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Extremis virus

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A prototype serum created to produce Super-Soldiers
First appearance


The Extremis was a super soldier project developed by a biotech company called Futurepharm, subsidiary of Stark Industries. Alongside Maya Hansen, Dr. Aldrich Killian developed the nanite technology called Microsurgery Experimental Robotics. The project was funded by the U.S. military. However, when the military pulled the plug, Hansen and Killian stole samples and sold them to a terrorist, but a guilt-ridden Killian confessed afterwards in a suicide note.[1]

In an attempt to regain the stolen serum, Stark as Iron Man was injured battling a domestic terrorist, Mallen, who had been altered by the Extremis drug into a superhuman killing machine. Seeing no other option, he took a modified dose of Extremis to heal his injures and improve his neural interface with the armor and other technologies. The revitalized Iron Man then set out after Mallen[2]. After killing the terrorist without choice, Stark discovered that Maya was the accomplice of Killian in stealing Extremis, and she was put into custody.[3]

Years later, Maya was kidnapped by A.I.M. and forced to duplicate the virus before killing her. The new samples of Extremis were then sold in an auction to four different bidders, whose names were forcibly given to Stark by the head of the auction, Colin Forty-Four, in order to retrieve the Extremis from them by any means necessary.[4]


Original Extremis

The original Extremis serum gives its user:

  • Superhuman Strength: An Extremis subject's strength can be increased to superhuman levels, providing the user enough strength to toss cars and people with relative ease[5], break someone's skull with a single punch[6], counter Iron Man's superhuman physical blows[5], break Iron Man's bones with ease through the suit, rip the highly durable suit apart without effort[5], and even use the "blade" of a bulldozer as a blunt force object.[2]
  • Superhuman Speed: An Extremis subject can move and run at incredible speeds up to 300mph,[5], although it is unknown if this is the top speed an Extremis subject can move at.
  • Superhuman Stamina: The virus grants its user almost unlimited stamina, with no need to eat, drink or breathe air.[5]
  • Superhuman Durability: Extremis-enhanced beings have greater resistance to physical injury than an ordinary human. They are able to withstand bullet impacts and direct fire of Repulsor Blasts without feeling pain, at a potency higher than which a Repulsor Blast needs to have to cut through metal, only suffering minor wounds.[5] Iron Man's uni-beam only caused Mallen great discomfort without injury.[7]
  • Fire-Breathing: At the user's discretion, his/her lungs fill with fire plasma which he/she can exhale through his/her mouth. Mallen torched a lobby full of people through this method.[6]
  • Claw-like pincers: An Extremis subject can unsheathe stings from his/her fingertips. They are very durable, and in conjunction with super-strength, they can be used by the Extremis subject to claw through a converter box.[5]
  • Electrical discharge: Extremis-enhanced beings are able to discharge extremely powerful electrical currents through his/her hands which seemed to emanate from his chest through his arms.[5]
  • Healing Factor: Extremis-enhaced beings can also heal wounds at a incredible speed, in a matter of hours.[7]

Tony Stark's modified Extremis

Tony Stark reconfigured the last Extremis dose created by Futurepharm in order to heal himself after being fatally injured by an Extremis-powered terrorist, and "become one" with his armor, gaining the following abilities:

Anthony Stark (Earth-616) with Iron Man Armor Model 30
Iron Man's Extremis-enhanced armor
ADourAdded by ADour
  • Direct Cybernetic Interface: The Extremis virus have fused Stark's armor to his body. Initially the inner layers of the Iron Man armor were stored in the hollows of his bones, but later his entire exo-armor would be contained within carbon nanotubes. He is able to manifest and control the armor through direct brain impulses and even utilize some of its powers when unsurfaced. He has direct, cyberpathic control over the communication devices, scanning equipment, and recording devices located in his helmet.[8]
    • Wireless Communication: He was also able to remotely connect to external communications systems such as satellites, cellular phones, and computers throughout the world. Stark is also capable of projecting his voice through transmitting sound systems such as cellular phones via electric transmissions from his central nervous system.[2]
    • Superhuman Reflexes: The Extremis virus granted him enhanced speed reactions and movements.[2]
    • Regenerative Systems: Stark was capable to biologically heal himself and repair the armor.[2]

Other versions

Numerous different types of Extremis were produced over the time, some of them are like Stark's, allowing easier usage of technology[9], and others can be used to transform normal humans into brainwashed mindless beasts.[10]


Created as a nano-tech serum, the Extremis Liquid Biotech Complex is inserted into graphic nanotubes, suspended in a carrier fluid and stored in an applicator specially designed, created and developed from similar prototypes previously marketed by Futurepharm.

Extremis virus process 001
Extremis being applied
ADourAdded by ADour

The virus is injected in the back of the subject's head. If properly injected up to the cervical nerves, the fluid is passed into the bloodstream and permeates the nervous system, accessing the body's recovery center, the portion of the brain that has the complete mapping of the human body and all their features, and initially identifies possible future failures, such as cuts, injuries and varied stimuli which are repaired with enzymes. Extremis takes control of this region of the brainstem and overwrites all of this mapping with the information about how the body should truly be.

Once the modification is made, the body's system evaluates the entire human body as erroneous and injured, sending the information to the brain that the entire body, externally and internally, is wrong, completely transforming it into an open wound to be healed and changed by and for the Extremis' standards.

Extremis virus process 002
Former genetic code expelled
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The first instants of pain processing is fulminan, and the liquid carrier of the genetic code is expelled from the body orally. A side effect of the expulsion of the liquid is the loss of considerable amount of blood that ends up giving the subject a frail, pale and sick appearance. This stage lasts, however, only a few moments before the cardiac activity is reduced and the person in whom the drug was injected in enters to a state of prolonged sleep.

Extremis virus process 003
Cocoon formed
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The standard protocols for insertion of the Extremis virus imply that, at this stage of processing, the user should be kept under constant observation and unremitting care, put on a constant life support and receive nutrition intravenously every hour. After a period of time, the brittle skin of the user begins to break into low-grade scabs. The wounds gradually release low quantities of blood which upon contact with air and become solid. In order to protect the body, the crust is enhanced throughout the body. After eight or nine hours, almost the whole body has become covered with this layer of protection, or cocoon. This stage is maintained for about forty-eight to seventy-two hours, in which all the nutrients and body mass are reshaped, creating new stronger, more powerful and resilient body parts, such as muscles and nerves, in order to fulfill their duties more efficiently. This stage of the application of the serum seems to deteriorate or abolish the vestments worn by the user, because after the cocoon they're protected by breaks, they are naked.

Extremis virus process 004
Enhanced subject emerges
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After the subject regains consciousness and awareness, the cocoon is violently cracked into many pieces, slowly freeing the user from itself.[5]

Alternate Realities

Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999)

In this universe, the Extremis virus was an experimental genetic rewriting process serum, that gives superhuman strength and endurance and a healing factor, created by Maya Hansen, and first experimented in plants. During the New Year Eve of 1999, she met Tony Stark, with whom she talked about the Extremis and also intimacy. Apparently, even drunk, Stark could fix the Extremis problem of stabilization, as it had the side-effect of overheating. A young scientist named Aldrich Killian offered her a place in his organization Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.).

Years later, Killian visited the CEO of Stark Industries, Pepper Potts and offered her to join A.I.M., as they were developing the Extremis virus, but she declined.

It is revealed Killian was using the Extremis' instability to create human bombs for the terrorist the Mandarin, and had injected it to himself and his soldiers, including Eric Savin and Ellen Brandt.

Extremis Soldier as seen in Iron Man 3

Aldrich later kidnapped Pepper Potts in order to have an incentive for Tony Stark to finally find the solution for the instability he started years ago, as Pepper was injected with the virus.

Pepper was later taken to the same place Killian was going to execute President Ellis, so he could have her as a trophy. Stark escaped captivity and managed to get to Pepper with the help of Jim Rhodes. During a battle against Killian, Potts was apparently killed. But she survived thanks to the regenerative properties of Extremis and managed to kill Killian. Stark promised Pepper he would find a cure for Extremis, which he did.[11]

Stark Industries later perfected the Extremis formula, and A.I.M. tried to get it, but were stopped by Iron Man.[12]


The Extremis virus, when injected into living tissue, results in a wide range of effects within the host organism. The intention of Extremis was to enhance, although the compound was flawed. In all hosts, it causes intense pain until it either bonds with the host successfully, or destroys the host in a violent explosion. Even in cases where the Extremis virus has successfully bonded, the host organism may be at risk of the compound becoming unstable and detonating with sufficient force to burn nearby bystanders to dust, and crater solid concrete underfoot.

  • Healing Factor: The Extremis virus imparts incredible restorative capabilities upon the host organism, which was its primary original intention. Superficial wounds close over and heal completely in a matter of seconds, and severed limbs can take minutes to regrow, although particularly extensive damage- such as when Tony shot an Extremis-enhanced soldier through the heart with a chest repulsor- would not be healed.
  • Exothermic Manipulation: Hosts of the Extremis virus are able to consciously raise the temperature of parts of their bodies. The effect can be controlled to the extent that it might only scorch skin, or increased to the point where it can cause steel to turn into a molten state.
  • Superhuman Strength: The Extremis virus enhances the muscular power of the host considerably. The extent appears to vary within marginal limits, but most have demonstrated the ability to hoist the weight of a human male effortlessly in one hand and hurl such a weight across a room, as well as engage the Iron Man armors in battle without weapons.
  • Enhanced Agility: The Extremis virus enhances musculature to become more powerful in its motion, granting the host marginally enhanced agility.

Known Users

Marvel: Avengers Alliance (Earth-TRN259)

Eric Savin (Earth-TRN259) 001
The appearance of an Extremis test subject
ADourAdded by ADour

In this universe the Extremis virus is described as a "nanotech-based interface with the human nervous system." It was developed by A.I.M. with the help of a mysterious ally, based on the work of Maya Hansen, an old colleague of Tony Stark, who was researching a new kind of super-soldier solution.

The first and only known test subject was Eric Savin, who was located by Tony Stark and defeated with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s alliance of superheroes. After the defeat of Savin, the Mandarin revealed himself as the mysterious ally of A.I.M., and that his true plan had just started.[13]


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