• The unused original Hulkbuster design for Iron Man would have made his first outing more important, highlighting his progression and mistakes.
  • The similarities between the original Hulkbuster design and the Iron Monger suit are stark, suggesting that Iron Man inspired himself.
  • Debuting the original Hulkbuster design in Avengers: Age of Ultron would have emphasized Stark’s constant pursuit of improvement and served as a satisfying callback to his origins.



Among the highlights of Avengers: Age of Ultron was the bombastic arrival of Iron Man‘s Mark XLIV armor, AKA “Hulkbuster,” but the unused original design for Tony Stark’s ace-in-the-hole against Hulk would have made his first outing in Iron Man even more important. Iron Man was an important movie for many reasons, not least because it kicked off the MCU with Tony Stark’s iconic origin story. Given that Hulk was yet to make his MCU debut, the Hulkbuster armor was notably absent from Iron Man, yet its arrival may have been heralded in the movie’s final moments nonetheless.

Iron Man’s many suits were often born out of necessity, as Stark encountered countless unfathomable circumstances culminating in 85 designs before his ultimate sacrifice rocked the MCU. In his ambitious attempts to prepare for every eventuality, Stark’s brilliant mind found inspiration in myriad places. According to the design for the original Hulkbuster, this was as early as his first days donning the suit of armor, drawing straight from Obadiah Stane’s Iron Monger rip-off.

Related: Iron Man Movies, Ranked From Worst To Best

MCU’s Unused Hulkbuster Design Looks Like Iron Monger’s Villain Suit

Concept art of a Hulkbuster suit for Avengers: Age of Ultron

As one of the many villains whose time on screen was far too short, Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane was one of Iron Man‘s many strong suits. This appearance was compounded by the fearsome suit of armor he directed Stark Industries’ top scientists to create. The result was an unadorned behemoth of a suit that towered over Stark’s during their climactic tussle, with prominent pistons and a distinct absence of the red-and-gold color scheme that went on to be an iconic characteristic of Iron Man’s future designs. The similarities shared with the original Hulkbuster design are stark.

The similarities are more compelling because the Iron Monger suit was built from the remnants of Iron Man’s first-ever design. The suit built by Tony Stark “in a cave with a box of scraps,” therefore, was later used against him by Stane, altered only to make it double the original size. If the Iron Monger suit did inspire Stark’s Hulkbuster design, then in an Ouroboros/Victor Timely-style turn of events, Tony Stark actually inspired himself. Should Marvel have decided to deploy this full-circle plot thread and use the original Hulkbuster design, it would have helped to clarify Stark’s narrative arc in multiple ways.

The lead Stark Industries scientist that Stane lambasted for failing to recreate Iron Man’s suit was future Mysterio collaborator William Ginter Riva.

How The Unused Hulkbuster Design Makes Iron Man’s MCU Arc Even Clearer

Throughout his tenure as Iron Man, Tony Stark created 85 armors. Each was an improvement on the last, culminating in the Mark LXXXV. This final suit was composed of the nanobots that ultimately allowed him to one-up Thanos in their nailbiting one-on-one during the Battle of Earth, proving that Tony’s brilliant mind was the key to defeating the Mad Titan. To get to this point, however, Tony had to make a lot of mistakes. Ironically, his creations were among them, with the first in Iron Man being a rocket and the last Iron Monger himself.

To have debuted Iron Man’s original Hulkbuster design in Avengers: Age of Ultron would have helped to hammer home Stark’s incessant pursuit of improvement based on the mistakes he made. From start to finish, the original design is practically a perfected version of his first-ever design. Not only would this have helped to spotlight Stark’s progression in the MCU, but it would also have been a satisfying callback to his Iron Man‘s genesis.

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