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In the Iron Man movie, Tony Stark mentions that he won't sell the Iron Man technology, because he only trusts himself to use it. Because he has an arc reactor built into his chest, his suit can interface with it for power. Unable to produce an arc reactor, Obadiah Stane steals the reactor from Stark's chest to power his Iron Monger suit.

In Iron Man 2, we see Tony's room of older Iron Man models, among them the Mark II and III armors. Both of these armored suits are shown with an arc reactor built into them. This enables James Rhodes to steal the Mark II suit during Tony's birthday party, equipping it as the War Machine suit.

Why would Tony store his extra Iron Man armored suits with power sources built in, when that would enable just anyone to walk in, put on a suit, and leave? He already had an arc reactor at all times. What would storing suits with built in power accomplish? Why would he make extra arc reactors anyway when he should've learned from Stane stealing his reactor tech? Is there a valid, in-universe reason for this, or is it just to enable Rhodey to easily steal a suit?

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James Rhodes was a friend of Tony Stark. Maybe Tony installed standalone reactors to allow James (and other friends?) the opportunity to fly them when they come over to knock back some beers. Not to mention that they look cooler with the reactor in them. –  Xantec Apr 17 '12 at 19:04
    
That would be an okay explanation if Tony wasn't Tony. After seeing his tech fall into the wrong hands in Iron Man 1, he gave up weapons production completely. If he was willing to completely change his livelihood because of his kidnapping experience, I doubt highly he'd let his buddies play with highly advanced weapons systems. –  Gabe Willard Apr 17 '12 at 19:08
    
Actually it's even noted in the movie that he allowed James Rhodes to take one. –  Kevin Howell Apr 17 '12 at 19:59
    
@KevinHowell I seem to remember he was pretty pissed. He even asked for it back after the final battle, but Rhodes refused. I think he just valued Rhodey's friendship more than he valued the suit, so he decided to let it slide. –  Gabe Willard Apr 17 '12 at 21:16
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Yes that's what he said to Rhodes but the Black Widow I think pointed out that he had voice recognition that activated the armor. Rhodes stepped into the armor and was instantly able to use it only because Tony had to have programmed him in as a user. Remember Tony also thought he was sure to die from the shrapnel in his heart at this point and drinking quite a bit. –  Kevin Howell Apr 17 '12 at 21:32
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11 Answers

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Suits with built in power-supplies would ease the strain on the arc reactor system built into his body.

Since he was already having a problem with his internal arc reactor, it made sense to experiment with suit models that had their own arc reactor built-in to the suit. This would also aid in reducing the speed at which the power supply in his body burned out. It would make sense to build his suits with alternative/redundant power-supplies, just in case.

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Also has the added benefit of not being left for dead if a villain wants to steal an arc reactor. –  Kevin Howell Apr 17 '12 at 20:20
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Ah. Makes sense. Have a cigar. –  Gabe Willard Apr 18 '12 at 16:51
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In his conversation with Fury and Romanoff they they practically force him to admit it was a setup and he made the suit available to Rhoady all along. In fact, I think he wanted him to take it in the first movie to back him up, but Rhoady just says "next time". Just like Fury, Stark has a lot more going on than what you see on the surface, you have to read between the lines.

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Why the down vote? I don't know enough to vote either way, but I would appreciate an explanation of why an answer isn't good. –  SSumner May 3 '13 at 23:54
    
I agree with @SSumner this is actually a valid point, why the down vote? –  Monty129 May 4 '13 at 0:09
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His arc reactor powers the electromagnet that keeps him alive after he was almost killed by terrorists.

The arc reactor in the suits power the suit(s) and also powers a powerful repulsor to damage his opponents,

The reason he dosen't use the first one (the one to keep him alive) for the suits is because they have different jobs, and control/do different things...

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He thought he was going to die from the blood toxins his internal Ark reactor was leaking. He was trying to leave the suits as his legacy.

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He built them so that in the event of his death, Rhodey would be able to step in and become Iron Man. Note that in Iron Man 2, Rhodey knows how to fly the suit, the right poses needed to shoot the hand beams, and level off and fly, whereas Pepper did not in Iron Man 3. So I'd say it is safe to assume that between 1 and 2 that Stark taught Rhodey how to use the suits, in case of death by palladium poisoning. He is an optimist after all.

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It is noted in Iron Man 2 that the arc reactor in his chest also powers the suit (when Jarvis says extended use of the suit was accelerating his condition) it is quite plausible that, because the reactor core gets depleted, the reactor in his suit served as a backup power source for both jobs or vice verse. If, for example his chest reactor's core was depleted and he had no access to a replacement, the suit would take over the job and save his life.

It was probably also a solution to the slow poisoning in that the suit wouldn't be dependent on his chest core. I think he would have known about the poisoning in Iron Man 1 but the issue was only fully addressed in IM2.

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Maybe because in the first Iron Man film, Obadiah stole the arc reactor from him and he was about to die, so for his safety he made more arc reactors so he could use it in an emergency (only my opinion).

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He only uses the power from the arc reactor in his chest when his suits power runs out, like a back up, obviously he's not going to have a suit of armor to protect him that drains the power of the thing protecting his heart, or he'd just die in the suit, I believe he has other power sources in the suit, including another arc reactor.

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Do you have any references you can site to back this up? –  Monty129 May 5 '13 at 11:07
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"Spoiler alert". In Iron Man 3, Tony asks Jarvis to activate the armors so they could fly to his rescue. It makes sense that they have a built-in power supply so they could fly on their own in emergency situations.

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In the 1st installment itself, Obadiah is shown stealing the reactor by some means and feeding it into the Suit which he uses to create havoc.

I feel in case of Tony, he connects the suits and powers them from his chest, which saves the overhead of creating a new arc-reactor for each version of his suit. The reactor cavity in suits hot-wires to his chest. But if you don't have reactor in your chest, you feed it externally and connect it to power your suit. Thats the possible explanation @Gabe Willard

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Also if you watched closely, Nick Fury already cleared up the question of 'Why do it when anyone, as Rhodey, hijack the suit?'

JARVIS has them all locked and only allows access to Tony, except, ofcourse if there is a special parameter for Rhodey, or anyone else.

War Machine, the suit Rhodey takes, could be hacked by Vanko because HAMMER "updated" the software.

And Imagine you have a battery, in your chest, that keeps you alive, and you die when that battery runs out. Would you risk running your PC on that if you could easily build another one, INTO your computer? I wouldn't.

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