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On the Bleeding Edge

The Infinity War TV-spot dropped yesterday, featuring a close up view of the Mark 37 Bleeding Edge armor, and all my plans went out the window.

Last week was a really good one. Some cool MCU and MCU-adjacent news dropped, which present grounds for some interesting speculation, but – most importantly – the new Ironheart issue came out on Wednesday, which I wanted to cover in depth.


But then I got delayed a day, and the SuperBowl LII happened with a 30-second spot for Infinity War… and now I just have to talk about this.

In a way, it’s even better: I have miles and miles of notes on Riri, and have to do a really focused post on all the things that have been happening before this latest issue. That comes next.

What is the Bleeding Edge armor, anyway?


The Mark 37 Bleeding Edge armor first appeared in Invincible Iron Man issue 25: the opening of the Stark Resilient arc. The Resilient arc is possibly my third favorite Iron Man story ever told (the first one being Stark Disassembled, and the second is the currently running Ironheart.)

Tony Stark loses his company, and founds Stark Resilient. The company’s goal is to create and sell electric vehicles (hello, Elon!), powered by the RT technology that Tony developed to save his own life and run the Iron Man armors. Taking place after the Extremis storyline, creating the new armor is not only something Tony does, but is also a matter of life and death: because of the Extremis virus upgrading his biology, the old technology cannot sustain what he needs to survive.

Iron Man Mark 37 Bleeding Edge armor & the Stark Resilient prototype electric car.

I love this so much, for so many reasons.

It’s a testament to Tony’s will and, well, resilience. It also sees him in a truly philanthropic role, doing something that has nothing to do with weapons or war, but creating an affordable car (vehicle, really, as they discuss a motorcycle as well) running on clean, sustainable energy. Apart from the Rescue armor that has no offensive capabilities, this is one of the most peaceful Tony’s technology has ever been.

It also marks a true commitment to portray Tony Stark as a benevolent posthuman. It’s a positive spin, not like Superior Iron Man‘s arrogant character. (He does make some really good points there, though. But ultimately he’s seen through a negative lens.) As someone who’s leaning toward Transhumanism myself, I find the negativity toward it – and coming from it, too – disheartening. Same with the increasingly dark and bleak outlook of science-fiction in general. (A topic which I intend to cover in depth in other posts. Stay tuned.)

Sure, he wants to make money and rebuild his empire. But this time the process doesn’t involve making weapons or reaping the benefits of war. I’d argue that losing his company is possibly the best thing that could’ve happened to Tony Stark. Of course, his efforts aren’t going over well with Hammer Industries, who do everything to stop him, up to and including hiring Spymaster to sabotage the Resilient car.

I’m not counting on it, of course, but knowing that Spymaster has been known to hire Ghost against Iron Man, and that in the Ant Man and the Wasp movie that comes this summer Ghost will be the main antagonist… I can’t help but wonder about the possible connections. (But in any event, those kind of connections are awesome, and so is the fact that Marvel keeps putting them in the movies.)

Avengers: Infinity War

The MCU being what it is, the origins and specifics of the armor will surely be different. But looking back, the evolution of the armor and the constant callbacks to the comics are obvious. My guess is that it’ll be something of a mix between the Bleeding Edge and the Prime armors, and will originate in tech both from Tony and Wakanda.

Let’s break it down.

It’ll definitely be something else, not Mark 37. In Iron Man 3 we’ve already seen the Mark 42, which is the modular armor. But that was one of the precursors to the Bleeding Edge armor, the other major glimpse was in Civil War, where Tony transformed his watch into an Iron Man-tech powered glove to take on the Winter Soldier without his full armor available.

There’s a shot in both the trailer and the TV-spot where it shows Tony in a jacket with the RT chest unit behind it. It may be just a simple jacket, but both the Bleeding Edge and the Prime armors are also known for being able to mimic any of Tony’s other suits, or any other clothes.

The Bleeding Edge armor in the comics is stored in the RT unit that Tony has implanted in his chest. Iron Man 3 saw the Arc reactor removed from his body, but the armors still needed a power source – it’s just not necessary for his survival out of armor. The Prime armor, the follow-up to the Bleeding Edge armor in the comics, is stored in a bracelet, and in Superior Iron Man the armor is stored in Tony’s bones. All iterations utilize nano technology built on top of the Extremis framework.

Of course, Extremis was the central plot device in Iron Man 3, and recently Gwyneth Paltrow hinted at her Extremis powers still being present – which can possible signal a return of Extremis into the MCU. Probably not through Pepper Potts, although with a good enough casting a standalone Rescue movie isn’t out of reach.

In Black Panther we’re likely to see even more foreshadowing of this technology, primarily with T’Challa’s suit being stored in his necklace. (There are some awesome, if brief, shots of the transformation in the trailers.) Wakanda is, as established in the comics, the most technologically advanced nation on the planet, and T’Challa’s sister Shuri is called “the smartest person on the planet”. (Something that both Tony Stark and Riri Williams would argue I think.😃) My suspicion is that with Robert Downey Jr’s contract expiring, Marvel Studios will put Wakanda to fill his place when it comes to technology. Which is a good move, especially because it cuts off the “But Tony shut down Stark Industries in the first Iron Man movie! How can he keep financing the Avengers and live his lavish lifestyle?”-type of questioning for good. (And, to answer that particular query, he only shut down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries. In Avengers he’s already prototyping for clean energy, which is big business. And, if all else fails, he can always make baby bottles.)

The exact nature and origin of Tony’s new armor is still unclear. We may or may not get more information in Black Panther, but what we do know is that:

  • it utilizes a form of self-assembling micro-machines/parts

  • it looks like the Bleeding Edge armor: especially in the first shot we can see the familiar lights of the RT units:
    (And by the way, Peter Parker is in the Iron Spider suit that we saw at the end of Homecoming. Something over which a great many people freaked out, so much so that I wrote a blog post about it.)

Look at the sleek design:

It’s definitely a close reproduction of the comic book design. Apart from the Mark I, this is the closest the MCU has gotten to the armors in the comics. (Which, in turn, got their own inspiration from the MCU armors, particularly the Prime armor’s design.)

Will we ever see the MCU and the comics sync up?

I know, I know, dream on.

But look: people may be heralding (very mistakenly, but that’s beside the point) the saturation of superhero movies, but the fact is that Marvel Studios are still on uncharted grounds. Hell, they’re inventing the damn thing. Nobody has ever done what they keep doing, and they keep bringing in new things with every movie. Infinity War (and Avengers 4) will be an unprecedented culmination of a decade’s worth of movies. There are TV shows existing within the same continuity.

I ask again: would it be impossible to bring in another – and in fact: there original – medium?

They’ve been resetting their comics universe (actually, comics universes) multiple times already. They can do it again, syncing it to the movies. Inevitably they will diverge again, but making that move, taking that kind of ownership of their own creative properties? That’d be just badass as fuck.

(And it’s not like they don’t have the resources, be that financial or creative or otherwise, for it.)

Speaking of: Marvel & diversity issues

A straight white male, I’m probably not the best person to talk about diversity. But it’s still an issue that’s close and dear to my heart, and I have something to say about Marvel’s efforts regarding diversity. Imagine the following scenario.

Most major contracts in the MCU expire soon. How about, maybe not now, but at some point, the following line-up:

  • Anthony Mackie’s Falcon taking up Captain America’s mantle
  • Riri Williams as Ironheart
  • Rescue in some shape or form
  • Alison Brie’s Captain Marvel
  • Jane Foster’s Thor (I’d love to see Natalie Portman return to the MCU and kicking some serious ass)
  • Miles Morales’ Spider Man (Danny Glover?)
  • Spider-Gwen (since Sony is building a Spider-Verse anyway)
  • Kamala Khan’s Ms Marvel
  • Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet is doing a fantastic job on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the character is Inhuman, and historically an Avenger)
  • Black Panther

Can you imagine? And, knowing full well that I forgot a lot of other characters, here’s the question of the week: who would you like to see in the MCU that could bring new perspectives and diversity into the movies? Let me know on social or in the comments below!

Coming up…

Next week is going to be all about Ironheart. The plan is – barring any world-shattering news – to go over the character and the issues up until the new issue that came out last week. It’ll be a long post: brace yourselves. ☺️

**Cover art: **Iron Man Bleeding Edge armor from Invincible Iron Man #25. (Image credit: Marvel.)

Starkplug is a weekly blog series covering Marvel movies, TV shows, comics, and related topics. Focusing mostly on the Golden Avenger, it discusses news, speculation, and examines stories through a lens of Transhumanist philosophy and culture.

Greg Fazekas

Greg Fazekas

Digitally Intelligent Neohuman. Writes stuff. Talks a lot about geeky things. Cybersmiler. Browncoat.

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