The trailer for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR finally gave viewers their first glimpse of Tony Stark’s new armor. Based on the Prime Armor created by Brian Bendis and David Marquez, this is surely Iron Man’s most powerful armor to date. It’s actually composed of nanotechnology, and Stark can reform it at will into any shape or weapon he can imagine. Marquez described it as the “Swiss Army Knife” of Iron Man armors. Whatever situation Stark’s in, this armor can be morphed into the form he needs.
With Thanos on the way to Earth, Stark will need every edge he can get. The great thing about the Prime Armor is that it offers all the functionality of previous suits. If Stark wills it, this armor can do literally anything a previous suit was capable of. It could even morph into the form of Hulkbuster armor.
It’s clear that AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR will see Stark suit up in his most sophisticated armor to date. Given that’s the case, we felt this was the perfect time to run through the best of his previous armors. Let’s celebrate a decade of Iron Man!
The Mark III (Iron Man)
Fans will fondly remember the Mark III, which made its big-screen debut in 2008’s IRON MAN. A sleek and streamlined armor, it was Tony Stark’s greatest creation. The armor was powered by Stark’s Arc Reactor, but had been subtly improved so as to ensure it didn’t drain too much power. What’s more, Stark had solved the icing problem, meaning he could take this suit to high altitudes – as the Iron Monger learned to his cost. The surface armor covered an intricate substructure of fuselage that resembled a V2 rocket, while a sophisticated network of alierons and repulsor systems helped Stark steer when in flight.
The Mark III was packed with all the gadgets and gizmos Stark could think of, including striker missiles that could take down a tank. Wisely, Stark also added two extra batteries to the suit as a backup power-source should the Arc Reactor be drained. Iron Man may have gone through a lot of versions of his armor since the Mark III, but this remains the classic.
The Stealth Artillery (Iron Man 3)
By the time of IRON MAN 3, Tony Stark was working on custom armors that were designed for specific situations. The Stealth Artillery armor, nicknamed “Casanova,” was perhaps the most intriguing of these designs. It combined all the capabilities of previous dedicated Stealth and Artillery units. That meant it was optimized both for stealth missions, and for heavy combat. Unfortunately, the Stealth Artillery unit was destroyed when Stark activated the “House Party” protocol.
Silver Centurion (Iron Man 3)
While Iron Man has traditionally worn red and gold, over in the comics he once wore the distinctive “Silver Centurion” armor. That suit actually made a brief, if fantastic, appearance in IRON MAN 3. According to Marvel, this suit used a “director energy reactor” to focus its power. That gave it enhanced strength, speed, and firepower. Unfortunately for Stark, when he called the armor to help him out it soon wound up trashed by the Extremis-powered Aldrich Killian.
The Mark VI (Iron Man 2 / The Avengers)
When Tony Stark discovered that the Palladium core in his Arc Reactor was gradually killing him, he was left with only one way to stay alive; invent a new element. He succeeded in this mission, creating a rich energy source that could power his future suits. It didn’t take long for Stark to move on to the Mark VI, a new suit of armor that was visually similar to the Mark V. The main difference was the triangular Unibeam in the chestpiece, which Stark could use to devastating effect.
Stark continued to tinker with the Mark VI, and by the time of THE AVENGERS it was the first suit that was designed to go underwater. Remarkably, while wearing the Mark VI Stark was actually able to go toe-to-toe with Thor, the God of Thunder. He’d installed energy absorption systems into the armor, meaning Thor’s lightning strikes effectively supercharged the suit. Stark was then able to release this excess energy charge in a staggering blast.
Mark XLVII (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Possibly the most visually interesting Iron Man armor, this suit is inspired by the Ultimate Iron Man armor from the comics. It bears a strong visual resemblance to the Mark XLVI, but is dominated by the color silver. It likely has all the same capabilities as the Mark XLVI, but sadly SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING didn’t really see Stark put this armor through its paces. Stark tends to add new functionality and technology to each new armor, so it likely had a few extra tricks. Certainly Iron Man could use it to manipulate a fleet of drones – much to Spider-Man’s relief!
Mark XLVI (Captain America: Civil War)
The Mark XLVI armor saw Iron Man return to his classic red-and-gold colorscheme, with the reds dominant in this design. It was a sleek and simplistic armor, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR saw Stark put it through its paces. The suit was one of the most durable to date, and proved able to withstand mini-drones, explosions, and blows from super-soldiers. It was able to match and even overpower the Winter Soldier’s cybernetic arm, giving a sense of just how strong Stark was when he was wearing the Mark XLVI. Intriguingly, the flight capability seemed to have been upgraded; it was certainly faster than a Quinjet.
Unfortunately, the film also saw the Mark XLVI systematically destroyed. While Stark was able to use F.R.I.D.A.Y.’s analytical systems to match Captain America, he was ultimately overpowered by Cap and the Winter Soldier. Cap shattered the helmet, and then destroyed the Arc Reactor. Although Stark had backup generators, these weren’t powerful enough to continue the fight.
When the Avengers were formed, Stark swiftly learned that he wasn’t the only genius in the room. The Hulkbuster was the result; an armor created by both Stark and Bruce Banner, designed to take on the Hulk. The ‘Science Bros’ chose to store the armor in an orbital satellite. Should the Hulk go on a rampage, the satellite would launch a pod containing the modular Hulkbuster armor. This was designed to slot over the top of any other armor Stark was wearing at the time, meaning he could transition to the Hulkbuster with ease. It was a smart approach, ensuring Stark could call in the Hulkbuster armor no matter where he was in the world.
This was Iron Man’s toughest, most durable suit to date. It was powered by no less than eleven Arc Creators, and was strong and durable enough to take on the Hulk. The Arc Reactors powered repulsors that were strong enough to pin down the Hulk, and a grappling line to hold him in place. It also contained chemical sprays and missile weapons that Banner and Stark hoped would affect the Hulk.
In perhaps the wisest decision of all, Stark and Banner chose to store replacement parts in the pod. Should the Hulk trash part of the armor, Stark could call in a replacement, ensuring he was back on fighting-form in seconds.