“Are you always going to be this way?” Daddy asks her, when she’s five.
Antonia, dangling off the barrel of a cannon Daddy’s working on, considers it. “What way?”
“This way. Here, getting underfoot, playing with guns.”
She pauses, and then with a toss of curly hair, says, “Probably. A child’s personality and inclinations are set by the age of five.”
She read that in a book Mommy had and didn’t want her to read. Mommy doesn’t want Antonia to know that she’s worried about her. Antonia’s not upset; Mommy will see she doesn’t have to worry. (Tony will figure out in about two decades that the book was wrong, anyhow.)
Her father looks down at her, shoves a wrench in his pocket, and says, “Well, then you might as well learn something useful.”
–from Ironsides by Copperbadge
I’ve written about genderbending before, and the fic that I’m reccing today is an excellent example of genderbending done well. Copperbadge’s Ironsides asks the question: What would have happened if Howard Stark had married Peggy Carter and Tony Stark had been born a girl instead of a guy?
This is not only an excellent character study of Tony Stark, but it’s also an excellent fic which truly considers what might and might not have changed if Tony Stark had been born a girl. The best thing about this story was that Tony was allowed to be girly–she was a person who could appreciate Thor’s pecs and spend her free time chatting with Natasha about Steve’s ass and Clint’s arms, and still be kickass. A lot of times, stories which feature a female Tony tend to shy away from making her too feminine, as if being feminine were inherently anti-Stark, and I love that Copperbadge took care to think about how exactly he could make Tony concerned with fashion and hair length and nail polish and yet still keep her completely in character for Tony Stark.
There are many things to like about this fic aside from the genderbending. Instead of just saying the great coin of fate had landed on the other side, Copperbadge gives Tony different parents and uses them as a plausible reason why Tony’s physical gender might have been different. I love that having Peggy Carter as a parent made Tony much less interested in Captain America as an idol and more interested in him as a flesh-and-blood person. I especially love that Clint, instead of Natasha, was the one sent to spy on Tony when she was dying of palladium poisoning. Apparently having those arms can get you everywhere.
The beginning does get a little repetitive, as the story starts the story by recapping the events of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers—I assume in order to establish Tony as a girl—but none of it is really necessary to the story other than to tell the reader how everything was the same-but-different. However, if you want to read a great character study of Tony Stark that takes into account various different aspects of feminism, this is the fic for you.
Additionally, Copperbadge is hugely popular in fandom, and so this story comes with a lot of extra knickknacks, such as a mini-sequel, the above fanart, and this reenactment of an integral scene from the fic.
You can read the story here! Then come back and check out the extras after!