Tony Stark’s powerful Iron Man armor is capable of a great many things. He can fly, tap into certain computer systems, shrug off conventional weapons, and deliver powerful repulsor blasts. But sometimes, Tony’s in a situation where, as cool as the suit is, it’s just not right for the mission.
In the recently released "Iron Man 2," we got a look at Tony's briefcase armor, a portable version of his standard armor that allowed him to suit up on the go — and defend himself from a surprise attack by Whiplash.
In the comics world, Tony's had a multitude of special armors designed for very specific occasions. We've assembled a list of some of our favorites — because it's only a matter of time before some of them make an appearance in the live-action world, too.
SPACE ARMOR: There have been a few versions of the “space armor” Iron Man over the years. Its life-support system can sustain a person inside for a couple of days, the boots are designed to easily reach escape velocity and the bulkier armor provides extra protection against any enemies who try to breach the suit before Tony is able to get to a safe spaceship or planet. Of course, this also made the armor very cumbersome and slow once Tony was anywhere that involved gravity.
For one mission, Tony reworked the space armor into a special “Ablative Armor” model. This suit was composed of layers of high-impact polymer tiles. If Tony got hit, the damaged plates would fall off and a polymer kiln would produce new ones to snap into place. While this was good for high-impact environments, the life-support system was largely sacrificed so Tony would have only an hour of air.
STEALTH ARMOR: Built for covert recon missions, the stealth armors have utilized several tricks, such as force-field manipulation, so as to be invisible to detection. Special units negate the sound of its boot jets and a micro-turbine system that uses liquid oxygen jets kept the boot’s thrust emissions from showing up on thermal scans. The exterior was also designed to blend in with surroundings.
The third model of this armor completely used ceramics rather than metal and was equipped with holographic projectors so Tony could hide from human sight. The drawback of the stealth armor is a sacrifice in protection and weaponry. The original model had no weapons at all. Later models had a maximum firepower of three shots.
HYDRO ARMOR: Tony’s suit can handle being underwater without short-circuiting, but if he expects to really dive down low or to stick around for a meeting with the people of Atlantis, he needs something else.
The Hydro armor is specially designed to deal with increasing atmospheric pressure and has life-support equipment that can keep Tony alive just fine for about two days. Claws on the boots help with moving across the ocean floor and the boot jets were rigged for silent running. This suit had special tricks such as sonar-invisibility, mini-torpedoes, an ink-cloud dispersal to blind enemies, and an electrical discharge against anyone who attempted to breach the armor.
If all else failed, Tony could jettison the Hydro Armor and it would release him to the surface, his body protected by a smaller escape suit.
HULKBUSTER ARMOR: After facing the Hulk a few times, Tony decided to get serious about it. The “Hulkbuster” outfit was not really a suit itself but rather an exoskeleton that fit over Tony’s regular armor.
The exo-skeleton provided extra layers of protection from the Hulk’s fists and its magno-hydraulic frame nearly doubled Iron Man’s strength. It also had special radiation detectors so that Tony could track the Hulk’s gamma ray signature (as if the path of destruction he left wasn't a good enough trail).
THORBUSTER ARMOR: At times, Tony and Thor have disagreed. When it seemed that Thor was causing an international incident, Iron Man decided to step in. This exoskeleton that fitted over Iron Man’s regular armor caused a reduction in speed and maneuverability for the sake of having extra strength and protection against the thunder god. Experimental repulsors allowed for kinetic energy to be delivered with each punch.
The Thorbuster suit is the only time Tony has utilized a combination of science and magic. The power source was a strange, mystic jewel that Thor had found. The armor could thus channel a great deal of energy and could absorb Thor’s lightning and send it back. Despite all this, however, Tony had not perfected the exoskeleton and Thor was able to shrug off its weapons long enough to literally rip it off of Tony.
And that about wraps it up for our boy Tony. With Thor and possibly the Hulk fated to meet Iron Man in future films, is there a chance we’ll see some version of the Thorbuster or Hulkbuster looks? Might we possibly see the stealth, space or hydro armor in "Iron Man 3"?
Only time — and your diligent crew here at Splash Page — will tell.
What are some of your favorite specialty armors worn by Iron Man? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!