Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. In honor of Avengers: Infinity Warcoming out this month, all April OTPs will be from the Marvel Cinematic Universe! This week? Stony.
Except… Stony is not my OTP. In fact, it’s my NOTP — a ship I am adamantly opposed to. Every so often I run across a ship that’s so wrong I just have to explain why. So, here goes!
Who Are Stony?
Stony is the ship name given to the pairing of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Okay, I know I’ve talked about Steve for three weeks in a row now. Cut me some slack, I’m worried about him. With Infinity War on the horizon, this is very likely my last chance to consider a happy ending for Steve. And if anyone deserves a happy ending, it’s Steve Rogers.
Steve Rogers is Captain America, the first Avenger. He was born at the end of World War I in Brooklyn. Steve became Captain America through his participation in Project Rebirth, a Strategic Scientific Reserve initiative to create the perfect soldier. Steve was chosen for his good heart, despite his scrawny physique.
Augmented by Project Rebirth’s serum, Steve possessed superhuman abilities. For the rest of World War II, Steve worked to defeat the Nazi science division, Hydra. Along the way, Steve lost his best friend Bucky during a mission. In the end, Steve deliberately crashed a plane into the Arctic to save the East Coast, unintentionally freezing himself for 70 years.
Steve was found and awoken in the modern age. SHIELD Director Nick Fury worked to integrate Steve back into the world, seeing Steve’s potential to be a hero. It is through Fury that Steve becomes an Avenger. When aliens invaded NYC, Steve worked with the other Avengers to save the day.
In subsequent movies, Steve would continue to have a big impact on the world. Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed Steve dismantling SHIELD, which turned out to be infiltrated by Hydra. It also revealed that Steve’s best friend Bucky is alive and an unwilling Hydra agent. Age of Ultron shows divisions forming in the Avengers, which grow into a schism in Civil War.
Steve will show up (potentially for the last time) in Infinity War.
Although Captain America is known as the first Avenger, the first one we met was Tony Stark’s Iron Man. Iron Man started off the whole MCU ten years ago. In the decade since, Tony has remained a major influence on the events of the series.
Tony Stark is the head of Stark Industries, a technology-based company that initially developed weaponry. The son of Howard Stark, a scientist with Project Rebirth, Tony is brilliant but arrogant. He develops a conscience when realizing that his weapons have been going to America’s enemies — who have just kidnapped him.
It’s in captivity that Tony designs the Iron Man suit. He uses it to escape captivity and make things right, even announcing to the world that he is Iron Man. For a time, Tony appears to be the only active superhero. He meets others, though, when Fury’s Avengers Initiative brings them together to save the world.
Initially, this doesn’t go so well for Tony. He was rejected from the Avengers at first for not playing well with others. However, he shows that he is truly a hero when he sacrifices himself to save the world. Still, he clashes with his teammates over time — especially Steve — for his tendency to make decisions without consulting the others.
In Civil War, Tony tries to take responsibility for his mistakes and agrees to the Sokovia Accords. This puts him at odds with Steve, and things boil up to a point of outright conflict. When Tony finds out that Steve was protecting Bucky, who murdered Tony’s parents, there is a break that seems insurmountable.
Only time — and Infinity War — will tell if they can repair the damage or not.
Why is Stony NOTP?
I 1000% do not get this ship. What is the appeal? Who decided that these two would work together? A lot of the reasons Stony doesn’t work are similar to my reasoning for Reylo, so maybe there’s a common thread there. Regardless, Stony is an insult to both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.
These two barely — barely — work as friends. And even that is likely out the window following Civil War. So why do people ship Stony?
Animosity is Not Sexual Tension
One of the common threads I see in a lot of my NOTPs is the idea that animosity is a cover for attraction or sexual tension. To these shippers, the fact that Steve and Tony are frequently at odds is merely a sign of… how much they want each other? Again, it makes no sense to me.
Let me make it clear: animosity is not a good sign. It’s not an indication that a couple is secretly meant to be. It’s not a hint that they really care about each other. Animosity is animosity. It means they don’t get along. It means they have fundamental differences in opinion that would greatly impact any potential relationship. Animosity is opposed to a healthy relationship.
In the case of Stony, their animosity stems from the fact that Steve and Tony are wildly different people. They have different backgrounds, different life experiences, different approaches to heroism. Tony is a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist who is used to getting his own way. Steve is a soldier who respects authority but still believes in his own moral superiority.
This leads to clashes because these are very different viewpoints — not because they enjoy the fight or foreplay or whatever awful reason shippers come up with. Steve expects a hero to be one thing, and Tony is not that. Both would easily fulfill leadership roles in the Avengers, and that is what causes tension — not romantic or sexual tension.
Civil War is merely the culmination of several movies’ worth of disagreements. The tension that started the first time they met has simply boiled over into conflict. That’s what happens when people spend all their time arguing. Not true love or hot sex or anything — just conflict and anger.
They Deserve Better
One of my major points for Reylo is that Kylo Ren is a trash baby manchild and Rey deserves better. For Stony, though, I would argue that both deserve better. I love both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. They are both super great characters that have individual strengths and weaknesses. And they both deserve better than an antagonistic relationship.
Steve deserves someone who treats him with respect and is willing to listen to him. Tony deserves someone who sees the vulnerability buried deep inside and understands how hard he tries. Neither is capable of being who the other needs. To push them together is to hold them back from true happiness.
The worst part is that both Steve and Tony already have great ships that provide what they need. So why turn to Stony?? Whether it’s canon or fanon, both men have plenty of options other than hateful, conflict-filled relationship.
Tony has Pepper Potts. Pepper is perfect for Tony. She knows him in and out. They worked closely together for years, and she knows him better than anyone else — perhaps even himself. Pepper doesn’t take any crap from Tony, and she keeps him in line. At the same time, she knows how vulnerable he is inside and allows him to feel that way.
Steve is a bit more complicated — Steggy didn’t work out, tragically, but for a while it was ideal. They understood each other. And while Canon seems to be pushing a Steve/Sharon deal, fanon has got the right idea — Stucky is perfect. Bucky is who Steve needs — a support system, a helping hand, a person who understands the very different world Steve came from.
With such great options, why would anyone ship Stony??
What’s Next for Stony?
The end approaches one way or another. The end approaches for all our MCU favorites, but both Steve and Tony are high on the list of potential losses. We have one last movie (maybe two) to see what they’ll do, but it doesn’t look good.
And as far as Stony goes, what we’ve seen so far doesn’t place them anywhere near each other, so interaction might be at a minimum. After Civil War, that’s probably for the best.
Post-Infinity War, who knows what we’re getting? Chris Evans has stated that he will not be returning after Avengers 4. I’m not sure what Robert Downey, Jr. is planning, but it’s been a while since we’ve gotten any new Iron Man movies. We may see him pop up in other people’s movies, a la Homecoming, but that’s likely to be it.
Is Stony Canon?
Thankfully, it’s not canon, and extremely unlikely to ever be so. Canon-wise, the powers that be at Marvel seem highly disinclined so far to depict a same-sex relationship. While that’s certainly problematic, it does at least forestall any chances of Stony happening (though I weep for Stucky).
Both Steve and Tony seem to be already romantically attached to other people in canon. Pepperony is, thankfully, canon. It’s one of my favorite relationships in the MCU, and I think it works really well. Steve is nowhere near that level, but the films seem to want him with Sharon Carter, as distasteful as that may be.
So, this is one case, at least, where canon is somewhat in my favor. Marvel is unlikely to ruin two of my favorite characters by putting them in an ill-advised and unfounded romantic relationship, so I can still envision them happy (at least for another week and a half!).