If there is one character within the comic book world that embraces the role of superhero with ease, it has to be Tony Stark. The billionaire playboy philanthropist isn’t exactly shy about who he is or what he does. Whereas most heroes choose to have a secret identity, Stark doesn’t and in fact goes completely the other way as he often flaunts his Ironman persona to the world; which has caused him more problems as he often becomes a target for the worst bad guys out there.
However, the poster boy for The Avengers and the Marvel universe isn’t the only character to have a go with an Ironman suit. Except for the obvious characters that we all know about – Pepper Potts and James Rhodes, for example – there have been many characters to don the suit that people may not be aware of. With that in mind we take a look at 15 other characters that have worn an Ironman suit.
15. Clarence Ward
We start our list with a character that took advantage of the changes in Tony Stark’s life. During the late 1990s the Stark empire underwent a takeover by a Japanese businessman and was re-branded Stark-Fujikawa. While this was happening, Stark was involved in other matters in a different universe which gave villain Clarence Ward the perfect opportunity to steal one of Stark’s Ironman suits.
With Stark’s technology Ward killed all the Stark-Fujikawa board members and even Stark’s girlfriend at the time Rumiko Fujikawa, daughter of the Japanese businessman. Eventually the real Ironman stopped Ward but Tony Stark was left in a state of rage and grief that still affected him long after. So much so that Stark publicly retired as Ironman, at least for a little while anyway.
14. Sonny Frisco
Dipping into the Marvel multiverse with this entry; Sonny Frisco is an alternative version of Ironman from an alternate Earth. He’s not necessarily a different version of Tony Stark, however Frisco is an equal genius and used his abilities to build a suit and named himself Ironman. Being recruited to join their version of The Avengers, Frisco fought alongside alternate versions of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.
After many adventures with his hero group, Frisco would soon find himself across the Marvel multiverse and involved with a terrorist organization known as Fist. Using Frisco’s genius intellect, Fist wanted to create portals between realities in order to find the Inhuman known as Glorianna, who had exiled herself to an unknown part of the multiverse when her plan to make everyone worship her failed.
13. Aunt May
That’s right! Many readers will be surprised to see the old and frail aunt of Peter Parker on this list, but Aunt May has dipped her toe into the superhero pond on several occasions. The first time was in a series of Marvel spin-off comic books titled What If? In those comic books all kinds of “What If” questions were asked which resulted in different versions and outcomes of our favorite heroes. Within those stories, Aunt May got the chance to use an Ironman suit as well as being the subject of “What if Aunt May were Ant-Man?”
Away from that, Aunt May got to test her Ironman skills out in the Spider-Man crossover The Other. With a little help from Mary Jane Watson, Aunt May donned an older version of the Ironman suit to help Spider-Man defeat Doctor Doom.
12. Antoinette Stark
Once more we step across the Marvel multiverse and into a different reality with this entry. The Marvel Mangaverse series showed a different reality in which Tony Stark had a twin sister named Antoinette ‘Toni’ Stark. In this reality, Tony Stark, as Ironman, goes into hiding and disappears from the world so his sister takes over the business and the mantle of Ironman, although she refers to herself as Iron-Maiden. Relishing the challenge and the chance to be a superhero, Toni goes from strength to strength. Unfortunately for her, it doesn’t last as an encounter with an angry Hulk ends her life.
After this Tony comes out of hiding, where it’s then revealed that he has a form of spinal cancer and he is now just a head on life support. But this doesn’t stop Tony as he builds a new suit to accommodate his situation and keep him alive. Not only this, but he builds four giant vehicles for The Avengers to use, which can also come together to form a giant Ironman that can protect the world.
11. ‘Weasel’ Willis
Weasel Willis was a small-time criminal and the first man to steal from Tony Stark. Chancing his luck, Willis breaks into Stark Industries in order to steal something, and to his luck and amazement he finds Tony’s case with his Ironman suit inside. Over the next few days Willis learns how to control the suit and begins a crime spree under the guise of Ironman.
When Stark finds out, he goes to stop Willis. Unfortunately for Stark, this was in a time when he didn’t have an army of Iron suits to call upon, so he was left with the Mark 1 suit to face this foe. The two faced off, Stark in the older but more robust suit and Willis in the faster and more powerful suit; but with a name like ‘Weasel’ we all know how this is going to end. Stark basically let Willis use all his power up until he had nothing left and could be taken down easily. The embarrassment of being beaten so easily and in such a stupid way obviously had an effect on him as Weasel Willis was never seen again.
10. Harold Hogan
Tony Stark’s right hand man has quietly been in the background for years, usually making sure that Stark stays safe and sober. That is how they met in the first place when Hogan pulled Stark from a race car he crashed and saved his life; something which Hogan has been doing time and again, being the rock and safety net to Stark’s crazy and daring antics.
There have also been several times where Hogan has put on an Ironman suit. Unlike the movies in which Stark came out straight away as Ironman, in the comic books it took Stark a lot longer. So much so that Hogan often donned an Ironman suit in order to convince the world that Stark wasn’t Ironman. Away from the decoy element, Hogan has also used the suit to battle against The Mandarin and also as part of the Iron Legion. Although he’s not a skilled pilot, Hogan spent his youth as a boxer and fighter so he is more than equipped to help out his friend Stark from time to time.
9. Mary Jane Watson
This red haired vixen has been the desire of Peter Parker, as well as countless teenage fans, for many years now. Mary Jane Watson has had a rollercoaster ride within the Marvel universe, and that’s not just with her love for Peter Parker; they have been together, apart, married and divorced. She has also had a hard time finding her path through the world as she has been a model, actress, nightclub owner and the list goes on. Currently she finds herself working for Ironman himself at Stark Industries. Her time with Stark has given her access to many Ironman suits as well as the Iron Spider suit.
Mary Jane has also donned an Ironman suit or two before her current job. Aside from helping Aunt May and Parker invade Doctor Doom’s home in order to use his time travel machine, which allowed them to see what happened to Parker’s parents, Mary Jane has also helped her then-husband Parker out on a few occasions. Most notably when the two went up against the dimension jumping villain Morlun for which Mary Jane got to wear an Iron suit. Even recently Mary Jane stepped into the Iron Spider suit to help Parker and Stark defeat the villainous Regent, so maybe the path of a superhero is in Mary Jane’s future?
8. Eddie March
The next entry on our list is a bit of a forgotten character within the Marvel universe, which we feel is a shame as Eddie March has had a bit of a crazy and often sad journey. Starting out in the poor end of the city, March grew up learning to fight and became a prize fighter along with the likes of Harold Hogan. Unfortunately due to injuries March had to retire from the ring. But still being friends with Hogan, March landed a job at Stark Industries. Once there, March learned that Stark was Ironman and also that he was looking for a replacement. Stepping up to the challenge, March donned an Ironman suit and battled the likes of the Crimson Dynamo.
Pleased with his trial run, Stark gave March his very own suit. However, whilst fighting Thor, March became injured inside his suit and Stark tried to save him using his Enervater device, which, although it saved his life, also turned him into the villain Freak; a mutated monstrous creature. Stark was able to subdue Freak and once unconscious he reverted back to his human form.
7. Arno Stark
The character of Arno Stark has had a couple of versions over the years. The first incarnation of Arno comes in the form of Tony Stark’s cousin from the future. In the year 2020 Arno, son of Tony’s cousin Morgan, has taken over Stark Industries and the Ironman suit. Although unlike Tony, Arno doesn’t use his powers for good or to save people, he much prefers to use the Iron suits to destroy and wreak havoc as he sells himself out as a mercenary for hire, much like his sinister mother.
After that incarnation of Arno, Marvel decided to rewrite and re-invent the character. This time in a more coherent time-line, Arno is the adoptive brother of Tony. In this version Tony learns that he was adopted by the Starks as their child Arno had a crippling illness and they decided to hide him from the world. Once Tony learns of this, the two of them start working together to build Troy; which is Tony’s vision of a “city of the future.” This version of Arno is good and even gets his own Ironman suit.
6. Squirrel Girl
One of the strangest and surprisingly popular superheroes in the Marvel universe is Squirrel Girl. With the ability to communicate with squirrels, as well as having a tail, Squirrel Girl has been desperate to join The Avengers, and impress Tony Stark, since her creation. First encountering Stark in the forest, Squirrel Girl has proved herself time and again to be a genuine hero. Especially when she joined the West Coast Avengers and later the New Avengers.
With a long history of fighting crime, the 14-year-old hero learned that the planet-eating villain Galactus was heading to Earth. As everyone else seemed to be busy at the time, Squirrel girl ‘borrowed’ some scrap metal and old parts of an Ironman suit to make her own. She then flew off to the moon to save the day. Once she was face to face with Galactus, not only did she stop him but she managed to persuade him to only eat uninhabited planets. Not bad for a girl who can talk to squirrels.
5. Norman Osborn
Norman Osborn has gone to great lengths over the years to get what he wants. Whether that’s as a ruthless businessman or as the chemically enhanced Green Goblin, Osborn has been the thorn in the side of many of Marvel’s heroes, as well as being Spider-Man’s most famous foe.
In one of Osborn’s many guises, he takes hold of Tony Stark’s Ironman suit, resprays it to match the colors of Captain America and calls himself Iron Patriot. Tricking the world into thinking he is a hero, Osborn also tricks some genuine heroes as the likes of Ares and Moonknight join his new Avengers team. But of course, Osborn hadn’t had a change of heart and decided to become the hero, he was in fact playing his own subtle game in order to dominate the world.
His Avengers also included villains such as Bullseye as Hawkeye and Venom as the black Spider-Man; each of them tricking everyone into thinking they were the heroes. Needless to say that Osborn’s Iron Patriot days didn’t last long and Stark soon destroys the armour and stops Osborn’s plans.
4. Hal Jordan/Hal Stark
During the 1990s when Marvel and DC were best buddies, the two giants of comic books decided to integrate some of their best known heroes in an ambitious and exciting cross-over project. The series, called DC Vs Marvel which led to the universe Amalgam, included hybrid characters such as Lobo the Duck, Aqua-Mariner, Deadeye and of course Hal Stark.
As you may have guessed, Hal Stark is a mash-up of Tony Stark and Hal Jordan. In this reality Hal Stark is a playboy billionaire in charge of Stark Aircrafts. The character traits of both heroes are on display with this story as Hal Stark is a gifted pilot, a genius and a headstrong hotshot. When a dying alien gives Stark an Ironman suit, a suit that saves Stark’s life as a flight simulation crash causes shrapnel to enter his heart, Stark uses the suit and becomes the hero Iron Lantern. Even the villains he battles are mash-ups of well known DC and Marvel villains.
Unfortunately for fans, this crossover was short lived. But with the wealth of characters these two companies have, it’s a shame that they couldn’t make this an ongoing franchise. At the very least they could have kept Iron Lantern.
3. Steve Rogers
Another alternate reality here and another entry from the “What If” story arcs. Coming out of the “What If” comic books and into a lengthier version called “Bullet Points,” the Marvel creators asked the question; What if Dr. Erskine hadn’t injected Steve Rogers with the super-serum? The answer to that question caused a butterfly effect which split Steve Rogers into a different reality.
In this reality Dr. Erskine is assassinated by German spies before he can change Rogers, which causes the US government to abandoned the super-soldier project and instead move forward with the Ironman project. Rogers’ weak and frail body became permanently grafted onto an Ironman suit. Rogers then went about helping the allied forces in World War II and of course becoming the hero he was always destined to be. Unfortunately for him, this universe had Peter Parker becoming the Hulk and the angry teenage monster killed Rogers.
As if the characters that inhabit the Marvel universe aren’t afraid enough of Deadpool… With his powers of regeneration making him almost unkillable, plus his reckless mercenary ways which make it impossible to tell which side he is on at any time, The Merc with a Mouth has also had access to a highly powered and greatly armed Ironman suit.
In a recent Deadpool story arc, Tony Stark is having one of his crisis moments and decides to binge drink his troubles away. Out of everyone possible to come to Stark’s aid, his BFF and boy scout Captain America is the obvious choice. But no, it’s Deadpool that shows up and as expected makes everything worse. Getting Stark so drunk he passes out, Deadpool then ‘borrows’ an Ironman suit and takes it for a ride. Being completely drunk himself the whole time, Deadpool renames himself The Armoured Avenger and goes out for some fun. Until Stark wakes and sobers up that is.
1. Riri Williams
The number one entry on our list is the newest addition to the superhero world and the new face of Ironman. Although many fans will be well aware of Riri Williams, especially as her introduction caused such a stir that she made the news, we still feel that given the newness to a potentially great and classic character, mixed with the popularity of Ironman, she deserves a mention on our list.
Not too much is known yet about the teenage M.I.T student, but needless to say she is a genius. Making her own Ironman suit and fighting the odd criminal, she caught the eye of Tony Stark. Wanting to step away from being Ironman and one of the leading superheroes, Stark took an interest in Riri as a possible replacement. She may be young and inexperienced, but Riri certainly has potential to be a great hero and a character that will be with us for many years to come.