We all love Iron Man. Well, loads of us do. Ever since Robert Downey Jr, with the help of director Jon Favreau catapulted Tony Stark/Iron Man from B-list relative obscurity to a big-screen mega-superhero on the same level as Batman and Spider-Man. Hell, Iron Man’s above Superman right now in the cinematic world. And in the three movies Iron Man’s starred in (Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and of course, The Avengers), one thing that’s stood out has been Iron Man’s array of suits of armour. There’s been seven versions of the armour in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far (eight if you count War Machine), and in the first part of this two-part installment of Avengers Tech, I’ll be taking a look at Iron Man’s suits in the cinematic world, from Mark I to Mark VII via War Machine.
Or ‘The Clunky One’, as no one but me calls it. Mark I of the Iron Man armour was created by Tony Stark (who else?) along with fellow prisoner Dr. Yinsen in captivity by a terrorist group… in a cave. It’s a bit of a clumsy, put-together-with-limited-resources suit, which has some serious flying problems, as Tony Stark discovered the hard way. It packs a hell of a punch though, taking out the Ten Rings terrorist camp as it it were made of Lego. Slight faults include: impossible to get out of without a crash landing, crap at flying, and susceptible to hijacking (although you could say this for even Mark VII) by Obadiah Stane.
After Tony Stark returned to the USA and pulled Stark Industries out of the weapons business (and bought cheeseburgers. Must not forget the cheeseburgers), he set to work on a new, smaller, more agile version of the suit that helped him to break out of the Ten Rings’ camp. And with the probably large bruises all over his backside, he set to work on improving the flight system in Mark II. And it did improve, with Stark taking Mark II high into the clouds, icing up, falling back down to Earth and into the bonnet of his Shelby Cobra. Mark II went into the display cabinet of Iron Man suits, and was later stolen and converted into something called War Machine…
STATUS: War Machine-ified.
Mark III, appearing towards the end of Iron Man, by ‘Connecting to the sys. co, have it reconfigure the shell metals, use the gold titanium alloy from the seraphim tactical satellite. That should ensure fuselage integrity while maintaining power-to-weight ratio.’ (Simple, I know) and throwing a little hot rod red in there, marked the move to the classic red-and-gold suit of the comics (I’ll be having a closer look at the suit’s comic-book origins in part 2). Mark III also had some serious heavy-duty weaponry, with anti-tank missiles, flare launchers, shoulder-mounted machine guns and armour that can shrug off machine gun fire as if it were NERF bullets.
STATUS: Not really working anymore.
We don’t see an awful lot of Mark IV in its limited screen-time in Iron Man 2, but it’s certainly good at what it does; jumping off helicopters. landing in style to AC/DC and um… complimenting dancing girls. It also has a manually removable helmet, which helps Iron Man with doughnut eating, and teasing from Pepper that ends up getting unfairly cut and replaced. Unfortunately, Mark IV is also the suit in which Tony begins to get poisoned. Uh oh.
STATUS: Out of active service.
Mark V has one notable improvement: it’s a hell of a lot easier than the previous four suits to get on and off. For Marks I to IV, you had to have Tony Stark’s strange contraption thing to put the suit on, but with Mark V, it just needs a kick to the side and it’s away, suiting Stark up in seconds. Which is useful when you’re under attack by a crazed Whiplash on a race track with no protection. Mark V is only present for one scene (and a short scene at that, at about three minutes), but it makes a hell of an impression while it’s onscreen.
STATUS: Rejected for not having any gold paint on it.
Mark II (only a prototype after all), languishing around on display in Tony Stark’s Malibu home, was just crying out to be nicked by someone, and soon enough, after a battle with a drunken Tony Stark, James Rhodes nicked the suit, and delivered it to the US military. After a few (okay, a lot of) adjustments by Hammer Industries, Mark II had been transformed into War Machine, the ultimate iron badass. War Machine, piloted by Rhodes and eventually helping Iron Man in the final battle against Hammer’s drones, sports a rather impressive minigun on his shoulder and a grenade launcher tucked away. And those red eyes. Oh god, those eyes…
STATUS: Ready and waiting for Iron Man 3.
Mark VI, arriving in time for a mighty ruck at the end of Iron Man 2, is most famous for replacing the classic circle shaped arc reactor glow with a triangular one. The change to the triangle is the result of Tony Stark replacing the palladium of his previous arc reactors, which was poisoning him, with a new element. Mark VI is the first Iron Man suit to be worn by Tony Stark (don’t forget War Machine) to have appeared in two movies, appearing also for a large chunk of The Avengers. It also features a sticky grenade launcher (sweet) on one arm and a laser on the other (double sweet).
Joss Whedon doesn’t like the triangle. When Whedon came on board for The Avengers, he decided to revert Iron Man’s arc reactor glow back to the classic circle:, saying: ’Great! Then you’re going back to the circle because the triangle is ass’. I’m a classicist. The circle has meaning, the triangle does not’. Mark VII is also employed in a really, really awesome way – after Iron Man is thrown off Stark Tower by Loki, a cylinder-type object flies down with Tony. That cylinder expands, the suit climbs up Stark (in mid-air, too), and Mark VII is born. It takes quite a beating during the battle against the Chitauri, and also has to take a flight into space to throw a nuke into the Chitauri’s ship, before falling back down to Earth and being caught by the Hulk.
STATUS: Out of power.
After Mark VII ran out of power (presumably permanently), a new suit, Mark VIII, will be appearing for Iron Man 3…
Stay tuned to UTF for more editions of Avengers Tech over the coming week or two, including Stark Tower, the Chitauri, the Helicarrier, the Tesseract and part 2 of my look at Iron Man’s armour, which takes a look at the armour in the comics.