Tony Stark made 85 Iron Man armors, but his most powerful suit was one that he didn’t even wear himself, even though it appeared in Endgame.
Despite making himself 85 Iron Man armors in the MCU, Tony Stark never actually wore his most powerful armor for a very important reason. His obsessive development of increasingly impressive armors – which was crowned by the integration of nano-technology Iron Man borrowed from Wakanda – was a natural extrapolation of his fear for the safety of the universe and his own helplessness.
From Iron Man 3 onwards – when Tony Stark’s struggles with PTSD in the wake of The Battle of New York came to light and manifested in compulsive inventing – the Iron Man armory swelled well beyond double figures, with some suits designed for incredibly specific functions, like underwater engineering and stealth flight. Ultimately, though they were destroyed by Stark using the Clean Slate Protocol, each prototype helped advance the Iron Man technology in specific ways, helping Tony tailor and refine his main armor, adding abilities, shaving off weight and improving efficiency. They also led to developments of the War Machine armor, the Iron Spider (and Spider-Man’s other Stark armors) and the Hulkbuster. Obviously, it all came at the cost of Ultron, but the advancements were key to resolving the Infinity Saga.
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But Tony’s advancements went beyond the development of the final Iron Man suit he wore in Avengers: Endgame – though the technology was key in allowing him to use the Infinity Stones – because his most powerful suit wasn’t one he wore. It was the Rescue armor he created for Pepper Potts as a strange, but also heartbreaking present for her before the Avengers’ time heist mission. And the fact that he didn’t wear his most powerful Iron Man armor tech says a lot about Tony’s drive throughout the MCU and his constant need to protect his world.
The purple armor, which is seen in full flow in Endgame‘s final battle is a weapon of mass destruction. When Pepper arrives on the battlefield, she quickly demonstrates her armor’s capabilities, taking out Thanos’ ships as easily as Captain Marvel and showing off her floating repulsors to devastating effect. She also takes down a Chitauri Leviathan, putting her on par with Hulk in terms of raw power and massively out-stripping Tony’s Avengers-era armor. While the idea of Tony allowing Pepper to join such a fight, considering his fears over losing loved ones, he created her such a perfect protective shell that she was never really in real danger, which speaks to Tony’s entire motivation – not just in making the armor, but in broader terms.
In Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Tony Stark talks about wanting to put “a suit of armor around the world” and in a way, he succeeded. Starting from the point of the snap at the end of Infinity War through Tony’s isolation in space and finally to Thanos’ first death, his priorities shift noticeably to be about his family. He had, through force, been able to give up being a hero and concentrate on living the life he was running from, but the development of the Rescue armor hinted that Tony still had ties to his past and to his fears that the vision Scarlet Witch showed him in Age Of Ultron could come true. For all of the signs of domestic bliss, Stark was still preparing, it’s just that his idea of his “world” that needed the “suit of armor” shifted. Pepper (and Morgan) were his world at that point, and his commitment to developing her such a powerful suit says everything about his need to protect his family.
Ultimately, Tony always knew he wouldn’t survive the fight, or that he couldn’t always be there – partly because of his repeated attempts to kill himself to save everyone else (twice is enough for any hero). When Thanos said Tony Stark was haunted by knowledge, he was right, but it wasn’t just the knowledge of the world being fragile, it is was the knowledge that he couldn’t always be there to save it. That’s why he wanted the suit of armor around the world, and why he needed to developed his Iron Man armors to the point that he felt comfortable enough to hand one over to Pepper that was powerful enough to protect her in his absence. Yes, it speaks to his arrogance and his egotism, but it’s also a pure expression of Tony Stark’s love too.
Next: Avengers: Endgame – Why Tony Stark Didn’t Build A Thanosbuster Armor
Key Release Dates
- Black Widow (2021)Release date: May 07, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Feb 11, 2022
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
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