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Iron Man’s Endgame suit was meant to speak to both his character arc and attachments

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Marvel’s head of visual development talks Iron Man tech

Iron man, in a red and gold suit with a glowing heart-shaped arc reactor, projects a blue shield. Hawkeye is in the background. They are in a lab. Marvel Studios

Avengers: Endgame was the culmination not only of Marvel Studios’ ambitious Infinity Saga, but also the final cap on Tony Stark’s character in the MCU. Resolution for his character arc was important, but much like the time travel suits featured in Endgame, visually representing Tony’s arc was also an important design task.

The design saga for Tony’s Endgame suit, the Mark 85, began with the Mark 50, the suit he uses in Avengers: Infinity War. Building off the fluid design lines and nanotech integration from the Mark 50 suit, the design team had a certain degree of flexibility when it came to tackling the Mark 85.

Iron Man in Avengers: Infinity War.
The Mark 50 suit.
Marvel Studios

“[Concept artist] Phil Saunders designed the Mark 50 from Infinity War, and having Tony push into nanotech meant that we could do a lot of very interesting things with the [Mark 85],” Ryan Meinerding, head of visual development at Marvel Studios, told Polygon. “When we got into Endgame, there was a push to bring a little bit more of the classic MCU Iron Man into it.”

Endgame’s Mark 85 features a mask that retracts into the helmet itself, accompanied by a faceplate that can slam down and still provide what Meinerding describes as an “older visual.” Retaining the more fluid design elements of the Mark 50, the pieces of the Mark 85 are more separate, including a shoulder pauldron — essentially a large shoulder covering — that sits apart from the chest piece. Furthermore, the color scheme is very classic Iron Man, drawing influence from his armor in the comics that features gold shoulders, arms, thighs, and knees. The suit, in its totality, is supposed to echo the nature of Endgame itself.

“All that stuff was really fun to roll into one,” Meinerding said. “Hopefully, that speaks to the cumulative element [of Endgame] and feels like it is a big enough end for him.”

Avengers: Endgame - Iron Man’s helmet Photo: Marvel Studios

One final detail of the Mark 50 that also carried over to the Mark 85 speaks explicitly to Tony’s attachments — a vaguely heart-shaped arc reactor. Saunders worked on the designs for both the Mark 50 and Pepper’s “Rescue” suit simultaneously, and incorporated similarly-shaped chest R.T.s in both suits that were meant to speak to their connection.

“When we were doing the more classic armor for the Mark 85, there was a moment where we considered making it into a circle to sort of speak to not only the more classic MCU suits but the actual classic armor from the comics as well,” Meinerding said. “But I was really happy to try and push to keep that heart shape in there, and I didn’t even know about the ‘I love you 3000’ thing. I just was trying to keep the connection with Pepper, but I think it speaks to his journey that he got to a place where the symbol on his chest is a heart.”

Avengers: Endgame is currently available for digital purchase and will be released on 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD on Aug. 13.