In Iron Man 2, when the armed forces analyzed Tony Stark's Mark II armor, why didn't they build an army of them?

Before anyone says they knew how to operate it, but not how it worked, remember that they modified it quite a lot when they turned it into War Machine, so they obviously must have figured out how it works...

  • 4
    One word answer: "budget". Three word answer: "DoD procurement politics". Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 17:39
  • @DVK Budget shouldn't be an issue for a terrorist organization planning to control the world.
    – user931
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 17:42
  • 1
    @SachinShekhar - how's that have anything to do with either the question or my comment? Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 17:47
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    Consider that 90% of what Hammer did to the War Machine armor was adding extra weapons to it. That's nice, and was certainly an engineering challenge, but the suit already had hook-ins for targeting, controlling weapons, interfacing with the user, etc. Adding weapons was just a matter of bolting them in and tying in to existing systems - difficult, but relatively simple.
    – Jeff
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 18:04
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    @SachinShekhar, Uh... he's a genius inventor and owner of a (in-universe) Forbes top 25 company? Also, not even the number of Iron Man suits used in the House Party Protocol scene is "mass production."
    – Brian S
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 20:06

5 Answers 5


They didn't have the arc reactor technology. Presumably, even with a working prototype (like the one Rhodes took) they weren't able to reproduce it.

Stark's real breakthrough is the miniaturized arc reactor.

  • New armours don't operate on Ark Reactor. They were able to be recharged with domestic electricity.
    – user931
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 17:44
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    @SachinShekhar Where did you hear that? Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 17:53
  • Oh sorry, I thought the whole thread is revolving around Ironman 3.
    – user931
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 17:58
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    @SachinShekhar only the Mark 42 armor could be charged off conventional electricity, all the other platforms still had either their own independant ARC reactor or ran off the one in Tony's chest. The Mark 42 was designed to be prehensile and wearable in pieces by anyone (see Pepper wearing it in the house demolishing scene)
    – Monty129
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 18:39
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    @Keen it's never made clear if any of the "Hammeroids" use ARC reactors as power sources, is it? I know Vanko had the one he designed based on his fathers schematics, but if Justin Hammer had access to ARC technology he would have exploited that for more than just his drones, I would think.
    – Monty129
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 2:07

James "Rhodey" Rhodes "confiscated" the Mark II armor from Tony during the birthday party and flew it back to the military base.

But it was Hammer Industries who upgraded it into the War Machine suit. Hammer Industries was also contracted to build an army of suits similar to the Iron Man suit. Instead of suits, Ivan Vanko built Hammer Drones.

Because Vanko was the engineer/developer, he was able to install a back door allowing Vanko to take control of the War Machine armor.

From the wikia:

After the fight he took the armor to an U.S. Air Force base. After he took it there they called Justin Hammer so he can add more powerful weapons to the armor. After he edited it they took the armor to the Stark Expo so they could present it there with the Hammer Drones. Stark arrived in his latest armor, the Mark VI, to reclaim the Mark II along with confronting his foes. He tried to force Hammer to reveal Ivan Vanko's location and get Rhodes to help him in his mission. However, Vanko took control of the armor and the Hammer Drones to kill Stark.

  • This doesn't really answer the question. Even by IM3 the DoD still only had the one suit that we know of.
    – Xantec
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 20:24

While the US Government may have had the opportunity to analyze the Iron Patriot Armor, manufacturing similar suits may have simply been beyond their technical capacity. Given that Stark Industries had been primarily a weapons manufacturer, he had a dedicated infrastructure for the design, something the government was unable to easily acquire.

  • Even with the reverse-engineering done by Hammer Industries, the best they appeared to be able to do in a timely fashion was integrate weapon systems onto the outer shell of the armor including machine-guns, rocket launchers, and other external weaponry.

  • This presumes Stark had already built into the armor the capacity to utilize external components. It's unlikely Hammer was able to do much more than that given his initial timeframe.

War Machine

War Machine from Iron Man 2.

  • In the Iron Man comics, Stark's technology was not only proprietary it was nearly impossible for most scientists and engineers to duplicate it. Stark Enterprises, for a time, licensed his Guardsman armor design as a means of allowing the government to utilize parts of his design. The Stark technology was eventually stolen and Stark tech was appearing in armored suits across the globe. This eventually lead to the Armor Wars where Stark hunted down armored suit wearers and destroyed any proprietary components of their armors.

The Guardsman Armor

The Guardsman Armor, a lighter version of the Iron Man armor licensed to the government.

Having access to the Iron Man hardware meant:

  • They would have to be able to analyze and perhaps deconstruct the armor in order to understand how the suit worked at the physical level. Just because you have a piece of electronic equipment does not mean you will understand how it works. They would also be hesitant to take it completely apart, for fear putting it back together might be harder than they thought or completely impossible without Stark's help.

  • Obediah Stane had the remnants of Stark's first suit, access to at least some of the research Tony created, and gained limited access to the design specs. The best he could do was the giant-sized Iron Monger rig which he wore more like a mecha than an armor suit. The military would not have had access to any of the information Stane did, so they would be even less likely to be able to replicate Stark's work.

enter image description here

  • They would have also had to understand the repulsor, electronic, digital and hydraulic aspects of the suit which were likely filled with proprietary designs. The government could force the issue and pull the patents but they still would have had to understand how to put them together and integrate them with a viable operating system.

  • While Justin Hammer did manage to integrate some weapon systems into the Iron Patriot that were not there in Tony's designs, it is likely the modular capacity was already built into the suit and Hammer only had to build components that would fit and integrate into the design.

  • Lastly and most importantly, they would have needed a power-supply small enough to be in the suit at the same time as the operator, but powerful enough to manage all of the suit's capacities and weapons. They were no where near capable of building the Arc Reactor technology designed by Stark.

The military in the Marvel Universe is a poor designer of specialized technology such as powered armor. When they do want or need such equipment, it is subcontracted out to SHIELD, or highly specialized manufacturers like Justin Hammer of Hammer Industries or Tony Stark.

  • Ivan Vanko, even with the specialized technology of Hammer Industries could not replicate the Iron Man armor and eventually gave up, preferring to create humanoid drones instead called Hammer Drones. Said drones, while not nearly the equal of the Iron Man armor, each was armed with a single primary weapon system and the rest of the drone's capacity was made flight-capable and remote controllable.

enter image description here

  • ivan vanko DOES build himself a suit though.
    – Stark07
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 8:15

Not sure how much this helps.. but I also remember reading that one of the safety protocols built into the Iron Man suits is that it only responds to Starks thought patterns and brain waves.

That is why Natasha, in Iron Man 2, made a somewhat sarcastic remark in the Diner with Tony and Fury about how there are supposed to be security safeguards to prevent unauthorized access to the suits. Tony had already programmed the suits to respond to Rhodes brain waves and other biometric data which is why he was able to take it. . I would postulate that, because this advanced security method, which requires the brain scanning and mind reading technology that only Stark has, is why they could only modify the suit that Rhodes was already programmed to access, though by Iron Man 3 it's possible that others were able to figure it out or work around it.

I also thought that the lack of the miniature Arc reactors was also a stumbling block to anyone else being able to create or use the suits as well.

Even if they were able to physically recreate all of the technology, without a similarly advanced operating system such as JARVIS, it's likely that they were unable to get it all to work together as a cohesive unit, or work as smoothly and perfectly so that it responds to the wearers thoughts and desires as does Starks Iron Man suits.

  • Where are you getting the information about the "mind reading technology"? Most of the OS that all the suits run appears to operate on visual tracking, and some redundant controls in the palm units of the suit (otherwise Tony would never be able to operate the systems without the helmet).
    – Monty129
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 2:12
  • it uses the visual at first.. but I also remember reading that as he is always upgrading the suit, he eventually had it so that it was able to recognize his an individuals thought patterns and respond to it, basically thought controlled weaponry which is possible even today. Stark also used this as unbeatable security since brain waves are as unique as fingerprints or retina scans. I think I read it in an online Wiki or some other site that went into a lot of detail about the Iron Man suits. It also said that Stark eventually got it down to Nano size so that it would be inside him all the time Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 13:34
  • From Marvel Wiki "While the armor was in his custody, Jim Rhodes became increasingly enamored with being Iron Man and, upon Stark's return to sobriety, feared that Stark would ask for it back. The cybernetic helmet had never been properly calibrated to Rhodes' brain patterns; he began to have severe headaches and his thinking was clouded" Read this and much more about it here marvel.wikia.com/Iron_Man_%28Anthony_%22Tony%22_Stark%29 Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 13:48
  • That's from the comics continuity, not the Marvel Cinematic Universe though. In the MCU the Iron Man OS still runs on ocular tracking, based on the movie novelizations of the first and second movies.
    – Monty129
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 11:30

If you see carefully we see Rhodes remove the Arc Reactor (Power Source) from the suit before calling Hammer. So Hammer cannot use the tech to build new suits.

Also when performing at the expo they wee supposed to be only kind of beta versions. So there was plan of mass production I think.

  • Can you back this up with a screenshot?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 24, 2014 at 8:35

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