Avengers: Endgame is sure to be the swan song of many Avengers, including (probably) everyone’s favorite billionaire, playboy philanthropist, Tony Stark. The former war profiteer has come a long way since 2008, and with each movie he’s been in he’s shown off one or twenty new suits of Iron Man armor.
Here’s a rundown of the suits that Robert Downey Jr. has worn across the first 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the comics they came from. No offense to War Machine, Iron Monger, or even Iron Spider, but the original armor wearer is where it’s at.
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #39 (1963), Iron Man (2008)
Appropriately debuting in the Tales of Suspense issue titled “Iron Man is Born!,” the Mk. I armor was developed by Stark and fellow captive Ho Yinsen after Stark was kidnapped in Vietnam. (In the movie, Vietnam was updated to Afghanistan.) The suit was designed as a pacemaker to keep shrapnel from reaching Stark’s heart, and as in the movie, was used to escape his captors. Stark held onto the armor for a while in the comics, and painted it gold because its initial gray was too scary.
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #48 (1963), Iron Man (2008)
In the film, the Mk. II came about after Stark had returned to his swanky Malibu home and decided to revamp his original armor into the sleek design we all know, just shiny and chrome. The Mk. II was our first sight of the repulsor technology that would be in later iterations, and led to one of the best scenes in the original Iron Man. In the comics, the Mk. II was made after fighting Mister Doll, when Tony realized that the original armor was too cumbersome. One of the Mk. II models was later melted down to help create the Mk. 37.
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #66 (1965), Iron Man (2008)
The very first Iron Man armor to contain repulsor rays and a faceplate in the comics, the Mk. III managed to last 11 years before it had to be replaced. As we see in the movie, it’s the first complete version of the Iron Man armor, granted the red-and-gold color scheme and used to both defeat the Ten Rings terrorists and Obadiah Stane, aka the Iron Monger. This was the last armor in the comics that Stark wore before he got his first solo book.
Mark IV (Iron Man 2)
First Appearance: Iron Man #85 (1976), Iron Man 2 (2010)
A battle with the supervillain known as the Freak destroyed the Mk. III armor. The Mk. IV is one of the models with the longest lifespan, and was worn by Stark’s friend James Rhodes during his tenure as Iron Man. This is typically Stark’s backup suit whenever his modern armors fail him. In Iron Man 2, Stark wore the Mk. IV for most of the film until he completed the Mk. VI.
First Appearance: Iron Man #142 (1981), Iron Man 2 (2010)
There is very little similarity between the Mk. V armor in the comics and that of the film. Where the film’s version is a portable one-off used in the race track fight against Whiplash (and subsequently disposed of), the comics version was meant for space exploration and to fight the villain Sunturion. Because of Stark’s advancements in technology, though, it clearly doesn’t get a lot of play.
First Appearance: Iron Man #218 (1987), Iron Man 2 (2010)
Another suit that has very little similarities between its two versions, the Mk. VI was made in the comics specifically for underwater excursions. Everything was reworked to function in the ocean depths, plus the ability to jettison its wearer if escape was needed. In Iron Man 2, Stark makes the armor after creating a new element for his Arc Reactor. And as we saw in Avengers, it was the first suit to have underwater capabilities — and the first to get all dinged up by Helicarrier blades.
Mark VII (The Avengers)
First Appearance: Iron Man #152 (1981), The Avengers (2012)
Sometimes you need a suit more geared towards stealth, and that’s where the Mk. VII comes in. The Stealth Suit was used to infiltrate a Roxxon space satellite after the Space Armor gave him away, and was later used to infiltrate Soviet airspace during the first Armor Wars. (Long story.) The MCU’s Mk. VII armor is what Stark wears during the final act of The Avengers, and can be activated with a pair of bracelets. Those bracelets also served as the starting point for the...
Mark XLII (Iron Man 3)
First Appearance: Iron Man #1 (2013) , Iron Man 3 (also 2013)
In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark built an assortment of Iron Man suits — a little over 30 in total — as a coping method to distract himself from anxiety, an assemblage of technology known as the Iron Legion, but the Mk. 42 is the only one that really matters.
Thanks to computer chips implanted into his arms, Stark can summon the various pieces of the Mk. 42 to his location at will, and even control it remotely like a drone. The armor in the comics has the same remote control ability, but was created in part thanks to Rocket Raccoon — who inspired the ability to add or detach mods for any situation.
Mark XLIII (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
First Appearance: Iron Man #5 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
After AIM recreated that pesky Extremis virus that he’d dealt with in the comics some years back, Stark decided to go and destroy every sample he could find. His new nonlethal Stealth Suit was created to help him covertly destroy a sample kept in a Columbian drug dealer’s mansion (like ya do). The suit in Age of Ultron, meanwhile, is just a recolored version of his Mk. 42 from his last movie.
First Appearance: Iron Man #4 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Another suit created to destroy Extremis samples in the comics, Stark’s Mk. 44 armor was created so he could fight 13 superhumans at one time. The Heavy Duty armor is tricked out with plenty of firepower to handle them all, along with defensive capabilities to match. The film version, meanwhile, marks the debut of the iconic Hulkbuster armor — which first showed up in the comics as Mk. 13 in Iron Man #300. The Hulkbuster armor got thoroughly messed up during the fight with Hulk in Age of Ultron, but was fixed up by the time of Avengers: Infinity War as the Mk. 49, worn by Bruce Banner.
First Appearance: Iron Man #5 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
After joining the Guardians of the Galaxy, Stark created a brand new space armor so he could travel better without any complications. The suit also has a Saturn V extension made for Lunar landing and can reach jet speeds higher than Mach 10. Age of Ultron’s version was worn during the fateful Battle of Sokovia, which saw Stark use it to destroy the floating country in midair before it could decimate the planet. It was also the first armor to feature the new AI, FRIDAY, as JARVIS had been incorporated into the consciousness of the android Avenger, the Vision.
Mark XLVI (Captain America: Civil War)
First Appearance: Iron Man #5 (2013), Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Created while Stark was gallivanting in space with the Guardians, the Mk. 46 was meant as a mod for the 42 model, but was also allowed for solo use. It doesn’t have any real distinction other than having laser cannons strapped to the shoulders. Civil War’s big difference with the armor is that it’s so portable it can be worn around Stark’s wrist like a watch or kept in the seat of a helicopter.
Mark XLVII (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
First Appearance: Iron Man #15 (2013), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
A mix between Stark’s typical armors and the more heavy weaponry of the War Machine suits, the Mk. 47 is armed to the teeth with missile launchers and gatling guns all over its body. Which is fair, given that he was taking a vacation in space and fighting deadly aliens. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, that version’s Mk. 47 could be controlled remotely, like the Iron Legion, or worn, and it came armed with a set of deployable mini-thrusters.
Mark L (Avengers: Infinity War)
First Appearance: Superior Iron Man #1 (2014), Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Following a spell that inverted his moral code (long story), Tony Stark decided to move to San Francisco and become an evil tech billionaire and transform the city into a tech utopia. Really. His Endo-Sym armor was based primarily off symbiote biology and wrapped around his body like liquid metal. Infinity War’s equivalent of the Mk. 50, however, was based on nanotech that adapted to his thoughts, giving him the ability to instantly form a variety of weapons.
Mark LXXXV (Avengers: Endgame... trailer)
First Appearance: Invincible Iron Man #1 (2015), Avengers: Endgame (2019)
The 85th(!!) armor numerically but the 51st he’s ever built in the MCU, this lovely suit will make its debut at some point in Avengers: Endgame. The 51st armor Stark made in the comics, the Model-Prime, came about after Stark’s armor was reverse engineered by one Riri Williams, who would later become Ironheart. The Model-Prime can change its shape and color for the situation. Doctor Doom would later steal a version of this armor, just in grey with his classic green cape, and use it to try to be a good guy while Tony was dead, becoming the Infamous Iron Man.
So far, we’ve only seen blurry glimpses of the armor in trailers for Avengers: Endgame, but we’ll be sure to get an eye-full when the movie hits theaters. on April 26.
Justin is a Kansas City, Missouri, freelance writer and is on Twitter often, @GigawattConduit. He also is an avid lover of M&M McFlurries from McDonald’s, and accepts that he has an addiction to them.