My understanding is that the effect of the explosion at the beginning of Iron Man 1 is that Tony Stark has metal shrapnel in his heart and needs an electromagnet to keep it from puncturing his heart.

When Obadiah Stane paralyzes him and tears out his power source, Tony tries to get to an older version, getting weaker and weaker.

How does removing the power source weaken him? It is not powering his body but a device to protect his heart. No power ultimately means a punctured heart but there is no reason to get weaker in the meantime.

  • The arc reactor also keeps his heart beating IIRC.
    – BCdotWEB
    Nov 29, 2020 at 11:03
  • 4
    In the end this is just some movie nonsense to power the story. It is pointless to focus too much on the details, it is what it is and it works that way because the movie requires it. See also scifi.stackexchange.com/a/23872/31029 It isn't realistic but neither are aliens and magicians and alternate realities and Thor etc.
    – BCdotWEB
    Nov 29, 2020 at 11:06
  • 2
    related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/20130/…
    – BCdotWEB
    Nov 29, 2020 at 11:08

1 Answer 1


Stark has shrapnel surrounding his heart. The arc reactor powers a magnet which keeps the shrapnel from entering his heart and killing him. When the reactor comes out, he starts having the equivalent of a heart attack, which will actually cause rapid weakness, especially given the amount of time that passed before Stane let him out of the paralyzer.

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