|“||The people of Vale needed someone to protect them; someone who would act. When they look to the sky and see my fleet, they feel safe, and our enemies will feel our strength.||„|
|~ James Ironwood.|
James Ironwood is one of the major supporting protagonists in the world of RWBY. the headmaster of Atlas Academy, a General in the Atlesian military, and a holder of two seats on the Atlesian Council. His weapon of choice is a revolver. For unknown reasons, his right arm, leg and part of his torso were replaced with robotic prosthetics.
He was introduced in "Welcome to Beacon", where he is shown speaking to Ozpin about Qrow Branwen and his message.
He is voiced by Jason Rose.
Ironwood hails from the region of Atlas, where he is the headmaster of an academy, as well as an officer in the military, holding the rank of general.
He has had some previous background with Ozpin and Glynda Goodwitch dating back several years, as evidenced by the level of familiarity with which they address each other. He is cited by Penny Polendina as having assisted her father in her creation.
At some point in the past, the right side of Ironwood's body was either replaced or enhanced with cybernetic augmentation.
As the second semester begins, Ironwood visits Vale in order to attend the Vytal Festival with students from his academy. However, he arrives not just with his students, but hundreds of soldiers carried by airships. When he appears in Ozpin's office to greets his old friend and Glynda, the latter quickly leaves the room after excusing herself.
His meeting with Ozpin in his office is initially jovial, but their differing outlooks quickly become apparent. Ozpin disagrees with Ironwood's "shows of power" and heightened levels of security, but Ironwood feels it is justified based on the information Qrow Branwen had passed to them.
Ozpin tries to reassure Ironwood that if what Qrow said is true, his Huntsmen will be ready. Ironwood retorts that he is just being careful, and in turn, he questions whether Ozpin's students are strong enough to fight a war before leaving.
Ironwood later appears through a holographic projection during a public demonstration to introduce the new Atlesian Knight-200s and the Atlesian Paladin-290.
Ironwood is later seen attending the Beacon Dance, offering Glynda his hand to invite her to dance with him, which she reluctantly accepts. He is spotted by Mercury Black and Emerald Sustrai leaving the dance early, heading towards the CCT. He interrupts Cinder Fall and Ruby Rose during their skirmish when he arrives in the elevator, a distraction Cinder takes advantage of to make her escape.
The next morning, Ironwood and Glynda are in Ozpin's office going over the events of the previous night, with Ironwood fuming that their enemies managed to walk in right under their noses. He insists that they should do something to deal with the situation. When Ruby enters the room a short time later, Ironwood compliments her for displaying the initiative and determination he believes are the marks of a Huntress.
The group listens to Ruby's description of the woman she previously fought, and Glynda remarks that the thief's glowing clothes might mean she was the same person Glynda faced off against when she first met Ruby. However, Ironwood points out that imbuing Dust into clothing is an age-old technique, meaning their culprit could still be anyone. Understanding that the teachers were speculating a connection between the thief and Roman Torchwick, Ruby drops some information regarding a possible hideout in the southeast.
After Ruby departs, Ironwood advocates sending as many of their troops as they can to the southeast to discover what is going on and eradicate any potential threats they may encounter. Glynda chastises him for trumpeting up another display of military bravado before Ozpin cuts her off. Though agreeing with her assessment, he urges caution when they know so little of their opponents' endgame and could potentially spread unnecessary panic if they are too rash. Ironwood frustratedly questions whether Ozpin is simply going to sit back and wait. Ozpin vehemently objects, rhetorically questioning Ironwood on how, as a general, he would prepare to go to war - by sending in the flag-bearers or the scouts.
Some time later, Ironwood is seen looking out into the night sky towards the rest of Vale. Glynda comes up behind him, asking him if he was having trouble sleeping. Ironwood brushes off the notion as his left arm acting up again, but Glynda makes a point that he wouldn't have gotten out of bed fully-dressed to gaze at the city if he weren't troubled. Ironwood worries that, despite both his and Glynda's trust in Ozpin over the years, he can't help but feel Ozpin is now keeping them in the dark. Glynda assures Ironwood that his fears are unfounded, and they both know that, if that were the case, it simply means Ozpin himself is the one in the dark.
Ironwood states that only makes it worse and that he can't believe someone he's trusted for so long could be so passive in light of the situation. Glynda gently tells James that he is a good person who has always done what he thought was best for the people, even against strong protest, which she finds admirable. However, she also points out that he needs to stop talking about trust and start showing it, and he should remember Ozpin has experience that the rest of them lack.
Unfortunately, his lack of faith comes to a head when his robots effectively hold off Grimm during their breach of Vale due to the White Fang's train heist. He is thus appointed Head of Security for the Vytal Festival in lieu of Ozpin, whose position as Beacon Academy headmaster is called into question. Ironwood chastises Ozpin once more, calling himself right.
He then begins to interrogate the now captive Roman Torchwick, and when the criminal proves uncooperative, Ironwood coldly threatens him by reminding him that they have a lot of time to deal with each other. Roman simply smirks as he easily lies to Ironwood.
Vytal Festival Tournament
Ironwood interrupts the fight between Qrow and Winter Schnee and asks what Qrow is doing at Beacon. When the meeting is held in Ozpin's office, he says everyone thought Qrow was dead or compromised in the field. When Qrow questions Winter's presence at the meeting, Ironwood orders her to leave and meet with him on his ship later.
After her departure, Qrow accuses Ironwood of being indiscreet with his airfleet, to which Ironwood responds that discretion wasn't working and that a fleet of ships in the sky is necessary. He claims that the people of Vale feel safe when they see his fleet, and that the enemy fears him. Ozpin disagrees, telling him it makes the people of Vale think that the massive security is a testament to the threat they are facing. Ozpin suggests that they find a "Guardian" rather than an army.
Ironwood arrives in Ozpin's office to reveal to Pyrrha Nikos that the inner circle safeguards the four Maidens from The Story of the Seasons. They take the elevator down to a vast vault below Beacon and offer Pyrrha the position as the next Fall Maiden. She accepts before Ironwood tells her the process it would take to give her the powers of the current Fall Maiden, Amber. He says Atlas has studied Aura from a scientific point of view and that he believes he can take Amber's Aura and give it to Pyrrha. However, he, Ozpin, Glynda and Qrow do not know what side effects this may have on Pyrrha. They give Pyrrha the remainder of the Vytal Festival Tournament to decide if she will become the next Maiden.
After the events of "Fall", Ironwood tells Team RWBY that they are disqualified from the tournament.
Ironwood is seated in the Amity Colosseum stands for Penny's match against Pyrrha. After Penny is torn apart and an unknown woman hijacks the camera feed and speakers in the floating arena to give a speech, he goes to the announcer booth and instructs the spectators to evacuate without panic. After the alert system sounds, indicating Grimm breaching the city, Ozpin calls him and instructs him to use his army to defend the kingdom.
The Battle of Beacon
ronwood sees Grimm start pouring onto the Colosseum's docking bays while a Beowolf destroys his AK-200s. He then fights it and kills it with his revolver. As he makes his way to his carrier, the students who defeated the Nevermore in the arena approach him and ask him what is happening. After informing them of the situation, he tells them they could fight and protect the people or save themselves, and that no one would blame them if they decided to run. He then boards the carrier and flies off.
Shortly after his departure, the Atlesian Knights aboard his carrier turn on him and attack him. The aircraft descends with burning engines while a few shots are heard and a couple of flashes are seen in the cockpit.
He survives, but his clothes have been tattered, revealing the right side of his body to be entirely metal. He begins shooting down his infected Knights, saving Cardin Winchester. After declaring the area secure, he is in shock when Qrow appears angry and dashes towards him with his scythe. As he holds his gun and prepares for the worst, attempting to explain the situation to the best of his ability, he realizes that Qrow was saving him from the Griffon behind him. After producing a sitrep, he instructs Qrow to evacuate the remainder of Beacon while Glynda establishes a safe zone in Vale. He heads to his airship, now crashed on the streets of Vale.
Political Aftermath of the Fall of Beacon
Sometime after learning of Yang Xiao Long's amputated right arm, he delegates one of his top scientists to work on a replacement cybernetic arm specifically for her. He relayed through her father Taiyang that she fought admirably and should be proud of herself. The finished product arrives at Yang's home in Patch.
Ironwood meets with Jacques Schnee in the Schnee home, discussing the recent Dust embargo. Ironwood calls for the embargo, believing Atlas should not export any Dust until certain that no Kingdom will declare war. Jacques believes the embargo would destabilize Remnant besides the fact that it has cost his Schnee Dust Company millions of lien. Their discussion is halted when Weiss reveals that she has entered the room. Ironwood apologizes for overstaying his time, and he leaves after inviting Weiss to enroll in Atlas Academy.
Ironwood is present at a charity event during which Weiss becomes angered at the guests, and at one woman in particular, claiming that they're "talking about nothing". When a subsequent scuffle with her father causes Weiss to accidentally summon a white Boarbatusk that nearly attacks the woman, Ironwood shoots it before it causes harm. The woman demands that Ironwood arrest Weiss, but he coldly replies that Weiss was the only one making sense before leaving.
Upon learning from Winter of a brewing threat in Mistral, Ironwood decides to close the borders of the Kingdom of Atlas.
Original (Volumes 2-3)
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 silver and 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.
Post-Timeskip (Volume 4 - Current)
After the Battle of Beacon, Ironwood's appearance is slightly less pristine. He has grown stubble and his hair is slightly more messy. 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. Ironwood also now wears two white gloves, in contrast to wearing only one on his right hand. His formal pants are no longer tucked inside military boots but instead hang over black boots.
|“||You're a good person, James. You've always done what you think is best for the people, even against strong protest. It's admirable. But it's high time you stopped talking about trust and started showing it.||„|
|~ Glynda, to Ironwood in "Mountain Glenn".|
Ironwood has a jovial and friendly public persona. His skills as a communicator see him acting as a spokesman for the weapon manufacturers of Atlas. In this role, he is easy-going and humorous, able to draw a crowd into his presentation.
Yet however courteous Ironwood may appear, he can also be incredibly blunt, arrogant and generally prefers the direct approach. When he feels it is necessary Ironwood is not afraid to bring the full might of his military command to bear, which can spark disagreements with both Glynda and Ozpin. Glynda displayed dissatisfaction in Ironwood's bravado attitude. 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 questions his trust in Ozpin, telling a concerned Glynda about how he felt he was losing it. Glynda told him instead of talking about trust, he should show it more. Ironwood is aware that the actions he takes can be taken badly, but he has a tendency to admit to such actions only after they have been revealed.
James consistently believes his own ideas are the best course of action, whether he is being opposed by Ozpin or Jacques Schnee. According to Jacques, James does not trust anybody but himself, something the general does not deny; instead, James believes his skepticisms are justified.
James is known to respect courage, selflessness, and duty above all in people, and displays a generous personality accordingly. This is evident in how he commissioned an Atlas-tech prosthesis for Yang Xiao Long before her father, Taiyang came to ask him for one, showing that Ironwood had already seen fit to compensate Yang for the loss of her arm in her attempt to bring down Adam Taurus during the Fall of Beacon. Consistent with this is his disdain for people who are disconnected from and apathetic to the problems and safety of the world's populace as a whole. This was prominently witnessed by his contempt for a socialite at a Schnee fundraising event when he commented that Weiss was the only one making sense there.
Due to his background in the military, James' primary focus is progress and results in his approval of all scientific and research-based endeavors under his jurisdiction. This can be seen in his own culpability in unethical Aura experiments by the Atlesian Military in Aura transference and life supports used to prevent the Fall Maiden's powers from being assimilated by Cinder Fall. Despite this, James is aware of the ethical gray areas that he treads, bitterly swallowing any possible discomfort he has and criticism he is struck with for the sake of global safety and his loyalty to Ozpin's group.
James, while not overly fond of Qrow's alcoholism, appears to enjoy a bit of alcohol in his coffee, as he was seen pouring a presumably alcoholic fluid from a flask into a coffee mug in Ozpin's office.
Rather headstrong at times, James prefers a more proactive approach to problems, attempting more preemptive measures, as opposed to Ozpin's more subtle, reactive, and analytical methods to handling their enemies. This can be seen in his attempt to use military presence to intimidate their foes into abstaining from their then-unknown agenda during the Vytal Festival with an armada of ships and patrols of Atlesian Knights.
Though a courageous if somewhat bullheaded man, Ironwood is rather sympathetic towards those who wish to abstain from combat, as was shown when he gave the students at Amity Coliseum the option of staying to fight or fleeing to safety during the opening battles of the Fall of Beacon, claiming that no one would fault them if they took the latter option. This shows that while he may be a warrior who values the dutiful and strong of will, he remains mindful that not everyone is suited to a life on the front lines of war.
James is also known to be proud of the advancements in technology developed by his nation, believing in only using the best and most efficient means of protecting not just the people of Atlas, but the entire world as well. This is even seen in how he ensured that whenYang Xiao Long was given a specially designed prosthetic arm, only the finest resources available were utilized to make sure that the young Huntress was able to return in full force as soon as possible. He was also seen boasting through a holographic display of the advancements of the Atlesian Knights and Paladins and their capabilities, showing his belief in constantly advancing the means to protect the people to meet the constantly evolving threats of their enemies.
Powers and Abilities
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.
As revealed in "Battle of Beacon", Ironwood uses a revolver to fight off Grimm. 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. 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.
In "Taking Control", he slams his robotic fist on Jacques' desk with enough force to severely damage the surface.
|“||Oz, you and I both know why I brought those men.||„|
|~ Ironwood, reassuring Ozpin about his military's presence.|
|“||But ask yourself this: do you honestly believe your children can win a war?||„|
|~ Ironwood, before leaving Ozpin's office.|
|“||I have served you faithfully for years...but if you mean to tell me that your plan is to hold the defenses, and wait—||„|
|~ Ironwood, questioning Ozpin.|
|“||I refuse to believe that a man that I've trusted for so long would act so... passively.||„|
|~ Ironwood, to Glynda Goodwitch in regards to Ozpin.|
|“||This is the right move, Ozpin. I promise, I will keep our people safe; you have to trust me.||„|
|~ Ironwood, to Ozpin.|
|“||I'm going to give you one chance. Who's really behind all this?||„|
|~ Ironwood, to Roman Torchwick.|
|“||The council's given me custody over you for as long as I see fit. So you can make yourself comfortable. I can be sure that you'll have plenty of time to talk.||„|
|~ Ironwood, to Torchwick.|
|“||If you were one of my men, I would have you shot!||„|
|~ Ironwood, to Qrow Branwen.|
|“||Discreet wasn't working. I'm here because this is what was necessary.||„|
|~ Ironwood, about the military presence in Vale.|
|“||For the past few years, Atlas has been studying Aura from a more scientific standpoint- how it works, what it's made of, how it can be used. We've made... significant strides. And we believe we've found a way to capture it.||„|
|“||Someone's done the impossible and gained control of my machines. And that enormous Grimm seems to be fixated on the school. Glynda, form up the local Huntsmen and establish a safe zone here in Vale. We need to evacuate Beacon. Qrow, I'm leaving that to you and my men. I still need to get to my ship.||„|
|“||That is a load of garbage and you know it.||„|
|~ Ironwood calling Jacques Schnee out on his false altruism.|
|“||She's the only one making sense around here.||„|
|~ Ironwood to the Trophy Wife, about Weiss Schnee.|
|“||That's exactly what I'm doing. Our people need protection. By this time next week, the Kingdom of Atlas will be officially closing its borders. No one in; no one out. Without the council's permission.||„|
|~ Ironwood threatens Jacques.|
- "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.