Of course, the coolest thing about Stark’s suit is not its strength but its ability to fly. Superhuman Strength: It enhances her strength to immense levels, shown to have been easily capable of lifting War Machine as he began to fall from the sky in her armor’s debut episode. Superhuman Strength: The armor greatly increased Stark’s strength and durability, enabling him to overpower armed terrorists and survive an aerial impact with the ground after escaping. This contraption does not yet give the wearer added strength, but it does make the backpack they are carrying feel lighter, by transferring its weight to the ground. It didn’t work, but since then other designs for both the upper and lower body have successfully been used to increase people’s strength, help teach them to use their limbs again, or even as a way to interact with computers using touch or “haptic” feedback. In the movie, Stark has a friendly robot to help him build his armour. Unlike a traditional rigid robot joint, if it encounters resistance in one part of its body it will still bend but at a different location elsewhere along its length. Some exoskeletons are designed to be adjusted to fit a user’s body better, but if the robotic joints and the user’s real joints don’t rotate in exactly the same position it can produce unnatural motion, causing discomfort or pain.

They are made from lightweight materials but can generate the force needed to lift many hundreds of kilogrammes. Another problem, especially with upper-body exoskeletons, is how heavy they are, usually because of the strong materials needed to support the body weight and the powerful actuators that move the joints. This technology uses physically soft advanced materials to carry out similar tasks to traditional rigid robotic devices. And, last year, it was revealed that the Army is testing a futuristic exoskeleton that gives soldiers superhuman abilities, using artificial intelligence to provide additional power and mobility to soldiers, and allows them to carry heavier loads. This prompted Cull Obsidian to attack and charge at them, and as Banner was unable to transform into the Hulk, Iron Man decided to fight Cull Obsidian himself and revealed his new Mark L Armor. Despite these other duties, Stark still finds the time to suit up in his armor as the Invincible Iron Man!

But despite half a century of research, exoskeletons still aren’t widely used. Current suits also aren’t designed to cope with temperature changes or rain, which makes them difficult to use in the real world. But there are still significant engineering challenges to be addressed before we will see widespread use of these systems. There are plenty of gaps in my knowledge of my grandmother’s life, but overall, I have a strong sense of the narrow English society in which she lived. First, there is the hero himself, Tony Stark, a scientific genius who for once is not the timid or bespectacled geek we are used to in Hollywood, but is charismatic, confident, and a hit with the ladies. Kidnapped in Afghanistan, he questions his life, and resolves to put his genius to better use: to protecting rather than destroying. Danger and possible financial ruin hasn’t put everyone off. Pilot: While fighting in the Battle of Earth, Potts demonstrated the ability to perform complex aerial maneuvers in the Rescue Armor.

The nature of the Iron Man armor means that anyone with training can take Tony’s place, and many have. This means the suit will fit a range of users comfortably without needing mechanical adjustment or calibration. They are particularly well suited to interaction with humans as they are typically lightweight which means if they collide with a person they are unlikely to cause injury. And while Stark’s robotic helper doesn’t always correctly guess what he wants, as real-world software grows evermore sophisticated, it too is making the same mistakes humans do. But while today’s exoskeletons are mostly clumsy, heavy devices, new technology could make them much easier and more natural to use by creating a robotic skin. There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. In the film, Stark zooms to Afghanistan, just in the nick of time to stop warlords killing a group of poor villagers. It couldn’t reach Afghanistan, perhaps, but SoloTrek was a flying exoskeleton that was apparently capable of travelling more than 200 kilometres. The tech in the movie is probably more firmly rooted in reality than you might think – unless, that is, you are a regular New Scientist reader.