The world’s favorite member of the Avengers is known for his inventiveness and creativity, and nowhere are these traits more evident than in the Iron Man armor itself. Since he famously first assembled the bulky grey armor in a cave…with a box of scraps, Tony Stark has never stopped tinkering with the design, modifying it with one unique idea after another. It’s always exciting when Tony brings out a new armor, and every Iron Man writer, artist, and director has relished the chance to lend their own little touch to the classic design.
But sometimes, Tony’s new armor inventions have been, honestly, a little weird.
Adding a nose to the armor’s faceplate is bizarre enough. But that’s only the beginning of the story, and between magical armors and suits built out of billions of little tiles, Tony has proven on numerous occasions that his creativity knows no limits. Let’s take a look at Iron Man’s 15 Weirdest Armors Of All Time.
15. The “Nasal” Armor
There’s one thing you’ve got to give Tony Stark: he always looks cool. The guy has completely redesigned his greatest invention from scratch over and over again, between new capabilities, new materials, and new color schemes. Yet every time Iron Man appears on the scene, whether he’s armed with repulsors or rocket launchers, his style can never be questioned.
Well, except this time.
Yes, for a period of time, Iron Man’s armor had a nose. The true story is that Stan Lee, upon seeing an Iron Man cover, made an offhand comment asking “Hey, where’s the nose?,” meaning that he thought the helmet looked as if it was too tight to Tony’s face for a nose to fit. However, this comment was misinterpreted by the others as meaning that Stan wanted a nose on the armor, so it was added. The forced in-story explanation for the Iron Nose was that Tony redesigned the mask to “allow a bit more expression” and thus “increase the fearsome aspects of my character.” Sorry Tony, but none of the readers are buying it. In fact, no one in the Marvel Universe bought it either, with many characters remarking on how ridiculous Iron Man’s nose hole looked. Luckily, the “Nasal” armor was relatively short-lived, and has not reemerged since.
14. The Ablative Armor
So hey, how about an armor composed entirely of little moving tiles? That’s what we’ve got here.
Basically, picture those bicycle helmets that are specifically designed to break on impact, as a way to absorb the shock of the crash and thus protect the bicyclist’s head. That’s the sort of design Tony was going for with this armor, made entirely of little tiles that are designed in such a way to — you guessed it — break on impact. The only difference is that the armor is also equipped with a force field that holds it all together and reconfigures the tiles when they break, since otherwise, the man inside might be in trouble. Once a tile was broken, it pops off and another one slides into its place. New tiles are constantly being generated, and they are even capable of separating from the armor and doing their own thing.
13. Sorcerer Supreme Armor
Tony Stark is definitely no Doctor Strange. In fact, he’s not the kind of guy who cares for magic whatsoever. So the idea of a gearhead like Tony even thinking about incorporating magic into his very tech-based armor is rather weird, though in all fairness, this particular storyline takes place in an alternate universe.
In this parallel reality, Tony and Dr. Strange get in a terrible car accident, which injures Strange so badly that he’s unable to cast spells. Though Tony attempts to use science to cure Strange’s nerve damage, he instead finds himself pulled in the direction of the magical arts. So when Tony realizes he needs to protect the world from Dormammu, he suits up — combining his knowledge of both science and magic to create this “Sorcerer Supreme” armor, a suit powered by the Eye of Agamotto instead of the arc reactor. All of the suit’s regular functions are magically-powered, and it comes with an onboard CPU stocked full of an encyclopedia’s worth of spells. Crazy stuff.
12. The “Endo-Sym” Symbiote Armor
The alien symbiotes that Spider-Man gets tangled up with may be dangerous entities — Venom is bad, and Carnage is even worse — but the abilities they possess are pretty incredible. It’s no huge surprise that an inventor like Tony would look at something like the Venom symbiote and that his mind would start buzzing with possibilities.
Based on the biology of the symbiotes, and with cells from the symbiotes incorporated into the armor’s design, the Endo-Sym armor that Tony wears during the Superior Iron Man series is a liquid metal that bonds with its user just as the symbiotes do, with both Tony and the armor feeling a sort of psychic connection to one another. The suit’s normal state is a liquefied form, but it is telepathically commanded by Tony to bond to him and solidify into an armor. Unlike the symbiotes, the Endo-Sym armor does not possess its own personality, intelligence, or sharp teeth, which is definitely a blessing.
11. The 1602 Armor
And now, let’s go from an armor that is super high-tech and futuristic to one that is…actually, rather old-fashioned. Marvel 1602 was a series created by Neil Gaiman, once that depicted a world wherein many of the classic Marvel heroes and villains existed during the Elizabethan era — specifically, in the year 1602 — and thus appeared in altered forms more befitting the era they live in.
In the world of 1602, Anthony Stark is Lord Iron, a man who is taken captive during the Anglo-Spanish war and forced to make weapons, after being subjected to torture by this universe’s version of Bruce Banner (here named David). Later on, after Banner becomes the Hulk, Stark is summoned by the king of England to track Banner down.
Lord Iron requires his massive armor in order to survive, and in the year 1602, he definitely sticks out from a crowd. Lord Iron’s armor is powered by “lightning bottles,” and seemingly keeps Stark alive purely through electricity.
10. The Teen Tony Armor
Okay, so to start with, the whole Teen Tony storyline is one of the weirder things to ever happen in Iron Man comics, and it’s definitely a plot that we shouldn’t expect to see get adapted into the movies anytime soon. Basically, in “The Crossing,” what happens is that Tony Stark gets mentally unwound by Kang the Conquerer, resulting in him becoming a bad guy and donning a weird set of armor — don’t worry, we’ll come back to that armor here in a bit. In response to Iron Man becoming a traitor to the Avengers, the team goes back in time and picks up a teenage version of Tony to help them defeat the evil adult one.
So for a time, Teen Tony became the “regular” Iron Man. Until the whole thing got retconned, of course, and regular Tony came back.
Anyway, the first armor that Teen Tony wears is a really spiky prototype designed by adult Tony, but it doesn’t last long. After that, he starts building his own armor, and it turns out to be rather unusually proportioned. Assembled piece by piece over an extended period of time, the final result has some rather enormous gauntlets, huge hands, huge fingers, giant shoulder pads, and other odd features.
9. The Crossing Armor
Now that we’ve talked about those giant hands and enormous gauntlets that Teen Tony built for himself, we can come back to the wacky stuff that evil adult Tony was doing in the meantime. Surely, while it’s understandable that a teenager might have some silly ideas, the mature adult Tony would never design something so ridiculous, so garish, so…
Oh, wait. Looks like adult Tony wanted to have super-giant gauntlets too. Awesome.
In addition to that eeeeeevil new faceplate, complete with more menacing eyes and a downturned mouth so that you know he’s angry, this armor also comes prepackaged with those really weird things jutting out of his shoulders for no discernable reason. Technology-wise, it has some new features and all, but it’s the design that really earns it a spot on this list. It’s not Tony’s finest moment, for sure. But now that we’ve run the gamut on giant hands, let’s move on to another frequently used appendage, and see what happens when those gets bloated as well.
8. The Hyperspace-Ready, Super Big-Footed High Gravity Armor
Okay, so there’s at least a reason for this one, so that earns it points over the last two. No argument there. But yes, that’s right, we’ve now gone from giant hands to giant feet. Can’t have both, though, only one at a time.
This armor was designed to handle the stronger gravity conditions of hyperspace travel, keeping Tony safe at 50 Gs. The combination of magnetism, mobility software, and hardware within the armor itself made it possible for Tony to move around, though the armor itself didn’t prevent him from nausea, sickness, loss of consciousness, and other side effects of hyperspace conditions. However, it was capable of cleaning and disinfecting itself if he threw up, which is a handy thing for an armor to do. It also ensured that all blood flow remained in his limbs instead of getting stuffed into his torso. All in all, it’s a pretty useful design, created for a specific purpose. The next armor is similar in nature, though with its own odd aesthetics.
7. The Hydro Armor
Hey, a guy’s gotta go underwater sometimes, right? It’s not such a surprise that Tony would have an armor specifically designed for underwater operations, considering that he has an armor specifically designed for pretty much everything else. Most of Iron Man’s suits are capable of functioning to a limited extent while under the surface, but the Hydro Armor is capable of going three miles below sea level.
The Hydro Armor has all of the standard features of the regular Iron Man suits, but reconfigured to be more effective underwater. That means carefully adapted repulsor beams, more life support, grapples, a feature that fires an underwater electric shock, and the ability to release an inky chemical like an octopus.
The armor is designed so that it can eject itself from Iron Man’s body at any time, which explains its unusual bubble-headed appearance; basically, when Iron Man wears his hydro gear, he’s wearing an armor inside another armor. But hey, it gets the job done.
6. The Thorbuster Armor
Everyone always talks about the Hulkbuster armor, which made its cinematic debut in the second Avengers film, and it’s easy to see why. But while Tony did design an armor that could take on a monster, he also designed an armor that could take on a god. A Norse god, to be specific.
During a period in which the mighty Thor attempts to take over the planet, Tony Stark decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands…by making a Thorbuster armor. Using the design of the Asgardian menace the Destroyer as a template, the Thorbuster armor combines Stark’s technology with the magic of Odin — see, here’s the second magical armor so far —and the whole thing is powered by an Asgardian crystal, capable of absorbing Asgardian energies.
The Thorbuster armor proves powerful enough to stop Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, in mid-flight, which is no easy feat. Every system on the armor uses magic energy, and it is highly resilient against all types of blows, hits, and blasts.
5. The Heroes Reborn Armor
Referred to in the storyline as the Prometheum armor, this rather unique looking suit was exclusive to the Heroes Reborn universe, a temporary reset of many major Marvel characters that was later undone.
While most of Iron Man’s armors tend to be clean and simplified in appearance, the Heroes Reborn armor took a different approach: steel cords, lots of tubing, and two massive exhaust pipes on the back that allow the armor to release heat. Though just a prototype, Tony was required to wear this armor’s chestplate at all times in order to keep his heart beating and his lungs functioning properly. The suit didn’t have an arc reactor, and had to constantly be recharged in order to keep pumping.
All-in-all, the Prometheum armor was a fresh take on the classic Iron Man armors that we’ve seen before, though it’s far more gritty and less high-tech than the readers were used to. Once Heroes Reborn was finished, and Iron Man returned to the regular Marvel Universe, this armor didn’t come with him. Though that makes sense, since the regular Tony’s concepts and designs have definitely advanced to a far more futuristic level by this point.
4. The Iron Man of 2020
Okay, so at this point, 2020 is only a couple of years away, but back when the Iron Man of 2020 was first introduced in 1984, it was a long ways off. Still, the time-traveling Iron Man of 2020 has reappeared on a number of occasions.
This Iron Man is actually Arno Stark, Tony’s first cousin once removed, and he’s no hero. Instead, Arno dons his armor to perform the tasks of a mercenary, and after he inherits Stark Industries, he uses the suit to take down his competitors for capitalist gain. Though Arno’s armor was (at the time) hypothetically quite far in the future, the functions of his armor aren’t especially more advanced than Tony’s, though he does possess flicker blades, a magnetic tractor beam, and ultra pulse bolts, as well as a protective measure against EMP blasts.
3. The Iron Man of 2099
While we’re at it, let’s venture even further into the future — all the way to the year 2099. Though there have been a couple different universes depicting different versions of the year 2099 — most notably, the one where Miguel O’Hara’s Spider-Man crawls through New York in a Day of the Dead costume — the Iron Man of 2099 that we’re concerned with here is Andros Stark, from the animated series Iron Man: Armored Adventures.
Andros Stark is Tony Stark’s grandson, hailing from a possible future where Tony’s creation of an artificial intelligence named Vortex ends up causing the total annihilation of humankind. Andros, as one might expect, goes back in time to prevent this all from happening.
Andros’s armor is far more advanced that anything that Tony has worn, with Andros even commenting that it’s like comparing a supercomputer against a handheld calculator. The armor is a modified version of Tony’s extremis armor, but far more advanced, and even more connected to Andros’s body, granting him regenerative abilities, immortality, the ability to psychically integrate with other computers, and the capability to travel through time.
2. The Excalibur Armor
As if the blond ponytail wasn’t weird enough — yes, once you see it, you can’t un-see it — the Excalibur armor represents yet another time that Tony gets all magical on us. But believe it or not, this one is the strangest mystical armor yet.
This time, what happens is that Tony’s regular armor gets fused to the magical energies of Excalibur, the legendary sword that, according to mythology, was passed down to King Arthur from the Lady of the Lake. This fusion made some big changes to the armor’s appearance, as well as endowed it with all kinds of magical properties, replacing all of its usual tech-based capabilities. The suit is totally invulnerable, and according to that wacky old wizard Merlin, its power source is actually Tony Stark’s pure will.
Tony, for his part, claims the whole Excalibur/armor fusion is just an accident. We’re suspicious he just doesn’t have a good explanation for the whole blond ponytail thing, particularly after he got teased so much about the nasal armor.
1. The Good Old Golden Armor
Gotta end with a classic.
Now look, nobody’s questioning the look of the original gray armor, which was famously brought to life in the first Iron Man movie. Though bulky and cumbersome, it’s absolutely an iconic design, and more importantly, it was built with a purpose: Tony had found himself in a bad situation, needed to escape, so he built an armor out of any materials available to him. Makes sense.
The gold armor, however, was a step too far. To be honest, this has less to do with the armor itself, and more to do with the reasoning behind it. Evidently, Tony decided that the gray color of his armor was too scary. The biggest inspiration came from a date, Marion Rodgers, who told Tony that Iron Man could really use a nice paintjob, so that he’d better resemble a knight in shining armor. As you can see above, Tony took this to heart, and the gold suit was born. This didn’t last too long, of course, before being replaced by the first iteration of the classic red and gold color scheme that the world now knows so well.
What other weird armors has Tony Stark donned that we forgot about? What bizarre modification has Tony made to the suit? Let us know in the comments!