I have always promised to defend this Kingdom, from those who would see it destroyed. No matter the cost.
—James Ironwood

General James Ironwood is a character in RWBY. He was the Headmaster of Atlas Academy, as well as a general in the Atlesian Military and a holder of two seats on the Atlesian Council. His weapon of choice is Due Process,[2] a pair of revolvers.

For currently unknown reasons, the entire right section of his body has been replaced with a robotic prosthesis.

He was also an important member of a secret brotherhood led by Ozpin, whose purpose is to protect Remnant. As such, Ironwood has knowledge kept secret from most of the world.

He is introduced in "Welcome to Beacon", where he is shown speaking to Ozpin about Qrow Branwen and his message. Originally, he was an ally to Ruby's Group. However, after learning that they lied to him and Salem was on her way in "Gravity", he turns against them and intends on raising Atlas out of her reach. He serves as a main antagonist in Volume 8.

In "The Final Word", he is last seen in the Atlas Vault as Atlas crashed into Mantle causing both cities to be destroyed. His current status is unknown.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Original (Volumes 2–3)[edit | edit source]

Ironwood is shown to be well dressed and clean, much like Ozpin. He wears a white overcoat, with a gray undercoat, black sweater, a red necktie and a white glove on his right hand. His suit pants share the same color as his overcoat and are tucked into silver boots accented in gray.

In "Mountain Glenn", Ironwood mentions that his left arm is acting up. In "Heroes and Monsters", it is revealed that his entire right side is cybernetic.

His hair is black, with some gray areas, while his eyebrows are solid black. He has a strip of silver metal above his right eyebrow, a neurotransmitter that helps him operate the robotic parts of his body.[3]

In both concept art and the Volume 3 Opening, Ironwood is shown wearing battle armor on his shoulder, with straps forming an 'x' over his overcoat. He is also shown wearing two large belts over his coat. Interestingly, this design was never used in the show.

Post-Timeskip (Volume 4)[edit | edit source]

After the Fall of Beacon, Ironwood's appearance is slightly less pristine. He has grown stubble and his hair is slightly messier. He wears a white, double-breasted tailcoat with dark blue and black accents, most notable at the cuffs and shoulder pieces. The coat is belted at the waist. Underneath, Ironwood has a black collared shirt and a red tie. He also now wears two white gloves, in contrast to wearing only one on his right hand. His pants are no longer tucked inside military boots but instead hang over the black boots.

Current Outfit (Volumes 7-8)[edit | edit source]

Ironwood's appearance once again became less pristine in his appearance. His stubble has fully grown into a beard, and his hair is more dishevelled and swept to the right. Ironwood wears a dark-blue collared shirt and red tie, along with a white coat with dark blue cuffs, dark blue and red accents and silver buttons. He wears a white long-sleeved double-breasted jacket over the shirt, with two dark-blue belts, one across his chest, the other around his waist. He also sports dark blue pants tucked into a pair of dark blue calf high boots with red lining and large cuffs alongside silver steel toe and heel plating. He also sports a pair of white gloves. As shown in "Gravity", Ironwood doesn't wear his coat in combat situations.

Following his battle with Arthur Watts, the entirety of Ironwood's left arm is burned by Watts' Rings, damaged to the point where Watts hints that it may need to be amputated and replaced with cybernetics. Once Ironwood arrives back in Atlas Academy, he bandages it and wears a sling over the arm.

As of Volume 8, Ironwood's left arm is amputated and replaced with a black prosthetic arm whose appearance is much more muscular in design compared to his other prosthesis.

It is shown that his officers and soldiers also adapt to his new style. Like Winter Schnee and the Ace Ops.

Image Gallery[edit | edit source]

Personality[edit | edit source]

Ironwood is courteous to his allies, as shown by his first onscreen interaction with Ozpin and Glynda Goodwitch. He is also far-thinking and tactical, wondering about the future, as seen when he speaks to Ozpin about Qrow Branwen's message. He also has a jovial, friendly, humorous and proud public persona, which he uses as a spokesman for the weapon manufacturers of Atlas.

However, as courteous Ironwood may appear, he can also be incredibly blunt, often preferring the direct approach. When he feels necessary, Ironwood is not afraid to bring the full might of his military command to bear, which sparked disagreements with both Glynda and Ozpin. Nevertheless, Ironwood is extremely loyal to his comrades, and however questionable his methods may be, he seems to have genuinely good intentions behind them.

Ironwood consistently believes his ideas are justified and the best course of action whether Ozpin or Jacques Schnee opposes him. According to Jacques, Ironwood does not trust anybody but himself, something he does not deny; instead, he believes that his methods are justified. This leads Ironwood to a more proactive yet headstrong approach to problems, attempting more preemptive measures, as opposed to Ozpin's more subtle, reactive and analytical methods. Ironwood also doesn't care about Ozpin's rules which is shown when he creates the Ace Operatives, a five person team that lacks a color theme because he would prefer an efficient team.[4]

Ironwood is known to respect courage, loyalty, selflessness, and duty above all in people and displays a generous personality. This is evident in his compensating Yang Xiao Long with an Atlas-tech prosthesis before her father, Taiyang Xiao Long, came to ask him for one. Consistent with this is his disdain for people who are apathetic to the problems and safety of the world's populace. He holds contempt for a socialite at a Schnee fundraising event when he comments Weiss is the only person making sense there.

Ironwood's military status results in his oversight of all scientific and research-based endeavors under his jurisdiction, such as the unethical Aura experiments by the Atlas Military in Aura transference and life supports used to prevent the Fall Maiden's powers from being assimilated by Cinder Fall. James is aware of the ethical gray areas he treads, bitterly swallowing any of his possible discomfort and criticism from others for the sake of global safety and his loyalty to Ozpin's Group.

Though a courageous if a somewhat bullheaded man, Ironwood is rather sympathetic toward those who abstain from combat in dire circumstances, as is shown when he gives the students at Amity Colosseum the choice to fight or flee to safety during the Fall of Beacon. This shows that while he values the dutiful and strong of will, he remains mindful that not everyone is suited to a life on the front lines of war.

However, for all his good intentions, Ironwood has shown to often set a double-standard that others have noticed; In "Mountain Glenn", Glynda mentions that Ironwood is always asking people to trust him, but has shown to very hesitant to trust others in return. In "Worst Case Scenario", he attempts to rebuke Nora Valkyrie's criticisms on the negative effect his regime is having on Mantle by claiming that everyone is making sacrifices, but Nora retorts that so far Mantle is bearing all of the burden. In "Breach", Ironwood goes behind Ozpin's back by reporting his actions to the Vale Council and having his authority over the Vytal Festival's security transferred to Ironwood, which he felt was necessary to ensure the protection of Vale. But in "Gravity", his reaction to finding out that Yang and Blake Belladonna went behind his back to tell Robyn Hill about the Amity project and helping her escape capture is that of outrage, screaming that "Loyalty ALWAYS matters!". In "Ultimatum", he blames Mantle for all the problems he dealt with when it was his actions that led to it.

Due to the events of the Fall of Beacon, Ironwood appears to suffer from a degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and an increased desperation to stop Salem by any means. This, now coupled with his typical bullheadedness and bluntness has made him make several decisions that have lead to many of his own people from Atlas to see him in a bad light due to the countermeasures he had implemented. Of those, Jacques, Robyn, Pietro Polendina and Councilmen Sleet and Camilla have begun doubting his state of mind and the honesty of his intentions.

Ironwood is well aware of his bad reputation, but is willing to sacrifice what it takes if it means both protecting his Kingdom and stopping Salem. He also chooses to trust Ruby's Group with his secrets, claiming that in order to defeat Salem they need to trust one another. In "As Above, So Below", he begins to start expressing doubt about his actions and believes that he had only helped Salem's plans move forward.[5] Upon learning the truth about Salem and Ozpin, he is shocked at being lied to. However, he was willing to focus on saving Mantle and at first seemed to have taken the truth well after advice from Oscar Pine. He was also willing to finally tell the truth about Salem and work with Robyn despite ordering her arrest.

During his fight with Arthur Watts in "Gravity", he showed no hesitation when he sacrificed his only remaining Human hand to get out of his trap. This action represents him losing another part of his Humanity.[6]

As of "Gravity", once he learns Cinder is in Atlas, as well as the lies from Ruby's Group and that Salem was coming, Ironwood resorts to drastic measures. Now more distrustful than ever before, he believes the entirety of Ruby's Group betrayed him, leading him to commit many unethical acts in order to prevent Salem from winning, due to him feeling like her arrival was a personal matter.[7] He was willing to abandon Mantle despite the people not being fully evacuated and use the Relic of Creation to raise Atlas into the sky instead of Amity Tower, deciding he'd abandon his original plan to solely save the city instead. He also planned on putting the entire Kingdom of Atlas in a state of martial law without the council's approval. He even went so far as to shoot Oscar without any hesitation afterwards so he could proceed with his plan. He performed many of these actions because he believes that he is backed into a corner and is doing the only sensible thing.[8] Miles Luna believes that if Ironwood would allow himself to be more vulnerable more often, then things would have gone differently between him and Ruby's Group.[9]

As of "Divide" Ironwood has taken even more extreme actions than before, as shown when he kills Councilman Sleet after declaring martial law and forcing Watts to work with him at gunpoint in order to hack Penny to bring her back. His most ruthless actions are shown in "Ultimatum", such as wanting to use Yang, Ren, and Jaune as leverage against Penny and later preventing the SDC from evacuating Mantle so he could hold it hostage with a bomb to force Penny back to his side. He later kills Jacques Schnee after he is freed from prison after he asks if he would help free him too. At this point, Ironwood goes beyond the point of no return and does everything he can to eliminate any and all obstacles in his way.

After being betrayed by Winter Schnee, he sheds a tear before engaging her in battle. He becomes even more fixated on keeping Atlas away from Salem despite it being too late. He also states that it's everyone's fault for everything bad that has happened to the Kingdom, refusing to acknowledge his own actions in the process, as he claimed to have sacrificed everything and believed that what he did was best for Remnant. In "The Final Word" after Cinder tells him it's checkmate, Ironwood accepts his defeat before his apparent demise.

Ironwood has an immense interest and love for astronomy, later choosing to reflect that in his office at Atlas Academy.[10]

Powers and Abilities[edit | edit source]

Ironwood is an impressive marksman, as he effortlessly dispatched multiple Atlesian Knight-200s within the space of several seconds, the heads of the first two cleanly removed by his shots.

In close quarters, Ironwood is shown to be a formidable fighter who makes great use of grappling his opponents, effortlessly throwing Arthur Watts with his offhand. Ironwood makes use of a fighting style which resembles boxing, utilizing punches and kicks.

Ironwood is also extremely durable, being 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.

Status[edit | edit source]

As a general, Ironwood normally doesn't associate himself with the front lines of combat and usually orders his forces using his tactical know-how and military knowledge. However, when pressed, he is very adept in combat.

In "Remembrance", he has two seats on the Atlesian Council. Assuming both seats symbolize as Headmaster of Atlas Academy and General of the Atlas Military, this gives him a greater amount of authority over the Atlesian Council and the Kingdom of Atlas, allowing him to make unilateral decisions such as initiating a Dust Embargo, closing off the borders of the Kingdom from the rest of the world and even initiate and enforce martial law should he deem it necessary.

Upon declaring martial law in Atlas, Ironwood now possess supreme political power over the Kingdom and is now able to carry out any actions against those he sees as a hindrance or threat. In "Divide", he kills Councilman Sleet when he demands answers on why he declared martial law.

Weapon[edit | edit source]

Main article: Due Process

Ironwood's weapon of choice is a pair of revolvers called Due Process, one of which he used to fight off Grimm who were attacking the Amity Arena. He shoots using his organic arm; in close combat, he also uses his revolver to pistol-whip opponents, usually switching to his cybernetic arm for added power. He possesses formidable physical strength in close combat, as his cybernetic arm was able to completely stop a fully-armored Beowolf's attack and throw the beast around with little effort.

Later, in RWBY: Amity Arena, it revealed the other half of Due Process that Ironwood possesses, only instead of white the gun is black with silver floral details. It fires Gravity Dust bullets, as shown in "Gravity" where Ironwood uses it to propel himself in the air during his battle with Watts. In the fight, Watts shoots the black revolver away from James, causing him to drop it in the Amity Colosseum. Ironwood was not seen recovering the weapon, but instead only uses the white gun from that point. As shown in "Divide", however, he later regains the black gun.

Semblance[edit | edit source]

Main article: Mettle

Ironwood's Semblance, Mettle, strengthens his resolve which allows him to carry through with his decisions, helping James hyper-focus.[11]

Prosthesis[edit | edit source]

As seen in "Heroes and Monsters", approximately half of Ironwood's upper body and his right arm is a prosthesis that grants him several above average physical abilities. He is 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.

In "Taking Control", he slams his robotic fist on Jacques' desk with enough force to severely damage the surfaces.

After severely damaging his left arm due to Watt's Ring Trap, Ironwood had his left arm amputated and also replaced with a prosthetic arm by the events of "Divide".

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Ironwood alludes to the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. For more information on this allusion, as well as other choices the creators made for this character, see James Ironwood/Behind the Scenes.
  • "Ironwood" is a common name applied to a number of types of wood known for their hardness. Alternatively, Ironwood (Járnviðr) is also the name of a location in Norse mythology.
  • The name James means 'supplanter.' This could be a reference to military supplanting.
  • Ironwood's favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate.[12]
  • The writers have stated that they wanted to make Ironwood's progression into villainy subtle and make sense.[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Gravity"
  2. Uyalago's Twitter
  3. Volume 3 DVD Directors' Commentary
  4. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 3
  5. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 9
  6. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 11
  7. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 11
  8. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 13
  9. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 7
  10. Sam Keiser's Twitter
  11. RWBY Panel | RTX 2020
  12. AMA with Eddy Rivas
  13. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 11
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