Countless people over the years have donned the Iron Man suit. Almost 60 years ago, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber, and Don Heck introduced the world to one of the most endearing and inspiring superheroes around: Tony Stark, the “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist.” He was first introduced in Tales of Suspense #39 (1959). Since then, he has become a fan favorite, helped in part by Robert Downey Jr’s masterful portrayal of the character in the MCU. Stark’s origin story is well known: he was captured, forced to create a weapon of mass destruction, and instead produced the most fabulous weapon of all with the Iron Man suit.
He’s been through countless developmental changes, including giving up as Iron Man on multiple occasions, which is often where other people step in and wear the suit. Other, jealous types, have come and stolen it, while others have simply borrowed it. Stark was even written off at one point, leaving the spot empty. In the meantime, villains have worn it, and other heroes have worn it. In recent years, we’ve been treated to a new Avenger, who has quickly become the most popular one. We’ll talk about her, too, the young science prodigy that has taken over the Marvel Universe by force, as Ironheart. So, even though Tony Stark created the suit, he isn’t the only person who has worn it. Over the 59-year career of Iron Man, dozens have been seen wearing the Stark-made suits. In all, Iron Man has made over 8,000+ appearances during Marvel’s illustrious comic history. Here are all the people that have ever worn the suit, ranked.
24 AUNT MAY
There have been many characters from the Spider-Man universe to don the Iron Man suit, but one of the more surprising is Aunt May. Long before she helped Mary Jane storm Doctor Doom’s castle in an Iron Man suit, writer Mark Gruenwald wrote and drew a famous picture depicting Aunt May in classic Iron Man garb, with the text reading “The Invincible Golden Oldie.”
During the 12-part “The Other” storyline in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #20, written by Reginald Hudlin, Aunt May again threw on the Iron Man armor.
23 WEASEL WILLIS
Iron Man’s armor has been stolen numerous times, but the first time was by a man named Weasel Willis, over 50 years ago, in Tales of Suspense #65. Willis was a small time thief, set on breaking into the criminal underworld by being the first person to break into Stark Industries.
He succeeded, stumbling on one of Stark’s suits and going on a crime spree in it. Stark was forced to use the slower, stronger Mark I armor, and was able to outlast Willis long enough for him to use up his armor’s power supply, which allowed Stark to finish him off and retrieve his modern armor.
22 ERIC SAVIN
Eric Savin was a former Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army, and the right-hand man of Aldrich Killian. He was an enemy of Iron Man, and he used powers gained by using Extremis to endanger Stark’s life, and the ones Stark loved. In Iron Man 3, he helped Killian by taking the leader of the free world.
He did this disguised as Iron Patriot, posing as Col. James Rhodes. He marched onto Air Force One, played the silent bodyguard well, and killed all of President Matthew Ellis’ security detail. Stark then came along with the new Mark XLII Iron Man armor and took him out in a fight.
21 CLARENCE WARD
Iron Man #86 through #89 was a rough time for Tony Stark. An imposter Iron Man stormed into Stark Industries board meeting and killed everyone in there. The imposter then located Rumiko Fujikawa, a long time love interest of Stark’s, and murdered her just as Stark entered the room.
Stark scrambled to get his armor on, and the two Iron Men have a fair fight, and halfway through the fight the imposter’s identity is revealed: Clarence Ward, a complete nobody to Stark. Ward blames Stark for ending his career, and Stark doesn’t even recognize him. Ward is eventually killed by one of Stark’s allies.
20 BETHANY CABE, CARL WALKER, MICHAEL O’BRIEN
Bethany Cabe, Carl Walker, and Michael O’Brien were three of Tony Stark’s friends and enemies, who War Machine convinced into forming a temporary alliance to battle the sentient superweapon, Ultimo.
Making up three-fifths of the Iron Legion, Michael O’Brien was originally The Guardsmen, one of Iron Man’s foes, Bethany Cabe was Stark’s bodyguard and former lover, and Carl Walker was a former henchman for Justin Hammer. The alliance was successful in defeating Ultimo, but ultimately the Iron Legion was short-lived, appearing only a few times.
19 EDDIE MARCH
Eddie March acted as Tony Stark’s successor for a short time during the ‘70s, when Stark wanted to quit because of heart problems. March was a professional boxer and friend to Happy Hogan, who helped March find work as Stark Industries after his boxing career ended. The former boxer fit Stark’s bill for the new Iron Man, and March trained with him for a while.
However, March endured severe injuries after a battle with Crimson Dynamo, which made him doubtful of his career as Iron Man. He received even worse wounds against Doctor Spectrum, which ultimately brought his Iron Man career to a close. He was also one-fifth of the Iron Legion during that arc.
18 HAROLD “HAPPY” HOGAN
Harold “Happy” Hogan was the fifth and final member of the Iron Legion, a team of five of Stark’s friends and enemies who helped defeat Ultimo. He was also Stark’s limo driver and close confidant, but before that, Happy was a struggling boxer in New York City. He went up against the likes of Eddie March and Battlin’ Jack Murdock, Matt Murdock’s late father.
He would often make appearances in the Iron Man suit when Tony was unavailable. He was basically a public stand-in for Tony, though he did help defeat Ultimo, and he even battled Mandarin, though the fight left he and the suit badly damaged.
17 BRIAN BRADDOCK
In What If? Age of Apocalypse, Brian Braddock, better known as Captain Britain, put on the Iron Man suit in the war against Apocalypse. This was an alternate timeline, where the X-Men never existed because Legion had taken out Magneto and Professor X. That meant Captain Britain and his team of Defenders were the only ones able to protect humankind from Apocalypse.
Other members of the Defenders were Weapon X, Sauron, X-Man, and a Mjolnir-wielding Captain America. Unfortunately, the Iron Defender, as he was called, went up against one of Apocalypse’s strongest Horsemen, the Hulk, and tore Captain Britain’s body in half.
16 LORD IRON
Readers have seen many versions of Iron Man over the years, but one of the most memorable was in 1602: New World, which was the first time Marvel took a look into America’s past. Set during the time of King James and pre-Revolution America, Lord Iron was ordered by King James to track down the Hulk after he attempted to kill Sir Nicholas Fury.
Lord Iron’s armor was powered by “lightning bottles,” but his origin story mirrored that of Tony Stark’s. He had a Moorish friend, Rhodes, and crossed paths with J. Jonah Jameson, Norman Obsorn, Captain Ross, Peter Parquagh, and Rojhaz, who was the 17th-century version of Captain America.
15 ANTOINETTE STARK
Antoinette “Toni” Stark donned the Iron Man suit as Stark’s twin sister in an alternate reality, during the short-lived Marvel’s Mangaverse, between 2000 and 2002. Toni took over Stark Industries after Tony went into hiding for unknown reasons. Toni called herself the Iron Maiden, which is pretty awesome.
Her rise quickly plateaued, as Tony ended his hermit status after his sister passed away during a battle with the Hulk. It turned out that Tony went into hiding because he had spinal cancer, and he returned as only a head, attached to life support. He returned an introduced a Voltron-like machine for the Avengers: four huge vehicles that could combine to form a Stark Tower-sized Iron Man.
14 SONNY FRISCO
Sonny Frisco appeared during the Secret Wars 2099 miniseries, as an alternate version of Iron Man. The inventor was very much different than Stark, however: he had a rare form of Dwarfism, though he still wore a full-sized Iron Man suit. He also had a genius-level intellect.
He became a member of Alchemax’s private Avenger’s group. He then found himself in Prime Earth, a different part of Marvel’s universe, and joined the organization called Fist. The used his genius to build a stable portal to other realities in order to recover the dangerous inhuman, Glorianna.
13 ARNO STARK
Tony Stark is not actually the biological child of Howard and Maria Stark, we found out a few years ago. He was adopted and their true son was named Arno Stark, who was the result of a deal brokered between the Starks and Rigellian Recorder 451, an alien race exploring outer space.
The 451 had genetically programmed a killswitch in Arno, so the Starks hid him and fooled the 451 into thinking Tony was their biological child. Tony eventually found out the truth and met Arno. The 451 passed away, and Arno stepped out of hiding. Tony and Arno even fought side by side in Iron Man suits against the Rings of Mandarin.
12 HAL STARK
From the mid- to late-‘90s, DC and Marvel were scrambling to pull in subscribers, so they did something unheard of: they combined their characters to create hybrid superheroes, under the publication Amalgam Comics. One of these characters was Hal Stark, or the Iron Lantern, a multi-billionaire who founded Stark Aircraft.
He was a mashup of Green Lantern’s Hal Jordan from DC Comics, and Tony Stark. Iron Lantern’s suit was bestowed upon him by the dying alien Rhomann Sur, who saved his life by preventing iron shards from piercing his heart. Even Stark’s enemies were mashups, including Great White (The Shark/Ultimo), Madame Sapphire (Pepper Potts/Carol Ferris), and Mandarinestro (Sinestro/Mandarin).
11 STEVE ROGERS
One of the strongest characters to ever don the Iron Man suit must be Steve Rogers, who did so during the Bullet Points series and written by J. Michael Straczynski. In this event, Rogers hadn’t been injected with the Super Soldier serum, and also unlike the armor Tony Stark built, this version was actually grafted onto the skin and bones of Rogers, causing him serious pain.
He would help the Allies win World War II, but not before Peter Parker becomes the Hulk. So, big green is now an out of control teenager, who not only gives Aunt May a heart attack, but battles Iron Man, subsequently ending Rogers.
10 BRUCE BANNER
Speaking of the Hulk, Bruce Banner suited up in Avengers: Infinity War in the Hulkbuster 2.0 armor. He did pretty well, defeating one of the Children of Thanos, but not before he had his armors arm ripped off. He also donned the suit in Avengers Assemble #6, fighting against Thanos, where he burst out of the suit in a truly awesome moment, exclaiming: “Always wanted to do this.”
He also appeared in the Hulkbuster armor in the 2016 animated film, Marvel’s Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell, where he fought side by side Doctor Strange against the Halloween supervillain, Nightmare.
9 WADE WILSON
This list would not be complete without mentioning the degenerate Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool. In a 2016 comic, Wilson donned the Iron Man suit when he attended one of Tony’s alcohol-fueled parties, knocked the billionaire out with a bottle of wine, and stole the Iron Man suit for a joyride.
He went out on the town and drank and flew around, but he also managed to stop an armored truck robbery and save a nuclear plant from exploding -- no small feat. Then Tony woke up from his stupor and Cable showed up needing his help in defeating Mister Sinister in Mexico. So Tony needed the armor back.
8 MARY JANE WATSON
Mary Jane Watson has been around since 1966, usually in the Spider-Man world, as Peter Parker’s love interest, a fashion model, actress, and nightclub owner. Currently, though, she is employed at Stark Industries in Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man series.
That being the case, she has access to Stark’s Iron Man suits, and she’s even worn the Iron Spider suit in a couple issues. During the Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2, published in the mid-2000s, she also wore the Iron Man suit to help Spider-Man defeat the time-traveling villain Morlun.
7 PEPPER POTTS
After working alongside Tony Stark for years, Pepper Potts has had numerous chances to don the Iron Man suit. During the “Dark Reign” era, when Norman Osborn was sending H.A.M.M.E.R. agents all over the world, Potts escaped in an Iron Man armor designed for her. This began her career as the superhero Rescue.
She’s done pretty well for herself, too, fighting against some heavy-hitters in the Marvel Universe, such as Mokk the Breaker of Stone, Detroit Steel Corps, and Madame Masque. She’s lost her armor several times, but always manages to find a new one. In her latest adventure, she teamed up with the newest armored Avenger, Ironheart.
6 JAMES RHODES
Before he became Tony Stark’s staunchest ally, as War Machine, Col. James Rhodes was a pilot for the Marines, around the same time Stark built his Mark II suit. The two became close friends, and Rhodes was even CEO of Stark Industries at one point. During Stark’s days of battling some issues, Rhodes was given permission to don the Iron Man suit, eventually taking over Stark’s identity for a period of time.
He battled the likes of Mandarin, Thunderball, Firebrand, Vibro, Radioactive Man, Krang, and more. He became very skilled at piloting the suit, and he even joined the West Coast Avengers for a time, after Hawkeye thought it was Stark piloting the suit (because he was so impressed).
5 NORMAN OSBORN
Norman Osborn has traditionally been one of (if not THE) Peter Parker’s perennial enemies as the Green Goblin, but he’s always looking for new ways to pull off his diabolical schemes. To do so, he once donned an old Iron Man suit, colored it like Captain America, and called himself Iron Patriot.
He started a new Avengers team, and fooled the world and a few heroes such as Ares and Sentry. He also brought Bullseye along as Hawkeye, and Venom as black-suited Spider-Man, then recruited Daken, Moonstone, and Noh-Varr. Eventually, his disguise as a “hero” was discovered and he was defeated at the Siege of Asgard.
4 RIRI WILLIAMS
The most recent superhero to don the Iron Man suit is 15-year-old Riri Williams. The former M.I.T. student has genius-level intellect, and was smart enough to reverse-engineer Stark’s suit, then build one of her own using scratch materials found on campus. She test drove the new suit and even stopped two convicts attempting to escape the New Mexico Penitentiary.
Her exploits caught the eye of Tony Stark, and he talked Riri into taking his place as one of the world’s most famous superheroes, calling herself Ironheart. She doesn’t have the same experience, but she might soon be receiving mentoring from one of the most notorious characters: Victor Von Doom. Riri’s storyline is certainly one of the most exciting to come out of Marvel in a while.
3 SQUIRREL GIRL
Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl, is one of the most unique superheroes in the Marvel Universe. The 14-year-old has proven herself time and time again, besting the likes of villains such as M.O.D.O.K., Terrax, and even Thanos! She’s even fought Deadpool, and saved Iron Man from Doctor Doom.
Squirrel Girl found herself battling Kraven the Hunter after learning he was taking out local squirrels. And in order to combat Galactus, she donned an Iron Man suit and flew to the moon, defeating Whiplash on the way. She befriended Galactus and managed to convince him to spare Earth by focusing on a nearby, uninhabited planet filled with nuts.
2 DOCTOR DOOM
In one of the coolest looking mashups, legendary Marvel villain Doctor Doom once donned the Iron Man armor. In recent years, he turned over a new leaf after becoming a god in the Secret Wars arc. He started rethinking his life, and decided to throw away his extreme selfishness to join the side of the angels.
The second Civil War ended with Tony Stark falling into a coma, so Doom took on the role of Iron Man. The Infamous Iron Man, as he’s called, follows the exploits of the budding superhero. One of his objectives is seeking out his missing nemesis, reed Richards, who he wants as a friend now. Unfortunately, when he finds Richards, it turns out to be Mephisto in disguise.
1 TONY STARK
This should come as no surprise, but the most famous person to ever wear the Iron Man suit is also the best, according to our rankings. Sure, you have other superheroes with stronger powers: Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers, Peter Parker, Dr. Doom, Squirrel Girl, etc., who have all donned the Iron Man suit, but none of that would be possible without the original, Tony Stark.
The billionaire playboy got his start in a bunker in 1965, and has gone leaps and bounds since then. He’s created all sorts of suits: collapsible armor that can fit into a briefcase, armor to fight the Hulk, armor designed for deep space travel… the list goes on.