I love Iron Man and all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and the Iron Man suits are one of the coolest pieces of technology in all of movies. For all the amazing things, the various Iron Man suits can do like fly, super strength, invulnerability, and the amazing weaponry, one thing has always nagged me a little bit about the suit. How does he survive the force that’s generated from the sudden increase and decrease in speed like when he gets hit into the wall by The Hulk or when he’s unexpectedly shot out of the air. So our dumb movie question this time is:
How does Tony Stark not get smashed by inertial force?
There isn’t an official answer especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since it’s never really explained but with a little internet investigation and creative thinking we can try and guess. Now just to be clear, we are trying to look at it from a real world perspective but in fact there is no technology available that can stop inertia from acting on the human inside an Iron Man suit, also there's no Iron Man suit so there’s always gonna be an element of suspension of disbelief. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how Tony Stark can withstand the force of inertia and not end up a pool of blood and guts in the suit.
You’re probably thinking “well duh… his armor protects him…” but it doesn’t protect his body inside the suit from being smashed up against the sides of his suit. Kind of like how your skull protects your brain but if you get hit too hard in the head the skull may have protected it but the brain inside will keep moving and hit up against the side of the skull resulting in a concussion. So what’s keeping Tony safe from all the G-force of his crazy maneuvering and deadly impacts? The movies up until last year’s Captain America: Civil War hadn’t even had Tony sustain an injury in the suit which is remarkable considering how much abuse he’s taken in it. They finally show that he sprains his right arm when Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye trick him and throws a bunch of cars on top of him. We do know from that that he’s not invincible in the suit. Let’s take a look at some potential explanations with real life science and technology and when that fails let’s look at some make believe comic book science and technology:
From what I can tell from the films there isn’t any padding between him and the suit itself. Especially the later models from the Mark XLII in Iron Man 3 and on seem to completely attach to him. So there doesn’t seem to be anything that can cushion the impact like a gel substance or air that could fill that space. We don’t get too many shots of the inside of the suit but one explanation that I always thought maybe could be possible is that he has smaller lower powered repulsers like the ones he uses on his palms, feet, and back that gives him his flight propulsion lining the inside of the suit that fire back to counter the force as sort a repulsion padding.
Inertial Dampeners in terms of SciFi and movies are force field generators that dampen the effect inertial stress on anyone within it by creating a force field that absorbs the G-force. It exerts a force about equal to the force that’s acting on you to negate the jerk of the G-force. Think of it like force filed cushions all around you. This is what’s often used in Star Trek to explain how the Enterprise can move at warp speed without turning the crew into jelly, so Tony could use these on a smaller scale in his suit.
A bit like inertial dampening but instead of stopping inertial force it creates its own artificial gravity inside a field. Then there’s anti-gravity fields which make it so that allows a space or object to be free of or lessen the effects of gravitational forces by making use of electromagnetic fields. This one is much more plausible in the real world as many scientists today are working with electromagnetic field generators to try and create lift. It’s not out of them realm to think that Tony in the hyper technologically advanced fictional world of the MCU has already figured this out and implemented it in his suits to negate gravity in the suit. In fact, his father Howard is seen working on something similar with his flying car demo at the beginning on Captain America: The First Avenger and that was in the 1940’s!
There you have it, a bunch of potential explanations for why Tony and Rhodey don’t get crushed in their respective suits whenever they beat down. There is certainly something that protects them inside. This is even more evident when you see Rhodey sustain major injuries when him falling in the War Machine suit in Civil War when his suit has lost power due to Vision knocking his Arc Reactor out but Tony falling an even greater distance in Iron Man after getting shot out of the sky from some anti-air missiles or in The Avengers have Thor throw Mjolnir at him he gets up just fine because his suit was still fully operational. Again, we’ll likely never get an actual answer nor do we need an actual one but what ever it is we're all glad our favorite genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist isn't mush in a can. I love thinking about these things and I hope you enjoyed reading this! Let me know what your theories are!