Marvel Studios hires an army of artists that make up all the incredible designs that end in the movies. The Iron Man armor is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s finest artistic productions. It is a flagship product of the shared superhero universe. The Armor was designed by comic book artist Adi Granov with additional illustrations and detailing done by illustrator Phil Saunders. And we have to admit they did a pretty good job. Saunders was also hired by Disney and Marvel Studios to create the next generation Iron Man suit – the Hulkbuster armor back when Avengers: Age of Ultron was still about to enter production. While most of his designs were rejected with Marvel finally settling for that one design that clicked, Saunders kept the rejected Hulkbuster designs to himself.

hulkbuster mcu

He has finally released the concept artwork in social media. And boy do they look so freaking cool.

Phil Saunders is regularly hired by the movie making industry as a film and concept designer. An avid Instagram freak, he regularly posts his art in the social media platform as a way to engage with his fans. He had not posted anything in a while since he claimed he was busy with other work. So when he returned to Instagram, he had something very unique to sweeten the deal. Releasing a series of unused Hulkbuster artworks that he did during the early days of Avengers: Age of Ultron Saunders showed us how the Marvel Cinematic Universe could have been vastly different if the designs been given the get-go.

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The caption for his post read:

“Been awhile, know! Too focused on work lately to keep up my posting duties. This was a silly concept for Hulkbuster in Avengers: Age of Ultron, just trying to push proportions past the breaking point!”

This is the first of a series of Hulkbuster suit concepts he released on Instagram.

As you can see from the picture, this unused Hulkbuster artwork had a rather non-streamlined body with an extreme level of external partitions and segments. Unlike the actual Marvel Cinematic Universe Hulkbuster, the idea was probably rejected because it was way too detailed to be included in the movie. Notice the difference in the arc reactor portion as well as the leg frames. The most obvious difference is the head portion. The design incorporated a turtle head formation that left the suit with little to no neck area for added protection.

The second post’s caption read:

“Time for another random #hulkbuster sketch from #avengers #ageofultron. Wanted to emphasize powerful shoulders to grapple Hulk. Not sure I went far enough though…:).”

As can be seen in the second picture, the Hulkbuster concept borrows heavily from the first unused artwork. It had very little parts that were exposed and had red armor plating throughout its body. It also did not possess the golden battering ram arms of the original Hulkbuster suit or the grey battering ram gauntlets of the first rejected artwork. It also used very little gold but had a similar head portion as the first.

Related: Mysterio Could Have Had a Hulkbuster Costume

The third post had a rather unconventional design.

This version of the Hulkbuster looked bland and very little imagination so to speak. It had bulkier arms and legs and a more protruded arc reactor segment. It’s head area too protruded out of the body and was unlike the turtle head like design of the first two concept Hulkbuster suits. The MCU Hulkbuster might have taken some leaves from this rejected concept art.

The caption on the fourth post reads:

“Another #hulkbuster from the #avengers #ageofultron series. Trying for clear simple silhouettes.”

This is by far the simplest Hulkbuster design we have seen. It had a better silhouette and looked more familiar. It was also more hulking than the rest of the Hulkbuster suits. For a weapon that was supposed to help Iron Man fight the Hulk in a one on one brawl, it did quite the trick to make its presence felt. Out of all the concept arts revealed, this would be our personal favorite.

But wait there is one more!! The fifth and final unused Hulkbuster concept art starts with the caption:

“More #hulkbuster! I call this one the quarterback.”

Phil Saunders calls it the Quarterback. With enlarged shoulders and a heightened upper body mass, this suit sure looks its namesake. This would be our second favorite after the silhouette Hulkbuster suit. Phil Saunders sure knows how to draw them.

hulkbuster marvel comics first appearance iron man #304

The Hulkbuster armor debuted in the year 1994 in Marvel Comics. It was during Len Kaminski and Kevin Hopgood’s run on the Iron Man adventures. In Iron Man #304, Tony Stark discovers that the Pentagon has a secret manufacturing facility where they produce and stockpile powerful gamma bombs. Realizing that the Hulk would absolutely intervene and try to destroy the Stane International facility funded by the Pentagon, he evacuates the entire factory and summons the Hulkbuster module to fight the Incredible Hulk.

hulkbuster age of ultron iron man vs hulk

In the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Hulkbuster’s debut marks a stark difference from the suits comic book designs and origins. The suit is called the Mark XLIV and is the 44th Iron Man suit made by Tony Stark. After the Hulk is telepathically manipulated and goes on a wild rampage in South Africa, Tony calls upon the suit to slow the Hulk down. The suit is launched from an orbital platform called Veronica. The primary module stays high above the atmosphere and keeps supplying Tony with additional parts once the Hulk rips through them. The suit can be worn atop the traditional Iron Man suit. It was the destruction caused by the Hulk and the Hulkbuster suit during that battle that finally led to the Sokovia Accords and MCU’s Civil War.

Also Read: What is the Strongest Armor in the MCU?

Phil Saunders has released multiple such unused Marvel Cinematic Universe artworks. But the Hulkbuster suits that never made it to the movies require a special mention because they could have led to an entirely different ending in Age of Ultron. What if one of the unused concept art suits was actually found to be durable enough to defeat the Hulk? Maybe then the Hulk would have been countered and the Sokovia Accords would have never ever happened in the first place?!?!

Source: Phil Saunders

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