From Iron Man in 2008 to Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017, Tony Stark has created 47 suits of armor. There was a period between The Avengers and Iron Man 3 where he got a bit obsessive and put Iron Man suit creation on rapid fire, pumping out a new suit every week or two. He went from the Mark VII in The Avengers to the Mark XLII (that’s 42 for the Roman numeral illiterate). If our math is correct, and it usually isn’t, that’s 35 new suits within a year.
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Tony was bored. Then again, we too would probably throw our armor development into overdrive if we learned that aliens are in fact real, and the one species we came across was hellbent on dominating the Earth. Tony Stark has a suit for every occasion, from search and rescue to fending off large supernatural threats like his own teammate Hulk. Most of his suits were only briefly glimpsed at in Iron Man 3 and it’s likely that we won’t see most of them again. That doesn’t mean they’re safe from ending up on this list. We rank the suits starting with the least alluring all the way to the number one power armor in Tony’s arsenal.
15. MARK I
The very first suit of armor Tony ever creates, he created in a cave with limited resources. It was all recycled and repurposed parts from Stark Industries with a basic design. So obviously it wasn’t the most technologically advanced suit, but it got the job done for what needed to be done at the time. Function over aesthetic — he needed to escape said cave.
The Mark I granted Tony defense against bullets, improved his strength to a degree, had a single missile mounted under a wrist gauntlet, and had a pair of flamethrowers. When the situation got too hot for comfort, the suit was also capable of limited flight to get him out of danger. Unfortunately it specialized more in taking off than landing. A cushy sand dune is just as good as a stabilized descent, we reckon.
14. MARK XII
Another product of Tony’s obsessive behavior, the Mark XII was created shortly after the Battle of New York along with his many other suits. This one, lacking a nickname, is a very plain looking piece of equipment that apparently is more heavily armed than any suit before it. It looks like Tony was basing its design on the War Machine armor with its mute color scheme and lack of any hotrod red.
While being sleek, it also looks a bit clunky. Especially in the lower legs and feet area. The Mark XII was only briefly seen in Iron Man 3 as a part of the Iron Legion during the battle against Killion and his goons. It was short-lived due to Tony initiating the Clean Slate protocol, destroying every power armor he owned at the time.
13. MARK XXXV (RED SNAPPER)
Tony wasn’t purely thinking about alien invasions or rogue scientists in their own powered suits of armor. The Mark XXXV, nicknamed Red Snapper, was designed for natural disaster operations. This included rescuing victims of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. You know, natural disasters. This gave the suit a very narrow scope of operation, but it’s good to see that Tony was literally thinking about every possible situation that Iron Man might be needed for.
Not much is known about Red Snapper because it was only briefly glimpsed in Iron Man 3. A notable feature it had was a pair of extendable claws that would prove useful when trying to reach a person or object in hard-to-reach spaces like a collapsed building. It might not be a bad idea for Tony to revisit this design and produce it for fire departments across the country.
12. MARK II
Building on his ideas from the Mark I, Tony vastly improved his design with the Mark II. While much smaller than the Mark I, it was very much a technological breakthrough, utilizing repulsor technology through the use of his arc reactor. It definitely helped that Tony had access to any and all resources he desired. The suit featured advanced flight capabilities compared to the Mark I and granted the wearer with superhuman strength.
Its biggest flaw, however, was an icing problem during high altitude flight that would cause the suit to freeze and power off. It also lacked any kind of weaponry since Tony wasn’t at that stage of development. That wasn’t a problem because Justin Hammer and the United States Air Force would take care of that. This suit would go on to be the template for the War Machine suit that Rhodey would wear.
11. MARK XXXVIII (IGOR)
Glimpsed during an Iron Man 3 trailer, fans speculated that this was the beloved “Hulkbuster” armor because of its resemblance, leading to speculation that Hulk made an appearance in the film. Well, they were partly right about the appearance, but dead wrong about the armor. The Mark XXXVIII, nicknamed Igor, is another suit not designed for combat.
It was meant to do any heavy lifting, much like it did in Iron Man 3, probably for construction purposes. Although, it did pretty well during the climactic battle of Iron Man 3, stabilizing a platform before it could completely collapse. It is probably one of the strongest, non-combative suits of armor in Tony’s arsenal, being capable of holding weight four times heavier than itself without breaking a sweat.
10. MARK XLII
Too much gold. We’re just gonna come out and say it. This suit has too much gold on it to be aesthetically pleasing to anyone. Tony must have been drunk when he told J.A.R.V.I.S. to paint it. That, or he had Goldmember over and gave him carte blanche on the color scheme. The Mark XLII was the primary suit from Iron Man 3 — and we wish this was the last suit of armor from that movie on this list.
That being said, it had some pretty ingenuitive features that previous suits did not. Each piece of it has a repulsor system, allowing Tony to summon it piece-by-piece. Thanks to computer chips implanted just below his skin, the suit can be summoned with hand gestures or equipped on other people with similar gestures. While far more advanced than previous models, it is not without its flaws like showing up unannounced.
9. MARK XLVII
Seen in the recently released Spider-Man: Homecoming, the Mark XLVII strays from the typical red and gold color scheme so many have become accustomed to on Iron Man. Perhaps this is why it ranks so low on this list — but hey, it made it the top ten. It might be the sleekest Iron Man suit, but its paint job looks unfinished, and that’s disappointing.
It does, however, get points for being a subtle nod to Ultimate Iron Man, but just barely. It might have looked better had there not been the hints of gold laced about the shoulders and various other areas. The Mark XLVII comes fully stocked with all the bells and whistles one would expect, such as an advanced laser system, repulsor tech, its own A.I., strength enhancements, and easy access for times the pilot decides they don’t want to be in the suit.
8. MARK XLV
Finally seeing the error in his ways with too much gold on one armor, Tony decided on more red this time around. He’ll be forgiven, for now. Used during the Battle of Sokovia, the Mark XLV is the first armor to utilize F.R.I.D.A.Y. as its A.I. since J.A.R.V.I.S. became The Vision. At the time of its creation it was the most advanced armor. That probably had something to do with The Avengers going up against a self-aware murderbot.
The repulsors on the Mark XLV burned hot enough to melt Ultron’s vibranium body, though he did have help from Thor and Vision. The next time we would see Tony after The Battle of Sokovia he would be donning a new, more advanced suit of armor, but we have to take a brief pit-stop at an older suit or two first.
7. MARK XLI (BONES)
We told you there was more from Iron Man 3. Another suit of armor that we only briefly see during the final battle against Aldrich Killian and his Extremis mercenaries, this one makes it so high on the list for its unique look and equally unique fighting style. The Mark XLI, codenamed “Bones”, has a kind of future-meets-past motif with its black and gold color scheme looking cybernetic, and draws focus to its arc reactor, but the physical details giving it the look of traditional samurai armor.
It was designed to be fast and agile, utilizing its maneuverability to handle combat situations quick and efficiently. From what we see of it, it can disassemble itself to take on multiple opponents before reassembling to move onto its next target.
6. MARK XLIII
The suit of armor used at the beginning of The Avengers: Age of Ultron was the Mark XLIII and the first suit Tony built after the Clean Slate Protocol was initiated. Older doesn’t always mean inferior because this suit, while not as advanced as the Mark XLV, has some features we didn’t get to see in any other suit.
Sentry mode, for example, when Tony exits the suit to do some snooping. He uses this mode to watch his back and make sure he isn’t disturbed by any hostiles. It’s possible this was a feature with a number of other suits and we just never saw it. Another capability of the Mark XLIII is seeing in infra-red. When taking on the Hydra stronghold, Tony scans the fortress with infra-red to find its shield generator.
5. MARK V (SUITCASE ARMOR)
Before Tony created armor that can assemble on the fly by locking onto subcutaneous microchips, he had the “Football”, otherwise known as the Mark V. It was Tony’s first attempt at portability because he knew he couldn’t always be near his home when danger reared its ugly face.
So he devised a suit that can take the shape of a suitcase when not being worn because what’s more convenient than carrying around a briefcase? Well, before he developed armor that can fly across the country one piece at a time, nothing. Due to its portability, however, it seems that Tony had to forego many of the stock features other suits possessed. It lacked many weapons save for repulsors and most likely was not capable of flying. Fitting that the Mark V be at number five, right?
4. MARK VI
Dying from palladium poisoning throughout Iron Man 2, Tony had to find an alternative element for his arc reactor. With the discovery of a new element came a new and improved suit to complement the new arc reactor. The Mark VI gave us the first triangular chest piece along with a plethora of other new features such as increased mobility and a laser system.
Since the new arc reactor had a much higher energy output, it allowed for a laser system housed on the back of the hands. Unfortunately, a single use of the laser system depleted an entire palladium cartridge, something Tony would eventually perfect. The Mark VI retains the traditional red and gold coloring that Iron Man is known for and doesn’t look too dissimilar from the Mark III and IV in that aspect.
3. MARK XLVI
This suit of armor was seen in Civil War during the airport skirmish and the battle at the hidden Hydra base. It most closely resembles the “Bleeding Edge” armor from the comics which fans were excited for after seeing the concept art. The similarities between the MCU version and its comic book counterpart stop at a fully collapsible helmet, coloring, and multiple mini-arc reactors strategically placed across the armor, though.
The Mark XLVI had several notable upgrades like the previously mentioned collapsible helmet as opposed to a removable faceplate. It was also far more formfitting than previous incarnations and had some kind of EMP projectile that was used to shut down a helicopter before Captain America got to it. Too bad Tony didn’t save that for the Quinjet.
2. MARK III
There is no reason for the Mark III to not be ranking high on this list. When people talk about Iron Man, this is most definitely the first suit that pops into their head. It might not be as sleek as the Mark XLVI or as technologically advanced as the Mark XLVII, but it’s the first Iron Man suit that the public would come to know Tony for.
It’s the baseline for all future Iron Man suits — it set a precedent. When Tony took flight to stop the Ten Rings from stealing more of his weapons or evaded a tank shell only to counterattack with his own, who didn’t get chills? It’s a clunky, basic design that just goes to show that nostalgia has a lot of sway in its ranking.
1. MARK XLIV (THE HULKBUSTER)
The largest, most intimidating of suits in Tony’s arsenal is the Mark XLIV AKA Veronica AKA the Hulkbuster. Created as a counter for his own teammate, you better believe when this armor is brought down from orbit that there is about to be a battle of epic proportions. No building is safe from the destruction that will be caused.
Armed with the basics like flight and repulsor technology, Veronica also comes equipped with replacement parts, a grappling hook, fists that can invert to morph into a wrist restraint, and grants the user a significant boost in strength and durability — all the necessities when facing someone with Hulk-level strength. It even comes with its own cage to restrain the Hulk or whatever other behemoth Tony has to square off against (*ahem* Thanos).
Disagree with our ranking of Iron Man armor? Let us know in the comments!
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