Superheroes don't only have powers that make them superior to the common man -- they sometimes need tools to help them win the day. While a lot of superhero work can come down to powers one has, or the skills one has honed over years of rigorous training, sometimes things are different. Sometimes, it’s all about the fit. The right armor can take a character from completely powerless to a force to be reckoned with, and turn an already formidable hero into something truly powerful -- like Batman doing his best Tony Stark impression. While we do feel that it's the person behind the helmet that makes the hero, it doesn't hurt to have a metal shell to protect them.
As comic fans, all of us have become used to Marvel running the show when it comes to suits of powered armor, and that’s understandable. They’ve not only got the most recognizable armored hero in Iron Man, but they’ve also got War Machine, Ironheart and more, all the way to Norman Osborn rocking the Iron Patriot suit. Sometimes it can feel like half their characters are about the heavy metal. Still, while DC may not have the star power that Marvel does, they’re no slouch when it comes to crafting some sweet suits, and over the years, they’ve introduced some pretty impressive equipment rocking heavy duty firepower. From hi-tech, decommissioned military prototypes to suits forged by Superman in the heart of a star, these are the twenty of the most powerful suits of armor in the DC Universe.
20 AGENT LIBERTY
As things go, the Agent Liberty armor is probably the least impressive suit on this list. Given to former CIA agent Benjamin Lockwood by the Sons of Liberty after he quit working for the government due to disillusion, it’s not exactly outfitted with what you’d expect from most armors. It doesn’t grant super strength or speed, and its flight is achieved through a janky jetpack.
Still, it offers a fairly decent force-field that could also turn into a Totally Not-Captain America Shield, along with a bunch of neat espionage type gadgets like knives kept in the suit’s forearms. It’s pretty impressive for a bootleg organization no one had ever heard of like the Sons of Liberty.
19 RAPTOR ARMOR
Originally designed by Lex Luthor and meant to be used for military application, this suit of armor was scrapped after he realized a fatal flaw in the suit caused it to leak toxic levels of radiation that would kill its wearer. Nonetheless, the prototype was stolen and used briefly by a couple of different pilots before being destroyed.
The raptor armor is tricked out, offering an exoskeleton for improved strength, gloves that shot napalm, and the ability to fly thanks to its boot jets. It was pretty tough too -- made out of a mixture of titanium and lead, it shrugged off gunfire and was only brought down when its own weapons were turned against it.
18 QUANTUM STEALTH ARMOR
In the New 52/Rebirth era, the Blackhawks have been reborn -- instead of being a group of World War II pilots, they serve now as a group working under Hawkman and Hawkgirl to battle against impossible enemies threatening the world. In All-Star Batman #7, Scott Snyder and Tula Lotay introduced this version of the characters, and their special Quantum Stealth armor.
Taken quite literally, this armor specifically makes them invisible to sight by any practical or technological means, fooling people into seeing things that aren’t there. For certain this isn’t one of the more powerful suits on this list, though with the training and equipment the Blackhawks have, not being able to detect their arrival is pretty scary.
17 ROCKET RED
The Rocket Red Brigade was meant to be the Soviet Union’s answer to the America and it’s constant influx of superheroes. While they were first introduced in Steve Englehart and Joe Staton’s Green Lantern Corps #208, the group got most of their usage in Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire’s JLI comic.
Partially constructed by Kilowog of the Green Lantern Corps during a time where the Corps was spending probably way too much time on Earth considering they had an entire universe to look after, the Rocket Red armor simulates a variety of superpowers, including super strength, flight, energy projection, and the ability to control machinery to an extent.
16 SILVER SCARAB
The Silver Scarab was the original identity of Hector Hall, son of Carter Hall, on the original Earth-2 during the early '80s. Making his first appearance in Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway’s All-Star Squadron Vol. 1 #25, the Silver Scarab armor was made purely out of the legendary Nth metal that grants Carter most of his special abilities and weaponry.
As the Silver Scarab, Hector had the ability to fly, but also shoot beams of solar energy. With this armor in his possession, Hall went on to become a member of Infinity Inc, a group consisting of the children of the JSA.
In the aftermath of a battle with the Joker, the world believed Batman was gone for good -- but there must always be a Batman. So thanks to an armor created by designs from Powers Industries based off of Bruce Wayne's ideas, Gotham would see the rise of a new version of Batman. This one would be under the direct employ of the GCPD, with Commissioner James Gordon taking over the role.
The armor would make up for the new Batman’s lack of training, featuring a wide variety of weapons including shoulder mounted rocket launchers, rocket boots, and arm cannons. And a sweet gun that fires Batarangs, though that was mostly for when Gordon got out of the suit.
When former superhero sidekick Stripesy Pat Dugan discovered his step-daughter was going superheroing, Pat surprisingly decided the best thing he could do was accompany her. So he built a giant suit of armor and became the superhero S.T.R.I.P.E. to use in battle. S.T.R.I.P.E. pushes the very limits of what can be accepted as armor on this list, as it’s not form-fitting at all and really feels more like a tiny mecha he’s piloting -- it even has a fridge!
Still, it’s no joke when it comes to combat, with lasers and missile launchers built into the suit, along with allowing him to fly and serving as a means of boosting his strength several times over.
Batwing is what happens if Batman were to decide to trick his day to day costume out as much as possible. While current Batwing Luke Fox is a talent fighter, his true skill is being an engineer, and it shows. His suit contains a variety of next level, cutting edge technology, including the ability to turn himself invisible, realistic holograph tech, shock charges, and special nanites that can be programmed to carry out different functions.
And thanks to the advanced computing tech in his armor, he can also hack into complex systems without ever leaving the field. It’s almost impossible to be a part of Batman’s world without embracing tech, and Batwing has clearly decided to be the best with it.
12 BATMAN BEYOND
As Bruce aged to a point where being Batman was becoming untenable, he sought to find any way to avoid putting up the cape and cowl. But after he was eventually forced to retire, his new and improved Batsuit would sit on the shelf for around 20 years. It wouldn’t be until Terry McGinnis donned the costume in the year 2039 that the suit would be put through its paces.
True to the Batman of the future, the Beyond suit grants flight, vastly improved strength, the ability to shoot different “types” of Batarangs, and enough surveillance equipment built in to make the NSA jealous.
11 LEX LUTHOR'S WARSUIT
For a couple decades post-Crisis, Luthor wasn’t really the type of villain that got his hands dirty fighting Superman. He settled instead for operating behind the scenes, using his vast resources to make the Man of Steel’s life as difficult as possible. But during the run up to "Infinite Crisis", Luthor finally admitted there’s nothing like doing the work yourself.
His warsuit offers vastly increased strength and weapons that helped him deal not just with Kryptonians, but anyone. For a time in the Rebirth era he used this outfit to emulate Superman, but he’s back to is original ways again in the current Justice League series.
John Henry Irons started out like a lot of people in Metropolis -- someone who was saved by Superman. One major thing made him stand out, though, and that was that he was a genius weapons engineer and, after seeing Superman perish fighting Doomsday, he knew he had to do something.
Finishing a prototype suit of armor originally meant for use by the Army, he took to the streets of Metropolis to protect it in the absence of Superman himself. Fortunately, the armor is more than up to the task -- boosting his strength enough to lift up to 70 tons, and durable enough to survive everything from gunfire to atmospheric re-entry. All of this is without mentioning his sweet kinetic hammer, which hits with greater force the further it’s thrown.
9 SILENT ARMOR
Originally Cassie Sandsmark was the daughter of Zeus, and after multiple adventures working alongside Diana she found herself granted powers by Zeus himself. But in the New 52 timeline, Zeus isn’t nearly so generous, so Cassie had to find another way to become a hero. Enter the Silent Armor, an alien weapon created at the heart of a sun.
The armor offers Cassie the standard pack of superpowers -- strength, flight, speed, stamina, and resistance to most attacks. It can also generate a lasso similar to Wonder Woman’s, though it’s not at all interested in getting the truth from its captives. The only downside to the armor is if the user doesn’t maintain strict control, the armor will take over and go berserk.
8 AZRAEL'S BAT-ARMOR (REBIRTH)
In the New 52/Rebirth continuity, Azrael never got to enjoy a stint working as Batman, but during the Detective Comics story “Intelligence” by James Tynion and Alvaro Martinez he got pretty close. After his consciousness was overridden by the Order of St. Dumas’ errant AI Ascalon, the Gotham Knights needed a way to get him back in the game.
To do so, Luke Fox would introduce an improved version of the Suit of Sorrows, this time with an AI based on Batman’s moral code implanted to help them save the day. Though this suit helped Jean Paul overcome Ascalon, he sadly didn’t stay in it for very long before reverting to an altered version of his usual outfit.
7 IKON SUIT
You know your suit is awesome when it helps you go one on one with Superman. In the early parts of Deathstroke’s current ongoing, Slade Wilson finds a new outfit made by an old inventor friend, David Isherwood. The suit has a gravity sheath that can be manipulated in ways to allow flight repel attacks.
Its defense system gets stronger the smaller the surface area being attacked, making Slade impervious to everything from bullet damage all the way up to punches from the Man of Steel himself, after he gets sent to shut down Slade. It’s one major flaw is the suit’s highly advanced AI can be hacked, but that’s easy enough to get around when you’re an assassin most people don’t even see coming.
6 WONDER WOMAN'S GOLDEN ARMOR
The Golden Armor made its first appearance in Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come mini-series, but apparently a bunch of creators thought it looked way too cool to be left in an Elseworlds universe, so it was brought over to DC’s main “New Earth” continuity. In that world it’s created by Amazonian inventor Pallas.
Aside from looking awesome, it grants Diana the power of flight, a power which creators tend to go back and forth on if she has or doesn’t have it, and a greater protection against most forms of attack. Being that she’s Wonder Woman, she doesn’t tend to wear this, and if she has you know things have gotten real.
5 DARKSTAR EXO-MANTLE
The Darkstars were introduced in the early '90s as something of an alternative to the Green Lantern Corps, created by the Guardians’ brother group, the Controllers. The armor, known as an “exo-mantle”, allowed its user to have increased speed, strength, and the ability to generate force fields.
While they felt like a poor replacement for the Corps in the 90’s after Hal Jordan went all Parallax, the group recently made a much more impressive showing in the closing arc of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. In “Darkstars Rising”, the Darkstars powerful teleportation tech and vast numbers nearly defeat the far more experienced Lanterns, long boasted to hold the most powerful weapons in the universe.
4 STEEL (NATASHA)
Sometimes being a superhero runs in the family. After years of watching her uncle risk his life protecting Metropolis and working in the JLA, it was hard for Natasha Irons not to want to follow in his footsteps. While her uncle’s armor is a little more “realistic” for an exoskeleton, Natasha’s Steel outfit pushes the limits of technology, with her wearing a suit of sentient chrome that can be shaped to form her armor.
Much like her John Henry, the suit grants her a degree of super strength, the ability to fly, and incredible durability -- plus she gets an even cooler looking version of her uncle’s kinetic hammer.
3 ANTI-JUSTICE LEAGUE ARMOR
Ever since "Tower of Babel" we’ve known that Batman has a plan for taking out the Justice League. This armor is what happened if Bats decided to update those plans after a marathon of mecha anime. Introduced in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s "Endgame" storyline, Batman breaks this out after the Joker finds a way to control the minds of his teammates in the League.
It’s packed with all sorts of unique weapons, like a Bind of Veils with the opposite power from Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, and miniaturized red suns that allow the armor to go toe to toe with Superman by reducing his strength.
At some point or another everyone’s wondered what happens when the Justice League is dealing with situations so intense that a powerless (though genius) mortal like Batman would be in incredible danger. Well, as always Batman has a plan for even that eventuality, and it’s known as the Hellbat.
Designed using the help of the entire Justice League, the armor itself was forged in the sun, and gives Bruce increased strength, flight, and can be reformed at will to create various weapons. The downside is it can easily end someone if they use it too much—so of course Batman field-tested it by fighting Darkseid. Well, at least he knows for sure it works now.
1 ENTROPY AEGIS
John Henry Irons has always been at the forefront of technology made by Earthlings, but in the aftermath of the major DC event "Our Worlds at War" he was granted an army created by the gods themselves. Utilizing the leftover armor from one of Imperiex’s nigh-invincible probes, Darkseid tricked the suit out with as much Apokolips tech as possible.
We rarely got to see the limits of this suit because it was so ridiculously powerful, giving Irons the ability to absorb and redirect all manner of energy types and teleport across the universe as he wished. The downside to this suit is it led to Irons eventually succumbing to Darkseid’s control, leading a number of heroes to have to pry it off him forcefully. Yikes.