The evolution of Iron Man

All the rabbiting about the Mandarin (who Ben Kingsley is OBVIOUSLY going to play, are you idiots?) can officially take a back seat – the first on-set image from Iron Man 3 has hit the web, and it’s SHINY. With just under a year until the Marvel threequel’s scheduled release of May 3rd 2013, we’ve been given a glimpse of Tony Stark’s underground workshop and the full range of Iron Man models to have taken to the skies so far in Iron Man (Mks. I-III), Iron Man 2 (Mks. II (revamped), IV, V and VI) and Avengers Assemble (Mks VI and VII).


So much for “I’ve been called many things, but nostalgic isn’t one them”, eh Tony? Anyway, now we’ve crushed our techno-jealousy boners we thought it’d be fun to have a quick look back at the evolution of Iron Man’s trademark armour – after all, which other Avenger has such interesting outfits? Nobody really cares about Thor’s Belt of Strength, Cap’s leotard is distinctly wanky and the Hulk barely wears any clothes at all. For the fashion-conscious superhero fan, Iron Man is clearly where it’s at. Reading left to right, here’s Stark’s full wardrobe so far:


Mk. I

Constructed with the help of Afghan scientist Yinsen (Shaun Toub) while Stark was being held hostage by terrorist group the Ten Rings (HELLO THE MANDARIN), the Mk. I was a cumbersome behemoth equipped with flamethrowers and a bazooka. It broke up when Stark used its rocket jump capacity to escape his captors, but was reconstructed and used as a model for the Iron Monger suit worn by the villainous Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).


Mk. II

This stainless steel suit was the first to incorporate classic Iron Man elements including a holographic HUD, repulsors and onboard assistance from Stark’s sardonic AI system J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany). However, it was only flown by Stark once before being mothballed due to its prohibitive weight and tendency to ice up at high altitude. The Mk. II was later retrofitted with its own arc reactor and a more conventional complement of weapons to become the War Machine suit worn by James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) in Iron Man 2.



The final suit to be built in the first film, the Mk. III is formed from a (fictional) gold-titanium alloy to alleviate the problems of the Mk. II. Finding its gleaming gold carapace a little ostentatious, Stark adds “a little hot rod red” to finally achieve the iconic Iron Man ‘look’. By far the strongest suit yet, the Mk. III was able to survive everything from small arms fire to a collision with a fighter jet, although its increased power consumption meant it struggled to operate when Tony had to revert to his original, cave-wrought arc reactor (Stane nicked the new one).


Mk. IV

Tony Stark’s suit at the beginning of Iron Man 2 never really gets a full workout, and is labelled ‘Awaiting Upgrades’ when left in the workshop. We haven’t got much else, other than that the helmet is fully removable rather than retractable for the first time. Know how we know that? Because at one point Tony just goes and chills in a doughnut shop in the suit. Lad.


Mk. V
The ‘briefcase armour’ carried by Stark’s driver Happy Hogan (director Jon Favreau) is only used once, when Stark unexpectedly runs into Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) at the Monaco Grand Prix. Emulating the Silver Centurion colour scheme from the Iron Man comics, this red-and-silver suit was entirely contained within a rather clever unfolding attaché case. The Mk. V’s flight capability is not explored in the films, although apparently it’s more than capable of going up-diddly-up-up in the Iron Man 2 video game (we don’t play games, we’re too busy making papier-mâché helmets).


Mk. VI

Constructed to incorporate Stark’s new Vibranium-based arc reactor (and thereby reverse the palladium poisoning he has received from the original version), the Mk. VI is instantly recognisable by its triangular chestplate. It boasts several exciting new weapons including wrist-mounted cutting lasers and adhesive grenades, and stands up to the enchanted hammer Mjolnir when Stark faces off against Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in Avengers Assemble. However, the Mk. VI is heavily damaged during the attack on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier later in the film, meaning he has to abruptly switch to:



Yet another prototype which Stark risks his life testing out before it’s really ready, the Mk. VII saves his life after an encounter with Loki (Tom Hiddleston). A bulky capsule which is drawn to Stark when he activates special metal wristbands, the Mk. VII assembles itself around his body just like the briefcase armour but is much more heavy-duty. Not only does Stark take on the Chitauri army in it, he also manages to push a rogue nuke through a dimensional portal into outer space (although, to be fair, that buggers the suit up something chronic).



Unless Tony Stark begins Iron Man 3 with yet another new model, the next Iron Man suit we see may well be the infamous Model 30 ‘Extremis Armour’. The base layer of this nanobot-enhanced suit is stored within Stark’s very bones and allows him to control the armour using his thoughts. The cybernetic effects on his brain also improve Stark’s reaction times and endow him with a ‘healing factor’ à la Wolverine. So, in fact, he could be (sort of) wearing it in that photo up top. PSYCHED. Mind you, it will leave him terribly vulnerable to the virus-y schemes of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce)…


Which is your favourite suit? Let us know below!

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