Howard Stark

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Howard Stark
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Iron Man #28 (August 1970)
Created by Archie Goodwin, Don Heck
In-story information
Alter ego Howard Anthony Walter Stark[1]
Team affiliations Hellfire Club
Brotherhood of Shield
Supporting character of Iron Man
Captain America

Howard Stark is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. He is the father of Iron Man (Tony Stark), the husband of Maria Stark, the uncle of Morgan Stark, and is named after Howard Hughes.[2]

The character is portrayed by John Slattery in the 2010 film Iron Man 2 and Dominic Cooper in the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Howard Anthony Walter Stark was a brilliant inventor throughout his life. He and his father Howard Stark Sr. worked on various projects, and later founded Stark Industries. Throughout his young adulthood, Stark worked on various government projects dating back to the World War I and World War II era, like the World War I Captain America project with John Crowe Ransom, which came to completion during World War II; the World War II Manhattan Project; and the "Arsenal" robots, hidden in a subbasement in his mansion. The robots were only supposed to be activated if the US was overrun during a presumed Cold War conflict (but both known models have been accidentally awakened and stopped by the Avengers). During the 1950s, Stark was an agent of the secret science organization known as The Shield, partnered with Nathaniel Richards.[volume & issue needed]

Stark married Maria Collins Carbonell and together they had a son: Anthony "Tony" Stark. He constantly pushed Tony to be the best, telling him that someone must have "iron in their backbone" to be successful. Behind his heroic facade, however, he was an alcoholic who had a strained relationship with his son. Due to his power as a businessman, Howard was offered membership to the exclusive Hellfire Club, but it seems Stark was uninterested in anything other than the lavish parties the club threw. It is believed Howard was also a member of the V-Battalion. He was targeted by the Red Skull (Johann Schmidt), and is rumored to have met the Watcher, Uatu. Stark also prevented Obadiah Stane from taking control of Stark Industries at least once.[volume & issue needed]

On the Ides of March, Howard and Maria were killed in a car accident. It has been hinted that the incident was not random and possibly arranged by the V-Battalion, but this has never been confirmed; earlier indications were that the accident was caused by Republic Oil, but this is also unconfirmed.[3] Tony ran his father's company, started a charity in his mother's name, and later became Iron Man.[4]

When Iron Man was briefly trapped in Hell by Doctor Doom,[5] Iron Man faced what appeared to be Howard Stark as one of Mephisto's torments with the spirit 'wearing' a demonic version of Iron Man's armor and taunting Iron Man about his emotional weaknesses, but rejected the spirit's reality when it claimed that he had been a disappointment to his mother as well, as whatever problems he had with his father, Iron Man knew that his mother loved him unconditionally.[6]

Other versions[edit]

"House of M"[edit]

In the alternate reality seen in the 2005 "House of M" storyline, Howard Stark was alive while Maria Stark's status is unknown. Howard turned over control of the company to Tony Stark when he turned sixteen. Although officially listed as retired, he worked with Tony to build an armor capable of taking on the Sentinels and powerful mutants during the conflict.[7]

Howard and son Tony began to work on Sentinels with Forge and Henry McCoy after being awarded them an exclusive contract. They planned to incorporate a "Vision Project", although there were problems with the control scheme. The two also competed on the wildly popular 'Sapien Deathmatch' television show.[7]

When Tony investigated a resistance group as Iron Man, Sentinels attacked. One, remotely controlled by Howard Stark, scolded him for getting involved. Howard was secretly plotting against Magneto with Hank Pym.[8]

"Genome bomb" locations were discovered by Tony as Iron Man and the House was notified. Howard had programmed the Visions and Sentinels to serve him. He said this had all been part of a plan to make the mutants respect Tony for saving them. Tony would then use that as a chance to directly strike against Magneto. Tony refused to go along. Magneto suddenly appeared and personally dealt with Howard, killing him.[9]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

Howard Stark in Ultimate Iron Man. Art by Andy Kubert.

The Ultimate Marvel version of Howard Stark is shown dealing with his second wife Maria Cerrera (a brilliant scientist) suffering a genetic accident while she was pregnant. After Maria died during childbirth, Howard uses a newly invented biological armor to save the life of their son: Antonio "Tony" Stark. A few years later, his business rival Zebediah Stane kidnaps and tortures Tony to attempt to learn how to manufacture the bio-armor for his own personal gain. Not long afterwards, Howard arrives with a SWAT team and arrests Zebediah. After the incident, a transparent version of the armor is developed, and Tony begins attending a prep school. Fast forward to Tony developing a prototype power-armor and befriends fellow student James Rhodes.[10]

After finding out that bullies were ordered from an unknown individual to kill Tony, Howard decides to enroll his son Tony, Rhodes, and Nifara into the Baxter Building also enrolled Obadiah Stane (Zebediah Stane's son) in the school. Shortly after their arrival, Tony and Howard witness Obadiah murder a pair of students and make it look like an accident. Howard witnesses Tony makes his first Iron Man armor with the intent to punish Obadiah.[10]

Sometime later, Howard was arrested based on planted evidence (by Obadiah) for Zebediah's murder. While the elder Stark was wrongly imprisoned for Zebediah's murder, his teenage son is forced to run Stark Enterprises. When Obadiah drugs a prison guard with a "hypnotizing bio-drug", the guard tries to kill Howard but fails albeit Howard was shot in the process and ends up in ICU.[11]

While his son Tony is trying to fix all of his current problems, Howard recovered enough to go to prison, but the guards sent to escort him were not sent by the Police Department. Howard fights them off and escapes. Tony meets with him and thinks Loni (Howard's first wife and Obadiah's mother) is the mastermind behind the scenes trying to kill them all. Tony, Rhodes, Nifara, Howard, and Obadiah set off to Utah to find Loni. They arrive and their chopper explodes injuring Rhodes. Obadiah falls off a cliff, but Tony catches him as terrorists arrive on the scene. Tony flees, but follows them as they take Obadiah to Loni Stark and their hideout. Tony breaks into the compound and Loni floods it with poison gas trying to kill him, abandoning Obadiah. Tony saves Obadiah, but Howard and Nifara are taken captive by Loni. After Loni kills Nifara, she confesses to Howard that all she ever wanted was power, hence why she married Howard, divorced him, remarried with Zebediah, had Obadiah, and later had Zebediah killed.[12]

Tony shows up, and Loni shoots Howard in the chest, threatening to shoot him again if he doesn't take the suit off. Tony takes off his Iron Man armor, and Loni shoots him in the head, not knowing that his entire body is a brain and will heal itself. Tony fights Loni, beats her, and tends to his father. Obadiah, mad that his mom abandoned him for dead with the poison gas, enters the room and kills her. Tony, Obadiah and Howard are all picked up by the feds and go home.[13]

This version depicted in the Ultimate Iron Man series have been retconned as an in-universe fictional TV show about Iron Man's life.[14]

The real history of the Ultimate version of Howard Stark is told in Ultimate Comics: Iron Man. The retconned version is the founder of Stark Enterprises but sought help from Chinese conglomerate Mandarin International. While his son Tony Stark is trying to start a company of his own along with his girlfriend Josie Gardner, Howard continually tries to persuade to take his place as the CEO which he eventually does after Josie's death.[15]

Marvel Noir[edit]

In the Marvel Noir miniseries Iron Man Noir, set in the 1930s, Howard Stark is believed to have been killed by Nazi agents. It is eventually revealed that he was subjected to chemical brainwashing by the Nazis, and became Baron Zemo. Under this guise, he builds war machines for the Nazis based on original designs he shared with Tony at a very young age. He dies when Iron Man destroys Baron von Strucker's airship.[16]

In other media[edit]


  • Howard Stark appears in Iron Man: Armored Adventures, voiced by Fred Henderson. In the series, Howard is supposedly killed in the airplane crash but was eventually revealed to have been abducted by the Mandarin because his company had uncovered what they supposed to be a Chinese temple on American soil, which turned out to be a tomb for one of the Mandarin's Makluan Rings; Stark was supposed to help Mandarin in recovering the other nine rings from across the world. Near the end of the series, Stark is found and freed by his son Tony, whom he knows to be Iron Man, and proves instrumental in thwarting the Makluan invasion of Earth and reforming Mandarin.[17]
  • Howard Stark is mentioned and is seen in a photo in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Living Legend". Captain America mentioned to Iron Man that he knew Howard Stark back in World War II.
  • Howard Stark appears briefly in a magazine cover along with Tony Stark and Obadiah Stane in the introduction sequence of Marvel Anime: Iron Man.


  • Howard Stark is shown during a brief slideshow presentation in the beginning of the 2008 film Iron Man, portrayed by Gerard Sanders.
  • Howard Stark appears in a film reel within the 2010 film Iron Man 2, played by John Slattery. Nick Fury reveals that he was one of the co-founders of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Tony Stark later watched the Stark Expo video that Howard Stark had made. When it was ending, Howard had left a recorded message to Tony stating that he had high hopes that Tony could figure it out with the current technology and change the world. Howard says that Tony is and always will be his greatest creation.
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark in the film Captain America: The First Avenger.
  • Dominic Cooper portrays a younger version of Howard Stark in the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger. He is one of the chief scientists on the Super Soldier Project. When some soldiers have been captured by HYDRA including Captain America's friend Bucky, Captain America convinced Howard to fly him to the HYDRA factory in Austria where he helped all the soldiers escape. Howard later supplied Steve Rogers with a vibranium shield and his costume. After Captain America crashed in the ocean with the Tesseract, Howard refused to abandon his friend and charted multiple expeditions out the ocean to search the sea for him. Though they failed in their search, they did discover the Tesseract, laying on floor of the ocean after falling out of Schmidt's gigantic plane during the crash. He attempted to figure out how the Tesseract worked, but had less than helpful results.
  • Dominic Cooper reprised his role of Howard Stark in the Marvel One-Shot film Agent Carter where he helps Peggy Carter to form S.H.I.E.L.D.[18]
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it is revealed that the deaths of Howard and Maria Stark due to a car crash were intentionally caused by S.H.I.E.L.D. (namely caused by the members who were actually HYDRA infiltrators).

Video games[edit]


  1. ^ S.H.I.E.L.D., vol.2 #231
  2. ^ "Mask of the Iron Man". Game Informer 1 (177): 81. January 2008. 
  3. ^ Iron Man: The Iron Age #1-2 (August–September 1998)
  4. ^ Tales of Suspense #39
  5. ^ Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #1
  6. ^ Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #2
  7. ^ a b House of M: Iron Man #1. Marvel Comics.
  8. ^ House of M: Iron Man #2. Marvel Comics.
  9. ^ House of M: Iron Man #3. Marvel Comics.
  10. ^ a b Ultimate Iron Man #2
  11. ^ Ultimate Iron Man #1
  12. ^ Ultimate Iron Man #3
  13. ^ Ultimate Iron Man 2 #5
  14. ^ Ultimate Comics: Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates #3
  15. ^ Ultimate Comics: Iron Man #2
  16. ^ Iron Man Noir #4
  17. ^ Iron Man: Armored Adventures, season 2 episode 26: "The Makluan Invasion, Part II: Unite!"
  18. ^ Breznican, Anthony (July 11, 2013). "'Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter' -- FIRST LOOK at poster and three photos from the new short!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]