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Zombie Iron Man is a character from Marvel’s alternate universe series “What If…?” The superhero appears briefly in just one episode but leaves quite an impression. Like any other monster of this kind, Tony Stark is driven by basic instincts and infects everyone he bites or scratches.
Aside from the recent animated series, Zombie Iron Man had numerous appearances in “Marvel Zombies” metaseries. He also appeared in several crossovers, serving as protagonist or antagonist. All these events occur in an alternate Marvel Universe known as Earth-2149.
What I really liked about “Marvel Zombies” and “What If…?” is that it turns traditional superhero storylines on their heads. Each episode and comic is a story for itself, so even if a character dies, he can appear in the next episodes. In this Iron Man guide, I will focus on all the character appearances in the “What If…?” and “Marvel Zombies” series.
Key Info Up Front
Zombie Iron Man is a character from the animated series “What If…?” and comic metaseries “Marvel Zombies.” Upon becoming a zombie, Tony Stark becomes a monster whose only goal is to destroy living beings.
Interestingly enough, Zombie Iron Man retains all of its predecessor’s powers, making him an immense threat to everyone he encounters. Eventually, the character dies both in the animated show and comic book metaseries.
“Marvel Zombies” Background
This series of comics was published from December 2005 to April 2006. Robert Kirkman is the creator of these comics, with Sean Phillips and Arthur Suydam providing the artwork. It is the first of several zombie-related series where an extraterrestrial virus infects the world population.
Interestingly enough, the concept comes from Ultimate Fantastic Four comics. Zombie Iron Man appears in issues 23 and 32 of the series, where he acts as one of the antagonists. Given that this zombie-inspired storyline was a major success, Ultimate Fantastic Four’s creator, Mark Millar, decided to revisit the concept with the “Marvel Zombies” metaseries.
“Marvel Zombies” series led to the creation of “Marvel Zombies” vs. The Army of Darkness, “Marvel Zombies”: Dead Days, “Marvel Zombies” 2, and “Marvel Zombies” 3. Zombie Iron Man had a role in these comics, whether as a protagonist or antagonist. However, most fans will remember the character for his role in the original “Marvel Zombies.”
Aside from Tony Stark, the “Marvel Zombies” comic series also features other Marvel superheroes. The list includes Hulk, Black Panther, Vision, Bucky Barnes, Wasp, Ant-Man, Spiderman, and Captain America.
See also: Captain America Serpent Society Explained
“What If…?” Background
Zombie Iron Man is just one of numerous characters in the series. The show is based on “Marvel Zombies” comics, where everything can happen. “What If…?” series premiered on August 11, 2021, and only has one season so far. The Disney representatives said that the second season is currently being made and will air in 2023, while the third season is still being developed.
The first report of the “What If” animated series came on March 12, 2019. According to the first information, Kevin Feige was appointed as the executive producer. He said that the “What If…?” show would explore alternative possibilities during Marvel’s timeline.
One of these strange events occurred during the fifth episode, called “What If… Zombies!?,” where Iron Man was turned into a monster. The episode was aired on September 8, 2021, and had a run time of 31 minutes. “What If… Zombies!?” was written by Matthew Chauncey and directed by Bryan Andrews.
“Marvel Zombies” Synopsis
The “Marvel Zombies” series occurs in an alternate Marvel Universe called Earth-2149. We don’t know much about Iron Man before the zombie infestation, but it is presumed that he had a similar life trajectory to the original Earth-616 Iron Man.
Upon landing on Earth, Sentry from another timeline has started infesting major superheroes, including Ms. Marvel, Colonel America, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, Black Widow, and Wasp. They ran rampant around New York City, further spreading the virus to other comic book protagonists and antagonists.
Just as the infection first appears, Nick Fury calls Iron Man to help him form resistance forces. The director of S.H.I.E.L.D. cautions remaining superheroes that they should stick together and try to stop the zombie apocalypse.
A team of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Reed Richards remains in the base, trying to figure out the cure for the infestation. As one of the possible solutions, Tony Starks suggests the use of a teleporter device that would lead the survivors to another uninfected dimension.
However, for a device to work, they need to find a dimension similar to its own. They would also need coordinates to such a dimension as they cannot teleport blindly. While all of this is happening, a zombified Fantastic Four appears, killing Fury and infecting Iron Man.
Attack on Latveria
Upon realizing that Castle Doomstadt has meat reserves, Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, and Colonel America lead numerous infested superheroes to the location. As they were trying to destroy the castle’s magical defense, they were surrounded by the members of the Deadlite Legion.
Despite their best efforts, the corpses couldn’t stop zombified superheroes who retained their previous powers. Nevertheless, the zombies do not manage to penetrate the castle.
One of the rare surviving metahumans, Magneto, meets with Reed from Earth-1610. They start hatching a plan to take over the realm from zombies.
While all of this is happening, they are attacked by Zombie Iron Man. Invisible Woman from Earth-1610 blinds zombie Tony Stark and the remaining survivors go toward Baxter Building where they intended to use a teleporter, which would lead them to Ultimate Universe.
Acquiring Power Cosmic
As the zombie superheroes regroup at Times Square, Zombie Iron Man confronts them, asking what took them so long. Daredevil lies to the zombies’ leader but quickly figures them out. After that, Colonel America and Tony Stark map out Earth’s hidden bunkers where the remaining survivors might be hiding.
Just as this was happening, Silver Surfer appeared in the skies above. Iron Man charges straight at him, but Silver Surfer destroys his legs. Hulk continues the attack on Silver Surfer, biting his head off in the process. Wolverine, Giant-Man, Hulk, Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, and Luke Cage get a part of his power upon killing him.
From this point onward, the group is referred to as Cosmic Zombies (later on, Zombie Galacti). They use newly gained powers to eliminate all the zombies in the vicinity.
Clash with Galactus
While all of this was happening, Galactus made his appearance. He came at an opportune time attempting to destroy the Earth during the turmoil. The zombie forces attacked the villain with Power Cosmic but were no match for his power. As a result, they had to retreat to Pym’s lab.
Using Wakanda’s vibranium, zombies Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, and Hank Pym created a powerful gun, which would then be powered with their joint Power Cosmic. Going back to Times Square to confront Galactus with the new machine, they noticed that the villain was surrounded by zombies.
After making the last adjustments, the seven powerful zombies gathered around the machine and fired a beam at the villain. It took two shots, but the weapon managed to take him down. Seeing him fall down, the Cosmic Zombies rushed to the dead villain looking to consume his body.
Suddenly, zombified villains appeared on the scene, also wanting to devour the Galactus corpse to gain its power. The two groups clash, with Cosmic Zombies being victorious. They attacked ultimate Dr. Doom but to no avail. After these events, Cosmic Zombies started traveling through the cosmos consuming all life forces on the way.
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Battle Against Skrulls
During their cosmic travels, they eventually stumbled upon Skrull homeworld. They easily destroyed their outer defenses and went straight toward the aliens. Skrulls used missile defense, but the projectiles were no match for Zombie Galacti, which was the new name of the group.
Upon landing on the surface, Zombie Iron Man and Zombie Luke Cage attacked one of the indigenous bugs. After that, they continued killing Skrulls on the ground while other zombie superheroes turned to Skrull warships in the sky.
Chasing after some of the remaining Skrulls, Zombie Galacti stumbled upon the bug that they previously consumed. Now zombified and having immense power, the bug punched Luke Cage, who flew to another side of the planet, encountering Skrull’s Fantastic Four.
Upon returning to the group, Cage got into a fight with Zombie Iron Man. Tony Stark eventually lost his temper and tried to kill his ally with Power Cosmic. However, it had no effect, and Cage retaliated by punching the group’s de-facto leader.
Later on, the group went to Skrull’s Fantastic Four, who were held up on a Skrull warship. They asked them for the transdimensional device so they could easily reach other planes of existence. Fantastic Four somehow managed to flee, leaving Zombie Galacti behind.
As Zombie Wolverine was scouring the warship for some meat, he encountered Thanos and Death. The duo offered Zombie Galacti to relinquish them from their undead state. In return, they were to destroy Skull’s homeworld. Spiderman retorts that they are far from saving.
Zombie Galacti start exploring Galactus’s power. They eliminated the remaining Skrull, after which, they destroyed the whole planet.
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For 40 years, Zombie Galacti have been consuming all the life in the universe. Upon reaching the edge of the galaxy, they encountered Thanos and infected him with the virus. Subsequently, Firelord, Gladiator, and Dark Phoenix join the group.
During these 40 years, Zombie Iron Man went back to his original costume. He added cybernetic limbs to replace the ones destroyed by Silver Surfer. Not having anything more to destroy in the universe, Hulk and Thanos got into a fight ending in Thanos’ death.
Bruce Banner decided to recreate the teleportation device to other dimensions, previously created by Iron Man. On their way back, Zombie Galacti casually consume another planet.
A Source of New Food
Upon returning to Earth, the zombies realize there are still humans on the planet. The remaining survivors created a settlement in New York called New Wakanda. Giant-man proposes they create a breeding program that would ensure an endless supply of food.
Zombie Luke Cage and Zombie Spiderman didn’t like the idea and decided to fight Iron Man and the others. The survivors activated a force field entrapping Gladiator and Bruce Banner in New Wakanda. The same force field cut Zombie Luke Cage in half.
Gladiator, who was now stuck inside New Wakanda, went against Spiderman, Luke Cage, and a mysterious human in Iron Man Mark I Suit. Upon killing Gladiator, the mysterious man reveals his identity to the others. It turns out that the suit was controlled by Forge.
Zombie Iron Man’s Death
The other members of the Zombie Galacti group go to Baxter Building, searching for the teleporting device. They notice that Reed’s security is still in place, but they manage to destroy all the equipment, thus gaining access to the building.
After searching the premises, they are unable to find the teleporter. They quickly realize that Forge took the device and double-back to New Wakanda to fight the survivors and former Zombie Galacti. Once there, Giant-man promises not to kill anyone as long as he is granted access to the city and is allowed to take the device. However, upon deactivating the forcefield, the two groups clash.
The survivors quickly reactivate the defenses, but Zombie Iron Man still managed to get in. He is suddenly attacked by Forge, Malcolm Cortez, Acolytes, and Colonel America. The force field goes down once again, but the Zombie Galacti realize they are no longer hungry.
It turns out that Bruce Banner inadvertently deactivated the forcefield from the inside, after which he turned into Hulk. Unlike the others, he still has immense hunger. Tony Stark tries to stop his former comrade but is killed when Zombie Hulk penetrates his suit.
“What If… Zombies!?” Synopsis
Like most superheroes in this short episode, Tony Stark appears just in a few scenes.
After being split for 30 years, Hank Pym decides to go into Quantum Realm to find his wife Janet van Dyne. He discovers that she is infected by a quantum virus that turns her into a zombie. Pym gets bitten by his wife, while their daughter Wasp somehow manages to escape.
As the infection spreads all over the US, a team of Captain America, Black Panther, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeyes makes their way to San Francisco. They land on Golden Gate Bridge and, upon exiting the Quinjet, engage the zombies. The team is quickly overwhelmed and turned into zombies. Upon returning to New York, Iron Man infects Doctor Strange and Wong.
Attack on Bruce Banner
While all of this is happening, Bruce Banner returns to Earth following the attack on the Statesman. He doesn’t know anything about the roaming zombie infection and tries to warn the rest of the Avengers about Thanos’ incoming attack. Strangely enough, he notices that the whole of NY is abandoned, and there is no living soul on the streets.
Suddenly, Cull Obsidian and Ebony Maw appear. Like in the original movies, they are looking for Infinity Stones. Bruce Banner tries to confront them, but he is unable to transform into Hulk. Doctor Strange, Wong, and Iron Man come out of nowhere and attack the enemies killing them in the process.
Initially, Bruce Banner is happy to see his friends but quickly realizes that all of them are now zombies. Banner is once again saved by allies; this time, Wasp, Spiderman, and Cloak of Levitation come to his aid. Wasp quickly eliminates the opponents with her ants.
Grouping up With Other Survivors
Aside from a few Avengers, Okoye, Kurt Goreshter, Winter Solider, Happy Hogan, and Sharon Carter managed to survive the zombie apocalypse. They receive a message from the survivor camp that claims to have a cure for the zombie infestation. Unfortunately, the code is scrambled, making it hard to find the exact location of the camp.
Sharon Carter figures out that the location of the signal comes from Camp Lehigh located in New Jersey. The newly formed team tries to activate a train at Grand Central Terminal station that would take them to the nearby city. The group is attacked by infected Hawkeye who turns Hogan into a zombie.
Carter kills him, and soon after, Okoye and Winter Soldier kill the infected Falcon. While all of this is happening, other survivors manage to activate the train. They get in the transport just as the zombies are starting to surround them.
While the train is going toward New Jersey, Captain America jumps on it. The superhero infects Sharon, and Winter Soldier is forced to kill her. Wasp destroys her body but realizes that she was also infected in the process. The train suddenly stops at the former S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, where the survivors are once again surrounded by zombies.
Escaping the Encirclement
Wasp realizes that she doesn’t have much time and decides to help her allies. She increases her size and carries other protagonists well above the zombie threat. After getting them to safety, Wasp passes away. The survivors are perplexed when they notice that the zombies are not trying to enter the base.
Upon seeing Vision, they realize that his Mind Stone is the thing that keeps the zombies out of the facility. He uses the Stone’s radiation to cure Scott Lang’s severed head. Bruce Banner hatches a plan where they would use a satellite to spread Stone’s effect across the Earth, thus curing everyone.
Okoye agrees with the plan but mentions that they can only do this from Wakanda as the country’s impregnable force fields made it the last human bastion on Earth.
Planning the Escape
As Winter Soldier is preparing for escape, he’s looking around the base for a suitable transport. He sees zombified Scarlet Witch and Black Panther without legs nearby. Although Vision initially saved him, the synthezoid, later on, used Wakanda’s superhero as food for Scarlet Witch.
According to Vision, he wasn’t able to cure the Scarlet Witch due to her immense power but also couldn’t bear to kill her. Instead, he decided to feed her survivors. Scarlet Witch, waking up from her slumber, kills Goreshter and later on kills Okoye. Nevertheless, Vision helps the remaining survivors escape and removes Mind Stone from his head so they can use it as a cure when they reach Wakanda.
Just as Vision removed the Stone, zombies began to flood the building. Winter Soldier stays behind the group trying to buy them some time. Scarlet Witch attacks him and throws him aside like a ragdoll. The zombified superhero attacks Bruce Banner, who somehow manages to transform into Hulk at the last moment.
Banner gives Spiderman crest with the Infinity Stone and runs into a zombie horde trying to buy his allies some extra time. Quinjet flies away with the last few survivors but is attacked by zombie Wasp. Black Panther uses propulsion to escape the threat.
The remaining protagonists travel to Wakanda. In the last scene, the camera zooms on zombie Thanos, who has the other five Infinity Stones. He is waiting for them in Golden City, surrounded by numerous infected humans.
Zombie Iron Man powers and equipment
Zombie Iron Man has very similar traits to his human counterpart. The thing that is characteristic of Marvel’s version of zombies is that they retain their consciousness and can make sound decisions. Nevertheless, they are continuously haunted by their hunger, like the regular undead.
Like real Iron Man, Zombie Iron Man relies on his suit to enhance his biological capabilities.
Durability and Strength
Aside from becoming stronger and more durable due to the virus, the character still wears an Iron Man suit, which further enhances these physical traits. In that regard, he should be several times stronger and more durable than his human version. As a zombie, he can suffer debilitating wounds and survive without certain body parts for longer periods of time.
Although it seems that Tony Stark lost some of his mental acuity in the animated series, the comic books portray Tony Stark as very intelligent even after being transformed into a zombie. He is the one who figured out they need a transporter to get to other dimensions and would also suggest the creation of a weapon to kill Galactus. In fact, he even becomes the leader of the group.
Having access to an Iron Man suit, the zombie superhero still uses repulsors. Although he doesn’t use them as frequently as the human Iron Man, they are a part of his kit.
Among others, an Iron Man suit allows the zombie to fly around. He uses this power more frequently than repulsors.
The Power Cosmic
After devouring Silver Surfer and Galactus, Zombie Iron Man and his allies gain Power Cosmic. This allows the character to absorb cosmic energies and shape them according to his will. Power Cosmic can be used to create just about any effect and is regarded as the strongest ability in the Marvel Universe.
In comics, Power Cosmic is used for energy projection, matter absorption, changing size, changing the molecular structure of objects, teleporting beings and objects through time and space, creating portals and force fields, telekinesis, telepathy, and universal cosmic awareness.
Most of these powers were not shown in “Marvel Zombies,” but we can safely presume that the Zombie Iron Man possesses them after consuming both Silver Surfer and Galactus.
Mark Armor remains the most important piece of equipment for the superhero. However, it is worth noting that he uses just a few of its powers. It remains very important for Tony Stark’s mobility, durability, and strength, but he uses its weapons systems scarcely.
Most notably, he didn’t use J.A.R.V.I.S. or HUD. This makes sense as he would have to lower his visor, something that doesn’t go well with the newfound zombie persona. For example, he wouldn’t be able to eat Silver Surfer and Galactus with the visor on.
Question: Who is Zombie Iron Man?
Answer: After being infected by quantum virus, Tony Stark becomes Zombie Iron Man. It is worth noting that this character is from an alternate reality, known as Earth-2149. This dimension doesn’t follow the same timeline as the regular Earth-616, in which Marvel Universe events take place.
Question: How did Iron Man get turned into a zombie?
Answer: After landing on Earth, infected Hank Pym and his wife Janet van Dyne start attacking the citizens of the US. The Avengers, led by Iron Man and Captain America, land in San Francisco in an attempt to quell this threat. In a clash with the monster horde, all present members of the Avengers, including Tony Stark, get infected and turn into zombies.
Question: Who kills Zombie Iron Man?
Answer: In both comics and series, zombies are portrayed as sentient beings. Not only that, but they can also utilize superhero powers to their max. This is especially noticeable in the comics where Zombie Iron Man makes rational decisions and can even create complex machinery.
Tony Start becomes Zombie Iron Man after being infected by an alien virus. The idea was first conceived in 2005 in Ultimate Fantastic Four comics. Later on, Marvel decided to create a separate miniseries called “Marvel Zombies,” where superheroes and villains are infected by the virus, and they battle each other. The idea was revisited in the “What If…!?” animated series.
Zombie Iron Man is quite monstrous. He appears briefly in the series but still managed to leave his mark on me. I preferred his portrayal in “Marvel Zombies,” where he has a much larger role. He is shown as a sentient being, still able to use his high intellect.
I also liked the fact that this storyline is not connected to the regular Marvel storyline giving creators a lot of room for experimenting. Characters are killed off every moment, which gives the comics and the series a certain level of unpredictability.