- Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts, from issue 6 of The Order.
Art by Barry Kitson.
Publication information Publisher Marvel Comics First appearance Tales of Suspense # 45, September, 1963 Created by Stan Lee
In-story information Full name Virginia "Pepper" Potts-Hogan Team affiliations The Order
Supporting character of Iron Man Notable aliases Hera, Rescue
Virginia "Pepper" Potts is a fictional character, a supporting character and a love interest of Iron Man in the Marvel Comics Universe. She first appears in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963) and was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.
Fictional character biography
Pepper, originally in the secretarial pool, gets her job by fixing an accounting mistake made by Stark himself. Pepper is originally infatuated with Tony and responds to the attentions of Stark's chauffeur and assistant Happy Hogan with caustic remarks. This, almost immediately after her first appearance, coupled with Stark's growing affection for her, puts her in a love triangle between Stark and Hogan. Pepper is for a time interested in Iron Man, unaware that he and Stark are the same person. However, she eventually falls in love with and marries Hogan, eloping with him in Tales of Suspense #91, though that relationship is not without its troubles.
Pepper and Happy eventually leave Stark Industries settling in the Rocky Mountains and then finally in Cleveland where they adopt children after being unable to conceive, and disappear from the main Iron Man storyline. After being kidnapped by Obadiah Stane (Stark's rival), Pepper tells Tony to stay out of their lives. Pepper and Happy soon divorce after she had an affair with a former college boyfriend. After Tony Stark's return from the Heroes Reborn universe, Pepper and Happy join Tony at his new company Stark Solutions and once again become core characters. After some time, Happy and Pepper once again became involved and remarry, eventually considering conceiving a child to supplement their adopted children. Stark entrusted Pepper with a special remote that could shut him down. However, Pepper was tortured and was forced to hand it over. The trauma caused her to miscarry. Iron Man was able to deal with the remote, but felt guilty that he had placed her in such danger. After Happy sustains massive injuries in a fight with Spymaster during the Civil War story arc, Pepper requests that Tony turn off Happy's life support. The final pages of Invincible Iron Man (vol. 4) #14 shows the apparent death of Happy; it is debated as to whether Tony actually complied with Pepper's request as the only link between Happy's heart failure and Tony is the fact that they are side by side in the panel.
After the events of the superhuman "Civil War", Pepper joined the Fifty State Initiative as a member of 'The Order', a government sanctioned superhero team operating within California. She assumed the moniker of the Greek goddess Hera and used advanced computer hardware and prosthetics to monitor and coordinate the team's missions. Upon the absorption of The Order into the Initiative, Tony Stark offers her a job on the special projects team at Stark Enterprises, which she accepts.
The Invincible Iron Man
Pepper Potts resumes her activities as personal secretary of Tony Stark. When Ezekiel Stane (Stane's son) causes an explosion during a party hosted by Stark in Taipei, Pepper is trapped under debris and wounded by shrapnel. Suffering severe multiple internal injuries, she is far too weak to withstand a prolonged surgery, so Tony embeds a strong magnet (similar in appearance to the arc reactor of the movie) in her chest, essentially turning Pepper into a cyborg dependent on keeping her chest magnet engaged to stay alive, as he was once.
Pepper survives the less invasive procedure, but it is uncertain when, or if, the magnet can ever be removed. Pepper's body is further enhanced with new cybernetics and upgrades to the magnet, and she fears she is losing her humanity and has become a weapon. Tony tells her the enhancements are not based on Stark technology or weapons-based, but from Danny Rand's design for a new battery. Comforted by this, Pepper embraces her enhancements, exploring her new magnetic powered abilities, like gliding over magnetic lines.
When Tony is blamed for the Skrull invasion, S.H.I.E.L.D. is taken over by Norman Osborn, replaced with H.A.M.M.E.R. and Tony and Maria Hill are fired, along with the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. employees. Tony realizes that Osborn is after the secret identities of heroes, and he decides to go underground with Maria, and also to wipe the knowledge in his own brain. Tony makes Pepper the new CEO of Stark Industries, trusting only her to shut down the company in his absence. Pepper discovers a secret room in Tony’s office which contains a suit of armor that he made especially for her. When Osborn issues an arrest warrant for Tony and sends teams to seize all Stark Industries facilities, Pepper uses this suit to escape just before she herself is arrested.
While Pepper practices using her new suit, instructed by an on-board artificial intelligence patterned after the persona of Edwin Jarvis, a large earthquake hits and she rescues a group of students just before their school collapses on them. This causes her to be detected by H.A.M.M.E.R., and Osborn orders a large commercial jet near her to be shot down just to see what her suit is capable of. Pepper successfully catches the plane, but when she brings it to the nearest airport she is arrested by H.A.M.M.E.R. agents. Interrogated by Osborn, Pepper states that all components of her armor are legal and that the design specifications are available to anyone. She also insists she does not know where Tony is. Despite Osborn threatening her loved ones with prison if she interferes with his search for Tony or attempts any more heroic actions, after being freed she takes off to find Tony herself.
While meeting with the doctor who implanted her chest magnet, JARVIS informs her of a grain silo explosion, with the victims "calling for immediate rescue," which inspires Pepper to adopt "Rescue" as a codename. After helping, she heads to Russia, where she finds Tony. His mental condition deteriorated due to his progressive mind-wipe, Tony does not initially recognize the suit he gave Pepper and attacks her, believing she is an enemy sent by Osborn.
Tony eventually recognizes Pepper and halts his attack. Reunited, they sleep together, but are captured and tortured by Madame Masque, who was assigned by Norman Osborn to track Tony down. Tony admits that he had loved Masque in the past, but when pressed to make a choice, with his own life on the line, Tony chooses Pepper. While the Rescue armor, controlled by JARVIS, restrains Masque, Pepper urges Tony to escape while she delays their attacker. As he flees to Afghanistan, Masque and Pepper go hand-to-hand with each other.
Defeating Masque, Pepper disguises herself as the former, infiltrating H.A.M.M.E.R. while presenting the Rescue armor to Osborn as spoils of battle. Pepper reveals herself when she rescues Black Widow and Maria Hill from Avengers Tower, while the Rescue suit uploads a virus into the H.A.M.M.E.R. mainframe, taking control of the Helicarrier's armory of suits. They then retrieve the hard drive that Hill was assigned by Stark to get, escaping to give it to Captain America. As part of "re-booting" Tony (who has gone into a vegetative state), the magnet in her chest is removed and placed into his.
Tony's memories have to be restored from a years-old backup that he made of them, meaning that he no longer remembers the events of the superhuman Civil War nor his role in it and its aftermath. Equally, it means that he does not remember his affair with Pepper. Pepper survives the removal of her chest device, but demands that a new one similar to Tony's own chest repulsor be re-installed, which is done. Recovered, Tony also gifts Pepper with a new set of the Rescue armor, complete with JARVIS installed, as before.
When Justine Hammer and her daughter Sasha Hammer use their own armored enforcer Detroit Steel to attempt to sabotage Stark Resilient (Tony's new company) and its design for a repulsor technology-powered vehicle, Pepper dons the Rescue suit and joins War Machine in helping Tony. Realizing that Detroit Steel and the accompanying drones are homing in on repulsor energy, Rescue and War Machine power down their armors, including Pepper's implant, which leads to a near-death experience for her. In it, JARVIS, masquerading as Happy, gives Pepper a cryptic vision and warning of the future.
In a flashforward to an apocalyptic future 41 years ahead where the Mandarin has conquered the world, an aged Tony defeats his long-time foe with the help of his son Howard Anthony Stark and his granddaughter Ginny Stark, but Howard and Tony sacrifice themselves in the process. At the close of the story, Ginny buries the two next to a gravestone with the name "Virginia Potts Stark". Howard is also said to be 41 years old, suggesting that he will be born within the following year.
Powers and abilities
The cybernetic technology implanted in Pepper’s chest caused a number of physical changes to her body: it fixed her eyesight (she needed glasses before), increased her metabolism, made her stronger, improved her reaction time and reflexes, and increased her IQ by about 25 points. The electromagnet has also been shown to give her some control over the magnetic fields around her, once allowing her to levitate briefly. She can also disintegrate bullets with it.
Pepper’s suit, the Mark 1616, appears similar to Iron Man's and can fly. It contains an AI version of Jarvis to assist her and answer questions, and is ideally suited to her biology and cybernetic enhancements. However, in respect to Pepper’s wishes that she not become a weapon, the suit contains no weapons whatsoever, and is instead designed for “heavy rescue and recovery”. It contains repulsor technology, and electromagnetic field generators allowing her to suspend and tow massive loads and is powered by solar cells.
In the Amalgam Comics Universe, DC Comics' Green Lantern and Marvel's Iron Man are combined to create Iron Lantern. Iron Lantern is secretly Hal Stark, owner of Stark Aircraft, a developer of experimental aircraft. One of his test pilots is Pepper Ferris (an amalgamation of Pepper Potts and DC's Carol Ferris). Like both her DC and Marvel counterpart, she is involved in a love triangle, this time with Stark and his chief mechanic Happy Kalmaku (an amalgamation of Marvel's Happy Hogan and DC's Thomas Kalmaku). When Pepper comes in contact with a mysterious alien gem, she is transformed into Madame Sapphire (a combination of Marvel's Madame Masque and DC's Star Sapphire). Pepper Ferris first appeared in Iron Lantern #1 (April 1997), published jointly by Marvel and DC. She was created by Kurt Busiek (script) and Paul Smith (art).
In the alternate universe of the "Heroes Reborn" storyline, Pepper and Iron Man are lovers, although she can also be seen in a relationship with Happy Hogan. Stark is forced to leave her unexpectedly and without explanation, as his very presence in the universe will endanger her life and the lives of everyone else.
Pepper appears in the Marvel Zombies universe in Marvel Zombies Return, having just passed in her resignation to Stark, who at this point is a near-useless drunk. However, when the zombie Giant Man initiates an outbreak at Stark International, Pepper and Happy are among the zombified casualties. She is killed by Stark when he vomits a nanite-ridden formula on her, which was being developed as a potential cure for cancer. The formula destroys necrotic tissue- although it was only effective on zombie-Pepper because it was vomited into her mouth-, and dissolves Pepper into a skeleton.
Virginia "Pepper" Potts can be seen in the Ultimate Universe during Ultimates 2. She and Happy (with whom she appears to be in a relationship) can be seen monitoring Tony when he uses the armor.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
- Pepper Potts has appeared in the Invincible Iron Man segments of The Marvel Super Heroes voiced by Peg Dixon.
- Pepper Potts appears in Iron Man: Armored Adventures voiced by Anna Cummer. Like Stark and Rhodes, she's here portrayed as a teenager who just moved to New York, spending her childhood following her father from country to country for each of his assignments. Unlike the books her real first name is Patricia not Virginia. She's a daughter of an FBI agent and a big fan of S.H.I.E.L.D., whom she aspires to join when she grows up. Probably as an influence from the movie, this is the first animated incarnation of her as a main character. This version of Pepper is very hyperactive and rarely stops talking, something often used as a running gag in the show: she often leaves considerable numbers of messages on her friends' phones, and on occasion gets on the villains' nerves when held captive (by Unicorn and Killer Shrike in "Secret and Lies", and later Zhang in "Tales of Suspense (Part 1)", so much that some of them even considered once killing her just to make her shut up. Other examples include her own father commenting in a half-asleep state that she talks too much, S.H.I.E.L.D. throwing her out of the Helicarrier because she wouldn't stop asking questions, and Tony stating he never told her he was Iron Man because she was never quiet enough for him to tell her. Even Rhodey, despite being her on the crazy side, such as texting Rhodey and Tony about their next conversation, because their current one was taking too long (already having sent 37 messages). She has also shown throughout the series to have an obsession with jetpacks, where besides arresting people all over the world, is the main reason she wants to join S.H.I.E.L.D. Pepper appears to be a friend of Rhodey, but Tony had never met her until he started going to school with them, though when she first meets Tony she displayed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of his life, explaining she knows this by reading her father's FBI files from their investigation into the death of Howard and any possible involvement by Obadiah Stane, as well as being able to get into her father's files and find any info on criminals line Donnie Gill a.k.a. Blizzard as well as Gene Khan's stepfather. She tends to become completely fascinated with her research, which creeped out Tony, and later Gene. In "Whip Lash", she looks for information about Mr. Fix after her father was almost killed for doing the same, which causes her to be tracked by the weapon dealer's henchmen. She's saved by Iron Man, and finds out he is Tony Stark. Pepper is also apparently quite melodramatic; when Tony keeps putting off their science project she tells him that they will have to make a volcano out of clay and baking soda and will have to leave the Tomorrow Academy out of shame. In "Iron Man vs. the Crimson Dynamo" Pepper has joined "Team Iron Man"; she researches Ivan Vanko and discovers that he has a wife and son. When Tony and Rhodey conclude that Tony can't defeat Vanko in combat they determine that only his wife and son can calm him. Pepper runs out and retrieves them by impersonating a CIA agent, although badly, and Mrs. Vanko bought the ruse. In "Field Trip" she is shown to be a capable strategist, able to concoct a plan to get the Tomorrow Academy to go on a field trip to Stark Industries, surprising Rhodey how her plan actually worked. Tony also says "Pepper if you go evil, we're all in trouble" to which she cheerfully agreed; this is shown again when she's excited at the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D., if they wanted to, could take over the world. She also has the habit of making up exaggerated stories, to where she stated she was spying on her father with night vision goggles hanging from the roof as he contacted his FBI contact about A.I.M., where in fact he just forgot to sign out of his computer. Also, a running gag seems to be she has gotten into serious trouble in the past, but it is never detailed as the scene starts with her already in the middle of her conversation then stating something like how all the charges were dropped. One such case was in "Whiplash"; when she was called to the office Tony mentioned that she once tried to arrest someone, and assumed she did it again. It is revealed in "Whiplash" that her given name is Patricia instead of Virginia. It is revealed throughout the series that Pepper has a deep crush on Tony. In "Meltdown", when Tony called her "beautiful" when searching for a line in Hamlet to do for their class, she says "works for me" then smiles and winks at him, in "Ancient History 101" she is in a bit of a dazed state after he caught her when she was falling while seeming to be expecting something to a confession before he revealed that she was crushing him, and she looked to be more comfortable holding onto him after finding out that Iron Man was Tony in "Whip Lash". We may see another hint in her dislike of Whitney Stane, which might be interpreted as jealousy, but as shown in episode "Best Served Cold", her hate for Whitney may be wearing off, seeming to only get angry at her if she is flirting with Tony. In "Hide and Seek", she wears the Makluan Ring that Tony just gave her as a wedding ring and in "Pepper, Interrupted", she becomes extremely jealous at the fact that Tony is spending more time with Whitney and Gene, who she sees as both being criminals with the people around her referring to her outburst as a "lover's spat". Toward the latter half of the first season, she begins to become very possessive of Tony and is eager to turn Whitney over when she discovers that she is Madame Masque. Her later friendly relationship with Gene might have possibly been a ploy to make Tony jealous. Also during the battle with Fin Fang Foom, she goes to Tony rather than Gene when frightened, even though Gene was closer to her at the time. Rhodey is aware of her crush on Tony, asking if she was jealous when Whitney was flirty with Tony (and same with Tony, stating he was jealous now that she was spending time with Gene). In this series, she is more of a friend to Happy, as she tries to get Rhodey and Tony to come to a party he was having (even though it was pretty bad). Also before she discovered that Tony was Iron Man, she asked Rhodey if Tony had a girlfriend, yet this could have been asked as she was trying to figure out where he was disappearing to. After Gene saves her life (unaware it was because of him she was in that situation in the first place), she becomes completely interested in his life to calling him countless times, leaving eleven messages on his phone, and spouting random information about him to Tony and Rhodey. However, she becomes distraught when she discovers that Gene is the Mandarin. Pepper's crush on Tony becomes more apparent in the second season of the series. In the episode "Armor Wars", Pepper discovers the identities of the Guardsmen, who happen to be criminals. Upon hearing this Tony says "Pepper, I could kiss you", to which she blurts out "so what's stopping you", creating an awkward moment between the two. In "Line of Fire", they each become jealous of the other's relationship, as Tony is dating Whitney and Pepper starts going out with Happy. She also wants to get her own set of armor (a clear homage to the Rescue armor). In the second season, she makes many references to other Marvel characters (in "Armor Wars", she tells Tony to take revenge "Punisher style"; in "Line of Fire", she tells Black Panther that he's similar to Iron Fist; and in "Iron vs Titanium", she calls Ghost a "Moon Knight knock-off" and mentions Justin Hammer having dealt arms to the Masters of Evil). She constantly asks Tony through out the second season to make her an armour, see Tony is Iron Man and Rhodey is War Machine.
- Pepper Potts had a few cameos in Marvel Anime: Iron Man voiced by Hiroe Oka in the Japanese version and by Cindy Robinson in the English dub.
- Pepper Potts appeared in The Invincible Iron Man voiced by Elisa Gabrielli with an apparent British accent.
- Gwyneth Paltrow portrays the character in the 2008 Iron Man feature film and the 2010 sequel Iron Man 2, Tony noting at one point in the first film that she is virtually the only real friend he has at the company. In the latter film, Potts is promoted to CEO of Stark Industries as Tony, dying from his reactor's toxic side-effects, sets his affairs in order. She resigns later in the film. Tony hints in a conversation at the end of the film that he and Pepper have become a couple.
- Pepper Potts was mentioned in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance video game. After giving Tony's cuff-link to Jarvis, he says its a gift from Ms. Potts.
- Pepper Potts appears in the Iron Man video game voiced by Meredith Monroe.
- Meredith Monroe reprises her role of Pepper Potts in the Iron Man 2 video game.
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #3 (September 2008)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #4 (September 2008)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #10 (February 2009)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #13 (May 2009)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #14 (June 2009)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #15 (July 2009)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #16 (August 2009)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #18 (September 2009)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #19 (October 2009)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #29 (October 2010)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #32 (January 2011)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #500 (March 2011)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #11 (March 2009)
- ^ Invincible Iron Man #12 (April 2009)
- ^ Who's Who Handbook of the Amalgam Universe
- ^ "Marvel Zombies Return" #2 (2009)
- ^ Jenna Busch (2010-02-08). "AVENGERS Animated Assembling w/ Phil Lamarr". Newsarama. http://www.newsarama.com/tv/Lamarr-Avengers-Animated-100208.html. Retrieved 2010-02-08.
- ^ This week's cover: 'Iron Man 2' with exclusive photos! | PopWatch Blog | EW.com
- Pepper Potts at Marvel.com
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