Jack Taggert (Firepower)

firepowerfilmAlmost at the end of the characters from Iron Man 3, and this one was the most disappointing: Jack Taggert, portrayed in the movie by Ashley Hamilton. If you’re asking “Who’s this guy?” I don’t blame you: he appears for something like ten seconds, has a couple of lines with Eric Savin, and then explodes because of an Extremis overdose. Needless to say, in the comics the guy is a little bit more than a living firecracker, and has almost thirty years of publication history at his back. He’s better known as the armored villain Firepower, and we will se together who he is in the comics…

First time we hear about Jack Taggert is when Edwin Cord, CEO of Cordco with a grudge against Tony Stark (a relative of his, some Drexel Cord, was an enemy of Stark, and had died trying to stop his own creation, the robot known as Demolisher), started Project: Firepower, a program sponsored by US Government whose aim was to create a new generation of armored super-soldiers that could have been employed in future wars on foreign territories. The pilot chosen to don the first prototype of the new armor, built with technology stolen in part from Stark Industries, was the mercenary Jack Taggert, a superb fighter and pilot with military training. Taggert started using a simulator, in which he impersonated Firepower in the chase of Iron Man. In the virtual environment he moved in, Taggert learnt to control his armor to perfection, to the point of impressing every single one of his observers: Cord himself, along with Senator Boynton (another rich man with a grudge against Iron Man) and General Meade (who was on Boynton’s pay roll). Boynton had one of his men, Dr. Abrams, teach and train firepowercomics1Taggert, filling him with hatred against Iron Man: when Cord realized it and made Abrams stop, it was too late, and Taggert had become an Iron Man-killing machine. Finally, Taggert succesfully completed the simulator and killed the virtual Iron Man, but General Meade was unsatisfied: the weapons Firepower used against his opponent would have destroyed the entire Detroit in a real environment, thus making Taggert untrustworthy. Meade revealed the Government’s real project: instead of using the new armored soldiers for wars abroad, they wanted to employ them on American ground, so that they could have stopped the rising number of superhumans the moment they would have gone out of control; a violent and brutal demonstration such as the one given by Taggert was far too dangerous for the Army. More simulations were ordered, and when Taggert destroyed a number of tanks and planes in less than the twelve seconds estimated by the computer, Cord declared him to be ready for an on-field test. When Senator Boynton expressed his concerns, he was completely ignored.

In order to complete their plan, Cord, Meade and the others contacted Tony Stark, and they ask him to help them destroy Iron Man: not knowing the two were one and the same, they ended up spoiling the ambush they had in mind for the superhero. The next morning, Stark went to the desert, where Firepower was waiting for his adversary. Immediately out of sight, he donned the Silver Centurion armor and engaged battle with Taggert. It was immediately crystal clear that Taggert’s armor was much more powerful, and that Stark, weakened by his alcoholism, was no match for the mercenary’s reflexes. After a long battle, Iron Man was utterly defeated: from land, the spectators only saw Iron Man trying to fly away from the battlefield, and being struck by one of Firepower’s missiles. Private Alvin Barnes, who was a fan of the Armored Avenger since his very childhood, retrieved his idol’s helmet, stained with the hero’s firepowercomics2blood, and declared him dead. In reality, Stark had had just the time to slip out of his armor and had been saved by James Rhodes, who took him away with his elicopter. Firepower’s armor didn’t have a single scratch after the battle; when the Senator and the General tried to collect it, anyway, Cord refused to give it to them, and he and Taggert started their private plan to eradicate Stark Enterprises. With Cord as the brain and Taggert as the braw, the criminal couple began threatening innocent people so that they didn’t accept Stark’s bids. Once again, Taggert was confronted by Iron Man (this time, it was Rhodey inside of it), but the hero was defeated. Firepower annihilated his enemy, but even this time he ended up destroying an empty armor, with the pilot wounded but safe somewhere else. Finally, Stark decided he would have taken on Firepower personally, and built a new, magnetic armor. During the following fight, Firepower’s advantage wasn’t so strong as before, and Taggert used a hidden trick from his weaponry: he armed a Terminax missile (the same he used to destroy Rhodey’s armor) to explode within thirty seconds in a densely populated zone, so that Iron Man would have sacrificed himself in order to avoid a carnage; the superhero used his new magnetic powers to expell Taggert from his armor, and used Firepower as a shield against the missile, thus saving the day and stopping the bad guy. Taggert, anyway, was far from surrendered, and would have come back in the future.

Jack Taggert is a highly trained mercenary and an excellent pilot, a great tactician and a mostly infallible marksman. He has no moral principles, and he uses his undeniable talents at the service of the best bidder. Thanks to both Cord’s obsession and Abram’s coaching, he has developed a deep grudge against Iron Man, a feeling that only deepened after his first defeat at the ends of Stark. As Firepower, he possesses an incredibly huge and powerful armor, which amplifies his physical attributes and, most of all, gives him access to an extended weaponry. The most formidable weapon in Firepower’s arsenal is the Terminax missile, a high-energy low-radiation explosive powerful enough to erase an entire city. Armed, smart and hateful, Firepower is a dangerous foe for Iron Man.

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