There's something about Iron Man, the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, that we just can't help but love, even self-confessed Team Cap advocates.
Maybe it's the way the character is carried by Robert Downey Jr. Maybe it's the humor interlaced with crippling emotional issues which makes him so damn compelling. Maybe it's just the facial hair, or the elegant way in which he eats donuts.
But even since Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe eight years ago, Stark has been the centerpiece of said universe, and his armor has become the stuff of legend.
Here we take a look back at the road travelled by Tony Stark thus far, a road littered with discarded pieces of Iron Man armor.
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man introduced us to Tony Stark, and the first set of the Iron Man armor. The crude and bulky Mark I was built by Tony and Professor Yinsen in order to escape the cave in which they were imprisoned by the Ten Rings.
It was destroyed during Tony's escape, but the pieces were collected by Obadiah Stane and repurposed as the Iron Monger armor, used by Stane during the climactic battle of the film.
The Mark II was the updated, more streamlined version, which Tony built upon returning to America. This was the first suit to feature the aerodynamic design which would be used for all that came afterwards, and it was originally non-weaponized.
It was used for only one test flight during Iron Man, and then retired in favor of the Mark II due to the icing problem caused at high altitudes. The Mark II was later used by James "Rhodey" Rhodes in Iron Man 2 to subdue the drunk Tony at his birthday, and was weaponized by Justin Hammer, turning it into the War Machine Mark I armor.
The Mark III was the first to feature advanced built-in weaponry beneath the exterior armor, and the first to sport the iconic red and gold color scheme which decorates the majority of Tony's suits. It built upon the failings of the Mark II, and used a gold-titanium alloy to fix the fatal icing problem of its predecessor.
Tony uses it during Iron Man to defeat the Iron Monger, and it ends up so battle damaged that it's a write-off. Tony keeps it on display in his Hall of Armor, until it's destroyed during the Mandarin's attack in Iron Man 3.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Another film, another new run of armor. The Mark IV was created to replace the battle-damaged Mark III, and has very few upgrades aside from design tweaks to allow a better fit and easier mobility. It was Tony's primary suit for the period of time in between Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and we see it first when he wears it to fly into the Stark Expo.
He wears it during his drunken fight with Rhodey, and again when confronted by Nick Fury and Black Widow at the donut store. He retires it after upgrading his Arc Reactor, replacing it with the Mark VI which was designed to handle the higher energy output. The Mark IV was destroyed during the Mandarin's attack in Iron Man 3.
The Mark V armor was the first to be designed with an emphasis on portability and quick access, as it's collapsible and can be folded down in a briefcase like container. The Mark V is much lighter than the previous models, and is comprised of individual plates that can form around a person in a matter of seconds.
Tony uses it during his period of reckless in Iron Man 2, where he fights Whiplash at the Circuit de Monaco. The Mark V was destroyed during the Mandarin's attack in Iron Man 3.
Designed as the successor to the Mark IV, the Mark VI was created to handle the higher energy output of Tony's new Arc Reactor design, and was the first suit to feature the triangular chest piece design.
The new Arc Reactor allowed for an upgrade to the weapons and flight systems of the Mark VI, allowing for better movement, more firepower and more reliable repulsors. It was the first armor to feature a palladium-powered laser system on the back of each hand, used to cut through almost any material, and the first we've seen to be able to withstand being submerged in water.
The Mark VI is used to battle the Hammer drones in Iron Man 2, and features as Tony's primary suit for much of The Avengers, until it's replaced by the Mark VII after sustaining damage while repairing the turbine fan during the Helicarrier attack. After the Battle of New York it was repaired by Tony and put in storage, but is destroyed during the Mandarin's attack in Iron Man 3.
The Avengers (2012)
As well as its portability, the Mark VII featured further upgrades to the flight and weapons systems of the suit, with more powerful repulsors, a stronger unibeam behind a circular chest piece, and miniature guided missiles concealed in the shoulders. The introduction of additional thrusters on the back, chest plates and boots of the armor make the Mark VII the fastest and most stable suit yet.
The Mark VII was untested when used during the Battle of New York — the first designed to deploy and assemble automatically via a pair of bracelets, as Tony uses it to save his life when thrown from a window by Loki.
It was, however, not designed to provide life support in space — the systems shut down when Tony flew through the portal in the Mark VII, sending him crashing back to Earth, a near fatal experience, and one which would have long-lasting effects on his mental stability.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Mark VIII – XLI
Iron Man 3 saw a post-traumatic stress disorder suffering Tony Stark creating a slew of new suits — codenamed the Iron Legion — from VIII (8) all the way to XLII (42), with XLII being his primary armor of choice throughout the movie.
They were all destroyed, either during the battle with Aldrich Killian and his Extremis soldiers or by the Clean Slate Protocol enacted by Tony Stark at the end of the movie. We didn't see every single suit in action during the movie, but here's the highlights of the bunch.
Mark XVI: Nightclub: featured an advanced cloaking and camouflage system, a slimmer and lighter body and less emphasis on weapons systems.
- Mark XVII: Heartbreaker: specialized in artillery level repulsor technology (RT), with an oversized chest plate for more powerful blasts.
Mark XIX: Tiger: designed for high velocity flight, Tiger could fly as fast as an Air Force Jet.
- Mark XX: Python: designed to store energy to last longer on the move, featuring enhanced speed in both flight and land movement.
Mark XXII: Hot Rod: the prototype for the War Machine Mark II, Hot Rod was named for the flame decals on its legs.
Mark XXIII: Shades: designed to withstand extreme temperatures, Shades featured a multiple-layered, heat-resistant exostructure.
- Mark XXIV: Tank: created for use in heavy combat, Tank could withstand heavy damage, and also featured an oversized chest RT.
- Mark XXVI: Gamma: specialized in construction work, with jackhammer-like arms and the ability to withstand extreme heat, electrical surges and gamma radiation.
Mark XXXI: Piston: could fly at supersonic speeds, and function for long periods without recharging.
- Mark XXXIII: Silver Centurion: featured advanced energy saving capabilities, and blades hidden in the arms.
- Mark XXXV: Red Snapper: developed to respond to natural disasters, Red Snapper featured two large claws to dig people out of rubble.
Mark XXXVII: Hammerhead: designed to withstand extreme pressure underwater, for deep sea diving.
Mark XXXVIII: Igor: a heavy lifting suit, Igor is less of a combat suit due to the focus on brute force and lack of maneuverability.
- Mark XXXIX: Gemini: the MCU equivalent of the Deep Space suit, Gemini was designed for sub-orbital space travel.
Mark XLI: Bones: a lighter, black and gold suit designed for speed and maneuverability, with the ability to separate and reform automatically.
The Mark XLII — also called the Autonomous Prehensile Propulsion Armor — was Tony's primary suit worn during Iron Man 3. Built a few months after the Battle of New York, the Mark XLII wasn't fully tested when Tony started using it, leading to some flaws in the weapons system.
By the use of computer chips implanted directly into Tony's arms, he's able to summon and control the armor remotely through a series of mental commands filtered through a specialized headset. This leads to some problems though, as the armor nearly attacks Pepper during one of his PTSD-induced nightmares.
It was first used during the Mandarin's attack on Tony's house, first to protect Pepper Potts then again to defend against the attack helicopters. It was destroyed during the fight against Aldrich Killian, when Tony used its self-destruct explosion in an attempt to destroy Killian.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The first armor created after the Clean Slate destruction, we first see it during the Age of Ultron opening sequence in which the Avengers launch the attack against Wolfgang von Strucker's Hydra base.
The Mark XLIII was the first to feature a built-in Arc Reactor, as Tony had his removed at the end of Iron Man 3. It's fitted with new repulsors, infra-red scanning capability, anti-armor missiles, a mini-gun beneath the shoulder plates, and the same Autonomic Prehensile Propulsion tech as the Mark XLII, allowing remote control over individual pieces of the suit.
This armor also features a Sentry Mode, which allows J.A.R.V.I.S. to take remote control of the suit. Due to the damage sustained during the Battle of Seoul, the Mark XLIII is retired in favor of the Mark XLV for the Battle of Sokovia.
Mark XLIV: Hulkbuster
Mark XLIV — better known as Hulkbuster — is an extra heavy duty armor designed to be able to take on the Hulk in combat should Bruce Banner lose control. The Hulkbuster is housed on an orbital tracking platform called Veronica, and the deployable parts assemble automatically over the top of the Mark XLIII for battle.
It's used during the Duel of Johannesburg, when Banner falls under Scarlet Witch's manipulations and starts rampaging. The Mark XLIV features advanced strength and durability, a grappling hook designed to pin down Hulk, a jackhammer type fist to throw repeatedly strong punches, a chemical spray which is shown to have little effect, and a missile system.
The Mark XLV features a different design to its predecessors, with a hexagonal-indent circling the Arc Reactor in the breastplate, and more red than gold in the color scheme.
The main difference between the Mark XLV and previous suits is the replacement of J.A.R.V.I.S. — now Vision — with the female A.I. F.R.I.D.A.Y. This was the armor worn during the Battle of Sokovia, sustaining heavy damage as Tony attempted to use the suit to stop Sokovia from falling to Earth.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
And finally, we come to this. Inspired by the famous and incredibly powerful Bleeding Edge armor from the comics, the Mark XLVI is the most advanced suit built by Tony Stark yet. Another unique looking one, it has a trapezoid-shaped indent around the Arc Reactor and an emphasis on red in the color scheme. It also appears to be fitted closer to Tony's body than before, allowing for greater maneuverability.
Created shortly before the events of Civil War and the introduction of the Sokovia Accords, the Mark XLVI has multiple repulsor ports built throughout the body of the armor, a new feature. It can also blast lightning and a paralytic from the repulsor ports on the hands, and features a clamp strong enough to hold down Captain America. Rather than the removable faceplate of earlier models it has a collapsible helmet, which we see Tony using multiple times during Civil War.
The Mark XLVI debuted during the Leipzig Airport battle, and again during the fight in the Siberia Hydra base, where Captain America destroys the built-in Arc Reactor using his Vibranium shield.
Due to the heavy damage the suit sustained it's as of yet unknown if Tony will be able to continue using it, but the safe bet is we'll be seeing a whole lot more new suits by the time [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027) rolls around.