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 robotic parts.
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 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.
- Episodes Covering These Events
- "Welcome to Beacon"
- "A Minor Hiccup"
- "Dance Dance Infiltration"
- "Field Trip"
- "Mountain Glenn"
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.
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.
- Episodes Covering These Events
The Battle of BeaconEdit
Ironwood 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.
- Episodes Covering These Events
Political Aftermath of the Fall of BeaconEdit
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.
Episodes Covering These Events