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Iron Patriot: Who Is the Other Armored Avenger?

Iron Patriot feature

Without question, Tony Stark's Iron Man suits are the most popular armors in the Marvel Universe. In fact, he's had dozens, if not hundreds, of iterations of the suit over the decades. After those, War Machine has joined the Avengers on the battlefield and acquitted himself well with plenty of suits of his own.

However, there's another slightly less prominent suit of armor that can't be forgotten, the Iron Patriot armor. This armor has factored into some key arcs in the comics and has already played a big role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that in mind, let's jump into this history of the red, white and blue weapon of mass destruction.

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NORMAN OSBORN'S IRON PATRIOT

Following the demise of the Skrull infiltration at the end of 2008's Secret Invasion, the Marvel Universe handed the keys to the proverbial kingdom to Norman Osborn. He disbanded S.H.I.E.L.D. and turned it into H.A.M.M.E.R., and as part of the Dark Reign line of books, he even founded the Dark Avengers where villains masqueraded as heroes. Bullseye was his surrogate Hawkeye, Daken was his surrogate Wolverine, and to top his squad off, he donned the patriotic equivalent of Iron Man's suit to hunt former heroes down from Civil War.

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Osborn simply wanted to rub Tony's face in the fact that he was running the Marvel Universe right now. He upgraded the suit using data Tony left from his time as S.H.I.E.L.D. director and then added some Oscorp technology of his own for good measure. But while it gave Norman a bigger arsenal in battle, his real reason for using the suit was so he could hide the fact the Green Goblin persona was emerging again. He even wore warpaint underneath to remind himself of his past, only to be stopped by Steve Rogers' return in Siege.

JAMES RHODES' IRON PATRIOT

During the Marvel NOW! era in 2012, A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) got hold of the the secrets of the Iron Patriot suit, and they sensed an opportunity for something bigger. As a result, in Secret Avengers, the villainous organization created its own army of Iron Patriots to attack various countries and incriminate America in the process.

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However, thanks to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s hacking, Rhodey was able to communicate with the fleet of suits and use their sentience to convince them he could teach them the path to justice. The artificial intelligence eventually listened to him and built Rhodey his own suit, which is more or less a War Machine armor with a paint job and eavier artillery. This also reminded comic book fans that while War Machine was pretty awesome, maybe it was indeed time for an update to his old identity.

TONI HO'S IRON PATRIOT

Toni's the daughter of Ho Yinsen, the man who helped Tony Stark build his first armor in the cave when he was captured years ago. Using her genius, Toni built her own bigger and bulkier Iron Patriot suit after she donned an Iron Man armor in battle working tech support for the New Avengers. She ended up joining the U.S. Avengers but was more concerned with making her mech-suit non-lethal since she wasn't big a fan of bloodshed.

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Toni would however have no choice but to bring out the heavy guns in Secret Empire, especially after Hydra turned Red Hulk against the heroes. In the wake of victory, she'd overtake Sunspot as the leader of American Intelligence Mechanics, later turning it into R.E.S.C.U.E. because she felt her time as the Iron Patriot taught her that her engineering acumen and the symbol these armors stood for should inspire peace, even across the cosmos.

THE MCU'S IRON PATRIOT

The Iron Patriot armor appeared in Iron Man 3, worn by Don Cheadle's Rhodey. Following the invasion of the Chitauri in The Avengers, President Matthew Ellis commissioned the creation of this "American hero" in response to those disastrous events. However, in a star-spangled ceremony, even Tony was caught off-guard by the hubris and cheesiness of his own government.

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Like Rhodey's comic book suit, this Iron Patriot was basically War Machine with a paint job, once again, and was eventually hijacked by A.I.M. It was used to kidnap Ellis from Air Force One and delivered to Aldrich Killian, the Mandarin at an abandoned oil tanker. There, the villain wanted to execute the President, but Rhodey went back to basics to rescue Tony. They'd end up suiting up in their more familiar armors to save the day, and even shared a chuckle over the Iron Patriot concept.

Ultimately, the Iron Patriot was nothing more than Rhodey's chance to be a very public, patriotic hero. However, whenever Norman Osborn makes his inevitable MCU debut, the Iron Patriot armor could fly again, with a much scarier pilot.

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