The first appearance of this armor was in the form of Tony Stark's Iron Man MK II armor, where it proved to be successful as a prototype design for the later (and more public) series of Iron Man armors. In its initial form, it was capable of high velocity flight, and protected its wearer from the stresses of such high speeds. Limitations of the MK II armor included a freezing problem at high altitudes and power supply issues, which soon resulted in the MK II armor being mothballed in favor of more advanced designs.
Some time later, James Rhodes arrived to witness Stark's drunken antics at a party at Stark's residence. Reacting to the danger posed by his drunken friend — who was wearing the newer MK IV at the time — Rhodes retreated to Stark's private workshop and donned the MK II armor. Returning to the upper level, Rhodes then challenged Stark to refrain from further abuse of the armor's power. Stark refused, prompting the pair to engage in a lengthy duel that tore apart significant portions of Tony Stark's mansion. In the wake of the conflict, and with the two combatants separated, Rhodes then departed, still in possession of the MK II Iron Man armor.
Bringing the armor to an Edwards Air Force Base, Rhodes promptly turned it over to the U.S. Military for further investigation. While it granted greatly enhanced physical capabilities to its wearer, it also lacked the weapons capabilities of Stark's more recent Iron Man armors. In a bid to turn the armor over to combat applications, the military called on the talents of arms manufacturer, Justin Hammer, a long-time rival of Tony Stark's. Hammer was granted access to the MK II in order to upgrade it with various weapon systems, although Rhodes also had the foresight to remove the valuable arc reactor power source before Hammer touched the suit, thus denying the entrepreneur any access to the secret of Iron Man's power.
With the upgrades in place, the confiscated MK II armor made its next appearance in a public unveiling at an expo along with Justin Hammer's new force of "Hammer Drones". In this form, the armor had been rechristened "War Machine", and now sported a comprehensive array of Hammertech weaponry grafted onto the Stark-designed frame, as well as a new black and silver paint job with U.S. Air Force markings. In addition to the base systems, the armor's new weapons compliment included various external pods containing various projectile and missile weapons.
Unbeknownst to all parties, Hammer's new designer, Ivan Vanko, had compromised the War Machine armor's computer systems; with Rhodes helpless to intervene, he was able to commandeer the suit to launch an attack on Tony Stark. The ensuing battle tested the War Machine armor to the limits of its flight capability, even to the point where it proved capable of almost matching pace with Stark's Iron Man MK VI armor.
The battle between the two Stark armors ended once control was externally restored to James Rhodes, and he and Stark then joined forces to destroy the remaining active drones. They then faced Ivan Vanko, now encased in his own battle suit. The War Machine's externally mounted weapons were quickly destroyed in Vanko's onslaught, and a shoulder mounted Hammertech "ex-wife" rocket failed completely and comically. Stark and Rhodes were only able to defeat their adversary by firing their gauntlet repulsors at each other, causing a highly volatile explosion to engulf Vanko's armor.
After the battle, Rhodes asked his best friend if he could keep the armor since his car had been destroyed, which Stark jokingly refused. Then Rhodes departed with the armor into the skies.
Abilities, Weapons, and Equipment
- Ballistic: A 7.62-mm minigun is attached to the back of the suit on a swivel mount and typically fires over the right shoulder. It is governed by an automated targeting system and can track targets independently of the suit's wearer, including those targets to the rear. The ammunition feed for this weapon is a belt feed from the rear torso. The armor's vambraces each mount an underslung submachinegun.
- Repulsors: Conceptualized to provide flight stabilization to control the thruster boots, the strength of the War Machine gauntlet repulsors are not weapons-grade.
- Rocket: A box rocket launcher mounted over the left shoulder holds a Hammer-tech bunker busting rocket that Hammer and Rhodes both referred to as the "Ex-Wife". When Rhodes attempted to fire the weapon, it failed to detonate, simply bouncing harmlessly off its target.
- Thrust: The armor's enhanced jet boots can propel War Machine through the air at high speed.
- This armor was designed by Phil Saunders.
- Originally, this armor was planned to appear in the first Iron Man film, being the Iron Man Armor MK IV, which would've been used by Tony Stark in the movie's final battle sequence, and would have been weaponized swap-out parts that would be worn over the original MK III armor.
- If Justin Hammer really did include all of the firearms he proposed for the suit, armaments would be: A 9-mm high tech pistol, a sub-machine gun, an M24 shotgun, an FN2000 assault rifle, a 40-mm Melkor grenade launcher, and the 7.62-mm Minigun.
- The suit was only meant for Stark and was never calibrated for Rhodes; Tony explained that Rhodes was lucky that the suit "didn't give [him] a heart attack."
- 4 appearances of War Machine Armor MK I (Earth-199999)
- 2 minor appearances of War Machine Armor MK I (Earth-199999)
- 21 images of War Machine Armor MK I (Earth-199999)
- Gallery of War Machine Armor MK I (Earth-199999)