The arc reactor in the Iron Man suit is as famous as Superman’s cape and Batman’s cowl. However, it gives a pretty futuristic feel as opposed to the cape and cowl and has always fascinated Iron Man fans. The arc reactor got even more popular after the debut of Iron Man in a live-action film. The 2008 Iron Man film explored why and how Tony invented the arc reactor. The film also explains how it became a power source for the Mark 1 and subsequent Iron Man suits.
In this article, we will take a look at the brief history of how Tony evolved his reactor. And how he got rid of it from his body but kept it in his Iron Man suits.
Construction Of Iron Man Arc Reactor
In the Iron Man 2008 origin movie, we see that Tony Stark, the CEO of Stark Industries, is visiting Afghanistan to demonstrate the newly built Jericho missile by Stark Industries. The demonstration of the new rockets by Stark Industries is a success, but on his way back, the convoy escorting Tony gets ambushed. A terrorist organization named Ten Rings is behind this attack and uses weapons made by Stark Industries to carry out this attack and kidnap Tony.
But during the ambush, a rocket explodes near Tony, injuring him. Ten rings kidnap him nonetheless and take him to his hideout. Another captive named Ho Yinsen tends to Tony and tries to remove the shrapnel from the rocket trapped inside his body. But due to a lack of resources, he can not remove all the shards. These shrapnels puts Tony’s life in constant danger as the shrapnel might piece his heart at any moment. Utilizing whatever Ho has at his hands, he builds an electromagnetic device powered by a car battery that prevents the rocket fragments from reaching Tony’s heart.
After Tony recovers, the leader of the Ten Rings demands that Tony build Jericho missiles for the terrorist organization in exchange for his freedom. But Ho warns Tony that the Ten Rings will still kill him even if he builds the missiles. Tony and Ho then start working on miniaturizing the electromagnet and the Mark 1 suit for Tony to escape.
When Mark 1 is finally built, Ho sacrifices himself to allow Tony to escape. Tony crashes in the desert while trying to fly away in Mark 1 and is rescued by James Rhodes. Ho and Tony designed the original reactor to keep Tony alive and power Mark 1, allowing Tony to escape.
Mark 2 Iron Man Arc Reactor
On reaching home, Tony builds a new body armor called Mark 2. He also made a new and improved arc reactor to power this new suit. But his business partner, Obadiah Stane, reverse engineers Mark 1 into Iron Monger after recovering the suit’s scrap from the desert. To power the Iron Monger, Stane attacks Tony and steals his reactor from Tony’s body, and leaves him to die without the reactor. But Pepper Potts arrives in time and inserts the Mark 1 reactor in Tony, saving him.
After this, Tony and Iron Monger have a final fight. After destroying the power reactor in the Stark Industries with Pepper’s help, Tony emerges as the survivor, killing Stane and destroying his suit and the reactor.
New Element Arc Reactor
In the Iron Man 2 film, it is revealed that Tony built a new suit after the destruction of Mark 2 in the fight with Stane. But the palladium core used in the reactor’s construction is slowly poisoning him. He then develops a new reactor utilizing his father’s research. Through this research, Tony succeeds in extracting a new element and using it to construct the new arc reactor, naming it the new element arc reactor. It has more power than the reactors that used palladium core.
Removal of the Reactor
In Iron Man 3, Tony discovers a way to remove the rocket shrapnel from his body and succeeds through surgery. After this, he throws his reactor into the sea as he no longer requires it. However, he continues to use the reactors as a power source for his Iron man body armors by integrating them.
But Tony himself does not have a reactor on his chest throughout his subsequent appearances in the MCU till Avengers: Infinity War. During Infinity War, Tony houses nanobots in the reactor. These nanobots stored the fragments of the Iron Man armor. When activated these bots assembled the armor around Tony instantly saving his time in the process. He calls this reactor the RT node.
The original reactor that powered Mark 1 was framed by Pepper Potts with an inscription stating, “Proof That Tony Stark Has A Heart.” Following Tony’s death in Avengers: Endgame, this framed reactor was floated in a lake as a memento to Tony.
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