So, based on THIS POST by @knightinironarmor that @the-flightoficarus rambled about for a hot minute there, @mephestopheles and I did our favorite thing and plotted out a version of IM1 where Howard is still alive. It’s somewhere between a ficlet and a headcanon.
And let us just say in advance, Ow. and also, we’re sorry.
but not a lot
Howard Stark has held onto the leadership in Stark Industries because of a clause that means he can continue searching for Steve on the company’s money. It’s been all of Tony’s life, Tony has never once eclipsed a man that died in the water 60 years earlier. Howard is old, and he’s fixated. Stane handles most of the salesman stuff. And Tony IS the R&D department. Everyone knows this. The board loves Tony. The press loves Tony. Freaking everyone loves Tony.
Tony loves to beat his Dad’s records, loves to outdo the best inventions his dad ever made in a sort of petty reaction to how he has been treated, so Tony is still definitely the Merchant of Death, and he carries it with a grin.
There’s a growing push to encourage Howard to step down and for Tony to take over, and everyone is thrilled… except Howard, who is convinced that this time, this time he knows where Steve’s plane is, and he’s utterly convinced that Steve is alive somehow. Howard is off searching again when Tony goes to Afghanistan.