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Iron Man

    Tony Stark 

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)

"When I put on this armor, I took on more power than any human was ever intended to have... and maybe more responsibility than my heart can truly bear. But today... I will do my job. I will protect you. No matter what it takes."

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.
  • Abusive Parents: Howard Stark, Tony Stark's father, was verbally and emotionally abusive. As a child, Tony respected his father greatly and wanted to please him. However, in spite of Tony's genius, Tony's reluctance (and inability) to assimilate his father's "ethics" caused Howard to resent and despise his son. Howard's rejection hurt Tony deeply, and although Tony has long since lost all respect for his father, he's never entirely gotten over it, as shown in Iron Man: Legacy of Doom:
    (in Mephisto's Realm, Howard Stark's spirit appears before Tony)
    Tony: Y-you?
    Howard: Losing again, eh, boy? You always were a wimp. Never had the stones to do what had to be done.
    Tony: I always tried to do what was right!
    Howard: Brilliance isn't enough. You'll never reach your true potential worrying about consequences. You're weak.. [...] You're no son of mine.
    Tony: I'd heard it all before. But the pain was still enough to distract me from the physical task at hand.
    (Howard lunges; Tony flees, unable to attack his own father)
    Howard: COWARD! You were my greatest shame, but I'll make a man of you yet! I'll beat it into you!
    (later, after Howard is defeated)
    Tony: You can't kill something already dead. I'd been telling myself that for a long time.
    • In Legacy of Doom, Howard is also physically abusive, but it's unclear whether or not Howard ever physically abused Tony in life. (Although Tony doesn't seem too surprised by Howard trying to kill him; but then again, Tony is in hell.)
    • Howard makes Tony drink a cup of bourbon when he's a child in order to win some momentary approval. He may have not forced it down Tony's throat, but he did coerce Tony into doing it, and that transcends into physical.
    • The Secret Origin of Tony Stark seems to have given a major reason to all of this - stress due to the fear that the Rigellian Recorder would realize that Tony wasn't his true son, that he was adopted to save his biological son, Arno, from being used as a weapon. Tony... is still mixed about the whole thing.
  • 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 consciously 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 Bookworm: One of the most dangerous bookworms in the whole Marvel Universe.
  • Bash Brothers: With Captain America and War Machine.
  • Beard of Sorrow: When Tony became an alcoholic, this happened.
  • 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Before his secret identity was outed both to his comrades and the public, Tony crafted a heroic, straightforward, and occasionally playful persona for his fictional bodyguard identity. He becomes way more casual and borderline careless in expressing his many flaws to those in the know.
  • Byronic Hero: Tony Stark is womanizing, self-destructive, and forever angsting over his past as an arms-dealer.
  • 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).
  • Broken Ace: Tony Stark is one of the smartest, richest, and most popular people on Earth, witty, a ladykiller who had everything anybody could ever want in their life. However, deep inside he suffers from self-hatred (which has even developed into suicidal tendencies), alcoholism, control issues, and the scars left by his abusive father. He has even stated he feels he doesn't deserve the friends and good things in life he has. Following the Civil War, Tony's guilt over Captain America's death and the actions he took would make him occasionally break down.
  • Broken Pedestal: Around the time Spider-Man finally officially joined The Avengers, Tony Stark became something of a mentor to Peter. The two gravitated to each other, being the only members of the team at the time who were scientifically minded, and after the infamous The Other storyline, Tony even designed Peter a new Spider-Man armor much like his own. This "mentorship" culminated during Civil War when Tony essentially made Peter his Number Two on the Pro Registration side. Eventually, their friendship completely dissolved when Peter learned the extremes Tony was resorting to during the event.
  • 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.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: Inverted. Trying to dodge the legal repercussions of his actions in Armor Wars, as part of his secret identity at the time, Tony claims that someone else is Iron Man — and presses this lie to rejoin the West Coast Avengers after they tossed him out of his ass for his actions during the story.
  • 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.
  • Chick Magnet: Tony Stark is the epitome of this trope. It'd be easier to list the women he hasn't dated in the Marvel verse.
  • 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, much to the consternation of his allies
    Namor: Why would you want to date a woman who looks like Doctor Doom?
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has had a sarcastic streak since early in his career. It has become more pronounced following the films.
  • Death Seeker: Tony, to a horribly painful degree. And, no, it didn't start during/after Civil War (2006), either, though that certainly made it worse. It started when he was struck with survivor's guilt over the death of Yin Sen — that's right, it started with his origin story — and just kind of went downhill at breakneck speed from there.
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded: Iron Man is now this to the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, who are basically The Fair Folk on crack, with even Malekith the Accursed, an incredibly powerful psychopathic sorcerer who fights and actively trolls Thor, being wary of him at the very least. Malekith also comments, after Tony, in a Cold Iron armour, tears his way through Svartalfheim hunting for the rings of the Mandarin (which Malekith had acquired by murdering the former owners), that the upshot of it is that they now have a new story to terrify the children with.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Tony, already established as a recovering alcoholic, fell off the proverbial wagon hard when his company got taken over during The '80s.
    • Obadiah Stane went out of his way to make Tony's life hell for the express purpose of making him fall off so that he could take over.
    • Later, when Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) loses her power the second time (as Binary), she fell onto this and caused her to get expelled from The Avengers. She manages to get out of this thanks to the counseling from Iron Man himself, as a fellow alcoholic.
    • In Fear Itself he started screaming at Odin and the other gods, yelling that if they wanted a sacrifice he'd give them the "only thing he could give worth anything": his sobriety, by taking a huge swig of alcohol.
  • Elite School Means Elite Brain: A prodigal genius who studied at MIT and Cambridge.
  • Energy Weapon: Repulsor rays are the armor's primary energy weapon.
  • 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.
  • Friends with Benefits: This describes Tony Stark's relationship with most of the recurring characters he's slept with. Most prominently, She-Hulk, since the two of them are Avengers that are well known for "getting around".
  • 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... and RDJ understandably refused to go into the Demon in a Bottle storyline, mooted for Iron Man 2, as it would put him in a headspace he'd spent a very long time trying to leave), 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.
  • Geniuses Have Multiple PhDs: Brilliant engineer/inventor/industrialist Tony Stark has multiple PhDs, though the number tends to vary: in New Avengers he says he has three, while in a 2010 issue of The Avengers he says he has seven.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: Iron Man is often called "The Golden Avenger" even though he's mostly red nowadays (although he once had a fully golden armor).
  • Good Is Not Nice: Tony Stark has never been the nicest guy, yet he still cares about saving the world and is the first to put himself on the line for humanity when it comes down the wire.
  • Grandfather Clause: Tony Stark is one of the few mainstream superheroes (along with Batman and Green Arrow) who can still play the Honest Corporate Executive trope somewhat straight, even after public opinions about oligarchs in the real world have shifted negatively, largely because that trope was the whole raison d'être for Iron Man in the first place.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Bastard: His biological parents, Jude and Amanda, weren't married.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: After Armor Wars, then Civil War and Secret Invasion, in some comics 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.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: During Fear Itself, Tony furious that Odin refuses to aid Earth, decides to sacrifice his sobriety to get the god's attention.
  • Heroic Suicide: Storyline "Execute Program", a villain remotely hijacks several of Tony's Iron Man suits, causing them to go on a rampage all over the world. Tony takes down four of the five but is unable to defeat the last one, which is about to crush Captain America. Because the suit is controlled through software that's plugged directly into Tony's brain (long story), he realizes that he can deactivate it by killing himself. Which he does, by using his suit's power source to give himself a massive electric shock (don't worry, he gets better).
  • 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.
  • Howard Hughes Homage: Oligarch-playboy-engineer-superhero Tony Stark. He even designed for the military — munitions instead of planes — and went through a major struggle with a debilitating psychological problem, although in Tony's case it was alcoholism, not OCD. In his early comics appearances, he even had the mustache. Due to Comic-Book Time, these days his father — actually named Howard — is portrayed as even more of one.
  • 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."
  • Jerkass Ball: On the occasions he's not just being a straight jerkass, for a genius he can cling to this one pretty hard. The usual consequence is straining or outright ruining his relationships with the other heroes.
    • During Operation: Galactic Storm, he's much snappier than usual with pretty much everyone, culminating in him pulling rank over Captain America and taking a bunch of Avengers to go kill the Supreme Intelligence. Not for nothing The Crossing claimed he'd been brainwashed at this point.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While Tony can be a smug narcissist who's a bit of a showoff, his heart's in the right place and he works hard to make the world better.
  • 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The standard Iron Man armor makes him incredibly strong, quick, and resilient.
  • 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 left Stark to join Captain America (for some fairly understandable reasons), 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.
  • Millionaire Playboy: 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.
  • More Expendable Than You: Tony does this for Captain America, at one point asphyxiating himself in the process of (successfully) giving CPR. That time his reasoning is explicitly, 'He's more important', although he's tried to kill himself to save Cap several times.
  • More than Mind Control: Tony's arrogance has been an avenue for controlling him via brainwashing at least three times in his career. During the time Morgan Le Fay used magic to zap the Avengers into being her servants, Hawkeye pointed out to Cap that going for Tony first wasn't a good idea since Tony was going to buy far more easily into the whole "feudal lord" thing.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Alcoholism, arrogance, and womanizing tend to be his favorite vices. He got help for the alcholism, and helped Carol Danvers through her troubles with it, though during Fear Itself, he ritually sacrificed his sobriety to get Odin's attention and thereby his workshop (where he was surrounded by enabling dwarves).
  • 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 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 jumped off it in Fear Itself to get Odin's attention and his workshop - and was then surrounded by dwarf enablers.
    • 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.
  • Omniglot: Tony Stark, in addition to English, speaks fluent French, German, Russian, Chinese... That's not counting his armor's translation software.
  • One-Man Army: Iron Man, who has been described as wearing a fighter jet, although that's an understatement. Even better when he uses his Extremis to control multiple suits simultaneously.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Was once eligible to wield Excalibur itself. Doctor Doom, who was also in the room and had (naturally) tried his hand, wasn't amused.
  • 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.
  • Porn Stache: Believe or not but Iron Man sported a truly impressive pornstache in the 80s during the Armor Wars saga. Tony in later comics shaved it back to his smaller stache before getting his current bearded look.
  • 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.
  • Pragmatic Hero: In Civil War (2006). When faced with the possibility of the implementation of a Superhero Registration Act, Iron Man tries to prevent it, to the point of speaking in a hearing against the SHRA. However, once the act becomes an inevitability and is subsequently passed, he decides to support it, not only hoping it could be diffused, but knowing that resisting the law would bring dire consequences for the superhero community. His methods to win the ensuing war between the pro-SHRA faction and the anti-SHRA forces (led by Captain America) include the creation of a prison for outlaw vigilantes in the Negative Zone and the recruitment of the supervillain team known as the Thunderbolts.
    "To do what I needed to do to win this quickly— I knew that meant you [Captain America] and I would probably never speak again. Or be friends again. Or partners again. I told myself I was okay with it because I knew I was right and I—I knew it was saving lives. It was!! It was the right thing to do! And—and—and I was willing to get in bed with people we despise to get this done. And I knew the world favors the underdog and that I would be the bad guy. I knew this and I said I was okay with it." (from Civil War: The Confession #1)
  • Pride: Being rich, handsome, and a brilliant inventor he originally did not care who he sold weapons to until it almost killed him. He started helping others, but almost regularly takes his own path without consulting others, insisting that he "knows" what to do and that others' opinions are not worth considering. Sooner or later, it always come back to bite him.
  • 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 or are underage).
  • 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.
  • Red Is Heroic: Iron Man's standard color scheme is red and gold, although some of his "specialized" suits buck the trend.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Plays with this trope with Captain America. They wear the respective colors of a Blue and Red Oni, and seem to fit those roles accordingly, with Cap being the responsible, upright leader of the Avengers and symbol of all that is good in his country, and Iron Man being a oligarch playboy who often struggles with alcoholism and his own neurosis. However, when the situation calls for it Cap is more than willing to take a stand and do what he feels is morally right, even if it means breaking the law and and defying the government, and is guided more by his emotions, while Iron Man tends to be more pragmatic and logical in his decisions and philosophy, and will go to any lengths to protect the world, even if goes into Knight Templar territory.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shadow Archetype: #293 positions the Controller as one to Tony and his current status quo: Whereas Tony has been paralyzed and is consciously neglecting his own recovery in order to continue to operate as Iron Man (using a remotely-controlled armor), the Controller has mind-controlled several of Stark's employees in order to force him to help him cure his own broken body.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: "Sharp Dressed Man" might as well be Tony Stark's theme song.
  • 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.
  • Smart People Play Chess: One scene in The Invincible Iron Man has Tony and Reed Richards playing each other on about ten different chessboards at the same time.
  • 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: You’re 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.
  • Swiss-Army Superpower: 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.
  • 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.
  • Taking the Bullet: Tony Stark does this far too often for good sense during battles, especially for Captain America. Granted, his protective armor does give him some logical basis for this, but he still frequently winds up badly injured.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Tony is tall, dark-haired and very much a handsome.
  • 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.
  • Tragic Hero: He's an arrogant, smarmy, womanizing jackass; but his life has been one long Trauma Conga Line, and due to his awareness of his flaws, he's a deep, dark pit of The Atoner bordering on Death Seeker, to the point where he feels that all his teammates' lives are always more important than his own.
  • 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.
  • True Companions: Of all the ties formed in the Avengers' long history, none match those between Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. The team is always at its strongest when these three are in it, and any two of them would lay down their lives for the third without hesitation. This is what made the Cap/Iron Man conflict in Civil War (2006) so devastating; one has to wonder if it might have been averted if Thor hadn't been dead at the time. The adverts for Avengers Prime put it best: Many have answered the call, but three have always stood above the rest.
    • It's also why Thor is so pissed at Tony when he finally does return. A man he considered at least as close as a brother not only turned on people they both called allies (especially Cap), but then cloned Thor without permission. I doubt any of Loki's many betrayals hurt Thor as much as that did.
      • To be honest, it probably hurt Thor so much because it reminded him exactly of Loki's many betrayals.
  • We Used to Be Friends: His actions often tend to do this with Captain America. Sooner or later they tend to patch things up, but it always makes things tense and awkward in the meantime.
    • During Armor Wars, Tony nearly kills a Guardsman and causes a super-villain prison break, then sucker-punches Steve in the process. The two remain on poor terms up until after Operation: Galactic Storm.
    • Civil War ruins it again. Even after Steve's resurrection, the two fratch with one another until a fight with Hel allows them to start moving on.
    • And again during Jonathan Hickman's Avengers run, thanks to Tony having Doctor Strange wipe Steven's mind, culminating in Steve dedicating S.H.I.E.L.D. to hunt Tony down so he can beat him to death. The cosmic wibblyness of Secret Wars seems to have undone that.
  • 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.

    Teen Tony 

Anthony Stark (Earth-96020)

First Appearance: Avengers: Timeslide (1995)

A younger Tony Stark from an alternate universe, brought in by the Avengers to try and help fight Tony when he went insane during The Crossing. In the process, this Tony received injuries to his heart, but tried to fill the void of his counterpart, before sacrificing his life along with the other Avengers to defeat Onslaught.

  • Fusion Dance: He's now merged with the original Iron Man, thanks to Franklin Richards recreating Tony when he saved the Avengers and his family from Onslaught. It doesn't get mentioned much.
  • Kid Hero: His title of "Teen Tony" says it all.
  • Merger of Souls: He was fused with the adult Tony thanks to Franklin Richards recreating the original Iron Man while saving the Avengers and his family from their deaths by Onslaught, though as of 2023 the only impact it had was Tony mentioning that he had vague memories of his counterpart's life.
  • Powered Armor: Much like the classic Tony, he wore armor as Iron Man, though his most famous one had the yellow/gold parts be composed of hard-light holograms.
  • Redeeming Replacement: The intention the Avengers had when recruiting him. It succeeded.
  • Teen Genius: He is a college-aged Tony Stark, so naturally, he's just as smart.
  • Trauma Conga Line: His parents are killed by a dimension-hopping supervillain, he finds out an alternate future version of himself has gone insane and evil, and he's injured fighting him. This is all in the same day.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Introduced in 1995, he dies in 1996 and has, as of 2023, has stayed dead (technically) since.

    Victor von Doom 

Victor von Doom

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #5

"I am here because I figured out what I have to do. I will pick up your mantle. I will be Iron Man."

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. Everyone is very confused by this.

See his page for more details.

    Arno Stark 

Arno Stark / Iron Man IV

AKA: Iron Metropolitan
Click here to see him as 

First Appearance: Iron Man (Vol 5) #12

"Everything in my entire life has been leading to this. It's my destiny. This is the year I save all life on Earth... and nothing will stand in my way."

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. Then he starts going off the deep end.

  • 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.
    Arno: Until now, I've failed to bring A.I. and humanity together into the unified force I'll need. Trying to reprogram all robotkind didn't work... but now I see it's because they're not the real problem. Machines make sense. It's humanity that's complicated... irrational... unruly. Once I've installed my new invention on the Stark Space Station, all that will change. Every man, woman, and child will obey me... without question. This is my penultimate task. Once it is all completed, all that will remain is the sole reason that I, Arno Stark, exist: To save you all!
  • 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, albeit with the same big-ass shoulder cogwheels. 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 - though Tony has him well-outclassed in the Improvisational Ingenuity and balls-out crazy departments), 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 Versus 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 which was actually a symptom of his congenital disease that he hadn't managed to entirely fix - indeed given 451's intentions, his autocratic tendencies could have been part of that engineering.
  • 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.

War Machine

    James "Rhodey" Rhodes / Iron Man II / War Machine 

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)

"I'm handling the hero chores these days. You might want to write that down somewhere —- so you remember it."

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 oligarch 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.

Not to be confused with the future War Machine Video Game.

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 an 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 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. Tony later corrected the problem by ensuring the armor's controls could be adjusted for Rhodey when he was the one putting it on.
  • Colonel Badass: His rank in the military is Colonel.
  • Contagious Powers: Courtesy of 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.
  • Cyborg: Around the time of the Civil War (2006), 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. Rhodey's 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.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: During Iron Man #349, when Doctor Doom invades Tony's lab looking for a macguffin, Rhodes is left facing off against him with nothing but a gun. Jim sensibly doesn't even try to fight him, just keep the doohickey away from Doom.
  • 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 Frank Castle, as an anti-villain Hydra agent, took up the mantle of War Machine.
    • Affirmative-Action Legacy: During Secret Wars (1984), 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: During a period where he was a cyborg, one of his eyes was mechanical. Naturally, it was a glowing red.
  • Ret-Canon: To tie into Iron Man 3, Rhodey took 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 traumatized 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. However, as of 2021, they have broken up with each other because Carol found out that Rhodey had a daughter in the future whose mother is surprisingly not her then few issues later they rekindled their relationship.
  • 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.


    Virginia "Pepper" Potts / Rescue 

Virginia "Pepper" Potts / Rescue

First Appearance: Tales of Suspense (Vol 1) #45

"I have to accept that you're gone. And if I can't save you, then I have to save the world from what you've become. I bought one of the largest media companies on Earth from under you. I'll use it to sink your drug, Extremis, and I will show the world the monster you've become. They will all know your imperfections, Tony. You won't be their messiah anymore. Your zealots, so blind to the truth. I will open their eyes. Whatever you do from now on, you will do it without admiration, without those who once respected you. You will do it without your friends. You might still manage to force your arrogant vision onto the world. But you will do so broken, unloved... And completely alone."
Pepper Potts, Superior Iron Man #9 (thankfully, this is no longer the case).

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 (2006), 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.

Tropes associated with Pepper include:

  • 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.
  • Beautiful All Along: When she first appeared, she had freckles and looked like a teenager. Several issues later, she "got a makeover" and became the more better-known version of the character (in terms of looks).
  • Beleaguered Assistant: For Tony Stark at times. It's apparently bad enough that Pepper's fiance hated Tony for "ruining" Pepper's life, and this hatred made him a worthy candidate for a Mandarin ring.
  • 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.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Don Heck based her off of actress Ann B. Davis, known at the time for her role on The Bob Cummings Show. She's best remembered today for playing Alice in The Brady Bunch.
  • 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: Pepper Potts starts as Tony Stark's personal assistant who takes care of his neglected responsibilities. She then becomes more and more badass; even has her own armor now.
  • 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.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: The number of people who call her "Virginia" on a recurring basis is... well, it's extremely low. Pretty much everyone calls her Pepper.
  • 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: Pepper's Rescue armor was originally red, but the new version she began wearing in the 2020 Rescue limited series instead has a purple color scheme, taken from the suit's design in both Iron Man: Armored Adventures and Avengers: Endgame.
  • 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: Originally, she was more of a Plucky Office Girl with freckles, the classic hair bun, and a huge crush on Tony, her boss. Eventually, she had a makeover, literally Letting Her Hair Down and proving herself to have been Beautiful All Along.
  • 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 oligarch 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.


    Riri Williams / Ironheart

"Those who move with courage make the path for those who live in fear."

Riri Williams, also known by her codename Ironheart, is a Marvel Comics character created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato, first appearing in Invincible Iron Man #7 (dated March 2016).

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.

The character made her live-action debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, in late 2022, played by Dominique Thorne (If Beale Street Could Talk), followed by a Disney+ series focusing on her.

See: Ironheart.

Alternative Title(s): Pepper Potts, War Machine, Rescue