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The Extremis was a super soldier project developed by a biotech company called FuturePharm, subsidiary of Stark Industries. Alongside Maya Hansen, Dr. Aldrich Killian developed the nanite technology called Microsurgery Experimental Robotics. The project was funded by the U.S. military. However, when the military pulled the plug, Hansen and Killian stole samples and sold them to a militia terrorist faction, but a guilt-ridden Killian confessed afterwards in a suicide note.[1]

Extremis on the Loose[]

In an attempt to regain the stolen serum, Stark, as Iron Man, was injured battling a domestic terrorist, Mallen, who had been altered by the Extremis drug into a superhuman killing machine. Seeing no other option, he took a modified dose of Extremis to heal his injures and improve his neural interface with the armor and other technologies. The revitalized Iron Man then set out after Mallen.[2] After killing the terrorist without choice, Stark discovered that Maya was the accomplice of Killian in stealing Extremis, and she was put into custody.[3]

Learning about the possibilities of Extremis, the Mandarin infiltrated the U.S. government with a cover identity of Tem Borjigin, CEO of the Prometheus Corporation, specializing in bio-weaponry, manipulating Maya into helping him perfect Extremis after faking her death to deflect attention. Having determined that Extremis was only effective on those who possessed a specific gene sequence that was only found in 2.5% of the population [4], the Mandarin intended to release it en masse, believing that, after the deaths of the 97.5% who lacked the ability to cope with Extremis, the survivors would be left stronger, smarter and immune to age and disease.[5] However, Iron Man was able to defeat the Mandarin's scheme by redirecting the Extremis missiles into the upper atmosphere, where the nanobots that would have delivered the virus were destroyed by the extreme cold of the jet stream.[6]

Years later, Maya was kidnapped by A.I.M. and forced to duplicate the virus before killing her. The new samples of Extremis were then sold in an auction to four different bidders, whose names were forcibly given to Stark by the head of the auction, Colin Forty-Four, in order to retrieve the Extremis from them by any means necessary.[7]

Extremis 3.0[]

The recently-discovered long-lost foster brother of Tony, Arno Stark started working on a new, more stable version of Extremis after being contacted by Tony, much to the latter's dismay.[8] When Bruce Banner was shot in the head and suffered brain damage, his neural tissue was fixed with Arno's Extremis.[9] Another application of Extremis, now tweaked by Banner, allowed him to increase the intelligence of the Hulk,[10] unleashing a new personality called "Doc Green."[11]

During World War Hate, a magic spell caused the inversion of Tony Stark's moral axis. The new egocentric and determined Tony Stark released a modified "Extremis 3.0" to San Francisco, giving the people the option of physical perfection for free by way of a wireless application.[12] However, as they found out, this was merely a free trial period, and keeping their "perfect" bodies would require a payment of $99.99 every day.[13] Stark himself appeared to have taken this version of Extremis, allowing him to have close combat abilities capable of taking on and even defeating Daredevil in hand-to-hand combat in terms of strength and reflexes.[14]

Daredevil later discovered the Extremis app wasn't what it appeared to be, Stark had contaminated San Francisco's water supply with the virus, and the Extremis app merely served as a trigger for the Extremis virus to be activated inside a person by generating a certain subsonic frequency. However, Stark prevented Murdock from acting on this discovery by inflicting minor brain damage that would erase Matt's memory of this revelation, also intended to reprogram Extremis to be activated by a signal that Murdock couldn't detect.[15]

King in Black[]

After Knull dropped Eddie Brock from the Empire State Building, only a Symbiote could save his life. So Iron Man used extremis to procure one of the Symbiote Dragons for Eddie's cure by disconnecting it from the Hive through changing its genetic code.[16]


Original Extremis[]

The original Extremis serum gives its user:

  • Superhuman Strength: An Extremis subject's strength can be increased to superhuman levels, providing the user enough strength to toss cars and people with relative ease,[17] break someone's skull with a single punch,[18] counter Iron Man's superhuman physical blows,[17] break Iron Man's bones with ease through the suit, rip the highly durable suit apart without effort,[17] and even use the "blade" of a bulldozer as a blunt force object.[2]
  • Superhuman Speed: An Extremis subject can move and run at incredible speeds up to 300 mph,[17] although it is unknown if this is the top speed an Extremis subject can move at.
  • Superhuman Stamina: The virus grants its user almost unlimited stamina, with no need to eat, drink or breathe air.[17]
  • Superhuman Durability: Extremis-enhanced beings have greater resistance to physical injury than an ordinary human. They are able to withstand bullet impacts and direct fire of Repulsor Blasts without feeling pain, at a potency higher than which a Repulsor Blast needs to have to cut through metal, only suffering minor wounds.[17] Iron Man's uni-beam only caused Mallen great discomfort without injury.[19]
  • Fire-Breathing: At the user's discretion, his/her lungs fill with fire plasma which he/she can exhale through his/her mouth. Mallen torched a lobby full of people through this method.[18]
  • Claw-like pincers: An Extremis subject can unsheathe stingers from his/her fingertips. They are very durable, and in conjunction with super-strength, they can be used by the Extremis subject to claw through a converter box.[17]
  • Electrical discharge: Extremis-enhanced beings are able to discharge extremely powerful electrical currents through his/her hands which seemed to emanate from his chest through his arms.[17]
  • Healing Factor: Extremis-enhanced beings can also heal wounds at a incredible speed, in a matter of hours.[19]

Tony Stark's Modified Extremis[]

Tony Stark reconfigured the last Extremis dose created by Futurepharm in order to heal himself after being fatally injured by an Extremis-powered terrorist, and "become one" with his armor, gaining the following abilities:

Iron Man Vol 4 6 Textless

Iron Man's Extremis-enhanced armor

  • Direct Cybernetic Interface: The Extremis virus has fused Stark's armor to his body. Initially, the inner layers of the Iron Man armor were stored in the hollows of his bones, but later his entire exo-armor would be contained within carbon nanotubes. He is able to manifest and control the armor through direct brain impulses and even utilize some of its powers when unsurfaced. He has direct, cyberpathic control over the communication devices, scanning equipment, and recording devices located in his helmet.[20]
    • Wireless Communication: He was also able to remotely connect to external communications systems such as satellites, cellular phones, and computers throughout the world. Stark is also capable of projecting his voice through transmitting sound systems, such as cellular phones, via electric transmissions from his central nervous system.[2]
  • Nanotech Armor Manipulation: Due to the Extremis, Tony could store the nanoparticles of his suit within the hollows of his bones and summon it at will. He could also command the nanoparticles to reshape and even repair itself.[2]
  • Augmented Physiology: Extremis also bolstered Stark's biophysical frame, enabling him to consciously adapt himself on a limited scale both internally and externally.[21]
    • Superhuman Reflexes: The Extremis virus granted him enhanced speed reactions and movements.[2]
    • Regenerative Systems: Stark was capable of biologically heal himself and repair the armor.[2]
  • Enhanced Endurance: The Extremis virus was mentioned to have increased Tony's natural endurance.[5]
  • Significantly Enhanced Brain Function: With the Extremis virus, Tony's brain function greatly increased, allowing him to process information and connect data together like a supercomputer. As Tony's brain thought processes were still at a standard level, this was shown to cause hallucinations which provided him with information that his conscious mind was unable to keep up with.[5]

Arno Stark's Modified Extremis[]

Arno Stark's version of the Extremis virus helps repair brain damage as it did with Bruce Banner.[9] Banner later altered the Extremis Arno injected into his body to boost the intelligence of the Hulk.[10]

  • Augmented Physiology: Arno's variant of the Extremis virus allowed him to rewrite his body's cellular structure so as to function much more efficiently and even gains one new superhuman abilities. [22]
    • Regenerative Systems: Arno's variant of the Extremis virus was able to regenerate his damaged biology, enabling him to function and even walk without the need of life support.[22]
    • Sleeplessness: Arno's variant of the Extremis virus had removed his body’s need for sleep.[22]
    • Limited Self-Control: Arno's variant of the Extremis virus had given him level of control over his own physiology which he used to reach instant meditation so as to prevent himself from being crushed by a stampede. [22]

Extremis 3.0[]

After his moral inversion, Tony Stark created a new Extremis called "Extremis 3.0" that grants the following abilities:

  • Appearance Alteration: It allows people to have a form of shape-shifting, as they can alter their appearance to their own desires.[13][23]
  • Regenerative Healing Factor: Tony Stark claimed the virus allows people to heal at an accelerated rate and heal from injuries that they normally couldn't heal from. There is some truth to this as the Extremis was able to heal Daredevil of his blindness.[23]
    • Immortality: Tony Stark claimed that the Extremis provided a form of immortality. It is possible that it may be through either halting of the aging process or rapid regeneration of body's cellular structures.[14]
  • Enhanced Strength[14]
  • Enhanced Agility[14]
  • Enhanced Reflexes[14]

Other Versions[]

Numerous different types of Extremis were produced over the time, some of them are like Stark's, allowing easier usage of technology.[24] Others adapted it to enable themselves survival in hostile environments,[25] further still have been used to transform normal humans into brainwashed mindless beasts.[26] One of the more beneficent uses of said artificial pathogen was to effect medication affectation for incurable diseases and the like, but had been twice unsuccessful until Stark came and modified it.[27]


Created as a nano-tech serum, the Extremis liquid biotech complex is inserted into graphitic nanotubes, suspended in a carrier fluid and stored in an applicator specially designed, created and developed from similar prototypes previously marketed by Futurepharm.

Extremis (Virus) process from Iron Man Vol 4 1 001

Extremis being applied

The virus is injected in the back of the subject's head. If properly injected up to the cervical nerves, the fluid is passed into the bloodstream and permeates the nervous system, accessing the body's recovery center, the portion of the brain that has the complete mapping of the human body and all their features, and initially identifies possible future failures, such as cuts, injuries and varied stimuli which are repaired with enzymes. Extremis takes control of this region of the brain-stem and overwrites all of this mapping with the information about how the body should truly be.

Once the modification is made, the body's system evaluates the entire human body as erroneous and injured, sending the information to the brain that the entire body, externally and internally, is wrong, completely transforming it into an open wound to be healed and changed by and for the Extremis' standards.

Anthony Stark (Earth-616) transformed by the Extremis virus process from Iron Man Vol 4 4 001

Former genetic code expelled

The first instants of pain processing is fulminate, and the liquid carrier of the genetic code is expelled from the body orally. A side effect of the expulsion of the liquid is the loss of considerable amount of blood that ends up giving the subject a frail, pale and sick appearance. This stage lasts, however, only a few moments before the cardiac activity is reduced and the person in whom the drug was injected in enters to a state of prolonged sleep.

Anthony Stark (Earth-616) transformed by the Extremis virus process from Iron Man Vol 4 4 002

Cocoon formed

The standard protocols for insertion of the Extremis virus imply that, at this stage of processing, the user should be kept under constant observation and unremitting care, put on a constant life support and receive nutrition intravenously every hour. After a period of time, the brittle skin of the user begins to break into low-grade scabs. The wounds gradually release low quantities of blood which upon contact with air and become solid. In order to protect the body, the crust is enhanced throughout the body. After eight or nine hours, almost the whole body has become covered with this layer of protection, or cocoon. This stage is maintained for about forty-eight to seventy-two hours, in which all the nutrients and body mass are reshaped, creating new stronger, more powerful and resilient body parts, such as muscles and nerves, in order to fulfill their duties more efficiently. This stage of the application of the serum seems to deteriorate or abolish the vestments worn by the user, because after the cocoon they're protected by breaks, they are naked.

Anthony Stark (Earth-616) transformed by the Extremis virus process from Iron Man Vol 4 4 003

Enhanced subject emerges

After the subject regains consciousness and awareness, the cocoon is violently cracked into many pieces, slowly freeing the user from itself.[17]

Alternate Realities[]

Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999)[]

In Earth-199999, the Extremis virus was an experimental serum that modified a host's genetic code to grant superhuman strength, endurance, and a healing factor. It was created by Maya Hansen, and first tested on plants. During the New Year Eve of 1999, she met Tony Stark, with whom she talked about the Extremis and also intimacy. While drunk, Stark could almost fix the Extremis problem of stabilization, as it had the side-effect of overheating. A young scientist named Aldrich Killian offered her a place in his organization Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.).

Years later, Killian advanced the testing to human subjects, injecting it into himself and a number of soldiers. The Extremis was still unstable, however, and so Killian offered Pepper Potts a position within A.I.M. in an attempt to lure Stark. Aldrich later kidnapped her to force Stark's cooperation in finding the solution for the instability he started years earlier, and injected Pepper with the serum as added insurance.

Extremis Virus from Iron Man 3 (film) 0001

Extremis Soldier as seen in Iron Man 3

Pepper was later taken to the Roxxon Norco oil tanker where Killian was going to publicly execute President Ellis. Stark, and his friend James Rhodes, stole aboard and fought Killian and the Extremis-enhanced soldiers. Potts fell from a great height in the battle, but the regenerative properties of the Extremis saved her, and went on to kill Killian. Stark promised Pepper he would find a cure for Extremis, which he did.[28]

The unstable version of the Extremis virus was somehow obtained by the Hydra off-shoot organization known as Centipede, and was one of the key components in their "Centipede" super soldier serum.[29]


Extremis, when injected into living tissue, results in a wide range of effects within the host organism. The intention of Extremis was to enhance, although the compound was flawed. In all hosts, it causes intense pain until it either bonds with the host successfully, or destroys the host in a violent explosion. Even in cases where the Extremis virus has successfully bonded, the host organism may be at risk of the compound becoming unstable and detonating with sufficient force to burn nearby bystanders to dust, and crater solid concrete underfoot.

  • Healing Factor: The Extremis virus imparts incredible restorative capabilities upon the host organism, which was its primary original intention. Superficial wounds close over and heal completely in a matter of seconds, and severed limbs can take minutes to regrow.
  • Exothermic Manipulation: Hosts of the Extremis virus are able to consciously raise the temperature of parts of their bodies. The effect can be controlled to the extent that it might only scorch skin, or increased to the point where it can cause steel to turn into a molten state. In the case of Killian, intense temperature extremes enables its host to breath fire.
  • Superhuman Physicality: The Extremis virus enhances the muscular power, bone resilience and skin density of the host considerably. The extent appears to vary within marginal limits, but most have demonstrated the ability to hoist the weight of a human male effortlessly in one hand and hurl such a weight across a room. As well as grant even greater bodily motion, granting the host exponentially-enhanced agility, speed and reflexes greater than the finest human athlete.

Known Users[]

Marvel: Avengers Alliance (Earth-12131)[]

Eric Savin (Earth-12131) from Marvel Avengers Alliance 001

The appearance of an Extremis test subject

In this universe the Extremis virus is described as a "nanotech-based interface with the human nervous system." It was developed by A.I.M. with the help of a mysterious ally, based on the work of Maya Hansen, an old colleague of Tony Stark, who was researching a new kind of super-soldier solution.

The first and only known test subject was Eric Savin, who was located by Tony Stark and defeated with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s alliance of superheroes. After the defeat of Savin, the Mandarin revealed himself as the mysterious ally of A.I.M., and that his true plan had just started.[30]

Iron Man: Armored Adventures (Earth-904913)[]

Extremis appears in the same name episode of "Iron Man: Armored Adventures", as an experimental nanotechnological serum with unpredictable results. It was developed by S.H.I.E.L.D. in an attempt to recreate the original Super-Soldier Serum. After use, the initial effects are seemingly identical to canon, and the user is quickly enclosed in a soft-shelled cocoon. Unlike the comics, the transformation is much faster; seemingly a minute or two at the most. The one person shown to have taken a full dose, Mallen, gained the fire-breathing and electrical discharge abilities, as well as durability sufficient to shrug off Iron Man's weapons and superhuman strength sufficient to easily defeat him in combat. After said combat, it was discovered that Tony's already damaged heart received further damage, preventing him from ever being Iron Man again. Desperate, Tony injected himself with a minor amount of modified Extremis. That not only healed his heart completely and allowed him to interface with his armor directly, but also increased his strength to at least peak human measures (he lifted Rhodey and Pepper into the air while hugging them, with no visible effort) and made him a full-fledged technopath, capable of controlling electronic systems at least as distant as low orbit.

In the episode "Iron Man 2099," Tony attempted to use his new abilities on Andros Stark, but it was easily fought off. Andros then stated that a much more advanced version (16.5 in his case) of Extremis was used by everyone in the future.


Tony Stark[]
  • Biological Rejuvenation/Enhancement: Thanks to his modified dosage of Extremis, Anthony Edward Stark was able to rewrite his own physiology in order to restore his ability to use the armor again after his battle with Mallen left him unable to do so. His physical overhaul not only restored his capacity to wear it again but healed him on a more personal level as well.
    • Peak-Human Strength
    • Enhanced Intelligence
    • Regenerative Healing Factor
    • Superhuman Reflexes
  • Technological Interfacing: Tony gained the ability to mentally interface with cybernetic systems by force of will. Enabling him to mentally communicate with computers and technology going so far as connecting with orbiting satellites around the earth to wireless interfacing with his Iron Man armors, controlling its individual components and controlling it with his mind.
Andros Stark[]
  • Advanced Biophysical Enhancement/Technological Interfacing: Andros' Extremis of the future had given him everything allotted to Anthony's Extremis but at a progressively more advanced level, due in being an enhanced strain of future biotech the Iron Man of 2099 hosts a number of facilities that his ancestor does not. With it he can easily rebuff outward hacking attempts by his younger ancestor through his Extremis 16.5 version as well as interface with his armor better.
    • Physical Immortality:
    • Enhanced Condition


  • The Extremis-enhanced people can be known as Homo extremis.[7]

See Also

Links and References