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Controller (Marvel Comics)

Art by Sean Chen
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Iron Man #12 (April 1969)
Created by Archie Goodwin
George Tuska
In-story information
Alter ego Basil Sandhurst
Team affiliations New Enforcers
Abilities Highly skilled chemist and mechanical engineer
Superhuman strength and endurance
Flight via boot jets
Limited psychokinesis and telepathy
Mental force bolt projection via helmet
Wields control discs
Mind control
Ability to drain mental energy from controlled pawns to power & enhance exoskeleton and duplicate their abilities

The Controller, real name Basil Sandhurst, is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in Marvel Comics. He specializes in mind control, and is a frequent foe of Iron Man.

Publication history

Marvel Comics writer Archie Goodwin created the character and Marvel artist George Tuska designed him. The Controller first appeared in Iron Man #12 (April 1969).

Fictional character biography

Basil Sandhurst was born in Kittery Point, Maine. Sandhurst worked as an electro-mechanical/chemical research scientist. His obsession with control brought his downfall as a scientist when his refusal to obey ethical restraints got him banned from most research facilities. Sandhurst was prone to fits of rage, and in an attempt to calm him, his brother Vincent inadvertently triggered a lab explosion, crippling Basil. Vincent, guilt-ridden, outfitted Basil with an automated lab, in which Basil bonded a super-strong exoskeleton to his body, powered by the cerebral energies from those around him using his slave discs. As the Controller, he planned to invade and enslave New York City, but Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell foiled his scheme and left the Controller comatose.[1] The Controller eventually came out of his coma and took over the Pinewood Sanitarium. He created an improved set of equipment but was again defeated by War Machine.[2]

Months later, he was released from prison by the alien Thanos, who upgraded his technology. Thanos promised the Controller rulership of Earth, and so he began enslaving dozens of operatives. He invaded Avengers Mansion and defeated the Avengers and Captain Mar-Vell, and abducted Lou-Ann Savannah. The Controller's egotistical displays endangered Thanos's security, and when the Controller failed to defeat Thanos's enemy, Captain Marvel, the alien left him for dead.[3] The Controller went underground for years, upgrading via Stark technology stolen from Justin Hammer, and eventually enslaved a cult. He set the Blood Brothers against Iron Man and Daredevil. Iron Man defeated him and imprisoned him in a vat of experimental plastic, but he escaped. Alongside one of the Blood Brothers, he fought Iron Man, but Iron Man defeated him once more and he was confined to the prison for supervillains called the Vault.[4] He eventually broke out of jail, only to be defeated by Iron Man again. During the "Acts of Vengeance," the Controller escaped from the Vault and at the behest of the Red Skull, he enslaved Namor the Sub-Mariner and set him against Captain America. He unsuccessfully attempted to control Loki at the behest of the Red Skull, and unsuccessfully attempted to aid the Red Skull against Magneto. He was ultimately defeated by Captain America.[5]

Revived by the world-conquering Master of the World, the Controller became the Master's pawn against the Avengers and Heroes for Hire. Abandoned after a later defeat, the Controller, in an ironic nod to his many hospitalizations, acquired his own clinic, where he influenced the wealthy to do his bidding. However, the Controller could not resist enslaving Tony Stark as well, leading to his latest defeat by Iron Man.

Returned to The Raft, the Controller escaped with dozens of others but was recaptured during a clash with the U-Foes and Avengers.[6]

The Hood has hired him as part of his criminal organization to take advantage of the split in the superhero community caused by the Super-Human Registration Act. He appears as part of the Hood's alliance with super-powered heroes; the grouping is intent on defeating the Skrull invasion force of New York City.[7]

Maria Hill found the Controller holed up in the basement of a Futurepharm facility in Austin, Texas, while on orders from Tony Stark.[8] He had been abducting members of the local populace for months to bolster a new army and attempted to brainwash Hill as well. However, she resisted his efforts and freed his drones, sabotaging the entire operation.[9]

The Controller gave White Fang a new suit so that she could kill the Hood.[10]

Powers and abilities

The Controller designed his armored exoskeleton, which is micro-surgically attached to his body from head to toe and grants him mobility, as well as superhuman strength and endurance. He uses "slave discs" to control others, using the micro-circuitry in his helmet to drain cerebral energy from his victims to power his exoskeleton and magnify its strength and duplicate his victim's abilities. He has limited psychokinetic and telepathic abilities, the ability to control the actions of any one person wearing one of his slave discs, and the ability to fire mental bolts of force from his helmet. He can psionically control "weak-willed" subjects even without his discs. He flies via boot-jets and has employed image inducers, stun mists, and other technology as needed.[11]

The Controller originally used a mental wave absorbatron to convert cerebral energies for use by his exoskeleton, though this device was rendered obsolete after Thanos improved the Controller's equipment. The discs now increase his physical attributes in geometric progression to numbers of victims wearing slave discs, and he was able to control the actions of all persons wearing the discs.

The Controller is a highly skilled chemist and mechanical engineer, with a college degree in chemistry and electrical and mechanical engineering.

Other versions

Earth X

In the Earth X reality, Sandhurst was mentioned as one of the many who were killed when Norman Osborn rose to power.[12]

In other media


  • The Controller appeared as a guest villain in the Iron Man episode "The Armor Wars: Part 1", voiced by Jamie Horton. His slave discs were based on the Iron Man technology which allowed him to mentally control his armor which he used on executives who visited the Center for Achievement and Bliss Spa. Iron Man defeated him and placed a Negator Pack on his armor.
  • The Controller appears in the Iron Man: Armored Adventures episode "Ready, A.I.M., Fire", voiced by Michael Kopsa. In this version, Basil Sandhurst is a skilled chemist working for A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), and he was one of the scientists who were working on the MODOK project. He wears a business suit and uses his slave discs (activated with Tony Stark's help) to become the Controller. Iron Man defeats him after Controller enslaves Rhodey, Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, and Gene Khan. He swears revenge against Iron Man. To keep himself useful to A.I.M., Basil tells A.I.M.'s Scientist Supreme that he is still needed to help complete the MODOK project. In "Designed Only For Chaos," the Controller is seen activating MODOK, and is knocked out by MODOK who foresees that the Controller will turn against A.I.M. to improve his Controller Disks. In "Uncontrollable," the Controller assumes his signature costume and posture look. He pursues the Hulk and Rick Jones in order to use them in his revenge against A.I.M. only to end up controlling Iron Man in his Dynamo Buster Armor. The Controller uses Iron Man in the armor to attack A.I.M. and manages to defeat MODOK. With help from the Hulk, Rhodey, Pepper, and Rick manage to defeat the Controller and free Iron Man from his control. Iron Man then intends to help the Hulk "smash" the bad guy as their advancement causes the Controller to pass out from fear. In the episode "Control+Alt+Delete," Controller and some A.I.M. Agents meet with some representatives of Hammer Multinational which is staked out by Iron Man and War Machine who are then ambushed. While trying to figure out why he can't find James Rhodes or Pepper Potts, Iron Man finds Controller in Stark International who states that he had some A.I.M. Agents on the inside of the Vault that freed Controller. Controller uses his new abilities which includes super-strength, flight, and forcefield abilities to attack Iron Man. Controller reveals that he had placed some probes in Iron Man which gave him some data on the Extremis serum in Iron Man. Upon a discovering a glitch, Iron Man discovers that Controller has placed Iron Man in his virtual reality, known as the Mainframe. Controller reveals that he had created the Mainframe to control the minds of everyone when Controller's control disks wouldn't work on Iron Man and states that he now knows Iron Man's true identity. Controller then plans to get Tony Stark's mind opened so that he can get more info on the Extremis serum. When Controller takes control of Iron Man's onboard computer, Iron Man uses his Extremis ability to hack into the Mainframe which harms everyone hooked up to it. Controller tries to use Mainframe clones of James Rhodes and Pepper Potts to get Iron Man to stop which fails. Iron Man manages to shut down the Mainframe as he wakes up in an A.I.M. base as does Controller. Controller then plans to get into Tony's mind and uses his Control Disk to control War Machine to attack Iron Man. War Machine manages fight the control disk enough to overload Controller's helmet. Controller then awakens with amnesia which wiped out Controller's knowledge of Iron Man's identity and caused him to think that Iron Man and War Machine are robots. Iron Man and War Machine then proceed to hand Controller over to S.H.I.E.L.D.

Video games

  • The Controller appears in Iron Man, voiced by Jim Ward. The Controller is an agent of A.I.M., and commands an attack on a U.S. military ship in the Arctic. A.I.M. tries to steal the ship's nuclear reactor to use as a power source. When Iron Man tries to stop the attack, the Controller uses his mind control powers to confuse him. However, Stark manages to outsmart him and stop his attack.


  1. ^ Iron Man #13
  2. ^ Iron Man #28
  3. ^ Captain Marvel #28, 30
  4. ^ Iron Man #89-91
  5. ^ Captain America #365-367
  6. ^ The New Avengers: Most Wanted Files. 
  7. ^ Secret Invasion #6
  8. ^ Invincible Iron Man #11
  9. ^ Invincible Iron Man #13
  10. ^ Dark Reign: The Hood #3
  11. ^ The New Avengers: Most Wanted Files. 
  12. ^ Earth X #5

External links