2000-ish to 2005 or so
- A large green monster is sighted near Dr. Bruce Banner’s lab. The Bush administration, abetted by Fox News and MI6, declares war on southern Nevada and parts of Utah. General Thaddeus Thunderbolt “Sam Elliot” Ross is given command of the illegal expeditionary force and attacks Banner based on the incriminating evidence that he’s dating Ross’s daughter, Jennifer Connally. After an extended battle in the desert and, for some reason, San Francisco, the Green monster–now called the Hulk– is captured, but not before he uses an M1 Abrams as a baseball bat.
- The Hulk is revealed to be Bruce Banner, after all. His abusive and batshit insane father is called in to assist the army, because when you are trying to contain someone who turns into a giant green rage-monster, the best way to do so is to contract the one person most likely to send him into apoplexy. This works out exactly as well as anyone could have predicted and the Hulk escapes after punching an underground bunker into oblivion.
- The above two items never happened.
- Tony Stark stops even pretending to run the company with his name on it, electing, instead, to do PR and sales, and drop off the occasional scribbled design for new hardware, while leaving the day-to-day business to his bizarrely loyal assistant, Pepper Potts and his father’s former partner, Obadiah “Bad Company” Stane. This move will surely benefit everybody.
- Bruce Banner moves from the Alaskan wilderness to Rio de Janeiro (or possibly Sao Paolo, or Brasilia…it’s hard to tell) where he works on the floor of a soda pop bottling plant, because underpaid 3rd world factory workers never face stress.
2006-ish to 2008
- Alarmed at Stark’s increasingly erratic behavior, the DoD assigns USAF Major James “Empire” Rhodes as his handler, with the mission specs that he is to (a) protect the asset (Stark) and (b) prevent him from becoming too much of an embarrassment. He fails spectacularly on both objectives.
- While on a press junket in the middle east to show off top secret Stark Industries weaponry to the press and mid-rank officers, Tony Stark is caught in an ambush by an organized militia. He is presumed dead and never seen again.
- Held captive in a terrorist camp/spooky cave, with a piece of shrapnel edging ever closer to his heart, Stark devises a magical energy source and a suit of plot armor. He murders his way out of the Terrorist camp, crashes his suit, and is rescued by an Army helicopter crew that just happened to be flying over an unoccupied section of desert for some reason.
- Arriving home, Stark upgrades his original plot armor plans to be much sexier and have a bitchin red-and-gold metal flake paint job. Forgoing the usual testing process, he decides to fly his improved armor into the desert and murdalize some terrorists. He gets shot out of the sky by a pair of Air Force fighters.
- His two trips to the Middle East having revealed how many Stark Industries weapons were illegally obtained by terrorist groups, Stark announce that Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturer, will no longer manufacture weapons.
- Stane unethically uses Stark’s previous erratic behavior and his decision to terminate the company’s involvement in its one industry to unfairly influence the Board of Directors and have Stark removed as CEO.
- Potts, while trying to steal proprietary company technology, stumbles upon evidence that Stane was illegally selling Stark weapons to terrorists and orchestrated the ambush that led to Stark’s capture AND used a collection of burner phones to rig the most recent American Idol. She gives this info to SHIELD agent, Phil Coulson, who promptly moves to arrest Stane.
- Stane uses a piece of plot armor, originally based on Stark’s first suit, but with more weapons, a cup holder and a back-up camera, to escape the SHIELD detail sent to capture hi and goes after Stark.
- Stark gets into a head-to-head battle against his father’s old friend, and owing to his brilliance and the advanced nature of his Mark III plot armor, is absolutely pummeled into obscurity by Stane who is wearing what can best be describe as, “a battleship with legs.” Stark is forced to save himself by using his magic energy generator to vaporize Stane’s head.
- Stark announces that he is Iron Man (cue Black Sabbath…or the Cardigans, whichever you like better).