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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's 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 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 than what I have 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 an anti-villain-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. He is the final antagonist of Volume 7 and the main antagonist of Volume 8.
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.
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.
- 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 the 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.
- 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