Tony Stark created countless Iron Man suits over the years in both the comics and the MCU. Almost every suit has a unique setup designed for specific purposes. In ‘Iron Man 3,’ we get introduced to Mark XL, aka Shotgun, a hypervelocity suit that got its nickname from the sound it makes breaking the sound barrier. But is Mark XL the fastest Iron Man suit in the MCU? Here’s all you need to know!
Is Mark 40 the fastest Iron Man suit in the MCU?
Since the first ‘Iron Man’ came out in 2008 and Tony Stark created the first Iron Man suit out of scrap metal in a cave, he never stopped upgrading and developing new versions of his superpowered armor.
A situation that led to Tony creating numerous different Iron suits with various purposes was the Battle of New York and his perpetual fear of an extraterrestrial threat coming back and overmatching Earth’s defenses. That’s when Stark developed his Iron Legion – an army of various versions of Iron Man suits that could be controlled simultaneously by J.A.R.V.I.S. on Tony’s command.
One of the Iron Man suits from the Iron Legion was the Mark XL suit, or Mark 40. In the J.A.R.V.I.S. application, Mark XL was described as a ‘High Velocity Suit Upgrade. Optimized for extreme velocities, extended flight missions, and capable of achieving speeds in excess of Mach 5.’
For context, Mach 5 is the speed five times faster than the speed of sound (Mach 1) and equals about 3836 miles per hour. Seeing that the application states Mark XL can go well over that, it’s safe to assume we’re talking about 4000+ mph speeds here.
The suit is nicknamed ‘Shotgun’ due to its loud popping sound as it breaks the sound barrier, sounding similar to what a real shotgun sounds when shot at close range.
We’ve seen it in use in ‘Iron Man 3’ when Tony activated the ‘House Party Protocol’ and the Iron Legion was launched to come to his aid. Naturally, Mark XL was one of the first armors to arrive, still under the control of J.A.R.V.I.S. It had advanced technology based on the previous Mark VII model, capable of attaching and wrapping itself around Tony Stark effortlessly, even in mid-flight.
That’s exactly what happened during the battle with Killian. Iron Man was ejected from his Mark XVI armor, and was caught by Mark XL mid-air, at which point Stark was in control of the suit. Long story short, he used the armor’s speed to his advantage, but Aldrich still managed to destroy Mark Xl by slicing it in half.
Now, if the Shotgun suit were really a hypervelocity suit, it would mean that Mach 5 speed could actually be a conservative number when it comes to the suit’s potential top speed. Its speed limit was never really explicitly stated, but most hypervelocity projectiles travel at speeds between Mach 7.3 and Mach 8.8, or 5600 and 6700 mph.
Assuming that this is the actual top speed of Mark XL, it is clear that Shotgun is the fastest Iron Man suit in the MCU. Or is it?
Some fans on Reddit have calculated that Mark 50 from ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ – the one that Tony Stark used to chase after the spacecraft (Q-ship) in which Ebony Maw captured Doctor Strange – could potentially reach way, way beyond that. Granted, there was a special boosting device looking like a rocket jet engine under Iron Man’s feet, but it still counts as a part of the suit.
The calculations suggested that, in order to effortlessly reach low Earth orbit as a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle, Iron Man could easily reach speeds up to Mach 22, or 17000 mph. That’s unfathomably quick, but don’t take my word for the calculation being true, as it was never really confirmed.
If those calculations were true, however – heck, even if Mark 50 could reach half of that speed, it would still be the fastest Iron Man suit we’ve seen in the MCU. Without an official confirmation, though, the title still belongs to Mark XL.
What is the fastest Iron Man suit in the comics?
It’s actually very hard to determine what the fastest Iron Man suit in the comics is, simply because there are so many different suits that Tony Stark has built over the years, and he is constantly making upgrades to make them even faster, stronger, and more durable. We do have some prime examples, though, but the speed limits vary inside and outside of an atmosphere.
Inside an atmosphere, we’ve seen Iron Man easily clocking at Mach 8.7, or 6675 mph. It happened while Iron Man was donning his Extremis suit in the comics, as you can see in the scan below.
Now, I don’t remember any instance in the comics where we’ve seen Tony fly faster than that within an atmosphere, so the Extremis suit is likely the fastest Iron Man suit in that regard.
Outside of an atmosphere – like orbital or space travel – we’ve seen Iron Man go way, way beyond that speed. Model 45 – a space suit that Iron Man designed and used in Iron Man: Fatal Frontier Infinite Comic #1 – had two-speed modes.
The first one was Mach 10, which is right around 7672 mph, or ten times the speed of sound, and warp speed, which is basically the speed of light, used for interplanetary travel. Yes, you’ve heard that correctly. Iron Man created a lightspeed suit.
And even that isn’t the craziest feature an Iron Man suit accomplished when it comes to speed. His Mark 42 – or Model 42, if you will – space suit managed to escape a black hole, meaning it transcended lightspeed at one point.
So there you go. You should never underestimate Tony Stark and his ability to stagger. Even if his MCU suits have a limit to right around Mach 8 (or Mach 22, depending on who you ask), in the comics, he managed to become one of the fastest Marvel heroes ever, at least when in space.
To conclude, Mark XL still holds the title of the fastest Iron Man suit in the MCU, although it is quickly followed (and possibly surpassed) by ‘Infinity War’s Mark 50. In the comics, the fastest Iron Man suit in-atmosphere is his Extremis suit, whereas, in space, Model 45 can reach warp speed, and Model 42 can surpass lightspeed to escape a black hole, making these two the fastest Iron Man suits in Marvel comics.
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