Anthony "Tony" Stark
Alter Ego: Anthony Edward "Tony" Stark
Notable Aliases: Crimson Dynamo, Cobalt Man, Mark One
Team Affiliations: The Avengers, A.I. Army, Department of Defense, Force Works, New Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Illuminati, Mighty Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Stark Industries, Stark Resilient, Thunderbolts
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #39 (March, 1963)
Tony Stark was the arrogant son of wealthy, weapon manufacturer Howard Stark. Tony cared only about himself, but he would have a change of heart after he was kidnapped by terrorists and gravely injured with a piece of shrapnel in his chest. Pressured to create a weapon of mass destruction, Stark instead designed an electromagnetic harness to keep himself alive, and eventually, a suit of armor that could be powered by it powerful enough for him to escape. Tony uses his vast resources and intellect to make the world a better place as The Invincible Iron Man. Stark is a major name in the Marvel Universe, and a founding member of the Avengers.
- 10-Minute Retirement: A couple times, most notably, Tony secretly retired and passed the mantle to Rhodey without actually telling most of his fellow Avengers that they weren't the same person under the armor.
- A God Am I: After his personality was changed due to the magic inversion of Axis. He's since dropped this after convenient changes to reality.Superior Iron Man: I'm the most intelligent, capable person on the planet. I'm not playing God. All this time...I've been playing human.
- It's started to leak back ever since "The Secret Origin of Tony Stark", and the revelation of the Godkiller Armor. Ever since, Tony's been building his own suits patterned after the Celestial-slaying superweapon, either conciously or not.
- The Alcoholic: Has struggled with drinking ever since the infamous "Demon in a Bottle" storyline. He fell back off the wagon during Fear Itself, sacrificing his sobriety as a way to convince Odin to help. He's since worked to get back on. His Superior period had him fall off again.
- Arm Cannon: Several suits have allowed Stark to access varying arm cannons. Most notable, the Bleeding Edge Armor had specialized ports for attachments, including several types of massive blasters and cannons for the arms.
- The Atoner: For Tony, Iron Man is a chance to redeem himself from his former life as a weapons manufacturer.
- Badass Beard: Sometimes drawn with this, not always.
- Badass Bookworm: One of the most dangerous bookworms in the whole Marvel Universe.
- Badass Mustache: His beard may come and go with the artist, but his mustache is eternal.
- Bash Brothers: With Captain America and War Machine.
- Big Brother Instinct: Has this towards Arno.
- Bigger Stick: The Iron Man armor is the most sophisticated Powered Armour in existence, with only Dr. Doom able to truly match him, and Stark works very hard to keep it at the cutting edge, maintaining a vital technological lead over any and all of his business rivals and supervillainous competitors.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Before they learned they were one in the same, Pepper and Happy believed that Iron Man was coercing Stark into acting as his corporate pawn while publicly touting himself as the man's bodyguard.
- Boldly Coming: He's tried, at any rate. Unfortunately, the alien species in question found facial hair hideously disgusting, so he got kicked out.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The Crossing claimed he'd been brainwashed since the earliest days of the Avengers to serve Immortus. Eventually, Avengers Forever did a bit of soothing by claiming he'd actually just been slightly brainwashed since Operation: Galactic Storm (and it hadn't quite worked properly).
- Brought Down to Badass: Any time he loses the armour, he typically manages to still acquit himself well.
- The Casanova: The guy loves women. Lots of them.
- Chest Blaster: The iconic Unibeam, his chest-mounted super Repulsor. He traditionally only uses it as a finishing move or as a desperate attempt to damage something out of his league, because it drains so much of his power to utilize compared to the weaker, but faster gauntlet Repulsors.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Famously the biggest womanizer in the Marvel Universe, yet he's incredibly polite to the women he's chatting up, cares deeply about most of his exes (the Marvel Now relaunch's opening story arc essentially boils down to him wanting to protect the legacy of one of his exes after her life's work is stolen and abused), is VERY protective of his on-again/off-again love interest Pepper, honestly loved (and still loves) Madame Masque, and is always completely supportive of his female teammates, no matter how they dress and pose.
- At least one fan has argued that Tony is best described as a "serial monogamist"; when he's seriously involved with someone, he's completely faithful to them, but he rebounds from the invariable breakup quickly and goes looking for love again.
- Chrome Champion: Enforced: He briefly attempted to fight crime and help people in the gunmetal grey suit he created in captivity, but people didn't receive the sight of a lumbering, booming-voiced, dark colossus who could juggle lions stomping onto the scene. Dying it with gold paint helped give Tony's alter ego a more wholesome appearance.
- Comic Book Death: He died during The Crossing and was replaced by a younger version of himself. Then that version died in the Onslaught deal. After Heroes Reborn, he got better (sort of. See Fusion Dance).
- Crazy-Prepared: Tony has a suit for any and every situation. Sometimes several suits for each situation, just in case he loses one. This has caused friction between team members before, who have been less than thrilled to discover that Tony's built a suit designed to take them down in case he ever needs to.
- Create Your Own Villain: A recurring theme for Tony. Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, Iron Monger, Firepower, The Hammer Twins and Detroit Steel are all his fault to some extent.
- Cunning Linguist: He's fluent in a grand total of seven languages: English, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, French, Russian, and Urdu. According to Tony himself, he also possesses proficiency in several other Middle Eastern languages.
- Dating Catwoman: Unsurprisingly, Tony's lecherous habits don't stop at civilians and allies. He still has a history with villain Madame Masque.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has had a sarcastic streak since early in his career. It has become more pronounced following the films.
- Depending on the Writer: How strong his sense of morality is, and how close he is to falling off the wagon. Also, his level of smugness and / or snarkery.
- The Determinator: First became Iron Man by surviving shrapnel to his chest and building a powered suit of armor under his captors' noses to escape. Been fighting the good fight ever since.
- Disability Superpower: For the longest time, Stark's early Iron Man suits were basically glorified pacemakers to keep the shrapnel in his chest from reaching his heart.
- Fatal Attractor: Tony has dated supervillains (Madame Masque), plants hired by his enemies to conduct psychological warfare against him (Indres Moomji), other businessmen/women who were only trying to take advantage of him (Sunset Bain, arguably Tiberius Stone), one night stands who may arguably have date-raped him (Heather), and creepy possessive stalkers who tried to kill him (Kathy Dare, the Living Armor), along with a string of single dates and/or one night stands with vapid supermodels and society women. Even with his most stable girlfriend, Rumiko Fujikawa, she repeatedly jerked him around for her own amusement and outright cheated on him with Tiberius Stone before ultimately being killed by a supervillain.
- Fiction500: One of the richest men on the planet. Even when he's not an active member of the Avengers, they're usually bankrolled by Stark Industries.
- Flying Brick: Thanks to his armor, he can tank a lot of damage and punch back just as hard.
- Flying Firepower: His armour enables both flight and the ability to level buildings.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Initially, his selfishness, arrogance and poor communication skills rubbed a lot of his teammates the wrong way, but they worked together long enough to earn each other's genuine trust and respect. After Civil War, depending on the author and title, he's pretty consistently tolerated at best, even by most other pro-registration heroes. Every time he almost salvages his reputation, he does something else to ruin it with the team again.
- Functional Addict: Under some writers more than others. Just how close Stark is to diving head first into a bottle is a pretty major part of his modern characterisation in the comics. The MCU movies stay away from the alcoholism storyline completely, by design (it's Disney and they're aimed at kids and young people...), although they do show Tony drinking casually once in a while.
- Fusion Dance: Part of Tony's resurrection after The Crossing was Franklin Richards recreating the heroes closer to what he remembered and in Tony's case, resurrecting him and fusing him with Teen Tony.
- The Gadfly: Most modern depictions of Stark depict him as trolling for reactions a lot of the time.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Stark is one of the premiere tech constructors in the Marvel Universe.
- Green Lantern Ring: Transistors were his original technological solution of choice, and those have been consistently replaced by the cutting edge tech of the era of whoever's writing him at the time.
- Guile Hero: Even with his modern Iron Man suits putting his power level among his more powerful peers, Tony still relies on his guile as his first and most useful weapon.
- Handicapped Badass: For a time, he was paralyzed after being shot by a crazy lover, using the armor as a means of getting about. Things proceeded to get worse, resulting in Tony nearly suffering total failure of his entire nervous system, and having to go into suspended animation before dying.
- Heart Light: The power source of the suit is the same as the magnet keeping the shrapnel out of his heart. In the film version, and most animated versions that came after the first film, the "arc reactor" in Tony Stark's chest always generates a light that can be seen through his shirt.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: After Civil War and Secret Invasion, in some comics versions he became known as the man whose leadership led to the death of Captain America and allowed the Skrull Empire to nearly conquer the Earth. And during World War Hulk a lot of Hulk supporters hate him because of the whole "shot Hulk into space" thing.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Pepper Potts, Black Widow and Bethany Cabe.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Rhodey, until Time Runs Out, and Captain America, until Civil War.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: He may not always be willing to admit it, but he does care about his teammates and making the world a better place.
- Honest Corporate Executive: After becoming Iron Man, he turned his company around and became very concerned with morality and making the world a better place, even in his civilian life. He's turned away numerous projects and dangerous employees on moral grounds, at great expense to both his wallet and his well being.
- Inspector Javert: Becomes this after Civil War, relentlessly pursuing the New Avengers when he's got the opportunity and trying to arrest them. The opening issue of Mighty Avengers has him tell Carol Danvers his reasoning: If they don't, SHIELD will, and they'll be much less restrained about it.
- Insufferable Genius: He just loves to rub his intellect in people's faces.
- I Warned You: Just before Civil War, he and Namor have one of these exchanges. Namor angrily asks if Stark's going to say that if they'd just listened to him years ago, the whole situation the superheroes are facing wouldn't be happening. Tony's response? "Yes."
- The Lancer: In a "traditional" Avengers team line-up, he plays this role to Captain America's leadership.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: He's generally happy not to bring up the "Teen Tony" days.
- Light Is Not Good: During the Superior Iron Man days. He switches his normal red-gold armors for a grey-silver number, as he's being a total, obnoxious ass.
- Like a Son to Me: This was his relationship with Peter Parker, when he brought him under his tutelage right before the Superhuman Civil War, and using this relationship was how he convinced Peter to unmask as Spider-Man. When he betrayed Stark to join Captain America, it hurt Tony arguably just as deeply as fighting Steve did.
- Lonely Rich Kid: His background in a nutshell, merged with Intelligence Equals Isolation.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Played with. During his early career, people on the outside regarded his Iron Man persona warmly as a selfless hero, but thought of him as little more than a bodyguard vigilante with above average intelligence. Learning that they were one and the same caused Hank Pym to experience a Heroic BSoD as he was no longer the sole genius among the original Avengers. In contrast, Tony was respected for his intellect, but was mistrusted and often vilified by the media and his enemies as they still believed him to be the Corrupt Corporate Executive he was before his superhero origin.
- Merger of Souls: While nothing was done with it, the aforementioned Fusion Dance did give Tony his teen counterpart's memories.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Alcoholism, arrogance, and womanizing tend to be his favorite vices.
- Never My Fault: He's never actually apologised for his deeds in Civil War and Civil War II. In the case of the former, he even said after wiping his memory he'd have done everything he did over again.
- Not Good with People: He just doesn't relate to other people very easily, and it leads to huge communication problems that only widens the gap between himself and his teammates.
- Not So Different: Stark is often just one step removed from the people he's fighting. The Extremis storyline prominently mentions that as a weapons manufacturer, he's no better than the people who built the atom bomb.Tony: But I'm trying to be. And because of that, I'll be able to look in the mirror every morning.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: He has several doctorates, but almost never is actually referred to as Doctor Stark. It's almost exclusively Mister Stark, unless he points it out.
- Off the Wagon:
- He's fallen off a few times, most infamously during the Iron Monger saga, when Obadiah Stane drove him into a mental breakdown.
- He fell off due to the stress of dealing with Incursions in secret from his Avenger teammates, and proudly embraced it when his personality was inverted and he became the Superior Iron Man after Axis.
- Poor Communication Kills: Tony means well (usually) but he's really bad at explaining things to folk until it's far too late.
- For example: During Avengers Vol 3, Tony noticed from the outset that Carol Danvers is turning into an alcoholic. But, despite the problems of a Flying Brick developing a Hair-Trigger Temper when she's drunk on duty, Tony refuses to speak up because it's "not his place", until Carol really screws up.
- And another: Before Civil War, Tony learns about the Superhuman Registration Act, which he does tell everyone he can about. What he also learns is that the government's alternate plan is to just try and hunt down every superhuman everywhere... which Tony doesn't bother to tell anyone about (except Steve Roger's corpse).
- The Pornomancer: He provides the page image and quote for a reason.
- Powered Armor: The Iron Man suits are among the most famous, if not the prime example, in comic books.
- Power Palms: The repulsor rays in his hands are perhaps his most iconic weapons.
- Primary-Color Champion: Ever since the Mark 3 armor, the Iron Man armor has usually been red and yellow (though sometimes it's red and silver, or just entirely red).
- Really Gets Around: Has slept with or tried to sleep with most major female characters in the Marvelverse (excepting those that are taken by his friends).
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Tries to be one as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., even though his method of management rubs a few of the old-school (like Dum-Dum Duggan) the wrong way. Exactly where he fell depended on who was writing him. In Avengers: The Initiative, he immediately steps in once it's become clear Gyrich has massively crossed the line, and cans his ass.
- Retcon: Tony was originally one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D., even being among those who inducted Nick Fury. Due in part to the march of Comic-Book Time, this has been excised, and now it's Howard Stark who helped found the modern S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Tony used to play up his image as an extravagant playboy to deflect suspicions about being the man in the Iron Man suit. As with most super heroes, his secret identity got leaked to the public eventually.
- Rocket Boots: Part of his armour.
- Running Gag: Tony complaining about or reacting negatively to magic. He hates magic.
- Science Hero: Less so than most other Science Hero Avengers; he's less of a scientist and more of builder, and is generally referred to, not as a scientist, but as an engineer specifically.
- Secret Identity: In the early days, Tony claimed that Iron Man was his bodyguard. These days, the secret is out in the open, as Tony Stark revealed it in the July 2002 edition; in this case, it actually got him in trouble as the Iron Man armour was legally now the US Government's to replicate. He eventually managed to make his identity secret again, then publicly revealed it during Civil War.
- Self Made Super Powers: During the Extremis six-issue arc, Tony Stark modified the titular virus to store his armor inside his body, directly interface with technology, use some of its powers without manifesting it, enhanced reflexes and regeneration of both his body and armor. He later develops Extremis 3.0, which grants him the ability to alter his appearance, a healing factor, enhanced strength, agility and reflexes. He also claimed it can make people immortal.
- Single-Episode Handicap: Subverted with his alcoholism. Played straight in the Bronze Age; after being shot by Psycho Ex-Girlfriend Kathleen Dare in vol 1 #242, he was left paralyzed until he bought out a company with an experimental new "biochip" project and underwent risky experimental surgery to repair his damaged spinal cord in vol 1 #248.
- Some of My Best Friends Are X: Invoked in The Secret Origin of Tony Stark when Death's Head accuses him of being prejudiced against robots.Death's Head: Youre not one of those guys who has a code against killing 'except for robots'? I hate those krypto-fascists.Iron Man: No! Absolutely not! Some of my best friends are robots an— That sounds kind of robot racist, right?Death's Head: Yes.
- Survivor's Guilt: Fatal Frontier reveals that one of Tony's most tragic fantasies is Yinsen surviving their imprisonment instead of him, believing the more noble scientist could have made the world a better place.
- Teen Genius: A former one. He was accepted into MIT when he was fourteen and graduated with double-majors in physics and engineering when he was seventeen. Shortly thereafter, his father had him submitted into Cambridge University, where he earned three doctorates, presumably also in engineering and physics, by the time he was around nineteen.
- The Team Benefactor: Even when he's not an active member, he's usually funding the Avengers.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Early on, he used military grade weapons to battle street level crime. This philosophy still plays a large role in how Tony goes into battle.
- To Be Lawful or Good: During Civil War, he insists he's on Lawful (obeying the Registration Act). Given his acts involve creating a clone of a friend which then murders another person, and imprisoning people, minors included, for life without chance of hearing or parole (in a dimension known to cause suicidal despondency in some people), this rings more than a little hollow.
- Token Evil Teammate: He's nicer than the typical Marvel Mad Scientist and cares deeply for everyone, but he's very far removed from being The Cape as he's willing to do some morally questionable things to save the day that his more heroic allies could never bring themselves to do.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Civil War through Secret Invasion Tony takes several, becoming increasingly cold, controlling and authoritarian towards his teammates and long-time friends. His brain-wipe removes it.
- Transhuman: Is described as being transhuman following his Extremis and Bleeding Edge upgrades, which turn him into a cyborg. He lost the ability to use the former thanks to a Skrull computer virus and purged the latter from his body during one of his Ten Minute Retirements.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: An oddly specific version from a usually cynical person. In flashbacks in the Illuminati one-shot, Tony expresses the thought that if all the heroes on Earth got together under one banner, they'd face less Fantastic Racism. Namor and Professor X reply that in all likelihood, the opposite would happen.
- Worth It: Innocuously revealed his secret identity to save the life of a little boy and his dog. And in spite of all the trouble having it known has brought him, he's never regretted it.
Victor von Doom
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #5
The ruler of Latveria and a technological genius on par with Tony, Doom was reformed and an ally of Tony's... right before Tony died. In the wake of Tony's death, Victor decides to honour Tony's memory (against his wishes) by donning the mantle of Iron Man, modifying his own armour's design to fit Tony's aesthetic and augmenting his already considerable technology with magic.
Arno Stark / Iron Man IV
AKA: Iron Metropolitan
First Appearance: Iron Man (Vol 5) #12
Tony's adoptive brother (Tony was the adopted one), his existence, backstory and the reason for the secrecy about him was revealed in The Secret Origin of Tony Stark. What can be said is that he's been confined to an iron lung for most of his life and is as smart as Tony, if not considerably smarter. He and Tony get on very well and work together on the Troy project.
- Ambiguously Evil: Through Tony Stark: Iron Man and Iron Man 2020, before it's ultimately revealed that he's on the far end of Well-Intentioned Extremist - he really is genuinely trying to save the world... he's just willing to strip humanity and robots alike of free will to ensure it.
- Anti-Hero Substitute: Arno became one of these went he Took a Level in Jerkass and became Iron Man 2020, becoming more violent than Tony ever was.
- Badass Bookworm: Intended to be the ultimate example of this trope by 451.
- Canon Immigrant: Sort of. He appeared in several Marvel UK storylines in the '80s. The Iron Metropolitan storyline officially brings him into Earth-616 (mainstream Marvel) continuity.
- Control Freak: Devolves into this under stress in Tony Stark: Iron Man and Iron Man 2020, with every part of his arc being about his obsession with gaining and maintaining control to save the world.
- Crazy-Prepared: Hardened his iron lung against EMP's decades ago. When he goes up against a revived Tony in Iron Man 2020, however, he finds himself far outclassed - he's prepared, but as Tony points out, he's not even in the same class when it comes to crazy.
- Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Averts this, oddly enough. Despite spending his life in an iron lung and doubtless being very lonely, he's a total Nice Guy. If anything, he Took a Level in Jerkass after he figured out how to fix his disability.
- Disabled Snarker: Occasionally. He is a Stark, after all.
- Disabled Means Helpless: This is very much not the case.
- Genius Cripple: Engineered to have an intelligence capable of advancing all human technology, but an attempt to curtail an also programmed killswitch left him incapable of breathing on his own.
- Good Is Not Nice: Possibly, where his focus issue in Tony Stark: Iron Man #5 involves him engaging in morally dubious acts such as transplanting a hand onto a violinist so he can play again. Problem is it's a hand from the woman killed in the same car accident where the violinist lost use of his. Some of her consciousness is still preserved in there, and she's horrified at her situation. Arno coldly explains this to the violinist as a kind of karmic punishment and simply tells him to make her a part of his music. In the follow-up, Iron Man 2020, he starts becoming more and more Ambiguously Evil.
- Knight Templar: Has become one in Iron Man 2020, as his obsession to protect the Earth from the Extinction Entity turns him into a tyrannical madman.
- Living Weapon: Was intended to be this by 451 and consequently spent decades afraid of being found by the character in question and used as such.
- The Mentally Disturbed: The "Extinction Entity" he wants to guard life against in Iron Man 2020 is a figment of his imagination, a symptom of his congenital disease.
- Mythology Gag: Aside from being a canon immigrant, he serves as a Call-Forward to the other Arno Stark, the Iron Man 2020 from Earth-8410. His armor has the same gear shoulders, and in one issue Arno makes a quip about hindsight (It's "20-20".) He officially becomes Iron Man in Iron Man 2020.
- Nice Guy: Originally. Despite the capacity of his disability to make him bitter, he's honestly a very nice, friendly guy, being charming to Pepper and showing that he's been consistently trying to find Tony's biological parents. Considering that he's spent decades trapped in an iron lung and is only now free to pursue his ideas, the fact that he's devoting time to the latter is really quite sweet. Unfortunately, he Took a Level in Jerkass in his obsession to protect Earth.
- Powered Armour: Is quite firm that he doesn't want Tony building one for him. Instead, he builds several of his own - one quite close fitting one that gives him day to day mobility, one large combat suit and kaiju sized one made out of a city. Come 2020 proper, he's got his own, normal sized one... which is a modernized version of that other Arno Stark's armor. Unfortunately for him, it's not a patch on Tony's new eScape holographic armour, as Tony underlines in a cutting speech as he beats the crap out of him.
- Put on a Bus: He just disappeared after Iron Man: Original Sin (barring a cameo in The Search for Tony Stark), only to reappear in the new Tony Stark: Iron Man series seemingly working on his own.
- Shout-Out: His Iron Metropolitan armor is a Transforming Mecha with a city-based alt-mode, and it even bears some resemblance to Omega Supreme.
- If you look closely, the armor has the engraving MMXX - the Roman numeral for 2020.
- Super Intelligence: was genetically engineered with this in mind (making him quite possibly smarter than Tony), building on what he had already as a son of Howard Stark - though it seems that 451's tweaks were mostly focused on ensuring that he focused his intelligence in the right areas.
- Switched at Birth: Is Howard and Maria Stark's biological son, switched with Tony to outmanoeuvre 451.
- Technician vs. Performer: He's the Technician to Tony's performer; while he's utterly brilliant at redesigning and improving technology, he's not so much of an innovator, as Tony ends up demonstrating in Iron Man 2020 in a fight so brutally one-sided (complete with lecture about how Arno's suit was obsolete before he even put it on) that even the robots with good reason to hate Arno were wincing.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: As written by Dan Slott, he becomes a lot more snide and condescending, as well as willing to commit dodgy actions. And that's just to start with - Control Freak doesn't even begin to describe it. It's eventually explained as being at least in part due to fears of a world-killer level enemy coming to Earth and needing to prepare for it.
- Tyke Bomb: Engineered by 451 to uplift human society, while also being a deterrent to any alien empires seeking to wipe out humans, given the capability to pilot the Godkiller Celestial artifact.
- Walking Spoiler: It's quite hard to say much about him without spoiling considerable amounts of story.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Injects the Hulk with the Extremis virus, leading to the creation of the Doc Green persona, who goes after Tony with a vengeance.
- Young Conqueror: Again, he was engineered with this in mind, judging by 451's references to Alexander the Great. While he tries to evade 451's legacy and intentions, he ends up travelling down that path anyway.
James "Rhodey" Rhodes / Iron Man II / War Machine
Alter Ego: James Rupert "Rhodey" Rhodes
Notable Aliases: Iron Man, Iron Patriot, Commander Rhodes, Hulk Machine, Iron Man 2.0, Rhodey, Shellshock, The Pilot
First Appearance: Iron Man #118 (January, 1979) note ; Iron Man #170 (May, 1983) note ; Iron Man #284 (July, 1992) note ; Gambit #13 (May, 2013) note
Team Affiliations: The Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Secret Avengers
Joined Team In: West Coast Avengers #1 (September, 1984)
Stationed in Vietnam during The Vietnam War, then Marine combat pilot Lt. Col. James Rupert Rhodes first met Iron Man after his helicopter was shot down by Viet Cong rocket fire during one of his tours of duty. Iron Man himself, fresh off escaping his captors with a suit of armor made in a cave, with a box of scraps, encounters Rhodes. Together, they defeat the Viet Cong and fly to safety in a stolen helicopter.
After the war, playboy billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, who secretly was Iron Man all along, thanks Rhodes for saving Iron Man and offers him a job as Stark's personal pilot. Rhodes initially declines, but after trying other career options, including being a mercenary, he eventually takes Tony up on the offer. He also becomes the chief aviation officer.
Tony and Rhodes become close friends to the point where he becomes one of Tony's/Iron Man's secret keepers and given the nickname "Rhodey". When Tony was battling Obadiah Stane for control of his company as well as his own issues with alcoholism, Rhodey became Iron Man for a brief time. As the shellhead he successfully battled against Iron Man's Rogues Gallery and became a founding members of the West Coast Avengers (though they thought it was Stark at the time). Issues including headaches caused by the armor because the helmet was only calibrated for Stark during long-term use and being gravely injured in a bomb attack by Stane forced Rhodey to give up being Iron Man.
He became Iron Man a couple more times during his time at Tony's new company, Stark Enterprises, but only temporarily. When Stark seemingly dies, Rhodey takes over running Stark Enterprises and becomes Iron Man once again. This time he uses the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, a silver and black suit with a mix of laser guided munitions, ballistic weaponry, a flame thrower and repulsor and unibeam technology used in other versions of Stark's armor. Designed for all-out warfare, the armor was nicknamed "War Machine". After discovering Tony faked his death, Rhodey quit the company. Tony told Rhodey to keep the "War Machine" armor stating that the armor always belonged to him (with it properly attuned to Rhodey's brain patterns of course). After which, he decided just to call himself War Machine while he wore the armor.
Rhodey and Stark would make-up and break up several more times with the former sometimes going solo or joining a separate cause from the latter. Eventually he would rejoin the West Coast Avengers, this time as himself using the War Machine armor. He would also join the Secret Defenders and Force Works (a reorganizing of the West Coast Avengers). He would also retire, only to join up with The Crew — without Power Armor at his disposal — after his sister was killed by a powerful street gang. Eventually, he returns to superheroics and is currently a member of the Secret Avengers. In 2014 he took up the identity of Iron Patriot, paralleling Iron Man 3. However, both versions of Rhodey would return to the more iconic War Machine name not long after. Rhodey would later die in Civil War II, but be brought back to life by Tony Stark using augmentations that Stark himself used to save his own life during the same crossover. For a time, Rhodey was too traumatized to be in the suit again, instead using the Manticore, a weaponized vehicle, but during Iron Man 2020 (Event), Tony figured out this was caused by aberrations in his DNA and was able to fix them, allowing Rhodey to become War Machine again.
Ever since he started wearing the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, War Machine has been featured in media outside of the comics. His most notable appearances were in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, played by Terrence Howard in Iron Man and Don Cheadle in all subsequent appearances.
- Iron Man: Rise of Technovore
- Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher
- Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers
- War Machine Vol. 1 (1994)
- U.S. War Machine (2001)
- U.S. War Machine 2.0 (2003)
- War Machine Vol. 2 (2009)
- Iron Man 2.0 (2011)
- Iron Patriot (2014)
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2
- Iron Man 3
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: Civil War
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers: Endgame
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
- Armor Wars
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of the Superheroes
- Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance (unlockable costume for Iron Man)
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (NPC)
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance
- Marvel Future Fight
- The Invincible Iron Man
- X-Men (two silent cameos)
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series (two episodes)
- Iron Man
- The Super Hero Squad Show
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!
Tropes associated with War Machine include:
- A Friend in Need: In Secret Avengers, his military friend Phil Coulson, who's recently been recruited to SHIELD and is working as part of the Secret Avengers asks him to help them, despite what they're doing going beyond what's reasonable or right, citing that Rhodes never let them down when they were in the military. Rhodes replies that this is what he does, and tells Coulson to tell him where they need him.
- Ace Pilot: Whether it be a plane, jet, chopper, or a flying suit of armor.
- Anti-Hero: Traditionally a idealistic soldier, but was an Unscrupulous Hero in the past.
- Anti-Hero Substitute: Inverted as Tony wore the prototype of the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit first and that Rhodey wasn't any more Darker and Edgier when he wore the Iron Man suit. In fact, the suit was intentionally designed to MINIMIZE casualties and offer less-lethal options, since hitting a non-superhuman opponent with repulsor rays would splatter them worse than standard ordinance, according to the Iron Manual. Also inverted as Iron Patriot because he was definitely a saner and more straight-up hero than his predecessor, Norman Osborn.
- Ascended Extra: He started out as just another random pilot working for Tony, got upgraded to a supporting character after a few more appearances, and then ended up becoming a superhero himself.
- Badass Beard: Depending on the artist, he is drawn with one or clean-shaven.
- Badass Normal: Like Tony Stark, Rhodey can handle almost any threat until he can suit up. If anything, Rhodey is arguably better at this than Tony, in that he's ex-military and was a trained combatant long before he met Tony. He's repeatedly fought alongside Iron Man even without a suit of his own, using real-life weapons like guns and staffs.
- Blood Knight: "Sometimes the world needs a war machine"
- Breakout Character: He went from being a Recurring Extra to Tony's best friend and eventually became a second new armored hero, even filling in Tony's place when he was out of commission on more than one occasion.
- Canon Immigrant: Not Rhodey himself, but him being Iron Patriot, was introduced in Iron Man 3, and in the comics he inherits the identity from Norman Osborn in 2014, taking up the Iron Patriot armor on behalf of the government.
- Clothes Make the Maniac: Whenever he (or Kevin O'Brien) wore Tony's armor for too long due to the armor's neural-interface controls were only calibrated for Tony Stark's brainwaves.
- Colonel Badass: His rank in the military is Colonel.
- Contagious Powers: Infected by Iron Man.
- Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: As Iron Man while working for Circuits Maximus and Stark Enterprises.
- Costume Copycat: After Rhodey retired from superheroics, the original War Machine armor was found by his old friend Parnell Jacobs. Jacobs used the armor and the War Machine name as a criminal mercenary for a while.
- Crapola Tech: The "Ex-Wife" bunker-buster warhead from Iron Man 2
- Cyborg: Around the time of the Civil War, but during the Dark Reign, his brain was put in a cloned body making him normal again.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Captain Marvel cradles Rhodey as he dies. He Gets Better though.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Rhodey acts as one to the Iron Patriot drones. Was one of the Initiative's commanders too.
- Faking the Dead: Prior to his third tenure as Iron Man, Rhodey sacrificed his War Machine armor so that the world would believe he was dead. Now that he was a dead man, he was free to fill in as the new Iron Man without anyone suspecting him.
- Fate Worse than Death: He considers the time he was forcibly made into a cyborg as one. He uses this reasoning as to why he wears his War Machine suit despite gaining PTSD from them, reminding him of death.
- Five Rounds Rapid: In his origin story, Rhodey's first reaction to a strange metal man lumbering out of the Vietnamese undergrowth was to whip out a rifle and try and shoot it.
- Flying Brick/Lightning Bruiser. Rhodeys armor lets him become this in strength, speed, durability, logistics analysis, and sheer firepower.
- Flying Firepower: Flight and "repulsor beams" (name varies), one of the few instances where the same capability allows for both flight and energy blasts. War Machine, like Iron Man, has all this, plus a good old fashioned minigun on the shoulder.
- Friendship Moment: In Iron Man issue 184, James Rhodes and two other guys were working on creating their own tech company, they were getting ready to leave for California. Tony Stark came up asking for a job. In the past few months he had lost his company, lost access to his money, gave up being Iron Man and became homeless. Not only that but he had only spent a week being sober. Tony was afraid that he would be rejected for what happened. But Rhodey and the others promptly accepted him.
- Just a few issues later, Rhodey is going nuts because he is starting to fear that Tony wants the armor back. It doesn't help that Tony has built a prototype suit, though Tony insists it is "therapy". At first, Tony thinks it is simply the suit's interface not being properly synched to Rhodey, but Rhodey's headaches keep coming back, and he finally goes on a rampage. Stark has to suit up in his outmatched prototype to try to calm him down, and manages to use everything he knows about the Iron Man suit to temporarily disable Rhodey's suit. Tony then takes off his suit, telling Rhodey that he doesn't want the job back, and unfreezes Rhodey's suit. Rhodey gets up... and shakes Tony's hand.
- Gatling Good: A gatling gun on his armor's left shoulder as a default. When he had the Stanetech Armor he can add more way more.
- Guilt Complex: The real cause of Rhodey's headaches when he was Iron Man. He'd enjoyed being a hero and didn't want to lose that, but deep down he felt that he had stolen the identity from Tony and this conflicted with his loyalty to him; the ensuing headaches created a sense of paranoia expressed in rage toward Tony. Once Rhodey demonstrated he was willing to give up being Iron Man, the headaches ceased. Of course, he did have to go on an Interdimensional Vision Quest to learn this about himself.
- Hand Blast: Whether it is coming from a repulsor blast from his palms or bullets from the guns on his wrists.
- The Hero Dies: Civil War II is kicked off by Rhodey's death. Tony brings him Back from the Dead in Invincible Iron Man issue #600 with rather little fanfare, even after becoming a regular in the next series.
- Hover Tank: After being unable to handle "armoring up" due to the events of Civil War II, he manages to get one of these in the Manticore, a multi-purpose tank with flight and submersible properties that was created by Sunset Bain with stolen Stark tech. Tony buys it from them for Rhodey.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: He can create an endless amount of weapons and ammunition from his armor.
- Identity Impersonator: When he replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man. During the "Armor Wars", he impersonated Electro briefly as well.
- In-Series Nickname: Rhodey and in the first season of the '90s Iron Man cartoon, Jimmy.
- Jet Pack: More like Jet Boots but, thrusters and repulsors of the armor allow him to fly really long distances.
- Legacy Character: To Iron Man. Took the War Machine identity some time after Tony resumed the Iron Man role, though he's temporarily take up the mantle again in 2012. He temporarily took over the identity of Iron Patriot from Norman Osborn in 2014. And in 2017 it was announced that Frank Castle, who is now an anti-villain Hydra agent, will be taking up the mantle of War Machine.
- Affirmative Action Legacy: During the Secret Wars, Reed Richards got to see the man under the armour while repairing it. Jim asked him if he was surprised that the man under the armour was black; Reed just said that he knew that 'there was a man in there', reacting more along the lines of 'what's race got to do with anything?', being as unconcerned about the race of who was in the armor as he's always been about everyone else.
- Legacy Launch: Has has his own series on more than one occasion.
- Man on Fire: After donning the old red-and-gold armor to escape an AIM-infected space station (Iron Man issues 215-216), Rhodey discovers the hard way that the armor's seals have been damaged as he and Tony reenter the atmosphere. Tony has to cradle Rhodey and use his own Silver Centurion suit as a heat shield to keep Rhodey from being killed, and Tony is able to get Rhodey medical attention as soon as they reach civilization. Rhodey managed to recover from his burns, but the incident left him unable to don the armor again for a long time.
- Military Superhero: Personnel of the US Air Force and War Machine.
- Mini-Mecha: His armor in the Ultimate Marvel line is a huge behemoth that can transform into a sports car. His suit in Iron Man: Armored Adventures is similarly big.
- More Dakka: War Machine has been adding more and more guns to his armor. For an illustration of the result, check out the picture for the There Is No Kill Like Overkill trope. For a while, Rhodey's armor had the capability to magnetically lock any piece of machinery to itself, meaning he could repurpose any weapon he found from downed enemies or destroyed vehicles. Even at his current, normal weapon loadout, he's more heavily armed than pretty much any Marvel hero.
- More Hero Than Thou: At least one issue of Iron Man where Rhodey knocks Tony out and wears the armor himself. Sort of subverted in that when Tony wakes up, he immediately goes out in a spare suit and arrives just in time to save Rhodey's massively outclassed butt.
- Bear in mind, Tony had been using remote-control armor because he didn't want Rhodey to have to face down the Mandarin, not to mention Fin Fang Foom and his Makluan dragon buddies; while Rhodey didn't want Tony to get himself killed in battle, since his nervous system was rapidly deteriorating at the time. In the end, the two of them end up working together with the Mandarin to stop the dragons.
- Moveset Clone: Tony and Rhodey in the Capcom vs. video games. (In the sprite-based games, it's not uncommon for War Machine to be a straight recolor of Tony's Modular Armor.)
- Muggle Best Friend: To Tony (who is a Mutant somewhat) in the Ultimate Marvel universe.
- Patriotic Fervor: Usually as Iron Patriot.
- Private Military Contractors: Before he worked for Stark Industries but after his last tour in Vietnam. Also when he was Iron Man working for Circuits Maximus.
- Powered Armor: James Rhodes has used Stark armor many times, either taking up the Iron Man mantle while Tony was incapacitated or presumed dead, or working independently as War Machine. He has since gained a fear of it after many near-death experiences and actually dying.
- Rage Quit: Rhodey's reaction to Tony Faking the Dead.
- Ret-Canon: To tie into Iron Man 3, Rhodey has recently taken up Norman Osborn's old Iron Patriot identity.
- Retired Badass: Though it didn't last.
- The Rival: Parnell Jacobs, who stole a set of War Machine armor and became a mercenary. Eventually became a friendly rivalry.
- Semper Fi: Depending on the Writer, usually when his army background is played up.
- Scary Black Man: Sure, you can't see the actual pilot of the suit, but you do NOT want to piss Rhodes off. Ever. This is a guy that's taken out Hulk villains with a standard firearm on more than one occasion.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: After his return from death, he becomes truamatized with "armoring up", viewing them akin to coffins. However, he is still able to pilot fine and actually finds it comforting.
- Shoulder Cannon: Typically in the form of a Gatling gun on one shoulder and a missile launcher on the other.
- Sidekick Graduations Stick: From non-superhero ally to Iron Man replacement to his own hero identity.
- Spandex, Latex, or Leather: None, powered armor!
- Superhero Packing Heat: A rather grotesque understatement.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Due to legal issues, Iron Man was unavailable for Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of the Superheroes, so War Machine was selected in his stead (for all intents and purposes, he's a Palette Swap of Iron Man). As a result, his theme in this game is based off of Iron Man's Marvel Super Heroes theme.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: He's able to add more weapons to his armor so it has come to this. He's the trope's image for a reason.
- Tonight, Someone Dies: Rhodey himself! He's killed by Thanos in a Free Comic Book Day Special and it's his death that kicks off Civil War II.
- Trauma Button: After being resurrected from his latest death in Civil War II, he develops a PTSD response to combat in armor after years of accruing trauma from dying in it. He can handle piloting a heavily armed ship much better.
- Unusual Weapon Mounting: Rhodey as War Machine would mount his weapons anywhere.
- Walking Armory: War Machine is a Powered Armor version of this trope (as especially seen in the film version). Note that the regular Iron Man armor is already stuffed with miniaturized weapons; the War Machine suit is overflowing with them...and some of them are not so miniaturized; the iconic feature of War Machine is a shoulder-mounted Gatling gun. Many versions of the War Machine armor also have a second turret on the other shoulder with a multiple missile launcher on it. The same is also true of his incarnation from Iron Man: Armored Adventures, if not moreso.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer...: In his case, it's "When all you have is an electric minigun, a missile box, and a crapload of other guns". Slightly inverted, in that the suit is designed to have MORE options for combat than the standard Iron Man armor.
- Where da White Women At?: Rhodey has had two important interracial relationships: the first was with Rae LaCoste (which was broken up by his parents), and the second is with Carol Danvers (the current Captain Marvel). It ended with Rhodey's death, which ended up motivating Carol's actions in Civil War II. With him back to alive, they are back together.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Rhodey develops claustrophobia as a side effect of his resurrection. Because of that, he can't wear the War Machine armor and opts for his own Humongous Mecha.
- The Worf Barrage: The "Ex-Wife" against Whiplash. It was a dud.
Virginia "Pepper" Potts / Rescue
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense (Vol 1) #45
Virginia "Pepper" Potts is a Marvel Comics characters who mainly appears as supporting character in Iron Man comics. She is created by Stan Lee and Don Heck, and is introduced into Marvel Universe in Tales of Suspense #45 in 1963). As Rescue, she's introduced in The Invincible Iron Man #10 in 2009.
Pepper is Tony Stark's secretary, assistant, and longtime friend. She was working for Stark Industries and spotted an accounting error. She raced to let Tony Stark know. Having saved the company a large amount of money, Stark promoted her to be his personal assistant. Over the years, she developed romantic feelings on her womanizing boss to the point that she rejects the advances of Stark's chauffeur and assistant Happy Hogan. As Stark's affection for her grows, she becomes part of a love triangle between the two men, but eventually falls in love with and marries Hogan. Although Pepper and Happy soon divorce after she has an affair with a former college boyfriend, she and Happy join Tony at his new company, Stark Solutions. During their time in Stark's new company, Pepper and Happy once again became involved and they remarry. But Happy eventually dies after he is massively injured by the supervillain Slaymaster during Civil War, and once again Pepper has on-off relationship with Tony. Half the time they're together, the other half they're pretending they weren't.
After Civil War, Pepper joins the Fifty State Initiative as a member of The Order. She assumes the moniker of the Greek goddess Hera, and uses advanced computer hardware and prosthetics to monitor and coordinate the team's missions. Upon the absorption of The Order into the Initiative, Tony Stark offers her a job on the special projects team at Stark Enterprises, which she accepts.
When Pepper is caught in a terrorist explosion caused by Ezekiel Stane, she sustains multiple internal injuries, including shrapnel wounds, and rendered unable to withstand a prolonged surgery. In response, Tony embeds a strong magnet (similar in appearance to the arc reactor) in her chest, essentially turning Pepper into a cyborg dependent on keeping her chest magnet engaged to stay alive, as he was once. She eventually gains a suit of armor (and a heart implant) of her own as the heroine Rescue. Pepper's body is further enhanced with new cybernetics and upgrades to the magnet, which are based on Danny Rand's battery designs, and give Pepper new super abilities.
When Tony is blamed for the Skrull invasion of Earth that occurs in the Secret Invasion, S.H.I.E.L.D. is taken over by Norman Osborn, replaced with H.A.M.M.E.R., Stark makes Pepper the new CEO of Stark Industries, trusting only her to shut down the company in his absence. Pepper discovers a secret room in Stark's office which contains a suit of armor that he made especially for her, which she uses under the name Rescue. She becomes a superheroine herself and rescues Black Widow and Maria Hill from Osborn's imprisonment. As Rescue, she has her own single-issue comic, Rescue which is published in 2010.
After her heart-mounted repulsor generator and armored suit are dismantled to reboot the brain-dead Tony Stark, Tony reinstalls a new Repulsor Tech node in her chest and gifts her new Rescue armor, complete with the A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S.. Unfortunately, after J.A.R.V.I.S. had revealed that it developed romantic feelings for Pepper, it kidnapped her to keep her away from super heroic duties, but was deactivated by James Rhodes, who assumed the Iron Man identity at the time, and was finally destroyed by Pepper Potts in Resilient's factory along with Potts' Rescue armor, thus leaving her heroic alter-ego behind.
She later gets new Rescue armor in the Superior Iron Man comic.
Notable Comic Books appearance
- Avengers: The Initiative
- Civil War
- Dark Reign
- Iron Man
- The Invincible Iron Man
- The Order
- Rescue (2010)
- Superior Iron Man
- Tales of Suspense
- 2020 Rescue
- The Marvel Super Heroes (1966): Voiced by Peg Dixon.
- The Invincible Iron Man (2007): Voiced by Elisa Gabrielli.
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures (2009-2012): Voiced by Anna Cummer.
- Iron Man anime (2010): Voiced by Hiroe Oka and Cindy Robinson.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! (2010-2013): Voiced by Dawn Olivieri.
- Iron Man: Rise of Technovore (2013): Voiced by Hiroe Oka and Kate Higgins.
- LEGO Marvel Superheroes: Maximum Overload (2013): Voiced by Grey DeLisle.
- Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers (2014-2015): Voiced by Fumie Mizusawa.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe: Portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow.
- Marvel Pinball (2010): Voiced by Tara Platt.
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011): Appears as cameo.
- Super Hero Squad Online (2011-2016): Appears as playable hero as Rescue. Voiced by Laura Bailey.
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance (2012-2017): Appears as playable hero as Rescue.
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (2013): Appears as playable hero as both Pepper Potts and Rescue. Voiced by Laura Bailey.
- Marvel Heroes (2013-present): Appears as NPC. Voiced by Brett Pels.
- Marvel Future Fight (2015-present): Rescue was added to the playable roster in 2019 as a tie-in to Avengers: Endgame.
- Avengers Academy (2016-2019): A member of the main cast as assistant to Nick Fury, rather than Tony. Usually an NPC, but could be recruited as Rescue in limited-time events.
- Marvel Strike Force (2019-present): Appears as playable hero as Rescue, again as a tie-in to Endgame.
- Action Girl: Despite her lack of training in hand-to-hand combat, she can definitely hold her own in battle as Rescue.
- Affectionate Nickname: She is called "Pepper" because of her freckles and red hair, and as a pun on her last name.
- Alliterative Name: Her nickname, Pepper Potts.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Well, yeah, but her real name is cool too, Virginia Potts.
- Beleaguered Assistant: For Tony Stark at times. It's apparently bad enough that Pepper's fiance hated Tony for "ruining" Pepper's life and actually turns into a villain as a result.
- Berserk Button:
- In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, don't dismiss her as being just "Tony Stark's secretary".
- It comes up in her movie version, too. In her very first scene she fires off an uncharacteristically nasty zinger after Tony's latest conquest makes a seemingly derogatory comment about the job.Christine: After all these years, Tony still has you picking up the dry cleaning.
Pepper: I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires. Including occasionally taking out the trash. Will that be all?
- Blue Is Heroic: Switches to a blue suit in Iron Man 2020, after previously wearing red and magenta.
- Breast Plate: On the Rescue armor, though how bad an example it was depended on the issue and artist.
- Brought Down to Badass: Her first Rescue armor has been destroyed, but she still has the power from her Repulsor Tech implant in her chest anyway. She eventually gets a new armor.
- Cyborg: The Repulsor Tech node is implanted in her chest and is linked to her brain. It allows her to interact with different types of energies.
- Deadpan Snarker: She's as bad as Iron Man in this regard.Pepper: I asked the man whose car you wrecked if I could throw it at you. He said okay.
- Distaff Counterpart: For a while she was a Distaff Counterpart to Iron Man under the name Rescue. While her armor was destroyed, she still has implanted repulsor-tech, giving her a few Iron Man-like powers. She eventually rebuilt the armor, including new characteristics and a pink color scheme.
- Fiery Redhead: Played with, she's certainly strong and outspoken, but too level-headed and calm to fully fit the trope.
- Flight: When Tony installed an electromagnet in her chest she gained the ability to fly, independently of the Rescue suit.
- Girl Friday: "I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires." This includes sneaking into her boss' company and downloading files for him without alerting anyone else. She's not the page image for nothing.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Has acted as the CEO of Stark's various corporations, and always tries to keep things aboveboard and transparent.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Tony Stark may be able to build a miniature arc reactor in a cave, with a box of scraps, but it is no secret that for all his genius, he can't function without his ever faithful assistant, the beleaguered Pepper Potts.
- Love Interest: Tony's primary love interest.
- Love Triangle: With Tony and Happy Hogan. Until Hogan died.
- Meaningful Name: Her codename of "Rescue" signifies her unwillingness to be used as a weapon—she'll save people, but she won't hurt anyone. Also her real name, Virginia "Pepper" Potts = Silk hiding fire.
- Moment of Weakness: During the Manhunt comic arc in Iron Man where Tony Stark is framed for the attacks on the Chinese. FBI agent Neil Streich threatens to draw in Pepper Potts and the hospitalized Happy Hogan unless Pepper agrees to cooperate with him. Pepper agrees and provides Stretch with the code he needs to activate a failsafe which deactivates the Iron Man armor. Pepper is heartbroken and horrified when she gives Neil the code and shamefully admits to a comatose Happy that that was the worst thing she could have done to him. When Tony is able to evade capture and clear his name, he forgives Pepper for her betrayal. Pepper breaks down and cries as Tony hugs her, saying "You don't have to say that. You have every right to think I let you down because I did. Stretch got me worried about Happy and I should have been stronger, or cleverer" as Tony says everything is OK.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When FBI agent Neil Stretch threatens to arrest Pepper Potts and the hospitalized Happy Hogan unless Pepper agrees to cooperate with him, Pepper agrees to work with him. Pepper provides Stretch with the code he needs to activate a failsafe which deactivates the Iron Man armor. She regrets giving Stretch the code the minute she gives it to him, as she tells a comatose Happy.
- Powered Armor: She had her Rescue armor until it's destroyed when its J.A.R.V.I.S. A.I. went rogue. She rebuilt a version in time for Superior Iron Man.
- Really Gets Around: Not as much as Iron Man, but she goes through a lot of disposable boyfriends, in addition to Tony and Happy.
- Ret-Canon: After the release of Avengers: Endgame, Pepper's Rescue armor was redesigned to more closely resemble how it appears in the film, as seen in 2020 Rescue.
- Selective Magnetism: The Rescue armor uses this. Pepper can also manipulate magnetism outside of the Rescue armor, so long as she has the implant in her chest. This allowed her to beat down Sandman and Electro during one arc in Invincible Iron Man.
- Sassy Secretary: Kind of expected, given her snarky attitude towards her boss.
- Servile Snarker: She's quite an expert in Stealth Insult.
- Sexy Secretary: There's a reason that Tony likes her. Granted, the man Really Gets Around.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She is a polite, benevolent, elegantly dressed business woman cum art curator. She's also the only person who can wrangle the self-proclaimed genius billionaire playboy philantropist superhero.
- Stone Wall: The Rescue armor is tough, but lacks any offensive capabilities. If Pepper wants to hurt somebody, she'll have to use her magnetism. Or throw something at them. She adds in a sonic blaster in Superior Iron Man, but Tony already worked the sonic weakness out of his armor ahead of time, making her still relatively weak in that respect.
- Subordinate Excuse: Regularly comes up vis-a-vis her and Tony.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Takes this far more seriously than Tony or Rhodey do, objecting strongly to the notion of being used as a weapon and/or taking life.
- Took a Level in Badass: Took a massive level in badass since the sixties, which culminated in her gaining a suit of powered armor during Matt Fraction's run.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Tony since the sixties. Half the time they're together, the other half they're pretending they weren't.
Born shortly after the death of her father, Riri Williams grew up in Chicago with her mother and stepfather, soon discovering a pretty surprising truth about herself: she was a genius intellect with special aptitude for engineering. By the age of fifteen, Riri was already attending M.I.T. on a free scholarship offered to her because of it.
It was during this time that Riri reverse-engineered the Iron Man Mark 41 suit in her dorm room, using (stolen) materials from the M.I.T. campus. After testing out her suit's capabilities a few times, Riri had her first taste of crimefighting by stopping a truck carrying a group of prison escapees in New Mexico, which came at the cost of her suit's armor integrity.
While rebuilding her suit from the ground up, Tony Stark learned of her accomplishment, fully endorsing her potential as a hero by offering to take her under his wing.
Later as part of Marvel: A Fresh Start, Riri returned in a new ongoing solo, written by Eve Ewing and illustrated by Kevin Libranda. It lasted for twelve issues. She also joined the teenage superhero team the Champions.