Towards the end of Civil War, Captain America:

Starts smashing up Iron Man's Arc Reactor.

Doesn't he need that to live?

Was Steve going for a kill shot, or did he not realise how important it was?

  • 13
    his arc tractor?
    – Molag Bal
    Jun 2, 2016 at 8:50
  • 46
    It's the west country version
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 2, 2016 at 8:54
  • 7
    Aside from his non-dependency (see answer below), the reactor was not completely smashed. You can see some glow after it's damaged. If it were completely destroyed, the suit would have zero power and Tony would have a hard time moving. Jun 2, 2016 at 13:16
  • 4
    Point of note, the suit has it's own reactor. That's the one that Captain smashed.
    – Chris K
    Jun 2, 2016 at 17:28
  • 23
    A better question would be "Why is it unshielded, exposed, and glowing to make it a conspicuous high value target?" and the answer is "Because it's a comic book."
    – Peter Wone
    Jun 3, 2016 at 0:04

4 Answers 4


Tony hasn't needed the reactor to live ever since the end of Iron Man 3, when he underwent surgery to remove it. He doesn't wear it any more; now, the reactor is only for the suit.

[we see Tony undergoing surgery to remove the shrapnel near his heart]

Tony Stark: [voice over] Of course, there are people who say progress is dangerous. But I'll bet none of those idiots ever had to live with a chest full of shrapnel. And now...neither will I. Let me tell you, that was the best sleep I'd had in years.

It's likely Steve Rogers knew about this, since some time passed since Iron Man 3.

  • 13
    So one of the few MCU movies I've not seen is what I was missing. Thanks
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 2, 2016 at 8:56
  • 18
    I wouldn't say you were "missing it", @AncientSwordRage.
    – Paul
    Jun 2, 2016 at 12:39
  • 8
    IM3 accomplishes two things in the overall MCU. 1) It removes the need for the Arc Reactor implant, and 2) it sets the stage for Pepper and Tony splitting up. Beyond that it doesn't really develop the universe at all, and the story-line is massively MEH. Jun 2, 2016 at 13:13
  • 40
    3) Introduces Extremis for Agents of Shield S1, 4) Develops the character of the President and the position of the US Government, 5) Develops the character of Tony Stark
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 2, 2016 at 13:43
  • 14
    Interestingly, there's a spot in Civil War where you can see the scar on Tony's chest where the reactor once was. I thought it was a nice touch.
    – Irishpanda
    Jun 2, 2016 at 14:10

Once the shrapnel was removed iron man didn't need it to live but only for the suit to function so therefore once he destroyed the reactor the suit shut down.

  • 3
    Welcome to SFF! While this answer is correct it does not seem to add any additional information to answers already given.
    – Skooba
    Jun 7, 2016 at 19:38
  • 1
    When did the shrapnel get removed?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 7, 2016 at 21:48

Its more that Capt America knew he needed it to function rather than to live. With the reactor damaged, he could beat Iron Man.

  • 3
    I get that he needs it to function, but I didn't get that he didn't need it to live.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 2, 2016 at 20:25

I don't really think Cap knew that Tony removed the Arc Reactor. In the movie as you have seen, Cap does take a couple shots at the reactor which lead me to assume that Cap didn't know. And then again, Tony could have told Cap during the second Avengers movie. Also, reactor or not, Capt wouldn't have cared because when Tony started attacking Bucky, Cap just wanted to protect Bucky.

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