Comics Reviews

Why Iron Man’s Modular Armor Is Tony Stark’s Most Versatile Suit


Throughout the 1990s, Iron Man saved the Marvel Universe in his Modular Armor, which featured several unique ground-breaking technological functions.

As Iron Man, Tony Stark has worn a ton of cool armors over the years, with his many red and gold suits being his most recognizable. For much of the ’90s, the most regular and iconic of these was his Modular Armor. Where most of Stark’s other suits were built with specific tasks in mind or for limited powers, Iron Man’s Modular Armor could be customized to interface with other suits such as the Hulkbuster.

Somewhat forgotten now compared to more modern looks such as the Extremis and the Bleeding Edge armors, Iron Man’s Modular Armor served as his standard appearance both in and outside of the comic books. It gave its wearer a greater sense of customization, allowing him to exchange whatever tools he needed for the job without resorting to an entirely different outfit.


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How Iron Man Built the Modular Armor

The Modular Iron Man Armor was introduced in Iron Man #300 by Len Kaminski and Kevin Hopgood, and the suit was quickly used to defeat some of Iron Man’s toughest foes. Before the issue, Tony Stark had gone into a coma, and he was internally fighting many of his struggles and fears as he warred for consciousness. Elsewhere, War Machine tried to fend off the villainous Ultimo with the Iron Legion, who were made up of former allies of Tony’s wearing his older costumes.

Awakening from his coma, Tony suited up in his newest suit: the Modular Armor. This allowed him to modulate into different weapons and gadgets as he faced Ultimo. He used these gizmos to create a lightning rod that electrocuted Ultimo, ending the villain’s reign of terror. From there, the Modular Armor would largely remain Iron Man’s go-to look until the “Heroes Reborn” era, and it would also go on to influence other works involving the character. Not only was the sleek, modern design the main suit in the ’90s Iron Man cartoon, but it was also what Iron Man wore in the Marvel vs. Capcom video game series.

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The Modular Armor’s Powers and Abilities

Iron Man Modular Armor 90s Hulkbuster

The beauty of the Modular Armor is inherent in its very name. It isn’t a fully integrated suit; each piece is applied separately depending on Tony’s needs. This can be seen in the animated series, where Tony would put on individual pieces of his suit one by one for his ensuing missions. Plug-in points allowed the armor to attach to larger suits, such as the Hulkbuster. The original Hulkbuster armor was not actually a separate suit, but simply additional armor fastened to the Modular Armor. As seen in Len Kaminski and Kevin Hopgood’s Iron Man #304, this first Hulkbuster form was notably a lot less bulky compared to its successors, owing mostly to its being a variation of the Modular Armor. This “pseudo-musculature” added about 175 tons of strength to the suit, allowing Tony to go head to head with Doctor Banner’s incredibly angry other form.

Traditional Iron Man weapons such as the repulsors and the Uni-Beam were still present in the gauntlets and chestplate, and the jet boots were upgraded to allow for smoother flights. Other weapons in the hands included magnets, grappling hooks and other climbing tools. There were also shoulder-mounted bombs and other projectiles, similar to the gun on War Machine’s suit.

The basic shell was composed of flex-metal fabricated by metallic bacteria, allowing them to interface with and change for add-ons while being easily worn by Tony. As mentioned, the basic form is much sleeker and more lithe compared to past Iron Man armors, and it paved the way for the type of suits that he’s worn ever since. Though the metallic outer “abs” were still present in the design, the look, in general, was much less blocky and archaic-looking.

This all amounted to a suit that had more individual use than Iron Man’s previous suits. He had once had to put on entire suits such as the blue Stealth armor just for one function, but the Modular Armor allowed him to wear the Swiss Army Knife of costumes in his battle against supervillains with technological costumes of their own.

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