In all three Iron Man movies as well as The Avengers, the Iron Man suit utilized by Tony Stark was rather heavily damaged in the various fights. This is especially true in the first Iron Man movie where his suit was crushed by Obadiah.

However, I noticed that the Arc Reactor in Tony's chest basically sustained no physical damage. There were several scenes (Iron Man, The Avengers) where his Arc Reactor stopped working for a short period of time but there was no visible damage to the structure of the Arc Reactor itself.

Is there an in-universe explanation of this?

  • 3
    Since there is no real world precedent for such a technology, let's go with as indestructible as possible. Especially since it was supposed to be keeping Stark alive, I assume he wasn't using the Windows OS... Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 16:49
  • 7
    The Arc Reactor being essentially a part of Tony's body, is just as protected within the Iron Man suit as the rest of the body. So, it makes sense that the Arc Reactor would not have suffered any catastrophic structural damage thus far - for that to happen, much worse damage would have also been done to Tony himself!
    – Iszi
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 18:16
  • Cap manages to destroy the arc reactor in Tony's suit in Captain America: Civil War. Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


Iszi already said most of it. There seemed to be always some kind of transparent protective layer over it, which allowed the "glow" to be visible but protecting it from harm. Since the suit had at least 2-3cm strength/depth, the arc's inlet was lower then that, the protective layer above it could be nearly an inch thick.


The arc reactor, knowing Tony, would most likely be very durable. Due to the fact that he has to fight in battles with people who could possibly steel it leaving him to die. To prevent this, he covered it with thick glass.

  • "Very durable" is a bit general for a question specifically asking "how durable?" You say it's covered with "thick glass" but glass is subject to being brittle. According to the question it stood up to his suit being crushed; can you explain what kind of glass it is, or how thick?
    – DavidW
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 19:14
  • I would have to say that the glass is most likely 2 or 3 centimeters thick or 1 or 2 inches thick due to suit being crushed like you have said
    – Debbie
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 19:39
  • And for the type of glass I would have to say a thickened glass because in ironmnan 1 when Obadiah smashes his suit, the arc reactor seems to be right as spry
    – Debbie
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 19:50

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