranium claws- it is composed entirely of advanced composite ceramics and experimental bio-neural gel-pack circuitry, fused with a Kevlar-like polymer and backed by optical fiber networks; all of which comes down to an armor which was invisible to electronic detection systems as well as the naked eye, even the Black Panther's. Although the development of Stark's new cloaking technology for the Mark 25 "S.K.I.N." armor probably rendered the Mark III unit's stealth technology obsolete, the Stealth armor is nevertheless an effective weapon against opponents such as the Black Panther and Magneto because of its plastic/ceramic design.
* First Appearance: Black Panther (vol. 3) #44 (July 2002)
The Thor-Buster armor was designed by Tony Stark as a precaution against King Thor, in case his good deeds went bad.
The power source for the armor was a mystical Asgardian crystal, originally part of a new type of power generator that Thor left Tony Stark to possibly use as a new energy source for mankind.
Outwardly, it resembled the Asgardian Destroyer. Because it could absorb and utilize the massive amounts of energy Thor turned on it, in terms of raw strength this armor could be the mightiest Iron Man of all. Nevertheless, it was ultimately destroyed by King Thor, its power source undone.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #64 (March 2003)
Cobalt Man impostor
Used to impersonate the Cobalt Man.
* First Appearance: Avengers/Thunderbolts #1 (May 2004)
This prototype armor possessed armor made up out of three-inch (76 mm) , honeycomb-shaped tiles, piled several layers thick. Each tile was made of high-impact polymer. When one of the tiles was damaged, it popped off and the next one below it snapped into place. Furthermore, the suit used repulsor-tech force fields to position new tiles, produced in a "polymer kiln" on its back. It could also create a "storm cloud" of thousands of orbiting tiles around itself to act as "chaff". This armor was originally designed to be used in space, where micro meteoroids provided an impact-rich environment, but was ultimately used to defend against a parasitical alien life form which infected organisms and altered them to suit its needs. For optimal efficacy, the tiles were "loaded" with specialized nanobots which would turn the alien's biology against itself.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #71 (October 2003)
Designed to withstand high gravity environments; it was bulky, being able to survive long-term exposure to at least 50 G; the wearer had blood artificially forced to body parts which would otherwise suffer from the extreme gravity.
Unfortunately, the wearer is still susceptible to nitrogen narcosis and the bends.
* First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #83 (July 2004)
After being critically injured during a battle with a nanotech-enhanced foe, Stark injected his nervous system with a modified techno-organic virus to save his own life. This fused Stark's armor to his body, allowing him to store the inner layers of the Iron Man armor in the hollows of his bones as well as control it through direct brain impulses. The Extremis enhancement has turned Stark into a cyborg, whereby the usage of his existing lock chip (a personal area networking implement implanted in his forearm) is directly integrated into his nervous system.
His new armor is no longer a bulky unit which houses its own AI "response server" and miscellaneous interfaces for neural control. Instead, it is more lightweight (constructed of a pliable crystalline material with a molecular structure that can turn into super-hard planes upon the application of an electrical field) and less complex (as it interfaces directly to Stark's brain via the Extremis-modified cybernetic connections), and has much faster response time since it effectively functions like Stark's second skin.
He is also able to remotely connect to external communications systems such as satellites, cellular phones, and computers through the PAN interconnect (that is now thought-controlled). Because the armor's operating system is now directly connected to Stark's nervous system, its response time has been significantly improved.
Another major departure from the previous armors is expansion of repulsor technology. The "repulsor flight system" provides lift (something like anti-gravity) and positive flight control (pitch, roll and yaw), while the usual rocket boots provide the armor with thrust. The same repulsor technology allows the individual pieces of the armor to levitate and assemble themselves, by modulating what Stark referred to as "vectored Repulsor fields".
Furthermore, the Extremis process has endowed Stark with a 'healing factor' and possibly even enhanced physical abilities, as he was confident enough to challenge Logan/Wolverine to a fight (and even challenging to see who's capable of recovering faster from the other's attack). It was later stated that the Extremis enhancement speeds up a person's repair process and hence the body's cells died and regenerated at a faster rate. This effectively made Tony Stark immune to cancer and gave him his 'healing factor'.
In the Iron Man: The Inevitable storyline, it was shown that it's not only Tony Stark's body and the interfacing undersheath that has self-healing properties. Even the Iron Man armor has the ability to self-heal and self-repair, presumably through the use of nanotechnology. The armor is also able to store power throughout its structure, indicating that instead of having main batteries mounted around the waist as in the older Iron Man armors, the Extremis armor incorporates distributed and decentralized energy storage.
Note: Although Extremis for reasons of simplicity is referred to as "a virus", it is not. The Extremis process involved injecting several billion microscopic nano-tubes, which act as information carriers, into the brain. The brain is then partly reprogrammed; the so-called "repair center", that part of the brain which maintains an "integrity map" of the body, is told that the body is wrong. The physical reaction is that the entire body regrows itself, remaking itself per the Extremis instructions. Extremis itself, the original information package, is not involved; neither are "nanobots".
After the entire Stark 'data-spine', the central data processing center which governed all, or at least the pertinent chunk of Stark technology, was infected with a hyper-advanced, Skrull-developed computer virus during the Secret Invasion, Tony lost the ability to use Extremis' interface functions and consequently the armor was rendered obsolete.
After the events of Stark: Disassembled, Tony, with the help of Reed Richards, designs a new suit he dubs, the Bleeding Edge. This suit is more than an upgrade from the Extremis model, it's an entirely new model. Unlike the Extremis model, in which the suits underlining is stored in the hollows of Tony's bones, this suit in it's entirety is stored within Stark's body, activating with a single thought. Now composed of hyper thought sensitive nano-bots designed to respond only to Tony's brain patterns, they can loosely weave together to mimic clothing, or compact themselves together to become as dense and strong as steel. Also, this armor does not rely on gears or servos for mobility, this armor acts as a second layer of artificial muscle, making it extremely lightweight and versatile. It also appears the nano-bots can bind together to form working machines and enable energy output, such as the repulsor rays, and thrusters. Overall, this suit is the most hi-tech model built by Tony Stark to date, out performing his previous models. Note: during the events of the Secret Invasion where the Skrulls infected the Stark Dataspine which governs performance output from most Stark technology, Tony's Extremis underlining lost it's interfacing capabilities with Stark's armor. It's speculated that this new model does not run of the Dataspine, but rather is privately linked to Stark's brain to prevent a similar problem from happening.
Sometime after the Extremis transformation, during an attack by the new Super-Adaptoid, Tony Stark realized he could command several armors at once. Building on this, and realizing the world was becoming an increasingly dangerous place, he decided to construct a "team" of Iron Men- hyper-advanced drones that would be under his direct mental command, just as his own armored body. Unfortunately, the "Argonauts" were abused and destroyed before they ever could serve for good. They included:
- "Space Ghost": space-flight capable, nearly impossible to detect espionage model; possibly intended as a satellite-killer.
- "Submariner": streamlined for great speed underwater; capable of using the ocean itself as a weapon, it apparently unleashed several tsunamis, and was able to overpower Namor, the Submariner, under water - an incredible feat.
- "Adamantium Man": equipped with practically indestructible "Stark-Chobham" armor, an experimental composite of carbon nanotube-reinforced ceramics, laced with adamantium.
- "Digger": enormous drone, possibly over a hundred tons; equipped with (shielded) Antarctic Vibranium (which dissolves any metal) helmet dome and a specialized repulsor/unibeam system which allowed it to tunnel at incredible speed.
- "Hulkbuster II": also a massive drone, ostensibly designed mainly for raw power and toughness, to take on the Hulk. It proved entirely capable of taking on the Avengers.
While extremely powerful, the drones were useless once Tony Stark rendered himself clinically dead.
Modern Hydro Suit
During the Civil War arc of Wolverine solo series, Wolverine borrows Stark's armor to pursue Namor who is undersea in New Pangea. A new hydro suit is used by Wolverine that correlates to the style of the modern Iron Man suit.
* First Appearance: Wolverine (vol. 3) #45 (August 2006)
This new iteration of the armor possesses enhanced repulsors, housed not in gloves but in high-strength manipulator waldoes (giving the armor somewhat longer arms than usual); multiple-mode boot jets that can operate both with and without oxygen intake; improved structural integrity for the armor; an improved "chameleon mode" and a "super cavitation spike", projecting upward from the back, which apparently creates a sort of "bubble" so that the armor can travel underwater at near-supersonic speeds. A massive amount of electrical energy is stored in a spinning, superconductive capacitor ring on the back.
The most radical feature of this armor must be that its vastly increased computing power allows it to make a "back-up" of Tony's own mind, so that in the event of critical injury of the wearer, the armor can act as him, with all his knowledge, insight and experience. The effect is so complete that the armor, thus activated, referred to itself as "Tony 2.0". After several hours of existence, the armor managed to develop a program that enabled it to function at "hypervelocity" - effectively moving at a different time frame than everyone else.
Note that this story is set before "Extremis", though it was published afterwards.
First Appearance: Iron Man: Hypervelocity (January 2007)
Hulkbuster Armor MK II
In the World War Hulk event, Stark designed a new Hulkbuster armor, in order to battle the Hulk upon his return from space. He does so in World War Hulk #1, and initially was able to hold his own against his foe. The new armor was built as a large exo-skeletal shell which fits around his normal armor and is equipped with rocket-boosted gauntlets, capable of punching the Hulk back several miles. It is also equipped with Adamantium-tipped injector needles, which Stark used in an attempt to suppress the Hulk's power with S.P.I.N. Tech nanites, but the nanites failed due to sabotage (see Avengers: The Initiative #4). With the damage done by the Hulk and the entire Stark Tower collapsing on the already damaged armor, it was unable to continue functioning. It briefly re-emerged as a host body for the demon Zom, who attempted to use it to access S.H.I.E.L.D. technology and destroy New York City by shifting it into the Negative Zone; Zom was defeated by the efforts of the self-styled " Renegades" (Amadeus Cho, Hercules, the Angel, and Namora), and the armor was used by Amadeus Cho as a temporary support to shore up structural damage caused in the battle.
Armors from alternate realities & possible futures
Iron Man 2020
Arno Stark bought the corporate identity of Stark Industries, and apparently this included Iron Man. Unlike his heroic ancestor (actually, Tony might be his uncle, once removed) he found himself working as a ruthless mercenary to bolster the financial reserves of his company. His armor was recognized to be both more powerful and more combat-oriented than that of the twentieth-century Iron Man. Decades later, this same armor (although possibly upgraded by Doctor Doom) is worn by Andros Stark, the villainous Iron Man of 2093.
Heroes Reborn "Prometheum" Armor
(See also "Heroes Reborn-armor"); originally an experimental self-contained, armored life-support and combat system. It was a joint project of Tony Stark and Connor "Rebel" O´Reilly, but it proved dangerously unstable, and Rebel was killed in the testing stage. The project was abandoned and Tony Stark went into a spiral towards psychological self-destruction. Ironically, years later, when he went to investigate an incident at one of his more remote business annexes, his helicopter was crashed (by the newborn Incredible Hulk of that reality) and he was impaled by debris. He was forced to don an upgraded version of the experimental armor which had been stored at the annex to save his own life, and from that day on fought on as Iron Man. Later, he came face to face with a resurrected Rebel, outfitted with another version of his armor which had been completely re-imagined by Doctor Doom.
Iron Man of Earth X
In the world of Earth-X, the whole world has become exposed to an airborne agent which causes everyone to mutate into super powered beings. Tony Stark sealed off his factory complex while still inside, fearful of being changed into a `super´-version of himself. Over the years, he constructed an army of Iron Men, intended to be used as a worldwide police force, but never used- again for fear of being corrupted by such power.
Instead, he built robotic versions of the deceased Avengers, otherwise remaining mostly passive inside his fortress. Forced into action by the arrival of the Celestials, he revealed that his entire factory was a final, titanic armor built partially from the remains of the gargantuan Red Ronin robot; he managed to delay the Host of the immense Space Gods, but was finally destroyed.
Marvel Mangaverse Iron Man
In this universe, Tony Stark vanishes after fighting Namor one last time... and his position as both industrialist and Iron Person is taken by his twin sister Antoinette (Toni) Stark, a former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She expands the paradigm into an entire army of every conceivable form of Iron Man, from flying weapons platforms, to 100-foot (30 m) mechas, to platoons of armored soldiers... all of which proves entirely useless against the Incredible Hulk. Meanwhile, it is revealed Tony Stark is still alive - albeit reduced to a head in a life-support unit because of spinal cancer. He initially equips the Avengers ( Captain America, Vision, Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch) with four super-powerful vehicles, capable of combining into yet another skyscraper-sized Iron Man mecha. This, too is destroyed by the Hulk. Later, when targeted by a conspiracy against all superheroes in the world, the disembodied Tony Stark dons a cybernetic body to once again become Iron Man.
An alternate Tony Stark from a world in which the Avengers were drawn into outer space, lured into interstellar battle and effectively destroyed by a warlike alien race. His spirit shattered, he returned to Earth, apparently to find that Reed Richards had planned to take over the world (to date, the exact circumstances behind his descent are unclear). He decided to take control of the planet himself "to save it" and adopted methods more like those of Dr. Doom, killing, among others, the Human Torch, and adopting a bulkier gray armor that resembled his original suit, although possessing far more advanced weaponry than he had back then.
He was accidentally drawn into the 616-universe, and after an extended battle with the local heroes - including Captain America, the Black Widow, Spider-Man and X-23 - was incarcerated. He escaped, adapting a hyper-advanced LMD into a new set of armor that could shape itself according to his thoughts and form any weapon he could conceive of, and called himself the "Iron Maniac"; since everything in this world was backwards, this was his way of stating he was sane and everyone else was mad. He is a cyborg; at the least his chest is armored.
The Lord Iron armor from Marvel 1602
A Spanish scientist who was taken captive by the English in the war and forced, through torture by David Banner, to devise weapons for them. He now needs his massive armor to survive; it harnesses electric power from simple chemical cells, but can also absorb lightning bolts. It provides increased strength, electrical attacks and some sensory enhancement.
Somatic Combat Vehicle from Iron Man: Crash
In the words of Tony himself: "My SCV secondary body protective shielding is formed of a titanium beryllium geodesic alloy doped with nickel iron mylar superstrate and interlaced microcrystalline quartz fiber and synthetic rubber endoform & ectoform substrate layer". This armor's various properties (strength, lightness, structural integrity etc.) are all a result of optimizing the interaction between the properties of various materials, all balanced out on a molecular level. In a sense, this armor is one huge "tile" like the millions of tiny ones the contemporary armor is made out of.
The Negative Zone-powered Ziran Armor (What If? Newer Fantastic Four)
When Ziran the Tester of The Celestials was murdered by Thanos via the use of The Infinity Gauntlet, The "Newer" Fantastic Four (Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine and The Hulk) brought Ziran's arm through their modified Negative Zone portal where Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (who had been permanently separated from his Hulk persona by Thanos) could study it.
After learning that The Celestials controlled their armor via sheer willpower and thought alone, Tony managed to adjust the armor to respond to Human thought, linked it to The Negative Zone using Mr. Fantastic's technology and took control of the armor (which became more "Iron Man-like" in appearance).
With the power of an entire reality at his disposal, Tony was able to take Thanos by surprise and get a hit in, but a simple gesture not only "relieved" the Ziran Armor of its left arm but also forced it to shut down completely, making it impossible for Tony to command it any longer, which in turn caused it to fall over on its side.
It is assumed that following Thanos' defeat courtesy of Wolverine's deceptions and Spider-Man's subsequent use of The Infinity Gauntlet to undo all the damage Thanos wrought, Ziran returned to life and took his armor back. Despite being a modified variation of Ziran the Tester's armor, the Ziran Armor is currently the most powerful armor ever used by any iteration of Tony Stark within the confines of The Marvel Multiverse.
Newer Fantastic Four Armor (What If? Newer Fantastic Four)
In this reality, Tony Stark's stepped up to take Ghost Rider's place on the "New" Fantastic Four after Thanos erased him from existence. When he did, he slightly modified the NTU-50 Telepresence Armor to match the team motif with a black and blue paint job and a "4" engraved onto the chestplate's circular centerpiece.
Overload armor from What If (vol. 1) #64 ("What If Iron Man Sold Out?")
In an alternate world where Tony Stark went public with his armor instead of keeping it for himself, the "arms race" quickly completely escalated, with more and more advanced armor being developed by all parties from the U.S. government and S.H.I.E.L.D. to HYDRA and the Mandarin.
Ultimately, the worst threat turned out to be Magneto, who was infuriated by the lack of interest in the plight of the Mutants, who were being hunted by Starktech Sentinels. He used his power over metal to defeat everything that was thrown at him, but was ultimately defeated by Iron Man in a towering armor, blistering with devastating weaponry (including a magnetic capacitor), and composed completely out of polymers.
Sorcerer Supreme armor from What If (vol. 1) #113 (What If Tony Stark was Sorcerer Supreme?")
In a reality in which events led Tony Stark to become the main student of the Ancient One (Instead of Stephen Strange), he ended up combining his understanding of technology as well as magic to create an armor which incorporated both. It held a vast storage of magical spells in its memory, ready to be deployed at a moment's notice. This armor was lost when Tony Stark sent it on an endless dimensional quest, carrying the body of the dread Dormammu, forcing the dark lord (in his astral form) to pursue it.
Ironheart armor from Avatars:
Covenant of the Shield
In What If?: Civil War
Released in December 2007, Tony Stark died from the Extremis injection and Captain America went on to lead all the heroes in the civil war which broke out when the government tried to enforce the Superhuman Registration Act. To provide the inspiration which Tony had given in life, Steve briefly wore an Iron Man armor with a red, white and blue color scheme.
In the Marvel limited series Bullet Points, an alternate reality where Dr. Abraham Erskine is killed (along with a young MP Benjamin Parker) one day before injecting Steve Rogers with the Super Soldier formula, thus terminating the Project: Rebirth, and initiating Project: Iron Man, in which Rogers takes place instead, making him Iron Man until he is killed in a fight with this reality's Hulk, Peter Parker. Years later, when Galactus attacks, Tony Stark finally armors up with the suit.
In What If?: Age of Apocalypse
Captain Britain wears an early model of the Iron Man armor, custom painted as his uniform, as part of the Defenders.
In Marvel Zombies
Forge is shown using an enhanced version of the original armor against the zombies.
In the 2008 Black Panther annual story "Black to the Future" (a What If?-type story set in 2057) the USA challenges the nation of Wakanda's global dominance with an army of Iron Men. This force is led by an Iron Man giant robot piloted by Tony Stark himself. This huge machine (easily as big as the New Avengers/Transformers giant suit) could only be controlled by direct neural interface, so Tony Stark was physiologically injured when the suit was damaged by Wakanda's panther-shaped giant robot. Tony's death ended the war and inspired a Wakandan-led global peace.
In House of M, Tony Stark is still the head of Stark Industries but also the star of the hit TV show: 'Sapien Death Match' along with his father, and Johnny Storm. His battle armor for the show is similar to his original gold armor, however, it is then revealed that he was working on a much more advanced armor, more advanced than his current armor in the normal reality. This armor was chunkier, had large wing-like jets coming from the back and a cannon on its right hand. It also has counter magnets built in, to prevent Magneto from controlling it.
In the non-canon New Avengers/Transformers miniseries, Stark used a giant armor, the size of a Transformer; it allowed Iron Man to go head-to-head with the invading Decepticons. Due to the massive energy requirements, this armor would quickly run out of power, until recharged by Optimus Prime, Jazz, and Bumblebee.
In Avengers: X-Sanction, issue 3, we see a vision of Cable's timeline in the future. Accompanied by Blaquesmith, he is inspecting an impressive weapon paraphernalia displayed in the Avengers mansion. Amongst, Gambit's staff, Magneto's inhibitor chair and other armament, there is an Iron Man armor with integrated Sentinel tech. Cable hints that the suit was, or to be precise will, be designed in the eventuality of a fight with the X-Men.
As noted above, Iron Man's modular armor was his standard suit for his appearance in the 1990s Iron Man animated series, but with a slightly modified face plate to give it the traditional mouth-slit. The suit was redesigned in the second season of the show, most significantly by restoring the "mouthless" appearance of the armor.
The trademark of a changing armor remained a constant in the animated series, with the first season featuring the hydro-armor and deep space armor, straight from the comics. The second season, however, was when the variant armors became a focal point of the series; the new modifications Stark made to his suit allowed it to shape-shift into different forms with specialized capabilities that could be called upon for the assorted situations he found himself in. The hydro-armor and space armors were incorporated into this mechanism, and more armors from the comics such as the stealth armor and Hulkbuster armor were introduced. The series also introduced an array of original situational armor designs, including:
- Subterranean armor - Brown and gold, with an arm-mounted pneumatic drill for underground burrowing.
- Inferno armor - Red and gold with pink highlights, this armor was resistant to extreme temperatures and outfitting with fire-extinguishing foam, which proved helpful in combat with Firebrand.
- Samurai armor - Never actually used in combat, this highly stylized armor was blue and gray.
- Radiation armor - Blue and silver armor to shield against radioactive danger, capable of firing x-ray blasts.
- Lava armor - Red and silver armor that can resist submergence in magma, which proved helpful when Iron Man had to recover one of the Mandarin's rings from within a volcano.
- Magnetic armor - Purple and silver, with the ability to generate electromagnetic pulses, once used by a microscopically reduced Iron Man to fibrillate Hawkeye's heart.
- Bio-energy armor - DNA-powered red and gold armor, used against the Mandarin's anti-technology field in the two-part series finale "Hands of the Mandarin".
The toy line also featured two armors which did not appear in the series; an entirely silver Arctic armor and the Silver Centurion suit, dubbed hologram armor.
Several types of Iron Man armors were also featured in the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Shell Games".
Three types of Iron Man armor appear in the 2008 Iron Man film. As in the comics, the first armor which Stark builds while in captivity is crude and bulky. It had the ability to amplify Stark's strength tremendously and was armed with flamethrowers and a missile launcher and had a limited rocket jump capacity to allow Stark to exit the immediate hostile area and escape. The rockets failed shortly after the start, however; the suit shattered upon landing and Stark was forced to abandon it to attempt to reach friendly territory. Unfortunately, Stark's enemies found the abandoned armor and it served as the base design for the Iron Monger.
Upon returning home, Stark developed a sleeker, polished silver Mark II prototype version with improved flight capability, but it was prone to icing when attempting to test high altitudes. The testing led to the streamlined and armed Mark III red/gold armor. The gold Mark III armor was built with gold-titanium alloy to resolve the freezing problem that happened when the suit flew at high altitudes. This "gold-titanium alloy" is used in the Seraphim series of Stark Industries' satellites. In the film, it appears that this material not only prevents the armor's systems from freezing at high altitudes, but is also extremely durable while maintaining the weight ratio of the Mark II. It was able to withstand small arms fire, a hit from the cannon of a tank, followed by a high speed collision with a F-22 Raptor with only minimal cosmetic damage.
All three of the armor suits are powered by a miniature arc reactor, a fictional clean energy source, which is also used to power the electromagnet that protects Stark's heart from the shrapnel embedded in his chest. The final armor included anti-tank missiles that launch from the suit's forearms, steering and retrothrust jets in the palms which could double as repulsors (early in the film, Stark mentions that the Jericho missiles utilize his company's repulsor technology), small anti-personnel guns in the shoulders which could be individually targeted for a simultaneous attack, flare launchers on the hips, and a uni-beam projector in the center of his chest. Furthermore, Mark II and III operate with remote assistance from Stark's artificial intelligence JARVIS (voiced by Paul Bettany), who manages the armor's systems at Stark's command, and they also have a holographic Heads Up Display [HUD]. These armors also have variable control surfaces for active flight control, which are controlled by JARVIS to automatically stabilize the suit in flight. All three suits are able to protect their occupant from the effects of extreme g-forces.
The first prototype is based on the original gray suit from Iron Man's first appearance, while the Mark III armor's look is inspired by the modern Extremis armor.
In Iron Man 2, Tony wore the Mark IV suit which is similar to the Mark III, and the Mark V. The Mark V armor's look was inspired by the Silver Centruion armor. The suit was also capable of transforming into a suitcase, so it was easy for transport. During Iron Man 2 and the Avengers, Tony wore the Mark VI suit, which was powered by vibranium. The Mark VI is similar to the Mark IV, except for the triangular chest plate (another reference to the Extremis armor). The suit was equipped with laser weapons, mini missiles, and uni beam.
In the Avengers, Tony deployed the the Mark VII armor when combating Loki and the Chitari. This armor became more equipped with the transforming technologies similar to the Mark V, but it turns into a big pod. The suit has a chestplate similar to the I-IV armor, additional thrusters, tri-barreled lasers, repulsers, uni-beam, and wrist gauntlets that can shoot missiles.
It is revealed in Iron Man 3 that new armors will be featured: The Mark XLVII, Deep Space, Heartbreaker, Stealth, Hydro, Godkiller, and Hulkbuster armor.
The arc reactor is a fictional, extremely efficient power supply that generates vast amounts of power without consuming typical fuel or producing significant waste heat. Although its output is large, it can be depleted. This was necessary to allow the Iron Man suit to exhibit the vast strength and flying speed that it had in the comic book.
The arc reactor was apparently originally developed by Howard Stark's original partner in Technology development, Robert Ocampo, while he was still alive, though he was never given credit except in the early comic series. In the early scene of the movie during Stark's flashback to 36 hours before the desert incident (during the award ceremony), the Popular Mechanics magazine cover with Howard Stark and a young Tony sitting together on a chopper had the cover topics "Chip off the Old Block: Six year old Tony Stark builds first V8" and "Will the Arc Reactor save all our energy needs?". Also, Stane mentions that they hadn't had a development in the technology in over 30 years.
In the film, the prototypical arc reactor appears to be a tokamak-like device containing dancing rings of pale-blue plasma. It was developed by Stark Industries and used to power their manufacturing campus, apparently to "shut the hippies up," as Obadiah Stane puts it. The device never entered widespread use due to its high cost-to-output ratio. This reactor is destroyed when Pepper Potts overloads it, causing Stane to be knocked out and fall in the reactor. The reactor then explodes, killing Stane and destroying his Iron Monger suit. The second reactor is a solid, miniaturized version which constantly emits a bluish white light, built using missile components (most critically what seemed to be palladium from the electronics) and relatively simple tools while Stark was held captive. When palladium is at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, it can absorb up to 900 times its own volume of hydrogen, which makes palladium an efficient and safe storage medium for hydrogen and hydrogen isotopes. This perhaps indicates that the arc reactor uses hydrogen as a fuel. The palladium was smelted into a few rings and was later seen to be bound together in a stack with other missile-derived components that were not specified. Stark builds the third (MKII of the smaller design), more advanced model.
The film establishes that the first miniature reactor could generate 3 gigajoules per second, while the second improved reactor could generate four times that. The new reactor with 12 GJ per second equates to 12 Gigawatts of power (see orders of magnitude), or approximately sixteen million horsepower. This is more than is produced in the world's largest nuclear reactor and is more than fifteen times greater than the power of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. In the film, Yinsen exclaims about the first reactor that such a power output could keep Stark's heart beating for fifty lifetimes, to which Stark replied, "or something big for 15 minutes", indicating that at peak output the arc reactor would eventually run out of power. This was demonstrated when Stane stole the second reactor to power his reverse-engineered version of Stark's first armor, forcing Stark to use the first reactor to power his Mark III armor and fight Iron Monger; the first reactor is depleted to around 48% simply from flying Stark from his house to the factory where Stane has been building the armor, then down to 19% after using his central beam. When flying to an atmospheric height where Iron Monger's suit freezes up, he depletes his reactor completely. Due to his previous use of the first personal arc reactor Stark had built in the desert, the prototype armor uses a good portion of its energy while escaping.
The fuel used in the reactor is never specified, but its enormous output and compact size suggests that it either contains an internal fuel supply which it consumes very efficiently, or else it draws fuel from some conventional and readily available source, such as from ambient air. In the deleted scenes of the Iron Man DVD, one of the scientists working on the Iron Monger suit suggests discussing efforts to produce a miniature arc reactor with the "toroidal fusion project", which implies that the reactor is in fact a tokamak-type nuclear fusion device.