"Everything in the future will be made better through the application of technology and science. We here at Stark Industries are dedicated to ensuring that future comes sooner rather than later, to the benefit of all mankind."Howard Anthony Stark was born in New York in 1917 to German immigrant Walter and Henrietta Stark. His father was a mechanic who worked on assemblylines for an early automobile manfuacturer, while his mother sewed shirts for a living. His early years were spent on the streets of Staten Island, before the family packed up their belongings in 1925 and moved to California. There, Walter Stark got a job working for a small time parts manufacturer, and Howard found his love for tinkering with objects.
By age 16, Howard had dropped out of high school and started working with his father at the struggling parts manufacturer. In time Howard's natural brilliance combined with his hard work and tenacity allowed him to eventually take controlling interest in the company, renaming it to Stark Industries in 1936. At that time he made his first breakthrough, manufacturing easy to install carbon monoxide detectors. It was at a conference in 1937 that he also first met Dr. Abraham Erskine, and heard word of his "miracle serum" but knew little else about it. He also began experimenting with Vita Radiation around this time, seeing it as a potential new power source. Despite having no college education, Howard quickly picked up on the fundamentals of nuclear physics, becoming knowledgable in the area. It was at this time that both of Howard's parents died.
Also in 1937, Howard took a safari trip to Africa with friends of his, however they ran afoul of German troops working for HYDRA in the East African Savannah, the first time he had met with the Nazi deep science division. By sheer accident, Stark stumbled upon the nation of Wakanda, and met with the son of the ruling king, Azzuri. Stark helped Azzuri fight back the advancing Germans and Italians, and in thanks for his help Azzuri gave Stark a small amount of Vibranium formed into a shield for his protection. Stark also agreed never to speak of what he saw during his visit to Wakanda, a secret he carried with him to his grave.
By 1939, the situation in Europe exploded and Howard positioned Stark Industries to reap some of the benefits. He became the largest weapons manufacturer in the country, supplying tanks and planes to first the United Kingdom and then later the United States as a whole. Though he was draft eligible after 1941, Stark was excused from the selective service by General Chester Phillips, who drafted him otherwise to be the lead technical advisor for the newly created Strategic Science Reserve, as well as on Dr. Erskine's Project Rebirth. Howard Stark was present at the demonstration of Erskine's Super Soldier Serum on Steve Rogers, providing the electrical equipment for the Vita-Ray portion of the transformation procedure. Shortly thereafter, he examined the technology used by the HYDRA assassin who killed Erskine, remarking that they weren't even close to there level. Stark, Agent Peggy Carter, and Phillips then traveled to Europe to take the fight to HYDRA.
Several months later Stark was drafted by Agent Carter and now Captain Rogers to fly the latter behind enemy lines to rescue a large contingent of US soldiers from HYDRA. Stark successfully flew the mission, but was reprimanded by General Phillips when it appeared that Rogers had been killed in action. However, Rogers returned unscathed and with all of the soldiers in tact as well. Stark would go on to become good friends with both Carter, Rogers and the rest of Rogers' platoon, the Howling Commandos, throughout the remainder of the war. He also created Captain America's uniform and gave him the Vibranium Shield for which he would become synonymous with. Following Rogers' defeat of the Red Skull and subsequent plunge into the Arctic, Howard spent a small fortune attempting to locate Rogers, but failed. He did find the Tesseract, however, and began researching it as a possible source of limitless energy.
Following the war, Howard was one of the founding members of SHIELD, and served in an advisory capacity for its scientific missions for over forty years, until at least 1987. In the 1960s, Howard worked with Anton Vanko, a Russian physicist, on creating the ARC reactor technology. However, he later had Vanko deported when he learned Anton was attempting to sell the technology to the Russians and Chinese. Howard also met scientists Hank Pym and Bill Foster, aiding them somewhat in the development of the Pym Particle, though Stark himself was never able to duplicate the technology. In the late sixties, Howard married a woman named Maria and in 1973, the two had a son named Tony. Howard's workaholic nature combined with his possible alcoholism led him to be cold and distant from his son, though privately he was very proud of him and had high hopes that he would one day change the world. In Tony's youth, he recorded some of his thoughts for him on 16 mm film, and hid the atomic structure of a new element key to stabilizing ARC reactor technology (but incapable of being synthesized with the technology of the time) in the model of the Stark Expo.
Throughout the 80s, Howard continued to help SHIELD in scientific endeavors and he began trying to duplicate both the Pym Particle as well as Erskine's original Super Soldier Serum. While Hank Pym quit before he could unlock the secret of the former (and Bill Foster refused to help him as well, out of deference to Hank), Howard was able in the middle of 1991 to complete the latter. In December of that year, when Tony was home for the holidays, Howard and Maria decided to take a vacation to the Bahamas, following a quick stop off at the Triskellion for Howard to drop off his research. However, before the trade could be made, Howard and Maria were both killed in a car accident arranged by the Winter Soldier, who was in fact Howard's old war friend Sgt. Bucky Barnes, and the super soldier serum was stolen.
Powers & Abilities
- Technological Genius: Howard's genius with mechanical engineering, nuclear physics, and even genetics, allowed him to turn Stark Industries from a small time parts manufacturer into the largest weapons contractor in the country during World War II. Notable inventions of his include the Vita-Ray Generator (a key component in the original Super Soldier Project), the ARC Reactor (and a new element to safely power the reactor) and the basic algorithims for Tony Stark's eventual projects involving Artificial Intelligence. The only thing holding Howard back, it seemed, was the limited technology of his day.
- Business Savvy: In addition to his technological genius, Howard was a shrewd businessman as well, able to balance both his successes as the leader of Stark Industries and his duties as a co-founder and council leader of SHIELD.
- Skilled Pilot: Howard was known as one of the best civilian aviators in his day, and successfully flew at least one mission behind enemy lines during World War II in aide of Captain America.
Despite his technological brilliance, Howard was socially aloof and very impersonal, particularly around those he worked with. While he had a naturally outgoing personality in his youth, he became much more reserved as he got older, to the point of barely ever acknowledging his son's existence to his face (though privately, he held his son in incredibly high regard). This emotional aloofness was likely due to the sudden "death" of his best friend, Steve Rogers, and Stark's inability to find him after World War II.
Howard also was prone to over-drinking, a struggle his son would later inherit as well, though it did not appear that Howard's drinking ever caused any real problems with his business affairs.
Howard Stark appears in the following films within the Earth-11584 continuity of the MCU. In The First Avenger, he is portrayed by actor Dominic Cooper. In all other instances, he is portrayed by John Slattery.
- Iron Man (2008) [brief appearance only]
- Iron Man 2 (2010)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Ant-Man (2015)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)