Posted by: movieotaku | October 13, 2008

Iron Man: I hope that suit is shock absorbant

Ah, Iron Man.  He was one of my least favorite Marvel characters.  But the movie was very enjoyable.  And I geeked out with the S.H.I.E.L.D. references.  Conservation of energy becomes moot in comic books, and since Tony Stark uses an Arc generator to power an electromagnet to keep a piece of shrapnel from entering his heart, one could give this one a break.  Although I’m pretty sure I read that they use electromagnets to remove shrapnel from delicate body parts, but I digress… (Actually even Marvel realised was a cheesy set-up that was and fixed it, but again, I digress…)

The one thing that occurred to me recently, while watching the trailer again, was he takes some heavy, heavy hit.  The kind of hits that must generate massive amounts of g-force.  Um… how does he survive them?  I can’t imagine Warmachine’s punches are low-g impacts.  Nor the concussion of rockets and artillery shells.  Yet somehow, Tony Stark doesn’t even get a concussion.

The perils of g-forces are often ignored in movies.  For example, crashing a car at high speed.  Without airbags, the impact alone can severely damage your brain without causing the skull to crack on something.  It’s something to think about the next time you see people involved in 55 mph head-on crashes in movies.



  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet, just the movie trailer. Here’s what stuck out like a sore thumb to me:

    1. Ironman is flying around some fighter jet(I believe they’re F-22s) and there are flames coming out of the bottoms of his boots. So, this begs the question where are his rocket motors? If they’re in the boots, how can they fit in there if his feet and legs are in there? And where is the fuel to power these rockets? A real rocket pack WITH visible external fuel tanks on the wearer’s back, can only stay aloft for about 30-45 seconds, yet Ironman can fly for what I assume is hours at a time over incredible distances. It utterly makes no sense.

    2. In another scene in the trailer, Ironman points his fist at a military tank, a small rocket emerges out of the suit’s forearm and it launches at the tank disabling it. Same question as the rocket motors, how can the rocket and the launching assembly fit inside his forearm with his arm being in there? It makes no sense at all.

    • they would defiantly would have to of been ion thrusters running off of hydrogen or xenon or something to be that small… then heat shielding of some sort, and throw in some EMP/EMI shielding to the thruster engine to protect his onboard electronics…

  2. Also, about the rocket motors in the boots, how come they don’t burn his feet up or melt the suit? In real rocket motors like the Apollo rockets and the Space Shuttle’s main engines, they solved that problem by cooling off the rocket thrusters by passing piping around the external of rocket thrusters containg the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. In solid rocket boosters (SRB), I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the case as in the liquid fuel rocket thrusters. I think the SRB rocket thrusters are made of a ceramic that can take the heat that the brief time an SRB rocket burns for. In other words, it doesn’t melt because it typically is burning for a relatively short time as compared to the sustained flight of the liquid fuel rocket motor has to burn for.

  3. @Z: First off you have to remember that this is a movie based on a Marvel comic, ergo the science makes about as much sense as Futurama’s. The general rationalization is that the “arc reactor” is an atomic fusion plant, hence how the suit is capable of powering supersonic flight. The propellant could simply be surrounding air collected and rammed out of the boots/gloves, energized by said fusion plant. As for cooling I think it’s safe to say that the suit’s outer shells are probably functioning both as armor, control surfaces, and as radiators.

    That must be a neat trick when facing baddies. It’s like Dr. McNinja, “They can’t grab you if you’re on fire!”

    As for the need for shock absorbers, the human body can actually withstand a lot of short term g-force punishment if the body is braced so it doesn’t fly apart all over the brace, or contort in uncomfortable ways. The suit appears up to be that task. We also do not see whether or not Mr. Stark is accruing a collection of internal injuries. One of the more popular epileptic trees (see going around the net is that Tony Stark did in fact receive some brain damage, during the initial attack on his vehicle, heat stroke during his escape, and during his cross-continental flights. I mean, since when was trashing your company and building a nigh-invincible super suit to fight injustice a sane thing to do?

  4. @Simon_Says

    An atomic fusion reactor so small it could fit inside Ironman’s suit? Come on, give me a break! Atomic fusion requires incredibly high temperatures to fuse atoms together, so high that the plasma inside the torus of a nuclear reactor has to be kept from touching the outer walls of the reaction chamber with magnetic fields. How in the world could a fusion reactor be made that small, as to fit in a suit? And let’s not forget to mention that being that close to anything nuclear, would still expose the wearer to radiation. I don’t care well how it would be shielded, you can’t possibly shield it 100% and not have any exposure to radiation.

    • One side thought; small amounts of nuclear radiation isn’t necessarily harmful, on high amounts it destroys your kidneys because it cleans it out of your blood, can it can only take so much at once… witch btw, didn’t they say tony was slowly diein from something in the 3rd movie in the series? could it be possibly kidney failure?

  5. @Z

    Those are purely -engineering- problems, not problems with the science itself. Heavier-than-air flight and public-consumer-feasible computing were both problems that many people thought impossible until until the Wright brothers invented the airplane and Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce separately invented the integrated circuit. It’s entirely possible to build a fusion reactor the size portrayed. It’s just an engineering problem. The claim that the 2nd-gen reactor could produce 3 GW is definitely erring on the side of bogus.

    An alternate explanation for the arc reactor (which I personally favor) is that it uses a high-yield nuclear isomer such as hafnium-178m2, and it harvests the nucleon decay (gamma radiation). The decay may be accelerated somehow, such as induced gamma emission, if that’s even possible (there’s a big controversy over this). The use of nuclear isomers for power is definitely feasible, and is in fact being considered as a power source for future un-manned aerial vehicles, which could theoretically operate for months. It explains a lot about the reactor and how it was built.

    Consider that the average unmanned aerial vehicle (U.A.V.) isn’t too different in size or purpose to the Iron Man suit. Also consider that the arc reactor appears to be a self-contained object that doesn’t need any re-fuelling (nuclear isomer power is essentially a chemical-battery on the nuclear scale, so this fits). If such power could be used in U.A.V.’s, why not a Jericho missile? 😉

  6. I agree. I saw everything in the movies as already being possible or someday being possible. Like Simon said it’s just an engineering problem that will most likey be over come. We’ve gone from so many bulky technologies to stream line ones why would anyone ever say that anything is impossible. But I must say that that scene where the rocket comes out of the arm. That was kind of pushing it. But hell one day that’ll be possible too.

  7. I think they used a really powerful ion thruster. As of right not the technogy is here the only thing is with todays energy sources can only lift things about the size of a piece of paper. But as for the movie we’re left to assume that the arc reactor he designed supplies more than enough power. Enough for him to fly. An ion thruster uses particals in the air (or space) and charges them to give thrust. Just google “ion wind” and NASA is actually working on more power ion thrusters for space travel and they just designed one that can lift 2.5 times what we had before. Tony Stark is obviously ahead of this time. But it will happen someday.

    • well its defiantly possible today i believe, maybe if the ion thrusters are ran from hydrogen and electrically powered from some type of fuel-cell… i think it wiould just take alot of reverse-engineering

  8. Thanx guys for giving that much knowledge. i really believe that it can happen & maybe one of us does that.;)

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