Though they exist in separate universes, Batman and Iron Man have always been compared to one another. It’s understandable; the heroes share plenty of traits. Both men are rich beyond reason, smarter than most of their peers and spend their free time chasing down the bad guys. In many ways, they’re equals, and as a result the “Batman vs. Iron Man” argument is always a close one.
That said, there are things that Iron Man can do that Batman can’t. We’ve seen them on full display in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and in the comics. Whether these abilities make him a better hero than the Dark Knight is always up for debate – this list won’t argue for one or other, it’ll simply point out the abilities that are distinctly unique to Iron Man.
Here are 15 Things Iron Man Can Do That Batman Can’t.
15. Iron Man Can Be In Two Places At Once
In the world of supers, there’s always someone who needs saving. But sometimes, like in Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3, there can be more than one crisis at a time. While Batman can (and has) split the work between himself and a partner, Iron Man can multitask.
In Iron Man 3, Aldrich Killian’s henchman Savin boards Air Force One and kidnaps President Ellis using the Iron Patriot suit. On his way out, Savin blasts a few holes through the plane’s body, causing the rest of the crew to fall out. Iron Man arrives on the scene and saves everyone, using the “barrel of monkeys” tactic. After appearing to get hit by a truck, we learn that Tony himself was actually safe aboard a boat with Rhodes, piloting the suit remotely.
While he was saving all these people, Tony was simultaneously tracking down Killian in order to save Pepper and the president. Thanks to Mark 42 of his iconic armor, Tony could effectively be in two places at once.
14. Iron Man Could Heal Himself
The Extremis storyline only appeared in the MCU in Iron Man 3, but was a six-issue story arc in the comics. The storyline was well-received by fans, and is considered one of the best Iron Man plots. Extremis, created by Aldrich Killian, is referred to as a virus, but is designed to help the body. It would hack the brain’s “repair center” so that the body could sustain and actually heal nearly any injury.
In the movies, it’s Pepper Potts who is briefly a host of Extremis, giving Gwyneth Paltrow a strong action scene. In the comics, Tony himself uses Extremis, though only temporarily. With his superhuman healing abilities, Tony could regrow organs and his cardiovascular and respiratory systems became much stronger. Though Batman can take a hit – he did come back from a broken spine – he can’t actually heal himself with superhuman abilities.
13. Iron Man Could Work Without A Body
Though he briefly had superhuman healing abilities, Iron Man has proved he doesn’t even need a body to save the day. In Ultimates Disassembled, Tony Stark – having returned as Iron Man after a short break – is killed by Quicksilver. Trying to capture the Power Gem in Tony’s head, Reed Richards tries to upload his brainwaves to a computer.
However, Tony’s brain was changed by the Gem, and his actual consciousness is uploaded. Even without his body, Tony hacks into the system and stops Reed. For good measure, Tony then remotely accesses an old Iron Man suit to help the Ultimates in the final battle.
12. Iron Man Can Fly
Arguably the most basic ability on this list, Iron Man can fly. When he is taken captive by a terrorist group during a business trip, Tony Stark devises an escape plan. Instead of building the men a weapon as instructed, he creates the very first iteration of the Iron Man suit.
Mark I was much bulkier than the later versions of the armor, given Tony created the suit in an underground bunker, but the technology was revolutionary. The suit included built-in flamethrowers, a rocket launcher and the very first version of the arc reactor. Most importantly for Tony’s escape, the suit utilized jet boots, making flight possible.
11. Iron Man Can Travel To Space Easily
Both Iron Man and Batman have had their fair share of adventures in space. There’s even a “Space Batman” figure in the LEGO universe. But Batman’s travels have been much different than Iron Man’s. Tony Stark has left Earth’s atmosphere several times, the most notable journey being in The Avengers. In order to stop a nuke from decimating Manhattan, Iron Man uses all the power his suit can give him to re-route the missile into the black hole opened by Loki.
The suit doesn’t last long, but Tony is able to save the day at the last possible second. For Bruce Wayne, getting to space is much more of a process, as his suit alone cannot take him. Instead, he needs a ship, or the help of another hero. He couldn’t make the journey needed if he were in the same situation.
10. Iron Man Can Work Alone
As a member of the Avengers, Iron Man has plenty of help when he needs it. With a super-soldier, a Norse God, and – as Tony phrases it – “a man with breathtaking anger management issues” as friends, Iron Man could take on almost anyone. The thing is, he doesn’t always want the help. More often than not, Iron Man works with the Avengers only when he feels like it, and was reluctant to join in the first place. The closest thing he has to a sidekick is his best friend James Rhodes, but as War Machine, Rhodes has his own missions to worry about.
On the contrary, Batman almost always has a sidekick. Over the years, the role of Robin the Boy Wonder has been taken on by countless different characters. The dynamic duo are always thought of together. In the Christopher Nolan movie franchise, Robin’s story is almost entirely ignored. Instead, Catwoman takes his place. She starts as an adversary to Batman, but later the two end up working together. Then of course, there’s Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s trusty butler. Batman might be the Dark Knight, but he’s certainly not a Lone Knight.
9. Iron Man Can Trust People
He may not always play well with others, but for the most part Iron Man trusts his cohorts. Unless they’ve given real reason for him not to trust them, like S.H.I.E.L.D in MCU’s Phase 1, Tony will do what he can to help the team he’s part of. He’s never immediately doubtful, as evidenced by his genuine surprise over Natasha’s true role in Iron Man 2. Where Tony is mostly just skeptical overall, Batman has real trust issues.
After witnessing the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne swears to avenge them and as a result, struggles to have deep, meaningful relationships. Outside of Alfred and the orphans he adopts, Bruce never lets anyone get too close. He keeps exhaustive notes and files on both his enemies and his friends. Batman couldn’t even trust the Justice League, and kept track of all of their weaknesses, as well as their secret identities, should he ever need to take them down.
8. Iron Man Can Own Up To His True Identity
Most superheroes have a secret identity to protect themselves and their loved ones. Only a select few know that Batman is actually Bruce Wayne. On the contrary, literally everyone knows that Tony Stark is Iron Man. He reveals his double identity quickly in the MCU, but takes a bit longer to come clean in the comics. Still, he eventually does and is offered a job by the US Department of Defense.
He has to be extra careful of course, but Iron Man can live a mostly open life. Batman lives in secrecy, and can’t let anyone get too close, even if he actually wanted to. In the Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne only reveals his true identity to Gordon when he is leaving Gotham, seemingly for good.
7. Iron Man Can Create a New Element
There’s no arguing that both Batman and Iron Man are literal geniuses. Both are considered one of the brightest minds in their respective universes. Stark created sustainable clean energy for the public, but before he could do that, he actually had to create a new element.
When Tony’s father, Howard Stark, first recovered the Tesseract, he researched the object, seeing the potential behind it. In his studies, Howard thought a new element structure could partially replicate the energy of the Tesseract. Years later, needing a replacement for the Palladium in his chest, Tony continued and expanded his father’s research. In the end, he successfully synthesized the new material. In volume eight of The Avengers Prelude: Fury’s Big Week, Tony tries to patent the element as “badassium” but is blocked by legal issues.
6. Iron Man Can Learn On The Go
As super suits go, Batman and Iron Man’s are two of the best, thanks mostly to the genius that created them. Bruce Wayne worked with Lucius Fox to create the bat suit, and together they always continued to improve it. True to form, Tony Stark created the Iron Man suit by himself. One of the key components was, of course, the AI system Stark incorporated into each suit. Whether it was J.A.R.V.I.S or F.R.I.D.A.Y., Tony always had a voice in his ear helping out.
As part of the AI feature, the Iron Man suit actually tracked and analyzed the movements of every opponent Tony faced. The program would quickly find any patterns and alert Tony how to best fight back. This feature of the suit got its biggest glory moment in the MCU at the end of Captain America: Civil War. He had to take a few good hits from Cap, but Iron Man’s suit found the weak spot in Steve Rogers’ fighting style, allowing a heavy counter hit.
5. Iron Man Can Be Open About His Company
When Stark Industries is first created, it’s mainly a weapons manufacturer. This makes sense, given the timing. In wartime, Howard Stark was a hero for all the help his company provided the government. After his kidnapping, Tony Stark realizes that his weapons are now being sold to the wrong people. As soon as he returns, he announces via press conference that weapon production will cease immediately. As his company continued to change, Tony was always open about the technology he was creating, including the Iron Man suits.
Bruce Wayne had to be much more secretive about his business funds. In creating his gadgets and tech for Batman, the funds were consistently allocated to “R&D” without anyone ever really knowing what that meant. When Coleman Reese figures it out in The Dark Knight, he tries to blackmail Wayne Enterprises. No one could know what Wayne Enterprises was doing because of Bruce’s secret. Since everyone knew Tony Stark was Iron Man, he could be much more transparent.
4. Iron Man Can Work On Impulse
One of the defining features of Batman is his preparedness. With such detailed files on everyone he encounters, he has a plan for taking on everything and everyone. Batman typically doesn’t go into a fight without knowing what’s coming. Iron Man’s approach is the exact opposite.
When a missile is headed for Manhattan, he decides literally on the fly that he’s going to accompany it to the Chitauri ships. Upon discovering the Winter Soldier actually killed Howard and Maria Stark in the MCU (the comics never officially revealed their killer), Iron Man immediately turns on him, without knowing his fighting style or weaknesses.
The Iron Man suit is definitely helpful given Tony’s impulsiveness. With an AI system continuously analyzing his opponents, there is a bit less risk. But generally, Iron Man never really has a plan; he makes it up as he goes along.
3. Iron Man Can Hack Almost Anything
Part of Iron Man’s genius is his hacking abilities. In the MCU, Tony jokes that the Pentagon is so easy to crack, he did it in high school, on a dare by some friends. In Iron Man 2, he manages to hack government video files in the middle of his own court hearing. In the Extremis storyline of the comics, Tony is partially merged with the Iron Man armor, making him a technopath – he could literally control the suit with his mind. The man even hacked S.H.I.E.L.D.
Batman is a genius, but most of his hacking is done by Lucius Fox. Lucius is the one who provides the Remote Hacking Device in Batman: Arkham Knight. This device was actually a less advanced version of what Batgirl used in the prequel storyline, Batgirl: A Matter of Family. Batman’s strength lies in inventing, more than hacking computers.
2. Iron Man Can Avoid Mass Casualties… Usually
When the Avengers took on Ultron in Sokovia, the main focus was getting all civilians out of the city and onto S.H.I.E.L.D.’s lifeboats. While his teammates did that, Iron Man worked on destroying the machine that Ultron had created within the city to cause global extinction. With every option that F.R.I.D.A.Y. presented, Tony thought about the collateral damage that would ensue. There was no way to ensure absolutely no casualties, but he did everything he could to avoid it.
When the League of Assassins was unleashed on Gotham, Batman had no plan to keep civilians away from the fighting. He did manage to get the nuclear device out over the water and save the city from total extinction, but countless lives were lost in the fight and in the months prior. Even in the comics, Batman manages to get on some bad sides and releases Arkham on the town without thinking too much about how the people will get through.
1. Iron Man Can Easily Justify His Work
Before all the adventures, every superhero has an origin story. Bruce Wayne’s is one that’s been recounted in nearly every retelling. In short, he becomes Batman in order to avenge the death of his parents. This is the driving force behind most of his actions. He’s the king of holding a long-term grudge, as Superman quickly finds out in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Iron Man was born out of necessity, rather than anger. Tony Stark initially creates the suit simply to survive and escape his captivity. Once he returns, he decides to continue using and improving the suit for the greater good. He works to ensure his weapons aren’t falling into the wrong hands, creates sustainable clean energy for the public and protects the Earth from alien invaders.
Do you agree with our assessment? What can Batman do that Iron Man never could? Let us know!