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How Powerful The Hydra Stomper Is Compared To Iron Man’s First Armor

The Hydra Stomper that shows up in What If’s Captain Carter is powered directly by the Tesseract, and was made with a workshop and proper equipment.

Warning: SPOILERS for What If…? episode 1, “What If…Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?”

In the first episode of Marvel’s What If…?, Captain Carter is backed up by the Hydra Stomper, a powerful suit of armor that serves as a clear nod to the Iron Man suit. It has some significant advantages, however, compared to the Mark I suit Tony Stark built in Afghanistan. Although Howard Stark uses World War II-era technology to construct the Hydra Stomper, it’s resilient and has an arsenal that makes it stronger and tougher than the Mark I. The reason for this is easy to explain: Howard Stark has full access to the supplies and material of the U.S. military-industrial complex and the Tesseract, whereas in Iron Man, Tony Stark is forced to improvise using the materials at hand to construct his first suit.


The result of this is a more streamlined suit of armor, purpose-built to go to war. With Steve Rogers in the Iron Man role, it is more clearly militarized, and the armor and weapons of the suit more closely resemble a tank. Where the Mark I armor in Iron Man was bulkier than later models because it was built out of scrap and seized arms, the Hydra Stomper appears to have been deliberately constructed with plans to allow the pilot to throw their weight around. With the Tesseract serving as the power source, Howard Stark was clearly less worried about only being able to power “something big for fifteen minutes,” as his son in the main MCU timeline later was, allowing Howard to be freer with layering on additional armor and weapons.

Related: Why Captain Carter Doesn’t Wear A Mask (Like Steve Rogers)

In terms of raw power, the Hydra Stomper has a distinct advantage over the Mark I suit. The first Iron Man suit was not equipped with coherent energy beams, using salvaged weaponry mounted to the exterior of the armor. With What If…? providing a different Iron Man suit origin story, it appears that repulsor technology might have been available as far back as the Second World War, with a sufficient power source in the Tesseract and used to a primarily martial end. The Hydra Stomper’s jet pack uses the same blue energy that its weapons discharge displays, which is presumably required to give lift to the heavier armor.

All of this comes at a trade-off, however, as the Hydra Stomper is not replicable, owing to its unique power source. Fueled by the Tesseract, the Stomper can put out a great deal more power, but there can only be one. The Hydra Stomper appears to rely more on physical controls as well, meaning that while it is less likely to take damage to delicate systems, it may be more difficult to repair. The Stomper can take more punishment, but an Iron Legion can’t be created using it as a base, until or unless arc reactor technology can be sufficiently miniaturized; even then, that came in the main MCU timeline after years of dedicated effort to create a reactor that came even close to the energy needs for the systems like the Stomper and Iron Man’s Mark suits employ.

All told, the Hydra Stomper is considerably more powerful than a number of early model Iron Man armors – even after the Mark I – but the iterative nature of the Iron Man suits means that they can be more easily upgraded and replicated at scale. Instead of being the beginning of an entire branch of technological development, the Hydra Stomper seems likely to be a unique artifact, being slowly tinkered with rather than prototyped. It remains to be seen whether the developments from this different origin will play out in future What If…? episodes.

Next: Marvel Just Made 5 Other Secret Changes To The MCU Timeline

  • Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
  • The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023

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