melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen posting in [community profile] cap_chronism
(xposted to Tumblr 'cause I'm testing whether xposting or xlinking works better.)

Can we talk about Howard Stark and the Manhattan Project? Because, okay, in the first Iron Man movie, Tony says, "My father helped defeat Nazis. He worked on the Manhattan Project." In the days when Iron Man was all there was to MCU, there were some really great fanworks exploring this. But then, when we see him in the Captain America movies, he is really manifestly not working on the Manhattan Project, and in one of the tie-in comics he pretty directly declares that he is doing Rebirth and the SSR instead.

And this is a really important question for Howard Stark's history, because - because, well, if you look at all the most eminent American physicists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers in Howard's generation, and the generation after, and a couple generations before, they pretty much all worked on the Manhattan Project, at least the people doing the sort of things he was doing in IM 2. And they didn't just work on the Manhattan Project, they spent most of the war in top-secret hothouse conditions in Los Alamos.

So if Howard wasn't in Los Alamos - whether he did peripheral work for the project or not - that means he was basically left out of the most important, defining experience that all of his peers shared. That every time for the rest of his life that he went to a conference, or collaborated with someone, or just went to a cocktail party or business meeting with the people he should have the most in common with, he would always feel like they were part of a club he wasn't a member of. Even if he had the security clearance to hear about it, he didn't know the injokes; he wasn't part of the stories; he never met the bright young things that didn't make it out; he didn't have a share in the guilt; he wasn't there. A Howard Stark who didn't spend the whole war at Los Alamos is going to forever feel like he's on the outside looking in. Maybe he did enough preliminary or consulting work on some of the engineering that he can claim he "worked on the Manhattan project" in the press and to his son, but everybody who was really there knows the truth.

So what did Howard do during the war? He seems to have spent it as the top science guy for the SSR, and possibly under so much secrecy that the general public didn't realize he was involved at all, and looking at the timelines, he may have committed to that before Los Alamos even existed. Doing really important work, and unlike the Los Alamos crew, work that wasn't forever after tainted by that stench of death-the-destroyer-of-worlds; because the SSR won, and they lost people yes, but they won clean, so he's coming out of it with an entirely different set of guilt complexes.

It also seems to have been work that was kept much more secret after the war - sure, they weren't spewing the details of the science everywhere, but if somebody said they'd worked on the Manhattan Project, everyone knew what you meant. But the science the SSR did, and specifically the work Howard did with both the serum and the tesseract-derived weapons, seems to have stayed so secret that a lot of it was secret even from the SSR. So while everyone else who should have been Howard's peer group laugh about Feynman and the locks, and shudder at the Demon Core, and raise their glasses to Harry Daghlian, Howard's left with - what? "Hey, I hung out with Captain America." "Yeah, yeah, Howard, we know, we saw the newsreels, go dig in the ice some more why don't'cha." Even if that wasn't what it was really like, from what we see of Howard I bet it's what he felt it was like.

The only people he can share war stories with are the Howling Commandos, Peggy Carter, and a few people high up in Military Intelligence. Who respect him, but none of whom are really science people. So he can go to the science genius parties and feel completely shut out as Los Alamos vets debate the ethics of the bomb, or go hang out with Dum-Dum and Gabe Jones and talk about how fun it is to blow things up and he doesn't care about all those Nobel laureates anyway, he's rich and at least the Army loves him.

I feel like this is a really important thing to think about when it comes to understanding Howard Stark. And the beginnings of SHIELD. And, for that matter, Tony.

Date: 2014-08-20 11:56 pm (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Captain America (Captain America)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
Oh, wow. That is a very good point! Thank you for bringing it up. Must ruminate on this.

Date: 2014-08-21 04:32 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
You do have to apply strong Comic Book to allow for Stark dines in Switzerland if he's got anything about the bomb in his head.

I did notice that Bucky technically wouldn't fit into POW but more Captured Guerrilla Combatant as he's not in uniform when he falls from the train. What is Bucky wearing and where did it come from?

Date: 2014-08-22 01:48 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Blair freaking and Jim hands on his knees (Jim calms Blair)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
He's a Sgt in the U.S. Army, conducting an operation under his commanding officer. What he's wearing is immaterial as far as his backpay and what not.

It's just that Vichy France could have played the "how are we supposed to know which of your American criminals are in and not in your military if they can't wear uniforms?"

Jim and Gabe and for that matter Monty seem to all be wearing their respective uniforms (Gabe I think has a support uniform, because there were pilots but not infantry, while Jim and all the other relocated Nisei serving were in combat units.) Dum Dum seemingly has just relocated insignia onto whatever he wants to wear and Jacques is Free French (which makes what he is dependent on who wins)

Steve is in uniform, he's just been assigned a very special one. You can't call it stealthy, and you can't say you don't know whose 'team' he's on. Does anyone have a clue what sourcing would produce Bucky's coat?

Date: 2014-08-21 05:15 am (UTC)
undomielregina: Rusyuna from the anime Grenadier text: "Grenadier" (Default)
From: [personal profile] undomielregina
There is absolutely no way he would have been allowed to head to Europe. Most scientists weren't even allowed off the complex at Los Alamos since no one was supposed to know where they were. (I regret that this means no stories about Howard and Oppenheimer getting into horrific fights. "Oppenheimer was a jerk with an enormous ego" was the main thing I heard about Los Alamos for most of my childhood and MCU Howard doesn't seem particularly good at putting up with that sort of thing.)

Date: 2014-08-22 01:58 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: line art Ecto-1 (Ecto-1)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I figure comics logic is strongest closest to Comics Physics. So, Project Rebirth, sure Howard does what he wants but Los Alamos mostly hews to our real rules. (possibly breaking down so Feynman can do preposterous things that he'd so do.)

Date: 2014-08-22 09:54 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Ray gotta eat him up with a big spoon (Ray with marshmellow creme)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I know!

He and Howard would either be thick as thieves or have an issue.

Date: 2014-08-22 04:33 pm (UTC)
undomielregina: Rusyuna from the anime Grenadier text: "Grenadier" (Default)
From: [personal profile] undomielregina
Oh man, after a few encounters they'd deliberately attend each other's talks/demonstrations to ask horrible questions. Oppenheimer would throw around Sanskrit quotations so he could feel smug when Howard didn't understand them. Howard would then possibly learn Sanskrit just to be able to retort the next time it happened. It wouldn't help that there was only about an hour's distance between their respective homes so distance would be no barrier to perpetuating the grudge, and given how many ex-Manhattan Project scientists ended up settling in Princeton, I wonder if third parties would get pulled in very often. It could turn even messier very fast. It would definitely end up going down as an academic rivalry for the ages. I imagine there would be lots of historical analysis by third parties about what, exactly, Oppenheimer was referring to when he accused Stark of being a fraud. Yeah, that could be really fun. (Now if only I could figure out a way to convincingly drag Einstein into the middle of one of these spats, but it doesn't seem like him.)

Date: 2014-08-22 11:26 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Maybe the care and feeding team gets caught up in the fight?

Date: 2014-08-21 04:45 am (UTC)
undomielregina: Rusyuna from the anime Grenadier text: "Grenadier" (Default)
From: [personal profile] undomielregina
Is it possible that the Manhattan Project was his cover story since all his SSR work remained classified? That seems like something they might have done since most people would assume that of course that's what he was doing during the war. In that case, it might create some really interesting frictions since I think the assumption among other scientists would be that he was working on even worse secret weapons. And according to my grandfather, who was there, the general consensus at Los Alamos was that completing and using the bomb before the end of the war was essential or else it would become a secret weapon that would usher in World War III. So he might see hostility and dismissal not because he was trying to claim credit for something he had very little hand in, but because he was seen as actively working to make the terrible thing they had all collaborated on futile.

Date: 2014-08-21 05:42 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
And they easily could have been right, if Steve hadn't been Steve.

Bucky as Winter Soldier is closer to what they wanted from Project Rebirth, if it scaled. Willing, would the memory wipes have been needed? Think how scary even a platoon of such work would be, looking to sate themselves.

Date: 2014-08-21 08:18 am (UTC)
undomielregina: Rusyuna from the anime Grenadier text: "Grenadier" (Default)
From: [personal profile] undomielregina
That's a very good and kind of frightening point, yeah. I mean, they're still less bad than, say, successfully harnessing the Tesseract, given that that's an Infinity Stone, but Iron Man 2 suggests Howard was probably working on that sometime after the war as well.

Date: 2014-08-23 12:42 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: very British officer in sweater (Brigader gets the job done)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
There are a number of things that might hold them in check. Supersoldiers are like Sentinels that way. They may do things that mere mortals need tech for, but they have things to use against them.

The battlefield equivalent of a war of a thousand papercuts.

Date: 2014-08-22 02:23 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: cartoon men (Egon and Peter)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
No, the Manhattan Project scientists had no way to know that all their dark thoughts were too rosy by far-- And Howard being Howard I don't think grasped how even Project Rebirth was dancing with the devil. And because it worked out the way it did, Howard never wrestled with where the first principles went astray.

It does make me wonder how Zola took receipt of Barnes without someone seeing. I don't want to believe Peggy could know without putting a bullet between his beady little eyes.

Date: 2014-08-22 10:07 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: in red serge Benton looks askance (Benton looks back)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I've only seen the movie the once, but I don't think we get much about those first Soviets, so they could just be some 'not quite where officialdom would admit they are' soldiers that then have a case of 'hmm, we've got an American now, oh well, we need to get to our next spot'

There is also that Bucky's flashbacks are subject to question.

I lean towards to Bucky being returned to Americans, being failed and given to Zola, and then sent to Soviets as part of the Hydra fifty year plan.

Either that or someone traded Zola after the post-train debrief, Zola said "That's a prepared subject, I'm very useful let me show you how" and yet Zola ended up back in Allied hands.

(I know. I might have to read a book on that just to counteract CC.)

Date: 2014-08-24 03:24 am (UTC)
ashen_key: ([MCU] where the spring should have been)
From: [personal profile] ashen_key
Bucky was in someone else's hands (possibly another Hydra cell's) for at least a few years, maybe a decade, after the war.

He was in the hands of the USSR, judging by the uniform the soldier who finds him in one of his flasbacks is wearing. Which makes sense with the red star. So could be the NKVD played around with things themselves (particularly if one of Hydra's factories is in Poland, which I thiiiink it was, so they could pick up some tech there) but they were infiltrated by Hydra, too. So then eventually there could be swapping between cells, so then Zola gets rolled in later - IF he was personally involved. I tend to lean on the idea that he wasn't directly involved at least for a while after the initial experimentation, and Bucky's memories are muddled.

But there's about a twenty-year gap between Bucky being captured and the first confirmed Winter Soldier hit, so, there's plenty of time for various shenanigans to happen.

Date: 2014-08-22 02:10 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Switzerland during the war was used as a way for information to cross sides. Feed misinformation, exchange what you think is light enough to someone that thinks you're a patsy, trying to take them for a ride and get the good stuff.

But yeah, trying to keep up with Where is Howard would make more time pass before someone goes "Where have all the physicists gone in America?" Agent Carter's red dress was a weapon of war, stopping by the pub was her wing waggle low fly over. (Steve approved the window rattle.)

Date: 2014-08-22 10:16 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: very British officer in sweater (Brigader gets the job done)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I sort of take it as a momentary stop by, they are visiting Philips and Howard thinks Peggy should see this. That dress is probably part of something very vital. (Nothing wrong 'testing its effectiveness prior to deployment')

Even Howard doesn't just fondue in Switzerland because he likes cheese.

Date: 2014-08-22 04:16 pm (UTC)
beatrice_otter: Captain America (Captain America)
From: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
Oh, please, write that! I want to read all about what Peggy and Howard were up to while Steve was off BEING A HERO, and Peggy's perspective on that--yes, Steve is a dear, a wonderful man, good, kind, handsome, every girl's dream, she loves him, but he's so direct. He's not going to notice her off being a SUPERSPY, which makes her job easier. It's not that he's stupid, exactly, but he is oblivious enough that she can relax around him and enjoy his company without having to worry about giving herself away.

Date: 2014-08-23 12:13 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I fear I don't know how to even start plotting that sort of thing.

Date: 2014-08-22 09:16 am (UTC)
undomielregina: Rusyuna from the anime Grenadier text: "Grenadier" (Default)
From: [personal profile] undomielregina
I definitely meant that to be a post-war cover story; it would make no sense during given the intense (and necessary, since there was parallel Nazi research) secrecy that surrounded the Project. But it seemed like a good way to reconcile the canons, especially since that might even mean that Tony thought he was telling the truth . He didn't seem to know much if anything about Howard's involvement with the SSR and SHIELD.

Yeah, there's no way Howard wasn't involved in refining nuclear designs. If he was trusted to keep tinkering with the Tesseract, you have to think he'd have been involved in less esoteric secret weapons development as well. (Seriously, the idea of a Cold War weapons manufacturer trying to harness an Infinity Stone is terrifying.) And that raises the interesting possibility that his continuing obsession with Steve was at least partly about trying to keep some focus on the work he could point to that wasn't tainted. Not that Project Rebirth was morally pure, exactly, but the ways it went wrong would have garnered less attention than the ways his later work was dangerous.

(He had a pretty cool life in general, really. We weren't told that many stories about Lost Alamos, to be honest, although the narrative about why the bombs needed to be used was reinforced pretty strongly during my childhood. I think the reality of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took a heavy psychological toll on him so he didn't like to talk about it. He ended up living alone in a cabin in the Rockies for about six months after he left the Project, and he wasn't a notably solitary person the rest of his life.)

Date: 2014-08-21 01:33 pm (UTC)
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Oh, wow. I hadn't thought about that, but yeah, all the possibilities are really interesting and character-defining ones.

Date: 2014-08-24 02:57 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Pre-Serum Steve Rogers, shirt and suspenders (Sad Steve)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I do think that is a straw grasp from a man that doesn't believe in much. Especially as time passes, the idea of "I can do something for the one good man I've known" is like hope.

Date: 2014-08-26 08:26 pm (UTC)
metanewsmods: Abed wearing goggles (Default)
From: [personal profile] metanewsmods
Hi, can we link this at metanews?

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