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Avengers Fridays

Earth's Mightiest Costumes: Iron Man

Go on a technological tour of Tony Stark's togs throughout the ages!


"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born-to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!"

As the Heroic Age dawns on the Marvel Universe and we prepare for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, each Friday Marvel.com will present a different column focusing on the one and only Avengers. From line-ups to costumes to villains to classic stories and beyond, we've got you covered on the history of Marvel's most prolific team of heroes!

So let the call go out: Avengers Assemble!


We're celebrating the May 7 (April 28 internationally) release of "Iron Man 2" with Iron Man Month 2010! Get ready for a monthlong mega mix of all things Shellhead right here on Marvel.com!


By TJ Dietsch

Technology moves at its own pace, just look at your cell phone. For years, they looked pretty much the same with relatively few changes, then bam, they've got cameras, e-mail access and can control whole computer networks. The same thing goes for Iron Man. Sometimes he's changing armors on a regular basis and sometimes he sticks with what he likes for quite a while. This list includes Ol' Shellhead's standard armors. 

Iron Man Mark 1 Armor
Original Armor
Debuting in 1963's TALES OF SUSPENSE #37, Iron Man looked more like a lumbering robot from a sci-fi movie than the man in a sleek tech suit we've come to know and love. The bucket-headed, tank-like armor started off gray, but eventually got a gold paint job, which is the version Stark sported when he met up with the heroes who would become the Avengers in AVENGERS #1.

Iron Man Red and Gold Armor
Red and Gold Armor

By 1964, Iron Man got a look that will be much more familiar to modern audiences in the form of his very first red and gold armor. This model went through plenty of cosmetic changes from bolts on the face mask to rounded shoulders and a pointed mask to circular hip...things. The classic red and gold armor lasted all the way up till 1985.

Iron Man Silver Centurion
Silver Centurion

After dealing with Obadiah Stane's widespread attack on him, Stark finally pulled himself up by the jetboot straps and got back to work on a brand new armor, this one taking a radically different aesthetic with its red and silver color scheme and wider shoulder pads. Debuting in 1985's IRON MAN #200, Stark used the Silver Centurion armor as his main gear until 1988. During this time, Iron Man also became leader of the West Coast Avengers and sported this costume throughout most of his tenure with the team.

Iron Man Armor Wars
New Red and Gold Armor

Once again, Stark, returned to the red and gold armor towards the ends of “Armor Wars,” this time with a sleeker look. Most of the protrusions had been removed. More focused on internal improvements and specific-use add-ons and additional armors, this remained Iron Man's main armor from 1988-1992.

Iron Man Modular Armor
Modular Armor

With the '90s changing how comics looked, Iron Man got himself another new look. This time, the color scheme stayed the same with red and gold—or more accurately yellow—but the design changed. Called the Modular Armor, this one had various smaller pieces that made up the larger armor. In addition to being the main armor, this armor also became well known as the one seen in the 90s animated Iron Man cartoon.

Iron Man Heroes Reborn Armor
Heroes Reborn

The red and gold armor made some changes from modular, but the biggest change in Tony Stark's life came in 1996 when he died at the hands of Onslaught along with many of his fellow Avengers. Luckily, Franklin Richards put all of the thought-dead into a separate universe where they got drawn by Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. Iron Man got a huge tech upgrade while appearing in both his own title and the Heroes Reborn AVENGERS comic.

Iron Man Extremis Armor
Extremis Armor

After a year, Iron Man returned to the Marvel Universe proper along with the rest of the heroes. He also returned to the red and gold armor with a few updates until the Extremis came along thanks to writer Warren Ellis and artist Adi Granov. Once again, the armor got an upgrade, but this time, so did Stark as Extremis actually reprogrammed his body and allowed the suit to be directly controlled by his mind. This is the armor Iron Man sported in NEW AVENGERS, MIGHTY AVENGERS and has been the mainstay until recently.

Iron Man Bleeding Edge Armor
Bleeding Edge Armor

With April's INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #25, Iron Man will be getting yet another armor upgrade, this one developed by series writer Matt Fraction and IRON MAN and THOR movie designer Ryan Meinerding. Stay tuned to Marvel.com and INVINCIBLE IRON MAN for more details on what makes this latest armor tick, hum, buzz and blast.

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, aka the super hero Iron Man in this sequel to the 2008 blockbuster. RDJ, Paltrow, Cheadle and Rockwell are joined by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Mickey Rourke as Whiplash. Jon Favreau once again takes up the directorial reins for Marvel's armored avenger.

"Iron Man 2" is one of a continuing slate of films being produced by Marvel Studios based on the Marvel characters, including "Thor" on May 6, 2011, "The First Avenger: Captain America" on July 22, 2011 and "Marvel Studios' The Avengers" on May 4, 2012.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for the official word on all things to do with Marvel movies!


Visit the official "Iron Man 2" movie site now and the Marvel.com "Iron Man 2" movie hub! Also, be sure to check out StarkExpo2010.com, the official site of Stark Expo!

Find out when the movie opens in YOUR country with the official "Iron Man 2" international release schedule!

The official Marvel Shop features all things Iron Man!

Read Iron Man Digital Comics right now! Not a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited yet? Join now!

Required Reading: check out key Iron Man collections available now in bookstores everywhere!



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The picture accompanying the "New Red and Gold Armor" is incorrect in the initial posting of this article. The armor looked more like the classic red and gold in that it had a circular unibeam lens and lower boots than more recent versions. I remember it fondly because I thought the "modular" version that followed it was downright ugly, and because it marked a return to the classic colors. I don't remember if Mark Bright was still drawing the character at the time, but if so it was toward the end of his lengthy run.


i miss the extremis armor but the bleeding edge armor is AWESOME