Tony Stark has had some pretty great success with his Iron Man persona. Over the years, he’s created tons of different armor designs, from ones that fly in space, to ones that go underwater, and more. Iron Man is the world’s favorite Avenger for a reason: he’s inventive, creative, snarky, and he’s got the coolest suits. Since Tony famously assembled the first gray armor in a cave, he’s been perfecting the suit ever since. In the comics, Tony’s suits have reached an outrageous level of power -- much stronger than the suits shown in the MCU. He’s constantly changing his technology as he gets hold of new things like symbiotes, nanotechnology, and made up things we’ve never heard of. There are “standard” red and gold outfits that we’ve come to know and love, which get sleeker as the years pass, and then there are “specialized” suits which are made for unique occasions.
Some of those specialized suits are mentioned below, because they’re some of the coolest Iron Man suits out there. It’s a shame that many of the coolest armors are short-lived or retconned from canon, but that’s the way Marvel works. Even so, we’d like to see some of these ridiculously cool suits of armor in the films. There are others that just missed the mark completely, either because they look stupid, don’t have enough powers and capabilities to outdo what the MCU already has on tap, or because they’re simply outdated, from an older time. Here are 10 Iron Man armors we don’t hope to see in the MCU, and 10 suits we do hope to see.
20 WE DO: HYPERPULSE MARK IX ARMOR/2099 ARMOR
The Hyperpulse Mark IX armor belongs to Andros Stark, the grandson of Tony Stark, who lives in the year 2099. Andros Stark is from the animated series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Andros’ existence lends itself to Tony’s possible future where he created an artificial intelligence called Vortex, which caused the total annihilation of humankind.
The suit is far more advanced than anything Tony’s worn, with Andros commenting that it’s comparable to a supercomputer against a handheld calculator. It’s a modified version of Tony’s Extremis armor, but even more connected to Andros’ body, granting him regenerative abilities, immortality, and the ability to psychically integrate with other computers. It can also travel through time. Basically, it’s the best armor ever, though maybe not the coolest looking.
19 WE DON’T: MODEL 21
Marvel was trying something new with this suit, and we commend them for that, but it turned out to be an ugly mess. The pink and silver suit looks like it belongs in a Dodge Neon commercial. Tony uses this armor to battle X-Con in All-New Iron Man from 2002. He has plenty of cooler Stealth suits nowadays, though, as you’ll see below.
This is the first non-metallic suit, too, made from ceramics, a Kevlar-like polymer weave and “bio-neural gel-pack” circuits. It has improved noise reduction and internal air tanks, cloaking through an optical fiber network, and weak repulsor charges, including a plasma discharge system that protects him from anti-metal weapons. Too bad it looks like Barbie meets Ken.
18 WE DO: MARK LI – MODEL-PRIME ARMOR
The Mark LI armor has some of the strongest abilities of any Iron Man suits. It’s not wired directly to Tony Stark’s physiology, like some of the armors are, but it has all of the standard Iron Man weapons present. Plus, a new on-board cloaking system was installed, so the suit can work autonomously if the pilot is injured.
The Model-Prime suit is the latest (and possibly last) suit Tony Stark has worn in the comics, with Riri Williams getting ready to take the torch of the Iron Man legacy. It’s the next logical step after the Bleeding Edge suit, and we could see it being the armor that sends Robert Downey Jr. off into the sunset as Iron Man in the MCU.
17 WE DON’T: MODEL 24 – ABLATIVE ARMOR
The Ablative Armor is one of the weirdest yet most unique suits out there. Its composed entirely of little moving tiles, basically. Just like bicycle helmets that are designed to break on impact and absorb the shock, that’s what the Ablative Armor does. It’s also equipped with a force field that holds it together and reconfigures the tiles when they break, which is pretty cool.
Once a tile breaks, it falls off and another slides into its place. Graphically, it could look pretty cool, but there are just so many other armors with coolest powers and abilities in Tony’s arsenal, that we think this one should stay on the shelves.
16 WE DO: MARK IX – EXCALIBUR ARMOR
Iron Man has always been a symbol of advancing technology, except for that time when the Mark IX armor was bonded with Excalibur. For a time, all of Iron Man’s weapons and tech were replaced with magical implements of war. Tony’s magically-enhanced armor had all the standard gadgets, they just used magic instead of repulsor technology.
Excalibur also granted the Mark IX the power of invulnerability, which is pretty impressive and makes it possibly his most enduring and strongest armor to date. Once the wizard Merlin retrieved his ancient sword, however, the Mark IX went back to being a relatively standard suit. Even though it was short lived, it was cool while it lasted.
15 WE DON’T: 1602 LORD IRON ARMOR
We have super-advanced suits like the Model-Prime, and then we have this old-fashioned suit from the Marvel 1602 series, created by Neil Gaiman. In that world, the classic Marvel heroes and villains existed in the Elizabethan era, in 1602, and their suits were altered to befit the era they lived in. Anthony Stark was a man taken captive during the Anglo-Spanish war and forced to make weapons (sound familiar?).
Lord Iron’s massive armor sticks out from the crowd. It’s powered by “lightning bottles,” and keeps Stark alive through pure electricity. It’s kind of cool looking, but a bit tacky, and we don’t see a way the MCU could implement it. It’s probably for the best.
14 WE DO: EXTREMIS ARMOR
Many people know Tony Stark as just a regular guy in a suit, but the Extremis armor took this to another level. Basically, Tony was forced to use an experimental version of a virus called Extremis in order to save his own life. Extremis also helped him connect with his armor on a neurological level, amplifying the suit’s abilities further than ever before. It was the most powerful set of armor, by far, at the time.
The armor had abilities such as cloaking, omni-directional repulsor rays, and even time travel! This would be a pretty ridiculous suit in the MCU, but maybe it’s just what Tony needs to make himself relevant and powerful again. Extremis was also the last of the “classic age” Iron Man suits.
13 WE DON’T: TEEN TONY ARMOR
The Teen Tony storyline was already strange, and the armor was just as strange. In "The Crossing", Tony Stark gets mentally unwound by Kang the Conqueror, resulting in him becoming a villain and donning a weird suit. The Avengers go back in time to pick up a teenage version of Tony, to help him defeat the evil one.
For a time, “Teen” Tony was the “regular” Iron Man. The whole thing got retconned, probably for good reason. This suit is a spiky prototype, unusually proportioned and assembled piece by piece over a period of time. The final result has enormous gauntlets, huge hands and fingers, and giant shoulder pads. Considering the sleek armors we’ve already seen in the MCU, this one wouldn’t really fly.
12 WE DO: ARMOR MODEL 43
The Stealth Armor appeared in the "Believe" storyline, when Tony used the armor to retrieve Extremis samples. This is one of the subtlest suits Tony’s ever made, crafted from titanium and Vibranium, with a sleek black paint job. It’s also one of the best suits he ever created. It was built with numerous cloaking systems, and it also provided the wearer with holographic disguises, reflective armor, and several non-lethal weapons systems.
Much like other stealth-based suits, it doesn’t feature much in the way of traditional weaponry, and the repulsors are noticeably weaker than normal, but it does everything else far better, stealthier, and can withstand punishment.
11 WE DON’T: MODEL 27 – HIGH GRAVITY ARMOR
The High Gravity Armor is mainly on the “we don’t” side of the list because it looks ridiculous. With its super big feet, it looks like Iron Man put on a pair of moon boots. The armor was designed to handle the stronger gravity conditions of hyperspace travel, keeping Tony safe at 50 Gs. It combines magnetism, mobility software and hardware within the armor, making it possible for Tony to move around.
It was capable of cleaning and disinfecting itself if Tony threw up, so that’s a plus! It also made sure all blood flow remained in his limbs. It’s a pretty useful design, built for a specific purpose, but we hope to never see the ugly monstrosity in the films.
10 WE DO: SORCERER SUPREME ARMOR
We doubt we’d ever see this armor in the films, but it just looks awesome! In a parallel reality, Doctor Strange and Tony Stark get in a terrible car accident that injures Strange so badly, he can’t cast spells. Tony attempts to use science to cure Strange’s nerve damage, but instead finds himself propelled toward the mystical arts.
When he realizes he needs to protect the world from Dormammu, he suits up and combines his knowledge of science and magic to create the “Sorcerer Supreme” armor. It’s powered by the Eye of Agamotto instead of the arc reactor. The suit’s regular functions are magically-powered, and its onboard CPU comes full of spells.
9 WE DON’T: MODEL VI – DEEP SEA ARMOR
The Iron Man Deep Sea Armor, or Hydro Armor, or Deep Submergence Armor, was used to recover a canister of toxic gas from the wreck of the Titanic in Iron Man #118. It seems kind of like a James Bond suit, and for this day and age, it’s a bit outdated. But, hey, it was designed for a specific reason and looked pretty cool in the comic books when it came out.
The Hydro Armor is capable of going three miles below sea level. It has all the standard features of Iron Man suits, but reconfigures them to be effective underwater. This includes carefully adapted repulsor beams, more life support, grapples, an underwater electric shock firing device, and the ability to release inky chemicals like an octopus.
8 WE DO: MODEL CE1 – PROMETHEUM ARMOR
The Prometheum Armor was exclusive to the Heroes Reborn universe, as part of a temporary reset of many major characters that was later undone. Still, it’s very awesome and unique looking. The Heroes Reborn armor scrapped the clean, simplified Iron Man look and used lots of steel cords, tubing, and two massive exhaust pipes on the back for the armor to release heat.
It was just a prototype, but Tony was forced to wear the armor’s chestplate at all times to keep his heart and lungs functioning properly. It didn’t have an arc reactor, but constantly had to be recharged to keep pumping. It was a fresh take on Iron Man’s suits, something that could be transcribed to film very easily and fluidly.
7 WE DON’T: MODEL 1 VERSION 2 – GOLDEN ARMOR
The Golden Armor is the second version of the first Iron Man suit Tony ever created, after he refined the armor at Stark Industries. Considering the original gray armor has already been depicted masterfully, and his armors thus far have become more advanced, we can’t see a reason this one should be displayed in film.
This armor is bulky, cumbersome, and unlike the iconic gray armor, this one took things a bit too far. Tony thought the gray armor was too scary, and he wanted to resemble a knight in shining armor, so the gold suit was born. It didn’t last long, eventually being replaced by the classic red and gold color scheme that we know today.
6 WE DO: MODEL 50 – ENDO-SYM ARMOR
The abilities that Venom and Carnage, the symbiotes, possess, are pretty incredible. It should come as no surprise that an inventor like Tony would look at the Venom symbiote and see endless possibilities. Based on the biology and cells of the symbiotes, incorporated into the armor’s design, the Endo-Sym Armor is worn during the Superior Iron Man series.
Its liquid metal form bonds to the user, just as symbiotes do, and the armor psychically connects with Tony. The suit’s normal state is liquefied, but it’s telepathically commanded by Tony to bond to him and solidify into armor. The armor doesn’t possess its own personality, intelligence, or teeth, but it still looks pretty dang righteous.
5 WE DON’T: MARK XXII – THORBUSTER ARMOR
We’ve all seen the Hulkbuster armor, designed to take on the green giant in the second Avengers film, but how about an armor designed to take on a god? Iron Man and Thor have had their share of differences over the years, and by utilizing Asgardian artifacts, Tony was able to create the Mark XXII armor, or Thorbuster suit.
It’s modeled after the Destroyer, one of Thor’s oldest foes, and was strong enough to withstand a shot from Mjolnir. Eventually, Thor tore the armor apart, though Tony wasn’t inside the suit when that happened. Combining Stark technology with Odin’s magic is pretty cool, but once you’ve seen the Hulkbuster, there’s really no need to see this one in the films, too, we think.
4 WE DO: MODEL XLII – BLACK AND GOLD ARMOR
The black and gold armor might be the next logical step in the MCU, considering it’s a) super sweet looking, and b) almost as powerful as the Bleeding Edge Armor, which is supposedly his strongest armor and the one present in Infinity War. This might be Tony’s baddest armor to date, looks-wise, and it uses repulsors, unibeams, armor piercing tasers, missiles, and nanotechnology.
It first appeared in Iron Man Volume 5 #1 (2013), where Tony said, “I could create almost anything with the liquid tech… but a specialized tool works better at its specialist task. I could morph a repulsor cannon, sure… but a one-purpose unit ups the kick.”
3 WE DON’T: MODEL 3 – NOSE ARMOR
The “nasal” armor is pretty notorious in the Iron Man mythos. Tony always does a great job of reinventing his designs, but the Model 3 Nose Armor was a bit of a fluke. For a period of time, Iron Man’s armor had a nose. The (true) story is that when Stan Lee saw an Iron Man comic cover, he said, “Hey, where’s the nose?” He thought the helmet looked too tight against Tony’s face to have a nose fit.
His comment was misinterpreted, so the nose was added to “allow a bit more expression” and “increase the fearsome aspect of my character,” according to Tony. None of the readers liked it, and we don’t think the MCU fans would, either, so it’s best to keep this one off the silver screen.
2 WE DO: URU ARMOR
The Uru Armor was shown during the "Fear Itself" crossover event, where Iron Man was desperate to do what he could to save the planet from the ancient Asgardian Serpent, Jormungandr. Tony Stark plated his Bleeding Edge armor in Odin’s Uru metal, the same magical metal Thor’s hammer is created out of.
So, since the Bleeding Edge is already Iron Man’s strongest suit, one could say with this enhancement, this is his ultimate armor. Iron Man’s spike-filled Uru Armor was a sight to see in the comics, quite strange, but quite awesome. It also strongly resembled Odin’s Destroyer, the nigh-indestructible sentient suit of armor he created. It would be cool to see the Destroyer back in the films, but on the side of good this time!
1 WE DON’T: MODEL XV – ARCTIC ARMOR
The Arctic Armor first showed up in Iron Man #318, when Evil Tony Stark used the armor to travel to his hidden armor bunker in the Arctic. It has an unusual blue-and-silver color scheme, which is all right looking, but that’s not really the problem. The problem is that the armor is just a bit outdated -- we have no doubt that Tony’s newer, highly technological suits of armor could easily bring him to the Arctic, no problem.
If the suits can travel through space, they can travel through rough temperatures on Earth. Most of the details of this armor are pretty much unknown, too, making it a bit useless. With so many awesome suits to choose from already, there’s no reason this one should see any air time.