|First appearance||(As Pepper Potts)
Tales of Suspense # 45, September 1963
The Invincible Iron Man #10 (May 2009)
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Full name||Virginia "Pepper" Potts|
|Team affiliations||The Order
|Supporting character of||Iron Man|
|Notable aliases||Hera, Rescue, Coast Guard|
Virginia "Pepper" Potts is a fictional supporting character and romantic love interest appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, in particular those featuring Iron Man. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck, she first appeared in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963).
In 2007, she joined the Fifty State Initiative under the codename Hera. In 2009, after being given her own suit of armor by Tony Stark, she assumes the identity of Rescue, which lasted until the 2012 storyline "The Future".
Fictional character biography
|This section may be slanted towards recent events. (December 2012)|
Virginia "Pepper" Potts first appeared in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963), which was written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Don Heck. Though she was named Pepper Potts from the start, Stark addresses her as "Kitty" in one panel, which is thought to be a typo. Heck modeled Potts as Ann B. Davis’ character of Schultzy from The Bob Cummings Show, and is rendered with brown hair done up in a hairdo similar to that of Schultzy's. Someone on the creative team or in editorial came to feel that the resemblance was too great, and in Tales of Suspense #50, Potts' look was altered to give her red hair and a different hairdo. Potts is originally a member of a secretarial pool, and gets her job by fixing an accounting error made by Stark. She is depicted initially as being infatuated with Stark, and rejects the advances of Stark's chauffeur and assistant Happy Hogan, who debuted in the same issue, with acerbic remarks. As Stark's affection for her grows in the ensuing issues, she becomes part of a love triangle between the two men, and eventually falls in love with and marries Hogan, eloping with him in Tales of Suspense #91.
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 Stark's rival Obadiah Stane, Pepper tells Tony to stay out of their lives. Pepper and Happy soon divorce after she has 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 entrusts Pepper with a special remote that could shut him down. However, Pepper, tortured by the responsibility, is forced to return it, and the trauma causes her to miscarry. Stark is able to deal with the remote, but feels guilty that he has placed her in such danger.
After Happy sustains massive injuries in a fight with Spymaster during the 2006-2007 "Civil War" storyline, Pepper requests that Tony turn off Happy's life support (using his Extremis abilities). The final pages of Invincible Iron Man (vol. 4) #14 shows the death of Happy; it is implied Tony complied with Pepper's request.
After the events of the "Civil War" storyline, Pepper joins the Fifty State Initiative as a member of The Order, a government sanctioned superhero team operating within California. She assumes the moniker of the Greek goddess Hera, and uses 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.[volume & issue needed]
2008 - present
Pepper Potts resumes her activities as personal secretary of Tony Stark. When Pepper is caught in a terrorist explosion caused by Ezekiel "Zeke" Stane, she sustains multiple internal injuries, including shrapnel wounds, and rendered unable to withstand a prolonged surgery. In response, 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.
When Tony is blamed for the Skrull invasion of Earth that occurs in the 2008 storyline "Secret Invasion", S.H.I.E.L.D. is taken over by Norman Osborn, replaced with H.A.M.M.E.R., and Stark and Maria Hill are fired, along with all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s employees. Tony realizes that Osborn is after the identities of superhumans that registered with the government following the passage of the Superhuman Registration Act that occurred during the "Civil War" storyline, which is stored in a database in his brain. Stark decides to go underground with Hill, and to wipe the knowledge in his own brain. Stark 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 Stark's office which contains a suit of armor that he made especially for her, which she uses under the name Rescue. Though Osborn has seized all Stark Industries facilities and equipment, Pepper states that all components of her armor are legal and that the design specifications are available to anyone. 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 endeavors to find Tony herself. They are reunited in Russia, and consummate a now-sexual relationship, but are subsequently captured and tortured by Madame Masque, who was assigned by Norman Osborn to track Stark down. Stark 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. Pepper decides to engage Masque in a physical altercation in order to provide a distraction for Stark to escape.
During the 2009 "World's Most Wanted Storyline" (which ran concurrently with Marvel's company-wide storyline "Dark Reign"), Pepper, after defeating Masque, 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 Osborn's imprisonment, while the Rescue suit uploads a virus into H.A.M.M.E.R.'s computers, 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 in order to restore Starks' mind. As part of "re-booting" Tony (in a vegetative state), the magnet in her chest is removed and placed into his.
Though Stark's memories are restored from a somewhat years-old backup, he no longer remembers the events of the "Civil War" nor his role in it, its aftermath or his affair with Pepper. Pepper survives the removal of her chest magnet, but demands that a new one similar to Tony's own chest repulsor be re-installed, which is done. Recovered, Stark also gifts Pepper with a new Rescue armor, complete with JARVIS.
During the 2011 "Stark Resilient" storyline, 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 joins War Machine in helping Stark, during which Pepper experiences a near-death experience in which JARVIS, masquerading as Happy, gives Pepper a cryptic warning of the future.
In the 2012 storyline "The Future", Pepper returns to her civilian life following her destruction of J.A.R.V.I.S., the artificial intelligence that helped her control her Rescue armor, after its compromise led it to go rogue and attempt to kidnap her.
In The Invincible Iron Man #500, in a flashforward to an apocalyptic future 41 years ahead where the Mandarin has conquered the world, an aged version of 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 Stark-tech mag-field generator implanted in Pepper’s chest was not weapons-based like Stark's, but borrowed non-weaponized electromagnetic technology from Rand Industries, which caused a number of physical changes to her body. It cured her tinnitus, improving her hearing. It allows her to sense electromagentic fields, and manipulate them to levitate her body.
Potts' Stark-tech armor suit, which is designated Mark 1616, but named Rescue by Potts, represents a hybrid of repulsor technology and portable electromagnetic superfield generators that give the suit flight, speed, strength, and magnetic field manipulation. Its electromagentic forcefields are powerful enough to enable Rescue to stop a falling jet airliner without physical contact with it, and can also be used as an offensive weapon with other armored opponents. The suit's physical strength enables it to hold up a stilt mansion felled by an earthquake, and to rip the lower leg of the Black armor. The armor also features an artificial intelligence named J.A.R.V.I.S. that acts as a guide for Potts. During the 2012 storyline "The Future", Potts and Carson Wyche come to suspect that J.A.R.V.I.S. has been compromised, and when they attempt to troubleshoot the Rescue helmet, J.A.R.V.I.S. takes control of the Rescue armor, and takes Potts and Wyche hostage. J.A.R.V.I.S. is disabled by James Rhodes with a source-focused electromagnetic pulse from the Black armor, and is eventually destroyed by Potts, ending her career as Rescue.
- 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 counterparts, 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.
- In the alternate universe of the "Heroes Reborn" storyline, she 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.[volume & issue needed]
- She appears in the Marvel Zombies universe in Marvel Zombies Return, having just submitted 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 upon her, which dissolves Pepper into a skeleton.
- The Ultimate Marvel version of the character can be seen 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.
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. This incarnation's full name is Patricia "Pepper" Potts. Like Stark and Rhodes, she is a teenager, and is initially unaware of Iron Man's secret identity, though she later learns it after he saves her life. She eventually learns to use his armors, and as in the comics, is given one of her own called Rescue.
- Pepper Potts has 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 appears in the Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload mini-series voiced by Grey DeLisle.
- Pepper Potts appears in Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers voiced by Fumie Mizusawa in the Japanese version.
- Pepper Potts is mentioned in Ultimate Avengers 2.
- Pepper Potts appeared in The Invincible Iron Man voiced by Elisa Gabrielli with an apparent British accent.
- Gwyneth Paltrow portrays the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- In Iron Man, Stark notes that Potts, his secretary/personal aid, is virtually the only real friend he has at the company.
- In Iron Man 2, Pepper is promoted to CEO of Stark Industries. She later attempts to resign after Tony finds a cure for the palladium poisoning that was killing him but he does not accept it. At the end of the film, Pepper becomes Tony's girlfriend and partner.
- In The Avengers, Potts is instrumental in helping with the development of Stark Tower, the new upgraded arc reactor, and Tony's assistance to S.H.I.E.L.D.
- In Iron Man 3, Pepper is still the CEO of Stark Industries. During an attack on Stark's mansion, she dons the Iron Man suit (much as she did when she adopted the identity Rescue in the comics) to save herself and Maya Hansen. After being captured, Aldrich Killian uses her as a test subject for the Extremis process and thus as leverage to force Tony to complete the work to make Extremis stable. However, she turns the tables on Killian by using her Extremis powers and parts of an Iron Man suit to kill him. Tony is able to modify Extremis so that it is no longer a danger to herself or others.
- Pepper Potts appears in Iron Man: Rise of Technovore voiced by Hiroe Oka in the Japanese version and by Kate Higgins in the English dub.
- Pepper Potts appears in the 2008 video game Iron Man and the 2010 game Iron Man 2, voiced by Meredith Monroe. These games are based on the films of the same name.
- Rescue makes a cameo appearance in Strider Hiryu's ending in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 fighting against the Reavers.
- Rescue appears as an unlockable character in Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
- The character appears as a playable character both as Pepper Potts and Rescue in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, voiced again by Laura Bailey.
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