Before Tony creates the new element in Iron Man 2 the chest plate on the Iron Man suit is round. After the new element is created, there isn't enough time for Jarvis to finish running diagnostics before Tony uses it.

When did the chest plate change to the new triangle shape that is seen when Tony shows up to the Stark Expo and fights the Hammer-droids?

The first picture is the classic, the next is the triangle. enter image description here

  • 1
    My guess is when he puts on the Mark VI armor and shows up at the expo? I'm not entirely sure what you're seeking to know here.
    – MattD
    Feb 12, 2016 at 18:50
  • It seems like the change to the chest plate from the classic circle to the new triangle would have taken some time to perform. Tony wasn't certain that the new element would have worked. When was the Iron Man suit chest plate updated?
    – Steven
    Feb 12, 2016 at 19:04
  • @Steven the movie is short on details. Educated guess, he fixed the minor damage on the Mark IV.
    – cde
    Feb 12, 2016 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


The Mark VI (6) with the triangular chest plate is created after (drunk) Stark and Rodey fight. The Mark IV (4) is a bit banged up, but nothing a quick fix won't handle. (The Mark V (5), the suitcase model is destroyed at the Grand Prix).

The next day, Nick Fury gives Stark his father's old data. The very next day, he synthesizes a new element. In his basement. In less than 24 hours. And finishes the Mark VI (6). And he saves the Expo the same night. Yes, this is canon. Everything from Iron Man 2, Thor & The Incredible Hulk happen in 1 seven day week, called "Fury's Big Week". sigh.

enter image description here

The Triangle shape was specifically due to the new Arc Reactor being Triangular in shape.

enter image description here

Anyway, since we don't see an Iron Man factory setup like we do in Iron Man 3, we can't assume he built the suit from scratch. (He doesn't go into full production mode until after The Avengers, where he's up to Mark 46 at the start). It was either part of a prototype already in progress, or in my opinion, simply a modified Mark IV suit.

The Mark VI and IV are identical except for the power source, the new Arc Reactor. A new chest plate for the new reactor is all that would be needed, aside from the repairs. The suit he uses at the end of The Avengers,the Mark VII (7) is based on upgrades from the Mark V and new reactor, not an improvement on Mark IV (4) or VI (6). The Mark II (2) was upgraded to the current War Machine armament in 2 days by the Air Force as well.

Of course, the real reason Stark goes to the triangle is out-of-universe. It's a design choice by the movie production. Which the new director quickly decided to drop. Because Joss Whedon thinks "the triangle is ass".

  • In one day Tony found and synthesized the new element, and updated the suit? He didn't know if it was going to work. Jarvis was still running tests. Tony just plunged it into his chest. Why would he have a suit modified to use the new power source when he didn't know if it would work, or what the overall improvements were going to be?
    – Steven
    Feb 12, 2016 at 19:59
  • @Steven to be fair, his father found it, after an unknown amount of time, enough that he designed an entire expo center to have the same shape. Stark just synthesized it. And the basic atomic structure gave Tony all the info he needed on power output. But yea, official time line, 1 day.
    – cde
    Feb 12, 2016 at 20:03
  • 1
    @Steven keep in mind, the Starks are some of the smartest people on earth, and Tony built the first iron man suit and arc reactor using scraps in a desert cave while being watched by terrorists.
    – cde
    Feb 12, 2016 at 20:04
  • That is an excellent point. But in the cave he did have help. :)
    – Steven
    Feb 12, 2016 at 21:53
  • 1
    @Steven Here he has Jarvis and Dum-E (and U?).
    – cde
    Feb 12, 2016 at 21:58

Across both the core Iron Man films as well as others in the MCU, Tony has designed a number of suits to suit various mission needs and protocols.

As such, the triangular design of the Mark VI armor you're asking about could have simply been an aesthetic choice for this particular suit, and not because the power core in his chest changed.

Note that the Mark VII armor, which comes after the model you're talking about, sees a return to the circular unibeam shape.

However, as shown when Tony activated the "House Party Protocol" in Iron Man 3, and early in Age of Ultron when we see a facility in the Avenger's tower manufacturing robots and suits, Tony has become quite paranoid since his battle in the first Avengers movie (which took place between Iron Mans 2 and 3), feeling it's up to him to protect the planet the only way he knows how: with a suit of armor, or in this case several suits of armor around the planet.

Tony is constantly upgrading and modifying his suit, as any gearhead is want to do. Given the Mark V (aka, the Briefcase Suit) was damaged early in Iron Man 2, and it's possible there was still damage to the Mark IV due to his drunken antics at his party, where he got into a fight with Rhodey who was wearing the Mark II suit, the only one available at the time was the Mark VI, which simply happened to have a triangular unibeam chest plate.

Other suits have had different unibeam centers on their chest plates, an extensive number of which can be seen here.

Most are circular, but some have vertical and horizontal rectangles, others are triangular and even have triangles with flattened corners, and even the size of the unibeam emitter changes depending on the suit and its intended purpose.

  • I like the idea. Does that mean that Tony had the triangular design already, and just so happened to pull that one out when he started to use the new element?
    – Steven
    Feb 12, 2016 at 19:27
  • It's possible the suit was already being made and he just happened to want a different look for that armor, but given the followup suit, the Mark VII, had a rounded unibeam emitter, it's doubtful the Mark VI's design was required for the new arc reactor in Tony's chest.
    – MattD
    Feb 12, 2016 at 19:33

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