In the first scene of Ant-Man, we see Howard Stark alive and healthy in 1989. So, when did he die? And how? Is the answer different in different timelines?

Note: This is not a spoiler because you see it in the first few minutes of the movie.

  • 3
    Isn't there a newspaper clipping describing the car accident Howard was in, in one of the Iron Man movies?
    – user16696
    Jul 17, 2015 at 5:20
  • 1
    @cde Winter Soldier, wasn't it? In that scene with computer-Zola? Jul 17, 2015 at 5:26
  • 3
    I had no idea Howard Stark was in the movie, and I haven't seen it yet, so technically it was still a spoiler. Pffbbtt!!
    – Omegacron
    Jul 17, 2015 at 14:26
  • 1
    @CodeMed I'm just messing with you. I plan on seeing it this weekend, but it only came out last night. Yeesh.
    – Omegacron
    Jul 17, 2015 at 17:09
  • 2
    He's beheaded by evil King Joffrey after being tricked into confessing treas... no wait, that was a different guy. ;)
    – Paul
    Jun 16, 2017 at 13:17

5 Answers 5


In Marvel Cinematic Universe:

Howard and Maria Stark were killed in an automobile “accident” secretly arranged by HYDRA on Long Island in 1991, to remove him as an obstacle in their plans.

Here is the Youtube clip from Captain America 2 to prove that and following is the screenshot:

NEW YORK, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1991. Howard and Maria Stark Die in Car Accident By CHRISTIAN HABERKERN

After Captain America: Civil War we came to know that:

Winter Soldier killed Howard Stark and his wife to steal the super soldier serum and made it look like a car accident.

In the comics, per Wikipedia

In the comics, Howard and his wife Maria died in a car crash, as the result of faulty brakes arranged by either business competitors Republic Oil & Gas (later Roxxon Energy Corporation) or by the V-Battalion.

  • I see that the MCU wiki sources that story to TWS, but I don't remember the context. Do you know where they pulled that tidbit from within the movie?
    – DSL
    Jul 17, 2015 at 16:29
  • 2
    So now the question is... WHY did the newspaper use a 30-year-old photo of Stark in the article?!?
    – Omegacron
    Jul 27, 2015 at 21:16
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    @Omegacron Because the audience are more likely to recognise the actor who played him in Captain America: The First Avenger than the actor who played him in Iron Man 2, thanks to the characters larger role in Captain America: The First Avenger. Aug 7, 2015 at 13:44
  • 2
    @DrRDizzle - agreed, but in-universe the picture should be of him as he appeared in the Ant-Man prologue. The IM2 actor with white hair. As of the newspaper's publication date, the picture they used would have been 40 years old or so.
    – Omegacron
    Aug 7, 2015 at 14:03
  • 2
    Obituaries in real life often use older photos. For example
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 16, 2017 at 12:45

In Civil War we see that Bucky was under HYDRA's control, and he unwillingly crashed his car into the car with the Stark family. Then, Bucky got out and hit poor Howard on the side of his head multiple times, and strangled Mrs. Stark.

  • 4
    "I was there, in a dream." - wait, what?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 3, 2018 at 16:09

According to the comics, the canonical status of Howard Stark is that he is currently alive (or at the very least his fate is unknown). As for Maria, well that is a complete mystery.

In issue #1 of Jonathan Hickman’s run on “S.H.I.E.L.D.” While dicussing their families and duties Stark explains to Nathaniel Richards that due to the delicate natures of their mission the Brotherhood of the Shield arranged for the “deaths” of both agents. Stark continues to explain that his death was staged as an “automobile accident”. For whatever reason Maria’s involvement and ultimate fate is never mentioned.

  • This seems like a comment, not an answer.
    – Obsidia
    Jul 28, 2018 at 15:22
  • @Bellatrix - I'd say that this is an answer, despite the fact that it hasn't been formatted as one. Will try an edit to clear it up a bit ...
    – Jules
    Jul 28, 2018 at 18:43
  • The question is tagged cinematic universe Oct 16, 2019 at 8:07

Howard Stark was assassinated by a Hydra-controlled Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) on December 16, 1991.

The official timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, published in the book Marvel Studios’ The Marvel Cinematic Universe: An Official Timeline, reveals that Howard Stark met his tragic end on December 16, 1991. He and his wife Maria were killed by the Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes), who was acting under Hydra’s control. The murder was made to look like a car accident to hide the truth.

The Stark Murders in the official timeline

December 16, 1991 | The Stark Murders

Just before Christmas, Howard and Maria Stark are assassinated by the Winter Soldier (their deaths are disguised as a car accident). The Winter Soldier also acquires five samples of Super Soldier Serum from the vehicle. Hydra uses the packets to create more unstoppable assassins who, like the Winter Soldier himself, are kept in cryogenic storage when not on assignment. Decades from now, after the collapse of the parasitic Hydra operation that grew within S.H.I.E.L.D., the lab in Siberia where these super soldiers are stored will be abandoned and largely forgotten. But deadly potential lives on within.

Howard and Maria Stark are assassinated by the Winter Soldier after Howard spends a lifetime fighting against Hydra.


The Winter Soldier crashed their car into a fence,then punched Howard in the head twice,breaking his skull in half and his brain fall out,then the Winter Soldier went around and strangled his mom,crushing her throats and shooting the Security Camera.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. You should say where you saw or read this; the question asks about different timelines, so you need to be specific about which one this answer applies to.
    – DavidW
    Oct 16, 2019 at 0:52
  • 1
    While correct, this answer doesn't really add anything of value on top of what has already been stated in other answers.
    – Gnemlock
    Oct 16, 2019 at 0:54
  • Speaking of not adding anything; the exact date is Dec 16, 1991 - my sixth birthday! Oct 16, 2019 at 5:20

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