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|“||I will sacrifice whatever it takes to stop her.||„|
|~ Ironwood to Arthur Watts|
|“||Sometimes, doing the right thing means making tough decisions.||„|
|~ Ironwood to Team RWBY before declaring martial law|
|“||James is what my friends call me. To you, it's General!||„|
|~ Ironwood before attempting to murder Oscar/Ozpin.|
|“||I have always promised to defend this kingdom, its technology, its future, from those who would see it destroyed. Our enemy is crippled, but one individual still denies Atlas its salvation. The Protector of Mantle. Penny, wherever you and your friends are, I need you all to listen. I know how much Mantle means to you, so I'm going to give you a choice. You can bring yourself to Atlas Academy and do your duty. Help me save as much of Atlas as I can, and Mantle will be left to fend for itself. Or... you can all watch as I destroy it. I have... one bomb. That's all it will take. If there is no Mantle, then there is no reason for you not to work with me. Neither of us want it to come to that, but one of us is willing to do it. If anyone tries anything other than what i've ordered, Mantle... is gone. You have one hour to respond. I hope you live up to the title I gave you.||„|
|~ Ironwood threatening to destroy Mantle to force Penny to serve him, marking his full descent into villainy|
General James Ironwood is a supporting character-turned-antagonist from the American animated webseries RWBY. He is the headmaster of Atlas Academy, the general of the Atlas Military, holder of two seats on the Atlas Council, and a former member of Ozpin's group.
Although he did not start out evil and ultimately wanted to stop Salem, he has resorted to extreme actions in order to protect Atlas and the world, even at the cost of those who once called him a friend and by the end, was willing to actively murder millions to do so. He served as the final antagonist of Volume 7 and one of the main antagonists of Volume 8. In the Volume 8 finale, he is defeated by Winter and left by Salem and Cinder to die in Atlas' collision with Mantle, or the flood of sea water that followed. He was confirmed to have perished.
He is voiced by Jason Rose.
James Ironwood became associated with Ozpin and his group, learning the existence of Salem and her control over the Grimm, as well as the many secrets of Remnant, including the existence of the Relics and the Maidens. Ironwood eventually served a dual role for Ozpin by becoming the general of the Atlas Military and the headmaster of Atlas Academy.
Prior to the Vytal Festival, Ironwood arrives in Vale with his military forces and several students from Atlas in preparation for the Grimm. Ozpin and Glynda Goodwitch disagree with Ironwood's military approach for the festival, believing it to be an unnecessary display of hostility for an event that is meant to unite the four kingdoms. Nonetheless, they allow Ironwood's forces to remain in Vale in the event of a Grimm attack.
After Cinder Fall manipulates several events behind the scenes that trigger the Battle of Beacon, Ironwood deploys his full military force and takes part in the battle as well, only for Cinder to steal the Fall Maiden's powers, kill Ozpin, and hijack the Atlesian androids to fight the Huntsmen and Huntresses, causing the Fall of Beacon.
After the Fall of Beacon, the world becomes increasingly hostile towards Atlas, blaming them for the Fall of Beacon. Out of fear of the world declaring war on Atlas, and based on reports from Winter Schnee (Weiss's sister) about growing unrest in Mistral, Ironwood closes Atlas's borders and puts an embargo on Dust, which puts him directly in conflict with Jacques Schnee, who owns the largest company in Atlas (and arguably the world) that exports dust. Ironwood also secures an additional seat on the council, which he uses to increase military presence in both Atlas and Mantle.
By the time Team RWBY and Team JNR arrive with Qrow Branwen and Oscar Pine (Ozpin's reincarnation) to Atlas, Ironwood has all but locked down Atlas and maintained near-dictatorial influence over Mantle, inspiring local vigilante Robyn Hill of the Happy Huntresses to run against Ironwood and Jacques Schnee for a seat on the council. Ironwood welcomes Team RWBY and JNR into his inner circle, consisting of Winter, a rebuilt Penny Polendina, and the Ace Ops, for his plan to rebuild Amity Arena as an alternative communications tower to reveal to Atlas, and then the world, the existence of Salem. However, he uses the limited resources of Mantle to build the communications tower.
Between the combined efforts of Watts manipulating the poll results to elect Jacques, Tyrian assassinating Ironwood's political dissenters, and Robyn Hill hijacking and stealing the supplies Atlas is using for the new communications tower, Ironwood grows increasingly paranoid about his ability to protect Atlas and the Relic from Salem. During a tense dinner at the Schnee Manor, Ironwood defends his aggressive tactics to a newly elected Jacques Schnee and his fellow council members before Weiss barges in and reveals Jacques was secretly allied with Arthur Watts and that he had unwittingly helped Watts shut down Mantle's heating power, endangering their citizens and attracting the Grimm towards the city.
Ironwood and Robyn Hill briefly unite to tell Atlas and Mantle about the existence of Salem in order to unite everyone against the incoming Grimm invasion. Ironwood mentions the Amity tower is complete in order to lure Watts there and take him down. After their battle, an injured Ironwood apprehends Watts and tells him he will do whatever it takes to stop Salem, something Watts has been counting on.
Ironwood goes back to his office to find a black chess piece on his desk from Cinder...the same signal he got that indicated the Fall of Beacon. He calls Team RWBY and the Ace Ops back to his office to protect Atlas when a Seer Grimm from Watt's bag jumps out and casts a mirage of Salem, who taunts both Ironwood and Ruby herself, saying her henchmen were never meant to win, but rather to set the stage for her arrival. Blindsided by Salem getting the upper hand and angry that RWBY lied to him about Salem being unable to be killed, Ironwood reveals his new contingency plan; use the Staff of Creation to raise Atlas high in the sky where Salem's forces cannot reach, coldly abandoning Mantle citizens who have not yet been evacuated and leaving them to die. Ironwood officially declares martial law and places Team RWBY under arrest, leaving the Ace Ops to apprehend Team RWBY.
Though Team RWBY manages to defeat the Ace Ops and escape, Ironwood is confronted by Oscar in the Vault of the Winter Maiden. Oscar tries to talk Ironwood down, but Ironwood is frustrated that he alone seems to look at the big picture, calling out others for their failure to protect Remnant and declaring that no one should stop him from doing what needed to be done. When Oscar refuses to back down and explains that division is exactly what Salem wants, Ironwood accepts that Oscar/Ozpin is no longer his friend, and after coldly ordering him to call him General, shoots him down a cavern. Oscar survives but is stranded below Atlas. Additionally, after foiling Cinder's assassination attempt on the Fria the Winter Maiden, Penny ends up inheriting the powers of the Winter Maiden and defects, leaving with Team RWBY. Neopolitan steals the Relic of Knowledge and gives it to Cinder, leaving Ironwood enraged that he no longer has the Winter Maiden or the Relic of Knowledge and that the fugitives have escaped. As he contemplates the next course of action, Salem herself arrives in Atlas with an army of Grimm.
The next day, Ironwood contacts Penny through her scroll, expressing concern for her an offering to pick her up, stating Atlas needs her. Ruby talks back to the general, telling him Penny is not going anywhere until he changes his mind about Mantle. Ironwood loses his calm demeanor and claims Remnant is doomed if Atlas doesn’t get away from Salem. He tells Ruby she needs to think of the future and if Salem’s forces breach Atlas’ defenses, she would be at fault for the deaths. Ironwood and the Ace-Ops wait at the hospital. Ironwood’s left arm has been replaced with a mechanical one, he then talks to a hospitalized Winter. In the next room over, the Ace-Ops look at Clover’s corpse with Marrow stricken with grief, and Vine expressing stoicism. While Elm and Harriet express frustration. Ironwood expresses gratitude for Winter’s services, he then changes the subject, telling her he’s never seen a Grimm force that large before. He tells her the hard-light shields will hold, but not forever. Winter asks the General what will he do, but before he can answer her, Councilman Sleet, and Councilwoman Camilla barge in. The two demand to know what is going on. The General finally response and tells her he will do whatever it takes In protecting the Kingdom. He exits Winter’s room, while Sleet is berating James for implementing martial law upon the city, Ironwood draws Due Process, and kills Sleet mid sentence. Camilla is stricken with horror, while Winter and Harriet look on with concern.
Ironwood later forces Watts to work for him, arriving in Pietro's Lab, where the criminal is stationed, to intimidate Watts and remind him of their goal: to capture Penny. When Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Penny, and May Marigold infiltrate the Atlas Command Center, he orders the station to be on high alert and sends the Ace-Ops (now down to four members due to Clover's prior death) to capture the Winter Maiden. When the Ace-Ops fail, Ironwood nearly orders more forces to the area before Watts stops him, taking control of the situation to inform the Ace-Ops to take a blade from Floating Array. When the operatives return, Ironwood commends them for their work, and Watts lets them know he'll make Penny join them.
When Penny causes an eruption in the Abandoned SDC Mine, Ironwood and the Ace-Ops leave his office to go to Pietro's Atlas laboratory. Ironwood and the Ace Operatives listen to Ruby's message, which is soon cut short by Watts short-circuiting Penny's systems. Unable to make contact with Penny, Ironwood questions Watts, who explains that Penny's systems are likely rebooting. Ironwood angrily throws his Scroll at Watts, leading to the Scroll becoming broken. He then orders Winter to take the Ace-Ops and search for Penny. As he leaves the room, he tells Harriet Bree to take Watts back to his cell, and the two fail to notice Watts picking up Ironwood's broken Scroll after casually turning off the computers.
When Salem destroys the Hard-Light shields surrounding Atlas and lands Monstra on the island, He watches in horror. As the invasion comes underway, he orders the citizens of Atlas to evacuate to the subway stations for shelter while he mobilizes his entire army to counter Salem's forces. Upon Winter contacting him and informing him that she and the Ace-Ops have apprehended Yang, Jaune, and Ren, he orders her to not let them out of her sight. Afterwards, he has his troops focus on the Grimm being spawned from Monstra while ordering Winter to deliver a bomb the science team is creating inside the whale Grimm in hopes it will destroy it.
Some time later, as morning breaks, he is still in his office, viewing the battle still raging outside his window. Two Atlas officers enter, reporting that Cinder Fall has just broken Watts out of jail. They add that they've recaptured Jacques Schnee, but Ironwood is not soothed, and orders them not to return until they've recaptured Qrow, who had also escaped alongside Robyn. Moments later, Monstra unexpectedly explodes, illuminating the whole city and wiping out all the Grimm in the area. Believing it to be due to Winter's efforts, he contacts her and congratulates her on a job well done.
Ironwood is still in his office when Winter and the Ace-Ops arrive to make their report. And when he learns it was not the bomb that destroyed Monstra, he's initially taken aback, but then surmises he can use the bomb later. He then orders Yang's Group to be turned over to him, planning to use them as bargaining chips to get Penny back under control. But when he learns, from Harriet, that Winter had released them to infiltrate Monstra and they never returned, Ironwood glares at Winter, and then smashes his control console in rage. He is then informed by Central Command of SDC ships heading for Mantle, and deduces it was Weiss' doing, as a plan forms in his mind.
Ironwood later appears in a city-wide broadcast, showing Manta ships shooting down the SDC cargo ships en route to Mantle. Ironwood proclaims his drive to protect Atlas and all it represents, but accuses Penny of denying Atlas its salvation. So he lays out his terms for Penny and her friends; come to Atlas Academy to help him save Atlas, or he'll drop the bomb on Mantle, destroying the city. Ironwood also warns if anyone tries to undermine him this time, Mantle will be erased. He gives them one hour to respond.
Ironwood meets up with the Ace-Ops in an academy hallway, Winter standing beside him. He orders a squadron of drones to protect the payload, that he still intends to use to save Atlas no matter the cost. Marrow denounces him for throwing away everything they've worked for, going so far as to call his rank a collar. Ironwood unholsters his gun to execute Marrow, until Winter intervenes, knocking him to the ground and binding him. She offers to incarcerate Marrow for treason, and Ironwood nods in approval.
He is later standing alone in the Atlas Vault, when he receives a call from Ruby Rose, telling him that Penny has agreed to his terms. Ironwood then orders for Penny to come to the academy entrance, alone.
Ironwood is next seen standing outside the academy entrance, the Ace-Ops behind him as both parties await Penny's arrival. When news reaches them of Qrow and Robyn breaching the hangar, the Ace-Ops are divided about how to handle the situation. But then Winter arrives, offering to assist him while the Ace-Ops secure the hangar. A few moments after they depart, "Penny" arrives, and Ironwood trains his combined guns on her, surprised that none of her friends tried to interfere. When he hears her not wishing to cause any more trouble, Ironwood is relieved and approaches her, saying she made the right choice. But then "Penny" reveals her true self, as well as Jaune, Ren, Nora, and Oscar behind her. Ironwood takes a surprise attack and is disarmed by Emerald, while the rest engage him in battle. His fights valiantly, but is taken aback when he sees Winter assisting his enemies. His Aura is soon broken, and he falls in defeat.
Winter later escorts a semi-unconscious Ironwood to the cell blocks when Team RWBY use the Relic of Creation, and is still unconscious in a cell adjacent to Jacques when the city starts to fall.
Ironwood wakes up, and a technical malfunction in the falling city opens his cell. He grabs a large beam gun and, after killing Jacques, goes to the Vault of the Winter Maiden. Winter is there, preventing him from going further. Ironwood asks Winter to stand down, and she refuses. After shedding a single ter, Ironwood fights her, and manages to overpower her until Penny, who has been mortally wounded in a fight with Cinder, kills herself to allow the Winter Maiden powers to pass on to Winter. Winter uses her abilities to defeat Ironwood and help everyone escape.
Ironwood comes to with Cinder Fall exiting the portal of the Vault, and Salem reassembling herself. Cinder informs Salem that Team RWBY has been killed, and she has both Relics. Ironwood is distraught when he hears the news, both of his allies and of the relics. He attempts to pick up his gun and shoot Cinder, but she and Salem fly away, leaving Ironwood still on Atlas when it crashes to the ground, and the land subsequently floods. He was confirmed to have perished.
RWBY: Amity Arena
Ironwood appears as a Legendary unit in RWBY: Amity Arena. He is a ranged/melee unit that can dash forward and can summon a pair of AK-135s to aid him in battle.
Powers and Abilities
- Huntsman Prowess: Despite normally using his military position instead of engaging in direct combat, as the Headmaster of Atlas Academy, Ironwood is still an exceptionally skilled Huntsmen who ranks as among the greatest.
- Master Gunfighter: Ironwood has impressive prowess with his Due Process both in marksmanship and wielding it in melee combat, using the white gun to fire explosive bullets and the black gun to fire Gravity Dust bullets to enhance his mobility in combat. He effortlessly dispatched multiple Atlesian Knight-200s within the space of several seconds, the heads of the first two cleanly removed by his shots, and even destroyed one by reverse gripping one of his guns and clubbing it with the handle. Later on, Ironwood was skillfully able to counter Watts shots with only his white gun while forcing Watts to use both his gun and his shield to counter him, and effectively made use of the black gun's Gravity Dust bullets to keep himself from falling as Watts hacked into the arena to alter it, even managing to shoot Watts while mid-air. In his final battle, Ironwood paired Due Process with a silver cannon to become a single gun that can fire powerful streams of green fire and displayed incredible skill with it despite the weapon's weight, able to effectively trade blows with and eventually overwhelm Winter's swordsmanship, displaying verstaile techniques by detaching and using the Due Process to hit Winter before using the cannon to deal the devastating blow that broke her aura, and was also able to accurately fire quick shots at Winter at speeds while also dodging her attacks.
- Master Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Even unarmed, Ironwood is an exceptional close-quarters fighter, displaying great prowess in boxing and wrestling, sporting a fighting style that revolved around strong punches and kicks and making use of grapples and supplex moves. He used unarmed combat with his prosthetic hand to easily overpower and restrain a Beowulf for his gun to deal the lethal blow. When fighting Watts, Ironwood had the upper hand most of the time whenever they engaged in close-quarters, able to effortlessly tackle and throw him with his offhand and easily counter Watts hits while delivering powerful blows on him before soon giving him a vicious beatdown after being briefly overwhelmed by Watts rage. When fighting Jaune, Nora, Oscar, Ren, and Winter, despite being disarmed, Ironwood was still able to put up a considerable fight, pushing Jaune into the defensive, swiftly overpowering Oscar, escaping from Ren's grappling hook and quickly knocking him aside, stopping Winter's Manticore summon, and managing to catch Oscar's finishing blow and would have struck him had Winter not finally dealt the finishing blow.
- Superhuman Physical Prowess: Due to undoubtedly intensive training and years of experience conditioning his body to exceptional levels as well as having cybernetic modifications through his body, Ironwood has displayed incredible levels of physical prowess and able to perform superhuman feats.
- Great Strength: With James's cybernetic arm, he was strong enough to block the attacks of an Alpha Beowolf barehanded using his metal right hand and tear through concrete and stone with his metal fingers. He has twice displayed the ability to easily damage and crush desks and tables with simple slams. Ironwood also had the strength to quickly break through others Aura with sheer physical force and take them down with ease: With just a few blows, he was able to topple Watts and even after forcibly detaching his hand from Watts trap, he still easily had enough strength to drag Watts around like a rag doll and lift him off the ground with one hand to the neck. He later on managed to break through Winter's aura and effectively stun her with blows from both his cannon and white gun.
- Great Speed, Reflexes, and Agility: Despite his bulky appearance and cybernetic body, Ironwood is considerably fast with great agility and reflexes. During his battle with Watts, Ironwood was able to easily maneuver through Watts hacking of the terrain and keep up with him with little trouble, accomplishing feats such as swiftly climbing over platforms, reacting fast enough to prevent himself from falling to the ground even when hit, easily jumping through small platforms, all while countering Watts shots, eventually tackling him down. Later on, even while wielding his cannon, he was still able to move at sufficiently quick speeds and reaction to keep up with the extremely agile Winter, countering all her blows even when she used her Glyphs, and even managed to outpace her to deliver several blows that left her battered.
- Vast Durability & Aura Defense: Ironwood is also extremely durable and resilient with a strong aura defense, to where he could easily take a shot from Watts without being harmed and took a brief beatdown from him with little damage and reaction whereas Watts was left reeling from his own assault. He even managed to pull off his arm from Watts trap, steadily fighting through the pain to quickly break free, and was able to continue to function with seemingly little exertion. Ironwood was later able to take a full hit to the face from Magnhild while Nora Valkyrie was boosted by both her Semblance and one of Winter Schnee's glyphs without being knocked out. He was also able to survive a redirected beam from his cannon, which was powerful enough to destroy a Hard-Light cell and vaporize Jacques Schnee.
- Sharp Intelligence: Although consistently hampered by his paranoia and other personality traits, Ironwood is still considerably intelligent as displayed by his high position in Atlas and capability to be a threat to both the heroes and real villains after his descent to darkness despite his paranoia and insanity reaching it's height.
- Master Strategist and Tactician: Despite his brawny personality, Ironwood was shown to possess remarkable tactical skills and can be cunningly deceptive and manipulative: He was able to come up with a plan to have Watts and Tyrian lured into a trap by pretending that Amity was complete, completely tricking them despite Watts own cunning with prepared traps ready to capture them, which succeeded. He later on quickly managed to adapt to the situation when Salem was on her way with the ruthless but efficient plan to abandon Mantle and raise Atlas above her reach. When Salem finally reached Atlas, Ironwood came up with a plan to bomb the Monstra and chose to use it to instead bomb Mantle when Monstra was destroyed to force Penny to return.
- Master Politician: Despite his apparent preference for straight-forward military actions, Ironwood has proven himself to be a good politician when needed, having been able to hold two seats on the Atlas council. He possesses enough political power and skill to be able to override Ozpin's credibility to the Vale and Atlas Council by convincingly reporting his dismission of Ironwood's suggestion that they send in the military to deal with the White Fang, resulting in him obtaining control over the Vytal Festival from Ozpin. After Beacon falls, Ironwood was still able to successfully convince the Atlas Council to perform the acts of organizing a Dust embargo on the rest of the world to cut off the villains' supplies of Dust and sealing Atlas from the outside world, preventing anyone from entering or leaving without the approval of the Council, and skillfully leverage the fact that he has two council seats to Jacques's one to keep the profit-hit Schnee Dust Company in line, confidently threatening Jacques that he could easily damage his business if he wished to, which even Jacques was unwilling to challenge on his own. Ironwood also had the option of declaring Martial Law.
- Master Leader: As the General of the Atlas Military, Ironwood is an exceptional leader with a considerable amount of charisma despite his personality traits, being able to command the absolute respect and authority from his soldiers, with the Ace-Ops and Winter following his order without question and Ironwood inspiring sufficient loyalty to make them believe in his decisions even when he had started to grow aggressive until he finally crossed the line when he threatened Mantle. Ironwood had been able to defend Atlas from Salem's Grimm army long enough for Oscar to destroy Monstra and end the invasion.
- Like many characters in RWBY, Ironwood is based on a figure from a specific fairy tale. In his case, he alludes to the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.
- However, in contrast to the Tin Man, who is a robotic being who desires to become human, Ironwood is a human who loses his humanity over the course of the series, both figuratively and literally.
- Ironwood's fall into villainy was an ironic echo to his attitude towards Leonardo Lionheart's betrayal, particularly he assured to Oscar that he wouldn't become the next Lionheart, meaning how much Ironwood despised Lionheart. Ironically, both Ironwood and Lionheart were hit by the fear towards Salem and her forces that drove them into the darker side.
- However, Ironwood is much more complicated as he had become more paranoid rather than submissive because of his fear. He refused to surrender himself to Salem and was willing to do anything, even questionable and extreme acts, only to stop Salem and protect Atlas & the Relic, making him more prone to an Anti-Villain at worst (especially after shooting Oscar).
- In contrast, Lionheart had completely submitted to his fear of Salem and became her follower out of sheer cowardice.
- However, it should also be noted that Ironwood's semblance literally forces him to carry out any decision he comes up with, regardless of how mad it is, leaving it up to interpretation on just how villainous Ironwood truly is.
- In the Japanese dub, Ironwood is voiced by Masaki Terasoma, who also voiced Thales in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Shadow Moon in Kamen Rider Black, and dubbed Agent 47 in Hitman series.
Creatures of Grimm