Tony Stark (Iron Man) x Bruce Banner (the Hulk)
Ha, my first yaoi pairing. XD Haters will be ignored. Don’t like, don’t read ;)
Warning: Spoilers from Iron Man and The Avengers will follow.
Okay, so let’s start off with Bruce. Once a successful scientist, studying into gamma radiation and how to protect people from it, he’s becomes an outcast, hiding wherever he can to keep under the radar. Bruce’s ability is far more… explosive than the rest of the Avengers, and as such even among fellow “freaks” he doesn’t feel as though he fits in. Bruce is terrified of “the Other Guy” and what can happen if he lets him out. Bruce hates what he has become and wishes more than anything to just stop living, even to the point of suicide. In his words, “I put a bullet in my head and the other guy spat it back out.”
Because of his constant need to keep the Hulk under wraps, Bruce has developed a lot of mental instabilities. Perhaps he already had them and the whole experience has intensified them. Bruce constantly appears nervous and stressed, especially around any kind of armed guard or soldier. He sees the way people look at him, always watching for signs that the Other Guy might be poking through. Bruce is particularly irritated by what becomes Loki’s prison, knowing perfectly well who the cage was really meant for.
As is revealed at the end of The Avengers, Bruceis constantly angry. What is seen through the movie as nervousness and being jumpy is really his always fluctuating levels of frustration or anger. These fluctuations may have some tell-tale signs though. Bruce has a number of nervous twitches that he exhibits, probably while trying to keep this building rage in check. He has a tendency to blink rapidly when stressed, and sometimes his entire face actually twitches somewhat from the corner of his mouth.
Overall, Bruce feels as much like a monster as people see him. And it has taken a serious mental tole on him. But Bruce is not the only Avenger who wants to die or who sees himself as something less than human. Tony, the man in the metal suit. Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Yet he’s not as happy as he’d like people to think.
Tony is extremely insecure. Like Bruce, he thinks he doesn’t deserve to live. Tony has never felt adequate his whole life, probably because of his father. Howard Stark paid very little attention to his son, resulting in many of Tony’s issues. The fact of “Captain America” now back and working with Tony only pours salt in his wounds, since to Tony, Howard felt more strongly towards Steve than him.
Tony uses the Iron Man as a way to make himself feel as though he has a place in the world. He needs to feel like he’s making a difference in someone’s life. It is his way of earning his keep. He is earning his right to live and to be a part of the Avengers by fighting and sacrificing himself. We see this time and time again. Yes, at the end of the Avengers we had that heart-stopping moment where Tony sacrifices himself by carrying the missile through the portal, knowing he probably wouldn’t make it back. However, even before that he showed a willingness to die for what they were all doing. When Hawkeye damaged the engine of the helicarrier, Tony chose to start spinning the blades manually. Yes, he told Steve how to slow the blades so he could get out, but Tony is not one to leave his fate to others. Genius that he is, he knew full well the risk he was taking, and he took it without hesitation, because in his mind if he dies doing something good, maybe it will make him be worth something. Maybe people will remember Iron Man, instead of Howard Stark’s son.
Bruce and Tony can connect on their insecurities and their pain. Tony sees Bruce’s ability as a gift. In fact, he seems rather fascinated by the Hulk and by Bruce. While the other Avengers may feel uncomfortable about Tony constantly poking fun at Bruce about “the enormous green rage monster”, and Bruce at first is skeptical about Tony, I think it means a lot to Bruce that Tony - unlike the others - is not afraid of him. Tony is constantly provoking Bruce, even encouraging him to “blow off some steam” in the scene where the Avengers are arguing in the lab. Bruce is unsure of Tony at first, but this simple fact that he’s not afraid means a lot to him. Everyone else seems to try and pretend the Hulk doesn’t exist, avoiding bringing him up at all times, yet Bruce can always see the fear in their eyes. He always sees hands on gun holsters, a tenseness in people’s muscles that reveals they’re ready to run like hell should he start to lose it.
Bruce himself makes fun of his “condition” now and then too. I believe it’s how he copes with it. When he tries to forget about and ignore the Other Guy, that’s when he loses control. Bruce never stops thinking about the Hulk, which is probably the source of his anger. To deal with this, he does two things. One, when he’s around people who know about him, he jokes halfheartedly about it. Comments like “They really want to put me in a pressurized metal container?” show this. Secondly, he loses himself in his work, which is another thing Tony can relate to.
But not Tony. Maybe it’s Tony’s own semi-suicidal nature that makes him so nonchalant about even being in the room with Bruce when “the Big Guy” comes out. Maybe it’s Tony’s own scientific mind that wants to observe the Hulk, or maybe it’s just because Tony relates with Bruce. Tony doesn’t have a physical rage monster inside him, and he has trouble “blowing off steam” because he doesn’t want people to know about his insecurities. He puts on more than just the Iron Man mask, and he drinks to drown his pain. Maybe in a way he envies Bruce’s ability to release all the pent up pain and rage.
I mentioned it a few times here, but I’d like to talk about the common interests these guys share. First off, intellectually, they’re on par with each other. It’s not often Tony can blather on in science-speak and have anyone really understand what he’s saying. Especially when he has to explain himself to two men who are unfamiliar with modern times. Bruce, however, can not only understand Tony, (“Finally! Someone who speaks English.”) but respond back to him. I can see these two going to each other for advice on different projects, bouncing ideas off each other.
Bruce and Tony also have a bit of a taste for mischief. When Tony reveals he planted a bug on Fury’s computer and proceeds to hack into S.H.I.E.L.D., Bruce seems more curious and impressed than anything, as opposed to Steve’s appalled reaction. Bruce doesn’t try to stop Tony, rather he is standing over Tony’s shoulder. Tony also exhibits a little of his prankster nature when he zaps Bruce to see if it would provoke him, and rather than getting angry, Bruce just kind of chuckles and continues his work. Bruce also, bitter as he is when he does it, likes to frighten people with the Hulk. As with Natasha when she finds him at the beginning, he covers it with “I wanted to see what you’d do”, but really, who didn’t get a kick out of him making her jump out of her skin? (Or was that just me? XD) And then again in the lab, during the big argument. When Hawkeye attacks the ship and interrupts, Bruce tells everyone “Guess you don’t get to see my trick”. He might hate the Hulk, but he makes the best of it in the only way he knows how. If people are going to be afraid of him anyway, he may as well use it to his advantage.
These two really enjoy one another’s company, you can tell. And not only can they connect on their feelings, mental instabilities and joke-loving nature, but think about it, they’re two of a kind in the Avengers. Bruce avoids everyone as much as he can (including Tony initially, but Tony just followed him anyway), because he hates seeing distrustful and frightened looks. Tony gets bored with the others, particularly Thor and Steve. While he has fun picking on them, Steve in particular, Tony really can’t be himself around them. The arrogant, sarcastic, self-absorbed genius mask I mentioned earlier comes off around Bruce. And Bruce too, can talk about his pain with Tony. The scene where Bruce and Tony discuss Bruce’s ability is really touching to me. Where the two are just emotionally naked before each other. I think this really solidifies their connection.
Alright, moving past all the reasons why I think they could be together, here’s some of the things that show that they might be together (though, truthfully, I doubt the movies will take that route). At the very least, these two become good friends. Moving past all the joking they do with each other, and the tender moment I just mentioned, there are other signs. First off, even the Hulk has picked up on Bruce’s feeling towards Tony. At the end of the movie when Tony falls back through the portal, who is it that catches him? Hulk. And despite Hulk’s obvious urge to punch Tony after setting him on the ground, he resists (unlike when he and Thor were fighting), and is even the one to wake Tony up. Finally, whose car does Bruce jump into at the end of the movie? ;) Just saying.
If nothing else, nobody can deny that there is a connection between these two men. So let the fangirls have their fun. 8)
In addition to everything mentioned above, both men have similar childhoods. Both were abused and neglected, and both lost their parents young. In Tony’s case, his father was mostly mentally abusive and Tony feels he was abandoned in favor of Howard’s work and, of course, Captain America. Presumably, his relationship with his mother was fairly good, but many of Tony’s mental instabilities stem from Howard.
Bruce had a hard childhood as well. His father’s work with radiation mutated Bruce’s genes, making him more intelligent. This resulted in his father’s hatred and jealousy of him. He called Bruce a monster, and would beat him violently. If this mental and physical abuse wasn’t bad enough, Bruce’s father murdered his mother, and eventually wound up in a mental institution because he was bragging about it. This is just one more area where these two could connect over their experiences and pain.