We have already discussed How Rhodey fit INTO the War Machine armor, but there's another major issue with other people using the armor(s): use/control of it.

In the movies, Tony seems to be almost completely dependent on JARVIS to fully control the suit. Tony commands JARVIS to activate things or divert power or repair systems. Some commands are just to make Tony's multi-tasking easier - others seem like he can't do them himself.

So we are left with two related questions:

  • Can the suits be fully utilized without JARVIS?
  • If not, why would JARVIS not just shut down the suit remotely - keeping Rhodey or anyone else from stealing the suit?
  • 1
    even if they are locally installed instances of Jarvis, you'd think that Tony would put a password in or something
    – HorusKol
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 17:06
  • @HorusKol I would think JARVIS would be intelligent enough to know who is allowed access and who isn't, without the necessity of a password.
    – Monty129
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 22:05

3 Answers 3


JARVIS is not necessary to use the suits at all. Both Stark and Rhodey can control the suits without support from JARVIS. What JARVIS provides during most suit operations is feedback, particularly after the suit is under stress or duress.

  • JARVIS did not lock War Machine's suit because he no longer has control or even access to its systems. Likely the government's requirement for using the War Machine armor in the first place.

  • Second, Rhodey is a trained pilot so he has much less need for automated control for certain aspects of War Machine's use. Considering his performance in Iron Man 2, a lack of JARVIS interface control did not reduce his effectiveness.


  • JARVIS existed before there were Iron Man suits. He was Stark's auxillary brain, supporting providing resource and research materials for Tony to use for his development process. JARVIS acted as a major domo in his house, controlling any automated services including his manufacturing facility in his basement. Stark tended to customize his own parts and JARVIS did the heavy lifting in that regard.

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  • Once Stark started making the suits, JARVIS was as involved with their design and development as Stark was. It made sense, Stark would pass off some levels of management and control to the automated mind of JARVIS who is much better and faster at multitasking certain things than Stark is.

  • Stark is a manufacturer of weapons, not an action hero, so he uses JARVIS as a means of spreading the work load, pretty much as he has done for all of his projects where JARVIS assists. Despite his genius, Stark is basically a slacker and willing to let JARVIS support in lesser tasks (like controlling the suits).

  • Can JARVIS control the suits? Certainly, but not nearly as well as a human pilot could. Note the beating the JARVIS-controlled suits took against the AIM army. Yes, Stark took one too, but JARVIS seemed far less efficient (though it could be said the suits may have also had limitations which prevented them from being nearly as good as some of the top of the line suits Stark previously used.)

  • We have to remember Cinematic Iron Man jumped over 50 years of comic continuity and development in two movies. Stark did not have the JARVIS software in the comics for almost the entirety of his career (though he did have access to a human named Jarvis who was the head butler of the Avenger's mansion). So Stark's previous control tools and interfaces were built into the suits and evolved until they became the pretty cinematic light-show they are today.

Iron Man Armors that did NOT use any JARVIS-like control software.

Most of these Earth-616 Iron Man Armors did NOT use any JARVIS-like control software.

  • Rhodes has been using the War Machine suit without any interaction with the JARVIS software at all. Part of the upgrades made once the suit was independent of Stark Industries was likely to make the suit functional without JARVIS having access to it. The military being sticklers for privacy would want the illusion of secrecy regard Stark's access to the armor. Hence the reason Stark has to ask Rhodey for his password to access the suit's control system.

  • Ultimately, every project Stark creates lives in the artificial mind of JARVIS, which we can assume is backed up in multiple locations. Yes, Stark could recreate his work from scratch but JARVIS is simply too well trained and able to pre-emptively consider what Stark wants before he wants it.

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  • Cinematic Iron Man's most important use of JARVIS is both as a foil and a straight man for Stark's attempts at humor.

War Machine HUD

As you can see from this screen grab from Iron Man II the Mark II/War Machine platform had a basic HUD and operating system. J.A.R.V.I.S. (which according to the novelization of the first film stands for Just a Rather Very Intelligent System) appears to have a central processing core in Tony's house in Malibu (with probably a back up at Stark Tower) that can remotely control most aspects of Tony's house, as well as all the armors linked to the Stark "dataspine". The armors all appear to have a proprietary Stark operating system (similar to the one on Tony's phone device seen in Iron Man II and III) that uses round "widgets", voice commands, and some sort of ocular tracking for user input. I would compare the relationships between the suit's OS and J.A.R.V.I.S. to the one between iOS and SIRI. Like you said J.A.R.V.I.S. main function in the armor is to facilitate multi-tasking as well as monitoring of the suit's subroutines and background systems to allow Tony to focus on situational awareness.

  • It is possible that the HUD and operating system in the War Machine armor was built/customized/modded/tweaked by Hammer Industries, and then perhaps further changed by Ivan Vanko.
    – Xantec
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 17:11
  • @Xantec That scene in the screen grab is from the party before Hammer and the Air Force had a chance to get their hands on it. That's the basic HUD of all the armors. J.A.R.V.I.S. is essentially a program linked to the OS but independant of it.
    – Monty129
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 17:16
  • 1
    I would also point out that Rhodey is a trained pilot. Tony Stark is not. Tony therefore needs a lot more help with the details of flying, which come naturally to Rhodes. Commented May 10, 2013 at 17:22

I always got the impression that Tony wanted Rhodes to have the suit - although, maybe not quite at that point in the film.

Tony is dying - his ARC reactor is poisoning him - and for Iron Man to be an effective protection against terrorism, he sees there should be a successor

  • This almost said in the movie, and was my impression as well.
    – AthomSfere
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 23:06

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