- For other individuals with the same first name, see John (disambiguation).
- For the man whose identity he stole, see Marcus Bridgewater.
- "Everything you are saying is just getting in the way of what needs to be done. But you were right about one thing, Lois. I will not hesitate. I saw you die. I lost Natalie. Millions of people, gone. I won't let that happen again. I have a responsibility to do the right thing."
- —Irons to Lois Lane[src]
John Henry Irons is the brother of an unnamed woman, the father of Natalie Lane Irons, and the widower of the late Lois Lane. He is also a soldier inhabitant of Earth-TUD22 who had a vendetta against Superman, due to the latter's evil doppelgänger's actions, as well as Morgan Edge due to his counterpart's experiments with X-Kryptonite. He was nicknamed the Stranger by Earth-Prime Lois Lane and mistakenly referred to as Captain Luthor by his A.I. device. In his civilian identity on Earth-Prime, he used the alias of freelancing reporter Marcus Bridgewater.
After two failed attempts of killing the Kryptonian, John Henry started to see the humanity on Superman and even decided to save him instead of killing him when the Kryptonian was under the influence of Zod. Irons then started working alongside Clark Kent and the two became allies during their fight against Tal-Rho and Zeta-Rho, with the Kryptonian even trusting him enough to allow him to kill him if necessary. After defeating the two evil Kryptonians, Irons was ready to depart until a ship crash landed close to the Kent Farm and from it emerged his daughter Natalie.
After he explained the situation to her, they moved to Metropolis under the names Natalie and Henry Johnson, but Natalie didn't adapt to the new school and Lois offered them to stay at the Kent farm for the time being, which they accepted. Eventually, they were confronted by a version of Superman from another dimension who was imprisoned in the Shuster Mines. After a confrontation in Bolivia, the Inverse World's Kal-El put John in a coma and he was taken to a military hospital. When he woke up, he and Natalie moved into an old repair shop in Smallville. A month into their time living in this home, John was given the title Man of Steel during Superman's dissappearance.
John Henry Irons was a soldier in his home world and a friend of Sam Lane. At some point, he married Lois Lane and they had a daughter named Natalie. After she was born, John recorded a video of Lois holding her. One day, when Irons left for a military mission, his wife Lois asked him to come back to her before kissing him.
At some point, John and Lois woke up in bed and were greeted by Natalie, who was disgusted by their close relationship. Before leaving Natalie to school, they witnessed through the window Superman leading a group of powered individuals destroying Metropolis using their heat vision.
The family then hid in an underground facility. At night, Natalie woke up John while Lois was giving an interview to Daily Planet. During the interview, Superman killed Lois, shocking John and his daughter. With the help of Natalie, John acquired technology from Luthor Corp and built an exosuit, capable to defeat Superman. Nat later attempted to reprogram an A.I. and failed, leaving the device to mistake John as Lex Luthor.
Later, John had to go on a mission to stop the Kryptonian and promised Nat that he would come back to her. It was also revealed that Superman led the X-Kryptonite army on Morgan Edge's behalf. An army including Irons and Sam were fighting against Superman, to no avail. Sam died during the battle. So, Irons became an enemy of this version of Superman up until his home world was destroyed. When Irons was trying to escape using his ship, Kal-El tried to stop him. However, John was able to escape through a breach and arrived at Earth-Prime's Arctic.
- "Where I come from, let's just say the two of us have history."
"And where is that exactly?"
"Nowhere now. My world was destroyed. But somehow, I managed to survive."
- —Irons to Superman of Earth-Prime.[src]
Aware of his Kryptonian name, Kal-El and his weaknesses, Irons discovered this new world also had a Superman and began attacking nuclear power plants across America to test Superman's capabilities. After taunting him, Irons and Superman engaged in a confrontation that led to the planet's atmosphere, where Superman was stabbed in the chest with a Kryptonite blade. Irons later returned to his hideout, where he began planning his next moves and regathering of materials.
Irons takes his ship to find more Kryptonite in Moldova, where he easily defeats the guards of the place but there was none to be found. Later, he goes back to his ship and tells his A.I. that he will not allow what happened on his world to be repeated here. He goes to Mongolia, but there he is faced by Superman. During the fight, Superman gains the advantage and then Irons sends his ship to explode in a city, allowing him to escape while Superman saves the city. Later, Irons sent an automaton to this Earth's version of Sam Lane to warn him about trusting Superman, after Irons reminisces about his past with the other Sam. But Superman destroys the armor.
Working with Lois Lane
Irons began his next plot by tailing Lois Lane. He appears to her under the alias of freelancing reporter "Marcus Bridgewater" where they talk about a story involving Morgan Edge. When Superman engaged Derek Powell who was resurrected by X-Kryptonite, Irons pursued them while preparing his weaponry. Catching up to them, Irons fired a bazooka at them. He then arrives at the scene of the crash and finds neither Derek or Superman. Following the dedication to a bench that was in memory of Martha Kent, Irons speaks to his A.I. that this Lois Lane is not like the one he married and shuts his A.I. up.
Days later, Irons, using his Marcus Bridgewater alias, tried to get into the Shuster Mine, but only employees and government inspectors were allowed entry, so he had two inspector badges forged and asked Lois to accompany him inside. Lois accepted the invitation, because she was denied entry earlier. Inside the mine, Irons and Lois found a vein of X-Kryptonite, but Lois wondered why Irons had a laser-cutting tool for the rocks. Irons told her that this was the story that she should be pursuing. Leslie Larr discovered the two and chased them, firing her heat vision, but Irons was able to knock her unconscious, so they could escape. Lois began a torrent of questions to "Marcus" about his connections to Luthor Corp and the forgery of the inspector badges, but before Irons could answer, Lois received a call that she felt was urgent and drove away with Irons.
- "Like I said, I'm here to save the world. You see, Kal-El, you're not the Man of Steel. I am."
- —Irons to Superman[src]
Lois confronted Irons about not being who he claims to be and demands some answers. They later meet at Victoria May's while Clark went into Irons' RV, where he was led to believe his last name was Luthor based on the A.I.'s reaction. Lois and Clark later followed a shipment of X-Kryptonite being carried by Morgan Edge's men. He allows Lois and Clark to have the box of X-Kryptonite in exchange for a meeting with Superman. While Superman left to meet with Irons, Lois gets contact from Lieutenant Rosetti stating that the prints match that of the late John Henry Irons. During the confrontation, Irons used special motion detectors emitting red solar energy and wielded a special kinetic hammer that he used on Superman. With Jordan's help, Jonathan took him to where Superman is. Jonathan drove his truck right into Irons and disabled the lights with the kinetic energy hammer. Lois then arrives to stop Superman from harming Irons further. Superman has Irons locked up until Sam Lane arrives to pick him up. The DOD later had Irons on lockdown where they will interrogate him tomorrow.
Irons was interrogated by Superman and General Lane. Afterwards, Trask tried to interrogate Irons and brought him with Rosetti. While Trask mocked Rosetti for following protocol, Rosetti threw Trask against the wall and using his heat vision, threatened Irons to follow him to Project 7734. Eventually, Superman arrived, battled Rosetti and was briefly saved by Irons, who was holding a Kryptonite spear and trying to kill him, but Lois arrived and convinced Irons to give up. John was allowed to return to his van and ordered AI to create a profile for him and delete his previous profile as "Captain Luthor". He told the device to turn itself off for a while while he was driving, not noticing that Jonathan Kent had stolen one of his guns from the RV.
Working with Clark
After Superman was forced to submit to Morgan Edge, Lois called John and told him that Superman had been turned, just like how he said it would happen. John was freed by Sam Lane to help capture Superman. Irons was preparing for the hunt and was interrupted by Lois along with John Diggle, who came to defend Superman, with Lois even revealing to Irons Superman's real identity, but he ignored all of this and decided that he would kill Superman anyways. After a conversation with Diggle and Jon Kent, Clark's son, Irons was left thinking that there is always another way to do things.
Irons used another exosuit along with his hammer to stop Superman while he was possessed by General Zod. Having Superman defeated, Irons choose to appeal to Clark's humanity and managed to free him from Zod's possession. The two then teamed up to go after Morgan Edge, who went to space with the Eradicator, Irons then managed to blast Edge back to Earth so that Superman could knock him out. John then accompanied Clark to the Kent Farm to reveal that they are now on good terms.
Irons eventually stayed on the barn at the Kent Farm. During a talk with Clark, both his A.I. and the kryptonian detected Leslie Larr heading for the DOD. After activating his suit, John went to assist Superman in battle by knocking Leslie out with one his blasts. Both him and Clark later talked to Sam Lane when he decided to shut down the Project 7734.
While John painted a bug symbol on his exosuit, he discussed with his A.I. about going to see his sister from this earth, Jon Kent later visited the barn and the two talked. When Clark and Lois decided to have a fail safe for Superman if he ever becomes evil, John was chosen as said fail safe despite him reluctant at first.
Over the next three weeks, John spent a lot of time with Jonathan Kent while working on his suit, through he eventually told him to leave after they talked about Natalie. When Tal-Rho came back to rescue Leslie Larr and appeared in Metropolis, John, along with Superman, went to face him. The two quickly realized that Tal somehow managed to eradicate four other people, giving them Kryptonian consciences. Superman went to face them while John fought Leslie Larr.
During the fight, one of the converted citizens also attacked John while his kinetic hammer was offline; he continued to fight the two human-kryptonians until Leslie eventually went to attack Lois Lane. Fortunately, John's suit managed to reconnect his kinetic hammer just in time for him to throw it at Leslie, saving Lois and eventually knocking out the other human-kryptonian he was fighting. John and Clark managed to defeat everyone but Tal-Rho, who escaped, the two later figure out that Tal-Rho somehow managed to become the living embodiment of the Eradicator.
John later used his A.I. to search for Jordan Kent's location after he was kidnapped by Tal-Rho, though he was unsuccessful. When Tal-Rho returned and began attacking Smallville, John came in his exosuit to try and fight him along with the military, but he failed and various soldiers were eradicated as a result. The next day Irons mentioned that the solar flare that he used on Rho managed to make a dent on his shield and he went with Jon to build a weapon together.
Irons managed to charge his kinetic hammer with their red solar energy in order to pierce the Eradicator's force field, though he needed huge amount of distance to throw it and he only had one shot. His A.I. later detected some kryptonian activity on the mines of Smallville so both him and Superman went there and they found Zeta-Rho possessing Jordan's body along with the other soldiers who where eradicated. The two fought their way in and Irons attacked Zeta-Rho with a red solar flare just a he was about to kill Superman, John then took Jordan's unconscious body to the Kent's barn so that Lois could find a way to save Jordan from Zeta-Rho's control.
Just as his suit was running out of power reserves, Irons arrived to save Superman from the eradicated soldiers with his hammer, despite his A.I. warning him about losing his suit's energy, John threw his hammer from outside of Earth's atmosphere right into Tal-Rho who was absorbing energy on the mines. As his power reserves where depleted, Irons' suit deactivated and he started to fell to Earth until he was saved by Superman, the two also found that Tal-Rho survived and was freed from the Eradicator's influence.
A new beginning
Reunited with Natalie
After Sam Lane decided to step down from active duty, John received a call from the DOD hoping that he could come on board. When John packed things up as he was ready to leave the Kent Farm, his A.I. informed him about a vessel approaching at a high velocity. The vessel turned out to be a ship from where John's daughter Natalie arrived, the two embraced in a hug and Natalie was surprised to see her mom's doppelgänger.
Natalie tried to hug Lois, but John stopped her and explained that she was not her mother, so they left in his trailer. They settled in Metropolis under the names Natalie and Henry Johnson and she enrolled at Metropolis High School. However, Natalie arrived trailer three hours late on the first day of school after getting frustrated. She told John that they didn't belong on this Earth and wished she had died with the rest of her world. John called Lois and set up a meeting between her and Natalie at Victoria May's. He took Natalie to Smallville and met with Lois, who convinced her to move and they went to Kent Farm.
John and Natalie moved to the farm until John could find work in Smallville. He and Natalie told everyone they were old friends from the Kent family from Metropolis. Although he intended to stay out of vigilantism to provide a normal life for Natalie, he agreed to help Lois investigate the mysterious earthquakes in the Shuster Mines. While they were there, a miner was attacked by something underground. Later, John realized that the incidence of the earthquakes corresponded to the mysterious headaches and visions Clark was having, and deduced that whatever was in the mines was causing it.
Sam Lane provided John with false credentials to allow him access to the mines, pretending to be an inspector. Dr. Kit Faulkner accompanied him into the mines and later knocked him out. While John was unconscious, a monster escaped from the mines. Sam and Lois woke up John through his comm link and he summoned his armor. The monster was immune to John's red solar weapons and severely damaged the armor before escaping. Later, Superman told John, Sam, and Lois that the creature was a doppelganger of him and John agreed to help Superman fight it.
Later, Superman's doppelganger went to the Kent Farm and attacked Clark. John used the Kinetic Hammer to separate them without using his control gauntlet, injuring his wrist in the process. The creature flew away, but John developed a way to track his pendant's energy signature. He was found in Bolivia and had already killed two soldiers, so John went with his armor damaged. They managed to fight off the creature, but John was seriously injured and fell into a coma. Superman took him to a military hospital, where Natalie stayed by his side the whole time.
Back in action
John eventually regained consciousness, but he still had some brain damage and had a brief memory lapse where he forgot that Earth-Prime Lois was not the Lois of his Earth. Since Natalie didn't want to go back to the Kent farm, Clark suggested they move to an old repair shop in town, and they liked the new residence.
After Superman disappeared while hunting Ally Allston, John took his place as a hero, wearing an upgraded warsuit. On the morning of the Smallville mayoral election, Natalie tried to make waffles for breakfast using Lois' recipe, but John couldn't remember what day it was and he took Natalie to Lana Lang's campaign headquarters as a volunteer and apparently tried to flirt with her until Natalie demanded that they come home. When they got back, Natalie yelled at him for forgetting about her mother and went to her room. So John realized it was the anniversary of Lois' death. When there was a fire in a building, John went there to put out the fire and found Jordan Kent acting as a vigilante, so he told Lois. He later watched an old video of Lois holding a newborn Natalie and apologized to her, tolding her that he was trying to get over Lois' death because her grief drove him to extreme actions, but that he never wanted to forget about her. He made waffles using Lois' recipe and they watched Lois' old videos together.
- "I know what it means to lose the people you love. That pain you feel right now... that is nothing compared to what happens if you lose them."
- —John Henry Irons[src]
Before Irons' world was destroyed, he proved to be an ordinary civilian. A loving father and husband. That changed after Superman killed his wife, Lois Lane. Irons decided to take revenge and not let that happen again.
Irons only sees the Superman of Earth-Prime the same way. He is hellbent to rid the world of Superman. While admitting that this Superman is not like the one of his world, he is convinced that Superman will ultimately become evil. To which, he insists that Superman is not a hero; as such, constantly sets up twisted tests to push Superman's morality with the option to capture him or save lives. Regardless of how many times, Superman chooses the individuals' safety, Irons doesn't accept him as a hero and wants him dead out of paranoia that he will turn evil; proving just how short-sighted and narrow-minded he truly is.
Irons still cares greatly about his old life. Seeking to reason with Sam Lane and getting his assistance in his crusade. Even using his final words to remember the man's doppelgänger. However, ultimately, his true reason for his quest came from the motive of avenging his wife and daughter. Fueled by jealousy of the former's doppelganger being with another man. While convinced of Superman's evil and what he needs to do to stop him, Irons also feels he is the hero of this story ultimately. Believing himself greater than the words Superman preaches. Seeing himself as the true "man of steel".
Over time, from hearing the word of his wife's Earth-Prime doppelganger, Irons was willing to abandon his quest to kill Superman, accepting that he was different from his world's Superman. After learning that Superman is actually Clark Kent, Earth-Prime Lois' wife and father to both her sons, Irons became torn in what he had to do. As he fought Superman, possessed by Zod, he watching Superman struggle against it and was willing to sacrifice himself to not become a tool of destruction. Seeing the genuine humanity in this Superman, Irons chose not to kill him, reaching to Superman with the shared perspective of being a devoted father and husband. Upon Superman regaining himself, Irons let go of his fear of Superman and came to respect him, happy to know he helped the man return to his family.
Powers and abilities
- Exosuit application: Irons is masterful in using his exosuit, a battle armor he uses to suit his needs, enhance his physical strength and durability to protect himself against Kryptonian-level threats. The exosuit can also fly at high speeds and manifest blue and green energy. Irons then lost these powers when his suit was destroyed by Superman. Another suit would be built in its place, but it would be lighter and overall slightly weaker than the original. However, as the new suit is lighter, Irons can summon the armor and have it form around him.
- Superhuman strength: The suit enables irons to be able to lift Superman with one arm. Irons was also able to effortlessly catch Leslie Larr by the throat and exert enough pressure that made a psuedo-Kryptonian like her gasp for air.
- Superhuman durability: Irons's exosuit allows him to go toe to toe with Superman and can even withstand a blast from his heat vision.
- Superhuman speed: Irons can travel at super fast speeds in the suit. Even being able to travel around the globe.
- Superhuman reflexes: Irons is able to keep up with Superman's fast attacks and dodge his strikes while wearing the exosuit.
- Flight: Irons's exosuit can fly up into space and can stay even in a dog fight with Clark.
- Sonic propulsions: Irons's exosuit can release a blast excess force from his gauntlets that is capable of forcefully pushing his opponents away.
- Remote operation: Irons can operate his suit as The Stranger remotely. Able to speak through it and use all it's functions without struggle.
- Donning system: If Irons is on the move while summoning his suit, the suit will separate into pieces to perfectly form around Irons's body.
- Peak of human physical condition: As a former soldier, Irons is in top physical condition; he was able to knock down the superpowered Leslie Larr with a punch, even though she is considerably more durable than ordinary humans. He is also athletic, being a former football player for Yale.
- Skilled hand-to-hand combatant: Irons is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant; using his suit, and later filtered red sunlight, to bridge the difference in physical might between them, he was able to match Superman in battle. He used a synthetic kryptonite blade to kill Rosetti.
- Keen intellect/expert tactician: Irons is a very intelligent individual, having graduated summa cum laude from Yale. After his plans to kill Superman were foiled and he lost most of his resources, he quickly came up with a plan to gather more information on the unfamiliar world he found himself in. He is also an excellent tactician, having devised and successfully executed several plans to lure out, test, distract, debilitate and harm Superman; in fact, he nearly managed to kill Superman on a couple of occasions, only failing due to circumstance.
- RV Trailer: Irons has a trailer that he uses to get around. His A.I. and some weapons are also in this van.
- A.I.: Irons wears an A.I. that originally belonged to Lex Luthor of his world. Irons briefly destroyed it in a moment of anger, but was later able to rebuild it.
- Kinetic hammer: A hammer was used by Irons against Superman that harnesses kinetic energy, the further it's thrown from being reflected through the amount of energy that is exerted upon its target.
- Exosuit: Irons uses a high-tech battle suit which gives him enhanced strength, durability and flight. The suit is able to withstand Superman's heat vision and freeze breath without taking damage. Irons then lost his suit when it was destroyed by Superman. John made a new suit to replace his old one.
- "This time he came in a ship. So he brought more than just a war suit with him."
- —Sam Lane to Clark Kent[src]
- Kryptonite blade: Irons used a retractable blade made of Kryptonite to stab Superman, but lost it once Superman broke it off.
- Bazooka: Irons used a bazooka to take down Superman and Derek Powell.
- Laser gun: Irons owns a portable laser able to cut through rock.
- Ship: Irons used a ship to get around Earth-Prime which was later destroyed.
Superman & Lois
Superman & Lois
- In his trailer, there is an image of Irons wearing a shirt with Yale written on it, indicating that he studied at Yale University in his Earth.
- In his Earth, Irons joined a military force called Hellfire 3-1 led by Sam Lane who tried to fight off the Kryptonians. Hellfire 3-1 wore dog tags in the shape of an inverted Superman logo with “hELL/7734” engraved on the back.
- After losing his ship and exosuit, Irons utilized an RV licensed as "Y15 565" and upgraded it with his A.I. device.
Behind the scenes
- In the comics. "the Stranger" is the name of two characters related to the superfamily. The first is Jo-Mon and the second is an unnamed man who is a enemy of the Super Sons.
- In the DC comics, John Henry Irons is a weapons engineer who became a super-hero named Steel to emulate Superman after his death. He debuted in Adventures of Superman #500 (June, 1993).
- The moniker of "Steel" in the Arrowverse is used by Nate Heywood.
- This is the second live-action appearance of John Henry Irons, having previously made his live-action debut in Steel (1997), where Shaquille O'Neal portrayed a loose version of the character.
|Other versions of John Henry Irons|
|To see other versions of this character, click the Earth name below for that Earth's counterpart of John Henry Irons.|