Tony Stark has a problem. Not the drinking, nor the womanizing. No, Tony Stark’s biggest problem is his engineering addiction. He has more sets of armor than most people have shirts. Sporting more than 50 distinct suits in the comics to date, Tony seems to have an armor for every imaginable situation. Which, considering he’s Marvel’s premier futurist, makes sense. Tony’s constantly got an eye on tomorrow, anticipating not just the next move in the game, but the three after that too.
Knowing what he’ll need an armor to do in years from now is a fantastic skill to have, for sure, but it means he spends a whole ton of time in the workshop tinkering with new tech, constantly trying to improve and update them. But for all his futurist predictions, for all the amazing things he can make his Iron Man suits do, Tony Stark doesn’t always have the best eye for design. Most of his design choices amount to “spray paint the gold areas silver and the red areas another shade of red. I’m a Genius!” Hop in, check the HUD, and blast after us as we look at 15 fan designed armors better than anything we'v ever seen. Try to keep up, won’t you?
15 IRON GUNDAM
There’s no way in hell that Tony Stark, the fun-loving superhero with an armor-building habit, would miss the opportunity to fly around in an Iron Man Gundam. Spidey would love it, Black Widow would sigh in exasperation, Captain America would be generally confused and Tony would lap it all up.
Considering the amount of Kaiju in the Marvel Universe (there was a whole event based around them recently), it’s no big leap of imagination to picture Tony tinkering with this during his off time, just in case he needs to battle a massive moth-being on the streets of Osaka. While there would be no difference between the Iron Gundam, designed by Bosslogix, and a larger version of the Hulkbuster, the enjoyment Tony would get from piloting it would be enough reason to break it out every now and then. You know, purely to keep it from rusting. You understand.
Tony is nothing if not resourceful. After all, he never would have escaped captivity if not for his quick thinking and engineering prowess. This armor from ijul shows us this resourcefulness in full, grimy cyberpunk fashion. The cool thing about this is you really get a sense of the different elements Tony’s incorporating.
From pieces of Iron Man armor, to exo-skeletal reinforcement, patches from combat armor to (our favorite) the antenna at the back of his helmet to keep him connected to allies, this armor shows us a Tony who never quits. Tony’s not just a good engineer: he’s a scrapper (pun intended). He’ll always find a way. This design is straight out of a William Gibson novel, and now we desperately want a cyberpunk Iron Man story. Come on Marvel!
13 STEALTH SUIT
There’s a unique Iron Man suit for every imaginable occasion. This, confusingly, includes situations where a stealthy approach is required. To be honest, Tony, if the situation requires more stealth than flying in at Mach speed in a mechanized war suit probably isn’t the best option. But hey, if it’s got to be done, why not do it in this frankly scary design from Encho Enchev.
With a clear design inspiration from Batman (check the gauntlets) this suit could both get Tony into a situation with minimal fuss, and scare the living daylights out of anyone who stumbles in its path. The reduced light spillage would allow Tony to stick to the shadows a whole lot more and, when it hits the fan, all those angular edges and spikes on the arms and legs are going to leave some marks. Imagine getting tackled by that thing. Jeez.
12 IRON ASGARDIAN
While we’ve seen Tony make suits in Asgard in the comics before, but none of them came close to melding the aesthetic of Asgard and Stark quite like this fantastic design from Muhammad Thariq Hibatul Haqqi. Lying somewhere between a standard suit and a Hulkbuster, we imagine Tony could cause some serious mythological destruction in this suit. Which is a good thing considering the size and threat of Asgard’s foes is approximately 80 times higher than Earth (don’t do the math, trust us).
Sturdy enough to take a pummeling, we’re willing to bet Tony could go round after round with the Midgard Serpent in this thing. Also, isn’t it adorable that Tony made himself a hammer to match Thor’s? While it couldn’t come close to matching Mjolnir’s power, we imagine Tony’s compensated with some serious tech to dampen the dent Thor puts in his ego.
To be honest, we’re not even sure this Iron Man is Tony Stark. If it is, something horrible has happened and someone should get a nurse. Songqijin’s creepy design evokes biomechanical art legends like H.R Giger and Guy Aitchison while still giving us the Iron Man we know and love (although we might not love this one. He’s scary).
Considering Tony Stark’s recent implementation of symbiotes, the parasitic race Venom hails from, into his armor design, we easily could have seen something like this in the comics. We’re sure it wouldn’t be good news for the Marvel Universe, but we kind of hope a symbiote takes control of Tony just to see what this armor can do. An evocative design showing us a truly evil version of Iron Man.
10 MARK 101
For all his brilliance, for all the hope he inspires as part of the Avengers, there inevitably comes a time when Tony’s got to suit up and just punch a ton of things in the face. This armor from Mars Studio looks like it’s made for exactly that. It’s a lean, mean design. The brushed steel portrays its “no-nonsense” approach and vibrant orange, like the armor is burning from inside, sends a clear and pointed message to anyone daring to face it. Namely, “hello, it’s time for you to get punched.”
The standouts of this design are the massive, three-pronged gauntlets attached to the forearms. Imagine those prongs going through an Ultron drone like the bottom of a McDonald’s bag. When Tony needs the mobility of a standard suit but the sheer stopping power of a Hulkbuster, this is the suit we’d love to see him don.
There’s enough steampunk Iron Man designs on the internet to replace Bitcoin as a viable currency -- don’t ask for specifics. This design, by conorburkeart, offers a distinct take on the concept, so it would probably be worth a lot. The great thing about conorburkeart’s design is that it feels entirely functional. Steampunk has a tendency to stick some bronze gears on a design and call it macaroni, but the restrained use of classic steampunk elements in this design strengthens the realism; you can imagine the purpose of every pipe, tube and vent.
However, the standout part of this design in our opinion is the organic-looking chestpieces. Dipping a toe in bio-mechanical design, the shape of the chest pieces makes you think of dinosaur bones, which is a really interesting design choice, and really sells the idea of an Iron Man, half-machine and half-human.
8 ROUGH AND READY MARK I
We all know Iron Man’s origin. Held prisoner, Tony builds a mechanized suit of armor from scrap. Considering the opportunistic nature of his plan, Tony could have built a myriad of different versions of the Mark 1, all depending on what was available. This design from norbface is rough and ready, with plates of armor strapped on to Tony instead of held on a frame, which makes sense.
There’s still a hydraulic skeleton to help Tony’s movement and, considering that he had to fight his way through caves, those pneumatic punchy-gloves would have been better suited than automatic weapons. And yes, the piping along the arms and on his biceps hint heavily towards the best thing about the Mark 1: the flamethrower. The glowing eyes are also a welcome inclusion, however improbable it would be for Tony to rig them up. But hey, Tony Stark is nothing if not flashy.
7 RETRO ALTERNATE DIMENSION
RudySlama brings us a wonderfully strange redesign that makes us desperately want to see whatever alternate dimension this Iron Man comes from. It’s the mix of retro and futuristic design elements that really sells it for us. The wings on the back draw a Rocketeer comparison. The chest, studded with rivets and layered for movement, evokes a knight’s suit of armor.
But the giant, glowing orb Tony’s generating from his hand and the weird, turquoise steam his armor’s emitting give hints that Tony’s harnessing some sort of bizarre fuel source that only he’d be reckless or brave enough to use. It’s functional, it’s nostalgic and, most importantly, amazingly cool. This design makes us want to know more about this version of Iron Man, and that’s no small compliment.
6 DARKER STEAMPUNK
This design from artozi is darker and more imposing than we’re used to seeing in steampunk designs, and that’s exactly why we love it. Inspired by vintage diving gear, the suit looks like it has serious defensive capabilities, with its torso completely covered in various layers of armor. The pistons on its arm would ensure Tony packs a hell of a punch too, so it’s not like he’d be a sitting duck either.
Most intriguing is the amber arc reactor on the suit’s chest, which seems to be swirling with energy of some kind. We all know Iron Man’s unibeam packs some serious wallop, but this one looks meaner and less controlled, which could lead to some serious destruction. Regardless, we definitely wouldn’t want to run into this in a dark Victorian alley.
The interplay between the technological and the human aspects of Tony Stark is something that a lot of creators have explored, both in design and characterization. This design from maodraws is a really interesting example of such exploration. Depending on where you look, the armor either looks organic or technological; the shoulder pads in particular look like chitinous shells.
The tubing (some of which has burst, what happened Tony?) implies a coolant system or funneling of fuel and, most strikingly, the armor is clearly rising out of some sort of swamp. Grass and moss are growing out of crevices and large portions of the armor are lichen stained. There’s a story behind this design, and it’s one we’d love to see. Namely, how the hell did Tony get into this mess?
Tony Stark loves a field trip, as evidenced when he joined the Guardians of the Galaxy because reasons. Naturally, his cosmic trip brought a whole new armor designed specifically for space flight and battles, which to be fair is one of the rare occasions that would actually necessitate some new armor. If Tony ever decides to take a galactic convalescence again, we’d love to see him in Josh Ryba’s amazing redesign.
It’s sleek, modern and intimidating, all things you’d want out of a suit if you ran into Annihilus while doing the cosmic groceries or something. The longer you look at this design, the more details become apparent. Our favorite part is the twist on the faceplate. The basic shape is still there, but the sweeping golden bands intersecting with the geometric design between the eyes makes the design feel fresh, like a natural progression of the original design.
3 MODERN CLASSIC
Tony’s original Iron Man suit was designed with a '60s sensibility. Sure, he didn’t cover the thing in paisley print, but still. Fashion and tech move so quickly so, if Tony designed his first suit tomorrow, what would his classic armor look like? We’d hedge a bet that eljay93’s design is pretty close. This armor keeps the silhouette of the classic armor from the '60s, but adds layers of technological depth to the suit so it actually feels like someone could wear it, instead of paint it over a muscle suit.
The black and gold color scheme lends it a more overtly modern quality to balance out the nostalgic frame. We could easily see a young, self-aware Tony Stark, with an eye on the future and his heart in the past, flying across the NYC skyline in this. Nostalgia is in, after all.
The cool thing about Iron Man is he’s a walking vision of the future of technology. Tony’s always on the forefront. Hell, Tony IS the forefront. He’s the trend-setter. Catch a glimpse of Iron Man flying past your office block and wait until your car, television and phone catch up. This concept, the idea of Iron Man as a living technological marvel, is why we love Yanni Davros’ design so much.
It’s still instantly recognizable as Iron Man, but the subtle design changes to the helmet, arc reactor and torso evoke a sense of progression. You can practically trace the incremental changes made to it over the years, leaving a final product that is functional but still instantly recognizable as Iron Man. The classic red and gold colors would inspire hope in the people, but up close and personal the faceplate would intimidate even the stupidest of villains.
1 IRON SORCERER
Doctor Doom has shown us that it’s possible to be a man of both science and mysticism in the Marvel Universe, and frankly the good guys need to catch up. Reed Richards has no interest in all that magical stuff and Hank Pym’s too undisciplined to really grasp magic. But Tony could really give Doctor Doom a run for his magical money if he wanted to.
This armor from thedurrrrian gives us a glimpse of what it might look like if Tony got jealous and applied himself to the magical arts. Flowing red cloth, an ornate suit of armor and the classic red and gold color scheme; all of it screams Iron Man while still standing solely in the realms of fantasy. If Tony ever decided to try and pull a Doctor Strange and dabble in magic, we’d be willing to bet he’d look like this.