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Iron Mantle: The people who have worn the Iron Man armor (besides Tony Stark)

Iron Man
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Although Tony Stark is seemingly gone from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Iron Man mythos (and mantle) will live on with not just one, but two Disney Plus TV shows - Ironheart and Armor Wars.

Like all of the MCU tales, they are based on decades of comic books. And over the decades, many people have worn the Iron Man armor - although whether they had permission from Tony himself is kind of iffy.

Over the years, Tony has retired, died, been in a coma, or otherwise been unavailable to the degree which a replacement was needed. The nature of the Iron Man armor means that anyone with training can take Tony's place, and many have.

With that in mind, we set out to look at the other people who have operated the Iron Man armor over the years. Some of them are full-time replacements, some temporary fill-ins, and some even villains.

And before we get too far, there's two people you might think are conspicuously absent from this list - Riri Williams and Doctor Doom. Both took up the Iron Man mantle in 2016 and 2017 while Stark was comatose, but neither actually wore the Iron Man armor. Both used armor and tech designs of their own - with Riri of course even using her own codename, Ironheart.

This isn't a complete list, and it doesn't include alternate futures or What If?-type stories, including gray areas like the Deadpool story that had Wade traveling in time and drunk flying Tony's armor around and which may or may not have taken place, but we digress.

Here's our list of ten people - besides Tony Stark - who have worn the Iron Man armor.

Clarence Ward

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Clarence Ward was a one-time business rival of Tony Stark's who stole a suit of Iron Man armor and used it to kill the entire board of Stark Industries as well as Tony's girlfriend, Rumiko Fujikawa. This all happened in 2004's Iron Man #87 - #89, collected in Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man, Thor & Captain America.

Ward's actions led to Stark revoking the military's right to use his armor, and publicly resigning as Iron Man, though he secretly continued operating in the armor afterwards.

Weasel Wills

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Way back in Tales of Suspense #65 (Collected in Captain America Epic Collection: Captain America Lives Again), Weasel Wills was a two-bit criminal who decided to strike it rich by stealing from Stark Industries, wherein he found Tony Stark's attache case containing his portable Iron Man armor.

Wills went on a bender, quickly learning to use the amor's rudimentary functions and embarking on a crime spree. He baited the real Iron Man into confronting him, where Tony Stark ran down Willis's suit's battery, and trapped him in the non-functioning suit.

Mary Jane Watson

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

A few years back, Mary Jane Watson worked for Tony Stark - and had a chance to use parts of the armor during some high-stress situation, and even found herself in the Iron Spider armor at one point. But her history with the Iron Man suit itself goes back even further.

Mary Jane once donned an old Iron Man suit during Spider-Man's fight with Morlun, helping her then-husband fight his arch-foe.

The armor itself

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

This is a weird one...

After Tony Stark built a new suit of armor designed to mitigate his increasing health problems, he downloaded the AI of Jocasta, the robot bride of Ultron and former Avenger, to help manage the new suit - a move that caused his armor to become sentient, developing a personality and a kind of friendship with its creator.

But the good feelings didn't last. The AI went insane, beating Tony senseless and kidnapping him while independently operating as Iron Man. It even built itself a robot body to go inside the suit.

The AI begged Tony to "become one with it" (ew), but relented when Tony suffered a heart attack in front of it. It finally decided to prioritize the life of its creator, and ripped out its own artificial heart to give to Stark.

And that wasn't the only consequence of Jocasta's A.I. being implanted in Stark's armor...

Ultron

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Tony Stark and Ultron have a long history together. Tony may not have created the evil AI like his cinematic counterpart, but he's had more than his share of run-ins with him, even once being forced to reactivate him through a post-hypnotic suggestion.

When Stark used Ultron's bride, Jocasta, to reprogram a new suit of armor, it gained sentience and went haywire before being defeated by Stark. Sometime later, the abandoned, once sentient armor bonded with Ultron, who used it as a new body for his conscience. 

Iron Lad

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Kang is one of the Avengers' oldest foes, a time-traveling conqueror obsessed with besting Earth's Mightiest Heroes in square combat. But he's had numerous identities of the centuries, including the young hero Iron Lad, a version of Kang from his youth who donned an advanced suit of Iron Man armor to lead the Young Avengers.

This one's kind of a two-fer, as young Kang eventually left the Young Avengers behind to return to his own timeline and left his armor behind, where it was turned into a new body for the consciousness of a rebooted Vision.

The Iron Legion

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The Iron Legion was a group of temporary Iron Man pilots organized by James Rhodes to take down the giant robot Ultimo.

The Legion consisted of Happy Hogan, Bethany Cabe, Eddie March, Mike O'Brien, and Carl Walker. Some of those, like Eddie March and Happy Hogan, were trained by Stark himself to pilot Iron Man armor, while Mike O'Brien and Carl Walker were formerly armored villains, and Bethany Cabe, Stark's longtim security advisor, was a total rookie to wearing the armor.

Pepper Potts

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Pepper Potts is one of Tony's oldest associates, his former lover, his occasional business partner, and one of his most trusted friends, so it's only natural that she's donned the Iron Man armor a few times over the years.

She actually got her own armored identity when a terrorist attack led to the installation of her own arc reactor to save her heart. As Rescue, Pepper was briefly a hero in her own right, using the armor's defensive capabilities as a non-destructive answer to Iron Man.

Norman Osborn

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

When Tony Stark lost his role as head of SHIELD after Secret Invasion, the former Green Goblin Norman Osborn took his job, converting the spy agency into a police force known as HAMMER But Tony's job isn't the only thing Norman inherited - he also seized Tony's armor.

Osborn repainted the armor to a star-spangled color scheme and started going by the name Iron Patriot, leading a team of his own Dark Avengers comprised of criminals such as Bullseye and Moonstone who had co-opted the identities of longtime Avengers.

Of course, it didn't last. Osborn went nuts (that whole crazy supervillain thing wasn't working in his favor) and his team was taken down by the real Avengers, leaving Osborn in a coma.

James Rhodes

Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

James Rhodes was Tony Stark's close confidant, best friend, and go to fill-in Iron Man for years. Rhodey was the first person to take the Iron Man role from Tony for an extended period, even fighting in the first Secret Wars and co-founding the West Coast Avengers.

Rhodey kept an armored identity after Stark returned to the Iron Man role, operating as War Machine for years, though he did occasionally return to being Iron Man for brief periods.

Need more for your Iron Man fix? Read our recommended best Iron Man stories of all time.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)