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

General James Ironwood was a character in RWBY. He was the Headmaster of Atlas Academy, as well as the general of the Atlesian Military and a holder of two seats on the Atlesian Council. His weapon of choice were Due Process,[3] a pair of revolvers that could be inserted into a larger cannon form.

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

He was introduced in "Welcome to Beacon", where he was shown speaking to Ozpin about Qrow Branwen and his message, and later revealed to be a member of his group.

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 turned against them and intended on raising Atlas out of her reach. He served as a main antagonist in Volume 8.

In "The Final Word", he was killed when Atlas crashed into Mantle and both cities were flooded.


Original (Volumes 2–3)

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

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

His hair was black, with some gray areas, while his eyebrows were solid black. He had a strip of silver metal above his right eyebrow, a neurotransmitter that helped him operate the robotic parts of his body.[4]

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

Post-Timeskip (Volume 4)

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

Final Outfit (Volumes 7-8)

Ironwood's appearance once again became less pristine; his stubble had fully grown into a beard, and his hair was more disheveled and swept to the left. Ironwood wore 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 wore 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 sported 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 sported a pair of white gloves. As shown in "Gravity", Ironwood didn't wear his coat in combat situations.

Following his battle with Arthur Watts, the entirety of Ironwood's left arm was burned by Watts' Rings, damaged to the point where Watts hinted that it needed to be amputated and replaced with cybernetics. Once Ironwood arrived back in Atlas Academy, he bandaged it and wore a sling over the arm.

As of Volume 8, Ironwood's left arm was amputated and replaced with a black prosthetic arm whose appearance was much more muscular in design compared to his other prosthesis. The left sleeves of his jacket and shirt are rolled up to his elbow, possibly to accommodate the appendage.

It was shown that his officers and soldiers also adapted to his new style, much like Winter Schnee and the Ace Ops.

Image Gallery


Ironwood was courteous to his allies, as shown by his first onscreen interaction with Ozpin and Glynda Goodwitch. He was also far-thinking and tactical, wondering about the future, as seen when he spoke to Ozpin about Qrow Branwen's message. He also had a jovial, friendly, humorous and proud public persona, which he used as a spokesman for the weapon manufacturers of Atlas. He also respected courage, loyalty, selflessness, and duty above all in people and displayed a generous personality. This was evident in him compensating Yang Xiao Long with an Atlas-tech prosthesis before her father, Taiyang Xiao Long, came to ask him for one. Consistent with this was his disdain for people who were apathetic to the problems and safety of the world's populace. He held contempt for a socialite at a Schnee fundraising event when he commented Weiss was the only person making sense there.

Though courageous yet bullheaded, Ironwood was rather sympathetic towards those who abstained from combat in dire circumstances, as was shown when he gave the students at Amity Colosseum the choice to fight or flee to safety during the Fall of Beacon. This showed that while he valued the dutiful and strong of will, he remained mindful that not everyone was suited to a life on the front lines of war.

However, as courteous as Ironwood appeared, he could also be incredibly blunt and bullheaded, often preferring the direct approach. When he felt necessary, Ironwood was not afraid to bring the full might of his military command to bear, which sparked disagreements with both Glynda and Ozpin. Nevertheless, Ironwood was extremely loyal to his comrades, and however questionable his methods were, he seemed to have genuinely good intentions behind them.

For all his good intentions, he did have a number of flaws. Ironwood consistently believed his ideas were justified, something he did not deny. This lead to a more proactive yet headstrong approach to problems and attempting more preemptive measures, as opposed to Ozpin's more subtle, reactive and analytical methods. Ironwood also didn't care about Ozpin's rules which was shown when he created the Ace Operatives, a five person team that lacked a color theme because he preferred an efficient team instead.[5]

Another flaw was the double-standards he had that others noticed; In "Mountain Glenn", Glynda mentioned that Ironwood was always asking people to trust him, but had shown to very hesitant to trust others in return. In "Worst Case Scenario", he attempted to rebuke Nora Valkyrie's criticisms on the negative effect his regime was having on Mantle by claiming that everyone was making sacrifices, but Nora retorts that so far Mantle was bearing all of the burden. In "Breach", Ironwood went behind Ozpin's back by reporting his actions to the Vale Council, thus having authority over the Vytal Festival's security transferred to him, 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 was that of outrage, screaming that "Loyalty ALWAYS matters!". In "Ultimatum", he blamed Mantle for all the problems he dealt with when it was ultimately his actions that led to it.

Due to the events of the Fall of Beacon, Ironwood suffered from a degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and an increased desperation to stop Salem by any means. This, while coupled with his typical bullheadedness and bluntness made him make several decisions that led 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 began doubting his state of mind and the honesty of his intentions.

Ironwood's military status resulted 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. Ironwood knew he was treading into ethical gray areas, but bitterly swallowed any of his possible discomforts and criticisms from others for the sake of global safety and his loyalty to Ozpin's Group. Ironwood was also well aware of his bad reputation, but was willing to sacrifice what it took if it meant both protecting his Kingdom and stopping Salem. He also chose to trust Ruby's Group with his secrets, claiming that in order to defeat Salem they needed to trust one another. In "As Above, So Below", he began to start expressing doubt about his actions and believed that he had only helped Salem's plans move forward.[6] Upon learning the truth about Salem and Ozpin, he was 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, he showed no hesitation in sacrificing his only remaining Human arm to get out of the trap, which represented him losing another part of his Humanity.[7]

As of "Gravity", once he learned Cinder was in Atlas, as well as the lies from Ruby's Group and that Salem was coming, Ironwood resorted to drastic measures. Now more distrustful than ever before, he believed 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.[8] He decided 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, abandoning his original plan in order to keep both the Relics and Winter Maiden from her reach. He also planned on putting the entire Kingdom 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 believed that he was backed into a corner and was doing the only sensible thing.[9]

As of "Divide" Ironwood took even more extreme actions than before, such as when he killed Councilman Sleet when he questioned his decision of declaring martial law and forcing Watts to work with him at gunpoint in order to hack Penny Polendina to bring her back. His most ruthless actions were shown in "Ultimatum", when he wanted to use Yang, Ren, and Jaune as leverage against Penny and later prevented the SDC from evacuating Mantle so he could hold it hostage with a bomb to force Penny back to his side. After he escaped his cell in "Worthy", he decided to kill Jacques after he asked if he would help free him too by vaporizing him within his cell.

After being betrayed by Winter Schnee, he shed a tear before engaging her in battle, saddened that even she had forsaken him. He became even more fixated on keeping Atlas away from Salem despite it being too late. He also stated that it's everyone's fault for everything bad that had happened to the Kingdom, refusing to acknowledge his own actions in the process. In "The Final Word" he attempted to shoot at both Salem and Cinder as they left the Vault, only to give up when the latter declared "checkmate", causing him to lower his head in defeat before he perished.

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

Powers and Abilities

As a general, Ironwood normally didn't associate himself with the front lines of combat and usually ordered his forces using his tactical know-how and military knowledge. However, when pressed, he proved to be an extremely skilled Huntsman in his own right, his combat prowess making him worthy of being the Headmaster of Atlas Academy.

Ironwood was 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. During his duel with Arthur Watts, Ironwood managed to easily and accurately shoot Watts's bullets out of the air, even landing a shot while forcibly suspended on the air, and proved competent in the use of his second gun that made use of Gravity Dust to maneuver through the battlefield, launching himself and making directional changes on a dime with pin-point accurate shots at the air.

At close quarters, Ironwood proved to be an even more formidable fighter. He could use his guns as a lethal bludgeoning weapon and was also highly competent in unarmed combat, using a fighting style that mixes grappling and boxing, utilizing grappling moves and punches and kicks. He could easily overwhelm Watts in close-combat, repeatedly delivering powerful blows on him and even effortlessly throwing Arthur Watts with his offhand, and was even able to hold his ground against Jaune Arc, Nora Valkyrie, Oscar Pine, Lie Ren and Winter Schnee all at once for a reasonable period of time after being disarmed, quickly overwhelming Ren and Oscar in close-combat. In "The Final Word", armed with the cannon form of Due Process, Ironwood bested Winter in battle and nearly won the fight, only losing after she inherited the Maiden power.

Ironwood was also extremely durable, being able to take a full hit to the face from Magnhild while Nora was boosted by both her Semblance and one of Winter'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.


In "Remembrance", he was revealed to have two seats on the Atlesian Council, one for being Headmaster of Atlas Academy and another for being the General of the Atlas Military. This gave 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 possessed supreme political power over the Kingdom and was able to carry out any actions against those he saw as a hindrance or threat. In "Divide", he killed Councilman Sleet when he demanded answers on why he declared martial law.


Main article: Due Process

Ironwood's weapon of choice was Due Process, a pair of revolvers. It was first seen in "Battle of Beacon" when he used it to fight off Grimm who were attacking Amity Arena. He shot using his organic arm; in close combat, he also used his revolver to pistol-whip opponents, usually switching to his cybernetic arm for added power. He possessed 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 possessed, only instead of white the gun was black with silver floral details. It fired Gravity Dust bullets, as shown in "Gravity" where Ironwood used it to propel himself in the air during his battle with Watts. In the fight, Watts shot 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 used the white gun from that point. As shown in "Divide", however, he later regained the black gun. In "Creation", Ironwood revealed he could utilize both his revolvers and insert them into a silver cannon, which was capable of firing a deadly beam. He could also utilize it as a blunt weapon and quickly remove his revolvers if he chose to.

The cannon was specifically designed with the intent of being able to kill Penny Polendina, who was both an android and a Maiden.[11]


Main article: Mettle

Ironwood's Semblance, Mettle, strengthened his resolve which allowed him to carry through with his decisions, helping James hyper-focus.[12]


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

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

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".



  • 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.

Color Naming Rule

  • "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', which could be a reference to military supplanting.


  • The way Ironwood comes down the elevator of the Atlas Vault in "Worthy" was meant to call back to how Oscar came down it in "The Enemy of Trust" at the end of the previous Volume.[13]
  • Ironwood's death was foreshadowed in the Volume 3 Opening when he and his army were shown while the lyrics "Crushed by the Weight of the World" were being played.
  • During the Volume 8 Opening, one sequence showed Salem and Ironwood on a chess board with the pieces on Ironwood's side all disappearing. This sequence foreshadowed Ironwood losing all of his closest and remaining allies by the end of the Volume.
  • The scene in "The Final Word" where Salem and Cinder walk by Ironwood while not caring much about his presence was a pre-Volume 1 idea.[14]


  • Ironwood's favorite flavor of ice cream was mint chocolate.[15]
  • The writers have stated that they wanted to make Ironwood's progression into villainy subtle and make sense.[16]
  • Miles Luna believed that if Ironwood allowed himself to be more vulnerable more often, then things would have gone differently between him and Ruby's Group.[17]
  • In Volume 8, the writers wanted to reference Michael Shannon's character in The Shape of Water to Ironwood, seeing as both were driven mad by desperation. Paula added: "Watching control slip out of his hands. How can I cling to the last little bit of power and leverage that I have." [18]
  • The writers stated how Ironwood's office scene in "Ultimatum" was inspired by Shou Tucker from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. [18]
  • It is implied that Ironwood's eyes dimmed when his Semblance was in use. However, this is unconfirmed.


  1. "Gravity"
  2. Miles Luna on Cameo
  3. Uyalago's Twitter
  4. Volume 3 DVD Directors' Commentary
  5. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 3
  6. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 9
  7. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 11
  8. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 11
  9. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 13
  10. Sam Keiser's Twitter
  11. 2B vs Winter Schnee | DEATH BATTLE Cast #231
  12. RWBY Panel | RTX 2020
  13. RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writers' Commentary Chapter 13
  14. RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writers' Commentary Chapter 14
  15. AMA with Eddy Rivas
  16. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 11
  17. RWBY Volume 7 Crew Commentary - Chapter 7
  18. 18.0 18.1 RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writer' Commentary - Chapter 10
RWBY/Justice League
Minor Characters