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Ho Yinsen

Professor Yinsen
Professor Yinsen
Art by Adi Granov
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963)
Created by Stan Lee (writer)
Larry Lieber (writer)
Don Heck (artist)
In-story information
Full name Ho Yinsen
Supporting character of Iron Man
Abilities Genius-level intelligence

Professor Yinsen is a fictional comic book character who appears in books published by Marvel Comics, usually as a supporting character of the superhero Iron Man (Tony Stark), and plays a key role in Iron Man's origin story as a mentor and co-builder of his first armor.

Actor Shaun Toub portrayed the character in 2008 superhero film Iron Man and the 2013 sequel Iron Man 3.

Publication history

Professor Yinsen first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963), and was created by Stan Lee (writer), Larry Lieber (writer) and Don Heck (artist). The character is an Asian scientist, whose background and first name vary, appearing only in the origin of Iron Man and its retellings.

Fictional character biography

Original character biography

Professor Yinsen was a pacifistic, physicist and engineer from the fictional city (or state) of Timbetpal;[1] while Tony Stark was in college, Stark had greatly admired the older man's work. In his old age, Yinsen was captured in Vietnam by the Communist warlord Wong-Chu before American arms manufacturer and engineer Tony Stark was also captured. Stark had tripped a land mine and been injured with shrapnel that was slowly moving toward his heart. Yinsen builds a magnetic chest plate and affixes it to Stark's chest, thus preventing the shrapnel from reaching Stark's heart, thereby saving Stark's life and keeping him alive. Wong-Chu then orders Yinsen and Stark to build weapons for him. Instead, Yinsen helps Stark secretly build the first Iron Man armor, which includes a device for Stark's heart to keep him alive. Yinsen sacrifices his life distracting Wong-Chu in order to buy time for Stark to power up his armor. Stark dons the armor, becoming Iron Man; defeats Wong-Chu, apparently killing him in the explosion of a munitions shed; and frees all of Wong-Chu's prisoners.[2]

Twelve of Wong-Chu's former prisoners were disciples of Yinsen; one of these disciples (Sun-Tao) leads them to establish a quasi-religious cult called the Sons of Yinsen. The Sons of Yinsen develop very advanced technology from notes in Yinsen's journal that he had written before his death; they use this technology to create the apparent utopia of New Timbetpal, a floating, ambulatory, usually-cloaked city in the sky. It is revealed that Wong-Chu survived the munitions shed explosion and that Yinsen's brain was preserved alive, salvaged by an interdimensional merchant called Doctor Midas. Doctor Midas sold Yinsen's brain in an auction to Wong-Chu. Iron Man- driven by his own guilt that he never looked for Yinsen himself, simply assuming that his friend had been killed while focusing on his own escape- helps the Sons of Yinsen defeat Wong-Chu, who is beheaded by one of the Sons of Yinsen, and recover Yinsen's brain.[3]

The Sons of Yinsen attempt to resurrect Professor Yinsen by placing his brain inside a sentient Iron Man armor, which, unknown to them, is actually under Ultron's control. Falsely believing Ultron to be a resurrected Ho Yinsen, the Sons of Yinsen follow his directives toward planning for a war; only Sun-Tao refuses to obey, for which he is displaced as leader of the Sons of Yinsen by a man named Tyger Minn. Ultron leads the Sons of Yinsen to reveal themselves to the public and establish the Church of Yinsen. Sun-Tao recovers Yinsen's brain, and then Iron Man, Sun-Tao, and Jocasta work together to defeat Ultron and the Sons of Yinsen and free Ultron's prisoner Antigone. Ultron attempts to blow up the floating city of the Sons of Yinsen to kill all of them as well as Iron Man; however, the sentient armor has apparently absorbed enough of the thoughts of Yinsen that part of it acts to save Iron Man and Sun-Tao from the destruction of the city.[4]

Character biography after the Afghanistan retcon

In the "Execute Program" story arc of Invincible Iron Man vol. 4, a retcon establishes that Tony Stark and Ho Yinsen had been captured not by Communists in Vietnam, but rather by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and that Ho Yinsen was murdered under orders from five terrorists (Dennis Kellard, Ara Tanzerian, Zakim Karzai, Aftaab Lemar, and Kareem Mahwash Najeeb). Before he died, Yinsen had been coerced into implanting a "bio-magnetic receiving unit" inside Stark's brain. In a failed attempt to recover the control device for the implant, the terrorists send a hitman (Andrei Gorlovich) to murder Yinsen's wife.[5]

Years later, some of the five terrorists have become diplomats. Yinsen's grieving teenage son (whose name is never revealed), blaming Stark for the deaths of his parents, takes control of the device in Stark's brain and uses it to mind-control him into assassinating all five of the former terrorists. Thus guilty of the assassinations, when Stark, in order to try to prove his innocence, confronts Yinsen's son, Yinsen's son is shot and killed with a sniper rifle by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent acting by order of the callous Nick Fury.[5]

Other versions

Marvel Adventures

In the Marvel Adventures continuity, Gia-Bao Yinsen was a pacifistic inventor and professor from the fictional city of Madripoor who criticizes Tony Stark for allowing weapons Stark designed to fall into the hands of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), who are using the weapons to attack Madripoor. While flying an experimental plane, Stark is brought down and captured by A.I.M., who also is holding Yinsen prisoner. Using the wreckage from Stark's plane, Stark and Yinsen work together to design a pair of Iron Man armors, one gold and the other red, which both don. Yinsen is killed during their escape from A.I.M.[6]

Iron Man: Season One

Dr. Hoy Yin Sen is a national from the fictional country of Chardistan. He dies by accident when a bullet aimed at Iron Man is deflected.[7]

In other media


  • The character appeared in the 1994 Iron Man cartoon television series, voiced by Neil Ross. This version is given the name Wellington Yinsen. He works with Professor Arnold Brock before Arnold becomes the Mandarin. Mandarin later captures Yinsen and Tony Stark to build armor for his minions but instead helps Stark become Iron Man to manage to escape but Yinsen is vaporized by Mandarin in the process.
  • Professor Yinsen appears in Marvel Anime: Iron Man, voiced by Hiroaki Hirata in the Japanese version and by Kyle Hebert in the English Dub. This version's early history is similar as his film version's as he helps install the initial electromagnet that keeps Tony Stark alive after he is shot down in his helicopter by terrorists and convinces him to reflect upon his career as a weapons manufacturer. However, Yinsen turns out alive albeit corrupted by Minister of Defense Kuroda of Zodiac and becomes Iron Man Dio.


  • The character appears in the 2007 direct-to-video animated film The Invincible Iron Man, but the voice actor is uncredited. This version is Ho Yen and helps James "Rhodey" Rhodes treat Tony Stark's damaged heart after being captured for attempting to dig up an ancient city and tells him the legend of the Mandarin. He is subsequently killed by Wong-Chu.
  • Professor Yinsen appeared in the 2008 film Iron Man, portrayed by Shaun Toub. In the film, he is a doctor and engineer from the small fictional Afghanistan village Gulmira and is captured by the local branch of an international terrorist group called the Ten Rings alongside Tony Stark. He assists Stark in creating the miniaturized arc reactor and the first Iron Man armor, subsequently sacrificing himself to buy time for the armor to charge up.
  • Shaun Toub reprised the role in a cameo appearance in the 2013 film Iron Man 3. He was seen briefly meeting Stark during a flashback set on New Years Eve 1999. This appearance established his full name as Ho Yinsen.

Video games

  • Shaun Toub reprises his role as Yinsen for the 2008 Iron Man video game adaptation. Unlike in the movie, he is not killed by buying Tony Stark time to escape but deliberately sacrifices himself to prevent the Ten Rings acquiring Tony's notes on the Iron Man armor and the ammunitions that were stored with them, having spent the first level walking Tony through the suit's various features and bringing its weapons online.


  1. ^ The name is similar to Dingbeibao (Chinese: 定北堡; pinyin: Dìngběibǎo), a fictional place name in Chinese, modelled after the name of Zhengbeibao (Chinese: 镇北堡; pinyin: Zhèngběibǎo), in Ningxia. Both names mean "Fortress of Pacifying the North".
  2. ^ Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).
  3. ^ The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3 #31-32 (August-September 2000) and Invincible Iron Man Annual 2000.
  4. ^ The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3 #46-48 (November 2001-January 2002).
  5. ^ a b The Invincible Iron Man vol. 4 #7-12 (June-November 2006).
  6. ^ Marvel Adventures Iron Man #1 (July 2007).
  7. ^ Iron Man: Season One (2013).

External links