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In all versions, Tony's various armor is capable of firing off multiple energy attacks, from microwave to light, heat, electrical, sound wave and frequency, plasma bursts and focused laser. His arguably most iconic are the unibeam, a powerful charged blast fired from his chest, and the repulsor blasts he uses as standard attack.

So what exactly are the repulsors, anyway?

Humans can be hit with them and knocked out, but not cleaved in half or burnt, so it's safe to say they are not plasma or lasers.

We see this happen both in the comics and especially in the films; there, Tony says that it is "patented repulsor technology", and beyond offensive capabilities, Tony uses them to stabilize his flight and increase speed.

Is there any canon information as to what exactly repulsors are?

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  • im at work so cant look up a better answer but i thought his repulsors were simply adjustable particle beam weapons.
    – MrInfinity
    Feb 16, 2020 at 5:26
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    @MrInfinity To my knowledge, any type of particle beam weapon would still cause massive damage to any human tissue. I look forward to any further info you can dig up on it.
    – Russhiro
    Feb 16, 2020 at 5:41
  • A bit broad; if memory serves they've been electrical, then plasma beams, then nano-whatever stuff blast,... Any version you're particularly interested in? The MCU one?
    – Jenayah
    Feb 16, 2020 at 8:44
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    i.stack.imgur.com/hSAnL.png - Marvel Handbook Vol. 1
    – Valorum
    Feb 16, 2020 at 8:52
  • i.stack.imgur.com/lH0Oj.png - Iron Man Ultimate Guide (2010)
    – Valorum
    Feb 16, 2020 at 9:02

3 Answers 3

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In MCU canon we have very little to go on, on what the repulsor's actually are. When describing the Jericho missile system he states:

Tony Stark: Is it better to be feared or respected? I say, is it too much to ask for both? With that in mind, I humbly present the crown jewel of Stark Industries' Freedom Line. It's the first missile system to incorporate our proprietary repulsor technology. They say the best weapon is one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That's how Dad did it. That's how America does it.

Iron Man

The accompanying book, Phase One: Iron Man, gives a little more of a description on this scene but not much at all again.

“With that in mind,” Tony continued, “I present the crown jewel of Stark Industries’s Freedom Line of armaments. This is the first missile to incorporate my proprietary Repulsor Technology—or RT, as we like to call it. A breakthrough in energy control and guidance.

Phase One: Iron Man

He also gives a little description of how they can be used in Iron Man 2 when talking to Ivan. However, this doesn't really give us any information on what the repulsors are again.

Tony Stark: Pretty decent tech. Cycles per second were a little low. You could have doubled up your rotations. You focused the repulsor energy through ionised plasma channels. It’s effective. Not very efficient. But it’s a passable knock-off.

Iron Man 2

That's it, as far as I'm aware, of information on what the repulsors are in the MCU; so not much at all. Turning to the comics though and we do get a bit more information. The Iron Manual (1993) does give quite a nice description of what they appear to be:

Iron Manual description of the repulsors
Click image to enlarge.

The All-New Iron Manual (2008)

The All-New Iron Manual quote on repulsors, quoted below

The armor's exotic features include Tony's primary energy weapon repulsor rays, a powerful particle beam weapon designed to repel attacks.

Lastly, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Issue #5 gives information on what the repulsor's are (bottom right of the image).

Official Handbook quoted below
Click image to enlarge.

The armour's major offensive weapon are his repulsor rays, which are pulsed, laser-path guided, medium-density, plasma projectors, capable of generating a maximum concussive force of 150 pounds of TNT.

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This appears to be low temperature plasma in some sort of self sustained magnetic confinement that would purely deliver kinetic energy without thermal damage such as a bullet. However the sustainment of the temperature would require massive amounts of power.

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  • 1
    Do you have any evidence for this whatsoever that you could edit in? At the moment it appears to be completely unsupported headcanon.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 18, 2020 at 11:41
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    This is based off of what I know about plasma dynamics and the relationship with electromagnetism.
    – noam
    Mar 7, 2020 at 2:30
  • @noam we don’t want scientific facts and knowledge around here. If it isn’t mentioned in a book, comic, film or TV show, then it isn’t true. Take your “facts” somewhere they’d be appreciated, like Phyiscs SE /jk.
    – Darren
    Mar 7, 2020 at 9:40
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Well Valorum did the leg work so he should get the credit. I'll list it here so that it gets approved it'll at least be a question answered. According to the links provided by Valorum:

enter image description here enter image description here

Iron Man's repulsors have been either/both plasma discharges or particle beams. Now as to whether either of these forms of energy can be de-tuned enough to hurt a human without causing massive damage I'll leave to comic book physics.

1
  • It would be better if you could cite where the images/quotes come from at the very least (also already provided for you) and also quote the relevant sections of the text.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 17, 2020 at 15:18

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