next_to_normal: (Tony/Steve parallels)
[personal profile] next_to_normal
Day 10: The ship you want to see being a trainwreck tragedy because they're too different.
Tony Stark (Iron Man)/Steve Rogers (Captain America) (The Avengers)

(Didn't make icons from this picspam, either, because I've already made all the Avengers icons ever.)

Tony/Steve is another one of those weird comics-influenced things, where half the fandom is working from the epic comics bromance/not even really subtext anymore (I haven't even read it, but I STILL HAVE CIVIL WAR FEELS. OMG.) while the other half has only The Avengers and a little bit of shared history (i.e. Howard Stark) to go on. But even just based on movie canon, the slash potential is there, with two characters who immediately clash in just about every way, and then over the course of the movie realize they've misjudged and learn to respect each other.

I read some excellent meta once upon a time about how these two characters are opposites on a metaphorical level, where Steve represents American ideals like freedom, patriotism, honor, and humility. Tony, on the other hand, is rampant consumerism, the wealthiest 1%, our obsession with technology, and the military-industrial complex. (And if I ever find that meta again, I will link to it, lol.) But that dichotomy is also a reflection of the very different worlds that shaped their values, and it echoes on a personal level. Tony is a guy who, in general, thinks there is no problem that cannot be solved by throwing money at it. I mean, who are Tony's closest friends? His personal assistant, his driver, and his company's military liaison. They'd never think of it that way, but he is basically paying people to have relationships with him. But even if they weren't his employees, he'd still spend way too much money on them because that's just what he does. And he thinks nothing of it, because it's only money. There's always more. How the hell does a guy like that relate to someone who grew up during the Depression?

Also, on a personality level, Steve doesn't like bullies. And Tony... is a bully. Not maliciously (most of the time), but he is. He likes to keep people off-balance, and his way of getting to know people is to pick at their weaknesses, which kind of works with Bruce, because Bruce really needs someone who's not afraid to poke a sleeping bear, and dealing with his shit and learning to accept that part of himself is a lot more productive than burying it. But Steve? His trauma isn't the sort of thing that's made easier by confronting it. You don't get over everyone you've ever known being dead by being constantly reminded of what you've lost.

And Tony just doesn't get that, because he's always been incredibly alone. Even when he's surrounded by people. He's built up ten thousand walls to keep people out, both physically and emotionally - the dude basically lives in a fortress, he literally has a device to protect his broken heart, and that suit of armor he flies around in is a shiny, shiny metaphor for the arrogant, devil-may-care facade he uses to keep people at arm's length - and only the most determined and steadfast make it through. And it's that facade that I think dooms Tony from the very beginning with Steve. One can only imagine the perception of Tony that Steve would get from his S.H.I.E.L.D. file and public information. OF COURSE Steve would go into that very first encounter thinking Tony's kind of a selfish douchebag and react accordingly.

Meanwhile, Tony's putting on his best show of arrogance, because he's already on the defensive with Steve. This is a guy who was friends with his dad. AKA the guy who helped make Steve a super soldier and, oh yeah, was kind of a terrible father but Steve doesn't know that part. And as much as Tony's a chip off the old block in a lot of ways, Steve's going to look at Tony and expect to see Howard, his last remaining link to his past, and Tony is so not the guy to reminisce with. Tony (as ever) falls short.

It's never really mentioned how Tony feels about Captain America, his dad's BFF, before they meet. I've seen two diametrically opposite views in fandom, but they both sort of lead to the same result. On the one hand, he could be a kid who grew up idolizing Cap, who heard stories from his dad and developed a sort of hero-worship that no actual human being could possibly live up to. And when Tony finally meets the guy and discovers that he's not actually perfect, it's bound to be a disappointment. At the other extreme, he could be a kid who grew up resenting Cap, because his father talked about him so much and spent so much time looking for him in the ice that he ended up neglecting Tony. And Tony looks at Steve and sees the guy who was more important to Howard than his own son.

And so you have two people who are practically destined to clash on every possible level. Which is a shame, because there are actually a lot of parallels in their respective pasts. But THAT is a meta for another day.
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