Tony Stark and Emma Frost are getting married, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Marvel has announced their wedding, which will occur in X-Men #26 and Invincible Iron Man #10. Both issues will hit the stands in September, which is less than two months away. Yet despite their fast-approaching wedding date, Tony and Emma aren’t behaving like a couple who are about to tie the knot.
They haven’t kissed or shown any signs of affection towards one another. In fact, they barely seem to like each other. As if that wasn’t odd enough, Tony was ready to marry Patsy Walker last year. Why are Iron Man and Emma Frost getting married?
I think I know the real answer.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Invincible Iron Man #8!
Emma Frost and Iron Man’s current relationship
First, let’s look at Emma and Tony’s relationship. Emma is currently a supporting character in Invincible Iron Man, so the wedding isn’t coming completely out of left field. Invincible Iron Man is written by Gerry Duggan, who is also the writer for X-Men. This helps the coordination between the two characters and their titles.
Prior to Duggan’s Iron Man run, Frost’s relationship with Stark was largely dependent on how well the X-Men and the Avengers were getting along. For example, in Civil War #3 (2006), Tony asks Emma for the X-Men’s help in the civil war that was tearing the superhero community apart. Emma coldly refuses, reminding Tony of all the times the Avengers had turned their backs on the X-Men. Interestingly, the conversation hints at a secret romantic history between them.
In Uncanny X-Men #526 (2010), the two share a friendly dinner, toasting to better relations between the X-Men and the Avengers. This doesn’t last long, and the two find themselves at odds when their teams go to war during the Avengers vs. X-Men event. The two of them even trade some punches in Avengers vs. X-Men #2 (2012).
Fast forward to the present (or more recent past). When an X-Men villain named Feilong began targeting Iron Man, the hero turned to Emma Frost for help in Invincible Iron Man #4 (2023). This was followed by a flashback story detailing an early encounter between Tony and Emma in Invincible Iron Man #6 (2023), when Emma was the villainous White Queen. Using a disguise, Emma was able to infiltrate Stark Industries and stole some of their secrets. Following that, Iron Man had a confrontation with her that was part flirtatious, and part contemptuous.
Invincible Iron Man #8 (2023) finds Tony and Emma fighting Feilong’s deadly Stark Sentinels. The two heroes are at odds with each other throughout the battle, each arguing that the other one is getting in their way. However, Emma saves Tony’s life when the Stark Sentinels are about to strike the killing blow. Tony returns the favor, using one of his Iron Man suits to rocket Emma away before she can be captured.
It’s touching, but it’s a far cry from a marriage proposal. These two will be married in two issues, so what is going to happen between now and then?
Why Iron Man and Emma Frost are REALLY getting married
As you can probably tell by now, I don’t think Iron Man and Emma Frost are getting married for love.
Thanks to Feilong’s machinations, Tony is in a lot of trouble, and a marriage to Emma Frost might be his only way out. Feilong’s recent takeover of Tony’s company has put the villain in charge of all of Tony’s patents. As She-Hulk explains in Invincible Iron Man #8, this means it’s illegal for Tony to even use his own armor.
“Feilong owns Stark Unlimited. He owns these patents. He literally owns the technology in your armors. You need to comply with the cease and desist,” She-Hulk explains. “You set the precedent for this back when you were waging an armor war to keep your technology from proliferating. Your enemy has turned your victories against you.”
She-Hulk then advises Tony that he could escape legal jeopardy if he moved his base of operations to a foreign nation like Krakoa. This is where a marriage to Emma Frost becomes handy. The nation of Krakoa acts as a sanctuary to all mutants and their spouses. There is no extradition, so Tony would be able operate as Iron Man without any legal repercussions.
This is not the first time that Duggan has played with this concept. The crime boss Kingpin has married the mutant Typhoid Mary and used the marriage to claim sanctuary in X-Men #20 (2023). There is currently a warrant out for Fisk’s arrest in New York City, but thanks to the Krakoan laws, he’s safe from prosecution. In fact, as per Krakoan customs, the island will protect him from any attempt by the United States to capture and deport him.
Right now, it’s illegal for Iron Man to use his own armor, but if he claims Krakoan citizenship, the authorities can’t touch him. What does Emma Frost get out of this deal? Feilong’s Stark Sentinels are currently a big problem for the X-Men. Since they come from Tony’s technology, he might be useful as the X-Men strategize ways to take them down. Perhaps their marriage is a quid pro quo – Emma Frost gives Tony legal sanctuary, and he helps her take down the Stark Sentinels.
Is it possible that these two crazy kids will fall madly in love between now and September? Could this actually be a whirlwind romance? Anything is possible, but I doubt it. I strongly believe that Iron Man and Emma Frost are getting hitched so Tony can escape his legal jeopardy.
There is one big problem with Tony’s plan – there might not be a Krakoa much longer. I won’t spoil the events of X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1 (2023) here, but let’s just say things aren’t going well for the mutant nation. The one-shot kicks off Fall of X, a storyline that many have theorized could lead to the end of the X-Men’s Krakoa era.
Whatever the motivations for their nuptials are, it seems like Emma and Tony will be too busy for a honeymoon. Welcome to the X-Men Tony, we hope you survive the experience.
Invincible Iron Man #8 is written by Gerry Duggan with art from Juan Frigeri and colors from Bryan Valenza.