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In the entire MCU, Tony Stark always calls Captain America by his last name, whether their conversation is friendly or aggressive.

But the two characters have always been close friends, and Cap always calls Tony Stark by his first name.

So why doesn't Tony call him by his first name?

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    "He calls him "Steve" in Civil War, when he goes to the prison to ask Sam where Steve went. "You're the good cop now?" "I'm just the guy who needs to know where Steve went." - reddit.com/r/marvelstudios/comments/8tb264/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 23:24
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    "Cap, hit the lever... hit the lever" : Avengers Assemble. Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 23:49
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    Not a full answer, but here it goes: Captain America is to be addressed as Captain Rogers, he earned the rank during the 2nd World War. Given their non-hierarchical working relationship none of the Avengers call him Captain Rogers. "Rogers" could be a way to acknowledge his military rank without acknowledging his authority. Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 15:18
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    Just an aside: throughout the Anglosphere regional subcultures often treat surnames/family names/last names as use names among good friends. As one example, I encountered this form of familiarity among my classmates while a graduate student at a New England university. However, this kind of use of the surname is not universal, and in some contexts carries different connotations… it can even be somewhat cold or stand-offish depending on context. (I would interpret Stark's pattern of name use as his particular idiom.)
    – Lexible
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 15:31
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    It was more common to address co-workers by their last name in the 1940s than it is today, so Stark might have expected Rogers to be comfortable with it.
    – Davislor
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 21:41

1 Answer 1

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Tony Stark often calls people by their last names (Banner, Rogers, etc.). This is not totally consistent - in Avengers, he does call Fury "Nick" sometimes. Tony may have gone to a private school, where students often refer to each other by last name, and gotten into the habit of doing this (Tony also calls Bruce "Banner" even after they are working closely together in Ultron).

For Steve, in particular, there's a reason for Stark to use a somewhat distancing name - Tony is jealous of Steve Rogers, because Howard Stark was always talking about Steve ("That's the guy my dad never shut up about? Wondering if they shouldn't have kept him on ice."), while Tony's relationship with his father had problems. Later on, Tony sometimes calls Steve "Cap" (in Ultron, for example), indicating that Tony's issues with Steve have been overcome.

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    Referring to people by their last name is not just a private school thing; it is (or was, at least) also common practice among boys in British state schools. Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 9:47
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    @JackAidley Maybe it was a long time ago, or in some parts of the country, but it's certainly not my experience in the 1980s and '90s; nor from hearing my older brothers talk does it seem to have been their experience in the '70s (when the MCU Tony Stark would have been growing up). Also, it's not really relevant, unless there's some connection of Tony Stark's childhood to the UK.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 10:02
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    @IMSoP I can assure you it was common in the mid 80s to 90s. Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 10:10
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    @JackAidley Like I say, maybe in some places; I can assure you it was not common where I grew up in that time period.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 10:11
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    The question is about a different practice - calling someone by their last name without a title - "Rogers" not "Mr. Rogers"
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 23:49

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