Characters: Tony, Steve, Natasha, Thor, Clint, Bruce, J.A.R.V.I.S
Warnings/Triggers: Swearing, hints of bittersweet/angst here and there
Spoilers: Most of the MCU, including some references to Agent Carter (no plot stuff)
Pairings: References to Tony/Pepper, Thor/Jane, and past Bruce/Betty Ross
Word Count 3,971
Summary: Tony gives Steve a firm education in the glories of movie musicals made after he was frozen, Thor an education in movie musicals period, and kicks off the Avengers Movie Night to Educate Aliens and Time Traveling Super Soldiers.
Author's notes: No idea how or if this will fit into the MCU 'verse, but my original version of this idea was AU'd once already, so I'm putting this version up before another movie comes along to do the same.
Knowledge of Singin' in the Rain is probably helpful, but not necessary to understanding, I don't think. As is general knowledge of old movies.
Largely fluff and silliness, but there's some discussion of Bucky in here that adds some angst.
I'm sorry for all the fics of late, I'm in that spot where everything I've been working on gets done at the same time.
“Hey, Capsicle, what's cooking?” Tony asked as he came into the rec room. He went over to the kitchen to make something to eat.
“Chicken nuggets,” Steve replied. “Hawkeye was making them.”
Sometimes Tony genuinely wondered how much Steve was really that literal and naïve and how much he was just trolling them all. The little smirk on his lips suggested that he thought he was making some sort of joke, which probably would have killed back in 1941 but was basically a Dad joke now.
“Whatcha up to?” Tony rephrased.
“Research,” Steve said, lifting up the tablet he was holding.
The Wikipedia logo was visible.
“And what did we learn today?” Tony asked, in his best impression of Nanny Walters (Nanny #6, who was Tony's favorite).
“Baby puffins are called pufflings,” Steve said.
“And where did you start out?” Tony said.
“I wanted to know what a hulu hoop was,” Steve said.
“Hula hoop, Hulu is a different thing,” Tony said. “How long did it take to get from hula hoops to puffins?”
“The length of Top Hat,” Steve said, nodding toward the TV screen. “I found a channel that streams old movies all day.”
“Channels don't stream, they air,” Tony corrected. “You stream on the Internet.”
“Is there a difference?” Steve asked.
“Yes, because...” Tony began, before he realized there wasn't. TV was inherently streamed media, it was just that they didn't use that term to refer to it. “Because it is. Top Hat is Fred and Ginger, right?”
They weren't popular in the Stark household due to Jarvis' weird phobia of Ginger Rogers. Every time he saw her on the television, he sort of shivered and muttered something about eyes filled with darkness.
“Yeah,” Steve said. “I saw it at the pictures when it came out. It's weird that so many of the films are available on demand now. It was a one time only thing back then. Once it was gone, you didn't see it again unless they put another release out.”
“Yeah, same as when I was a kid,” Tony said. “Then VHS came out and the whole world changed. My dad had tons of old film reels--he used to get them for my mom--and he had to lend a lot of them out to the companies making home videos. He had the only copies of some films. We used to watch them in the theater room at home on the projector. We had home video before it was cool.”
“I thought it might be good for Bucky,” Steve said, pointing to the screen. “I've been watching to see what they show. I thought I could watch it with him.”
Bucky was in a sort of deprogramming facility where they were working on getting his brain all sorted out--helping him remember some of the good stuff and forget some of the bad. Tony had heard it was going well, but slowly, and Steve visited him all the time and came home sort of sad and happy together. It was something you let Steve bring up first and then shut up about it when he stopped talking about it, and you didn't ask questions about it, you just got whatever details Steve decided to share. Tony didn't know if Barnes would ever be even close to himself again, but he had the feeling Steve was happy with any part of him that he could find.
“Tell me what you want him to see, I'll get it for you,” Tony said. “And you can put it on a tablet for him. That way you won't have to wait for what you want to air.”
Steve glanced over. “Thanks,” he said.
He had a way of saying thanks that was really simple but you knew he really meant it. It was a level of sincerity Tony wasn't really used to dealing with.
“No problem,” Tony said.
“Do you know if they have any of the old serials?” Steve asked. “Bucky loved the serials they used to show at the start of films. There was Tarzan and a lot of western ones and the Perils of Pauline.”
“Oh, yeah, you mean like Buck Rogers and Zorro and that stuff,” Tony said. “Yeah, I'm sure they must be out there somewhere, I'll take a look.”
“Thanks,” Steve said, again, all sincere.
“Do you want the one about you?” Tony asked.
Steve's eyes widened in horror. “No, please tell me they never made a serial about me,” he said, desperately.
Tony grinned. “Oh, they did,” he said. “My dad had all of them. I can totally drag them out of storage at the old house. Cheesiest thing ever. Your shield was visibly made of rubber. It flew on wires.”
Steve put his head in his hands. “The radio show was bad enough.”
“'Quick, Cap, do something!'” Tony said, in his best 'Betty Carver' voice. His dad had all the radio recordings, too. The attic at the old house was basically a big Cap memorabilia fest. Tony really should dig through to see what he could torture Steve with.
Steve sunk further into the couch in dismay. “Poor Peggy,” he said.
“Jarvis hated that show,” Tony remembered. “For the same reason.”
“Excuse me, sir, but I have no strong feelings towards The Captain America Adventure Hour,” J.A.R.V.I.S said, in an insulted voice.
“No, other Jarvis, your namesake Jarvis,” Tony explained. “He hated it.” He put on his 'Jarvis' voice now. “'Mrs. Carter would never say something so inane. She would have had the situation well in hand by now whether Captain Rogers was present or not'.”
Steve gave a smile. “She would have,” he said. “She did, most of the time.”
“Yeah, I heard you were basically an idiot,” Tony said. “Mostly from her. She always told me stupid stories about you.” It was nice to meet someone who didn't think Steve was a saint. Dad had always talked about him as the paragon of what Tony should be as a human being. “I liked her.”
His eyes were drawn to the screen as a familiar sequence started up. “Oh, hey! Singin' in the Rain.” He went over to flop down on the couch.
“What's Singin' in the Rain?” Steve asked.
“What?” Tony said, looking over in genuine shock. “Really? You've never seen it? I guess it came out after you froze. Well, there goes my afternoon. J.A.R.V.I.S, turn up the volume and clear our schedules.”
“Yes, sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S said.
“This is going to be awesome. You'll probably actually like this,” Tony said to Steve. “Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse. Best movie musical ever made.”
“I know Gene Kelly,” Steve said, with his usual enthusiasm when he picked up on a reference. “I saw him in a couple pictures, and I saw An American in Paris earlier today, he was in that.”
“Oh, yeah, that's a good one, too,” Tony said. “But this is better. This was my mom's favorite. She had major hots for Gene Kelly. She said he reminded her of my dad or maybe my dad reminded her of him. One or the other.”
“He was more like Errol Flynn,” Steve said.
Tony tried not to be annoyed and failed. “Yeah, well, I never saw it either,” he said. “I don't think it was the personality, just the dancing. She and my dad danced a lot.”
“Howard loved to dance,” Steve said, with a smirk.
He said it in a way that made Tony think dancing was a euphemism. Either meaning was accurate. Howard Stark did love to literally dance and figuratively dance. Tony had inherited both those interests.
“You know, I did meet him,” Tony said. “You don't have to describe him to me. I knew him.”
Steve shot him an apologetic look. “Sorry,” he said. “You're right, I shouldn't do that. I just...he's still my age, in my head. With Peggy, I can see her and know that time passed, but I didn't watch him get older, so he's stuck there at twenty-five. It's still hard for me to think of you as his son and not just someone with the same last name.”
Tony could get that. Well, no he couldn't, of course not, because he'd never been frozen and woken up seventy years in the future. But he could imagine how weirded out he would be to wake up and find out Steve had gotten old and had a kid and the kid grew up all while he was having a nap.
“Your kid would probably be nicer than me,” Tony said, forgetting that he hadn't voiced any of those thoughts out loud.
“Sorry?” Steve said.
“Nothing, non-sequitur,” Tony said. “We should get popcorn. Yeah. Definitely a popcorn movie.”
He got up and went over to the air popping machine and set it going. Steve's eyes were glued to the screen, and Tony thought he was getting into it.
“He's a good dancer,” Steve said. “But I think Fred Astaire is better.”
“Oh my God, shots fired,” Tony said. “I'm sorry, but the Stark Family are staunch Kelly-ists and this kind of Astaire-ism will not be tolerated in my tower. Gene Kelly made dancing manly, okay? Fred Astaire was elegant, but Gene Kelly was a guy.”
Steve looked taken aback by the force of Tony's beliefs.
“Like I said, my mom was a big fan,” Tony explained. “I've been indoctrinated since birth. He came to a charity thing we were hosting, once. Only time I ever saw her freaked out to meet someone famous. She couldn't even form words. My dad had to do all the talking. She just stood there blushing and making peeping noises.”
“I met Fred Astaire,” Steve shared. “During the USO tour. He was nice.”
“Did he teach you any moves to go with your Capettes?” Tony asked.
“No,” Steve said. “I didn't have to dance, everyone moved around me. I don't think I would have been good at it, anyway.”
“I took tap lessons for, like, ten seconds when I was a kid,” Tony said. “My mom put me in them because she thought it would keep me busy, but they kicked me out because I took apart the stereo. I totally put it back together and the sound quality was way better, but, apparently, I was 'disruptive to the other children.'”
Steve laughed. “Were you any good?”
“I was awesome,” Tony said. “I'm still awesome. I'm an awesome dancer.” He did a few shuffle ball changes and raised his eyebrows for applause, but Steve just gave a nod of agreement. “If they kept me in, I would have been the next Savion Glover.”
“Who?” Steve asked.
“He's...a good tap dancer,” Tony said. He started scooping the popped popcorn into the reusable buckets that came with the machine. “Do you want an unhealthy amount of butter or just a stupid amount?”
“Uh, no butter, thanks,” Steve said. “It tastes funny.”
“You aren't going to start in about how, back in your day, you didn't have butter on your popcorn at the movies, are you?” Tony said.
“Well, we didn't,” Steve said. “Butter was rationed. We only had salt.”
“I know, and you had to walk up a horse 40 miles in the snow backwards in heels to take the Titanic to the colonies to eat cakes with no sugar in them,” Tony said. “The past sucked, I get it. Time has moved on. We have the technology to make butter-flavored hydrogenated soybean oil death chemicals now.”
“You know, you're not selling me on it?” Steve said. “I'll pass on the butter.”
“Fine, go ahead and live an extra couple of years,” Tony said. He pumped some death chemicals onto his own bucket and brought the healthy one over to Steve. “You're like the one person on Earth who can eat whatever the fuck he wants without harm and you totally don't take advantage of it.”
“Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should,” Steve said.
“That is the opposite of my life's motto,” Tony replied.
“How's that working out for you?” Steve asked.
“Hit and miss,” Tony said. “But the hits are pretty awesome.”
Steve shook his head and started noshing on his unbuttered popcorn as they watched Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden meetcute. He laughed heartily at all the jokes, deep belly laughs that Tony didn't see very often from him. He probably understood all the silent movie gags even better than Tony did. He must remember when talkies were invented.
Thor wandered into the rec room. “Greetings, Captain, Stark,” he said, politely.
“Hey,” Tony and Steve said, without looking away from the screen.
Thor came over to watch. “Is this a television show or a film?”
“Movie,” Tony said. “An old movie.”
Thor watched for a few minutes. “Why do they sing and dance?”
“It's a musical, that's what happens in a musical,” Tony said. “People sing and dance to tell the story. Like an opera, but with talking bits.”
“Ah, I have seen an opera,” Thor said, as though it all had been made clear. “Jane Foster is fond of them. It's similar to a skaldic poem set to music.”
“Whatever helps your analogy,” Tony said.
Thor went over to the popcorn maker and scooped a bucket for himself, putting an admirable amount of butter on it and joining them on the couch. He looked totally lost while watching the movie but stuck with it.
“When did they stop making musicals?” Steve asked.
“I dunno,” Tony said. “They went out of fashion in the 70's, I think.”
“I wonder why,” Steve said.
“People got bitter and disillusioned, I guess,” Tony said. “The Vietnam War was happening, people were angry. I guess it didn't seem like going to watch a bunch of people tap dance was right in the face of it.”
“But during the War, that's why we liked musicals,” Steve said. “Because they distracted us.”
“Different kind of war,” Tony said. “Nam was not World War II. People were angry, there wasn't that pull together-Blitz spirit-homefront feeling.”
“What is this war?” Thor asked. “The War of Nam?”
Tony picked up Steve's tablet, told J.A.R.V.I.S to teach Thor about Vietnam, and handed it over. Thor fell into the black hole of Wikipedia. Every once in a while he would mutter another question to J.A.R.V.I.S about communism or the OSS or the Geneva Conference.
“What kind of dance is this?” he asked, at one point.
“Tap,” Steve and Tony said, together.
Thor asked J.A.R.V.I.S about tap dancing and then they basically lost him entirely in the epic world of Midgardian dance styles.
“Are you singing?” Steve asked Tony.
“No,” Tony scoffed. “That would be lame. I might have been humming. It's a good song. My mom sang it to me when I was little. 'For I'm content, the angels must have sent you, and they meant you just for me...'” He shrugged at Steve's amusement. “Sometimes I'm lame. Don't spread it around.”
Natasha was the next to join them, coming in and grabbing a protein shake from the fridge.
“That's Gene Kelly,” she said, matter-of-factly, and flopped down next to Steve.
“Have you seen this before?” he asked her.
“Yep,” she said. “In six different languages. It's on TV all over the world and I've spent a lot of time in hotels with nothing to do. You must be in musical heaven.”
“It's really good,” Steve said. He held out his bucket of popcorn and she took a handful. “Tony was singing.”
“Come on, man, you're going to betray me like that?” Tony said. “I just said not to spread it around.” He leaned back to look past Steve to Nat. “I was singing awesomely, just for the record.”
“Uh-huh,” she said.
“It's too bad I'm too cool to be in musicals,” Tony said. “I'd have been awesome in musicals. I'm a triple threat. If I hadn't been a superhero inventor genius rich guy, I'd totally have been a matinee idol.”
Thor frowned at them and asked J.A.R.V.I.S to explain what a matinee idol was.
Bruce arrived, reading as he walked into the room, which was a skill Tony admired because the one time Tony had tried to do that he'd walked into a door and it wasn't cool at all. Bruce kept reading as he wandered around the kitchen to make tea, then glanced over at them all.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” everyone said, back.
“S'up?” Tony added.
“Nothing,” Bruce said. “Is that Singin' in the Rain?”
“Yeah,” Tony said.
Bruce watched for a few minutes as he waited for the kettle to whistle. “Gene Kelly is an amazing dancer,” he said. “I know people like Fred Astaire, but I think Gene Kelly was better.”
“That is why we're friends, right there,” Tony said.
Bruce brought his tea over and sat down in a chair. “Betty and I saw this is in a cinema that showed old movies, once,” he said, kinda quiet and thoughtful.
Tony wasn't sure what the appropriate response to that was. It probably wasn't 'I'm really sorry you can't have sex with anyone without potentially endangering their lives and that your ex-girlfriend's dad keeps trying to hunt you down, that must really suck'. Bruce bent his head over his book again, and Tony threw popcorn at him until he looked up and told him to stop, looking annoyed and amused at the same time. Tony felt like he'd managed to convey his feelings effectively.
Finally, Barton stopped in.
“Why did no one tell me we were having a party?” he asked. He vaulted over the back of the sofa to land next to Natasha. “It's a fucking ghost town in this place, and you're all here watching sissy movies.”
“They aren't sissy,” Steve, Tony, and Natasha all said, at the same time.
“They aren't manly,” Barton said.
“Says the guy in spandex who shoots a bow and arrow instead of a gun,” Tony pointed out. “That's pretty Merry Man.”
“Don't you know how to tap dance?” Bruce asked.
“God, can no one keep a secret in this place? Drunk bro confessions are sacred,” Tony said.
“You just told me that and you weren't drunk at all,” Steve said.
“I could be drunk, it's very hard to tell the difference,” Tony said.
“Everyone shut up, this is my favorite part,” Natasha said.
And, because she could kill them with her little finger, they did. They all watched the Broadway Melody dance sequence in relative silence.
“He is kind of badass,” Barton admitted.
“I don't understand how this relates to the rest of the tale,” Thor said, so hopelessly confused that Tony felt kind of bad for him.
“They wrote films around the music back then,” Tony explained. “They needed an excuse for this number and this is what they came up with.”
“I see,” Thor said. It sounded like it would be hard for him to see less than he did. “That is a very handsome woman.”
“Cyd Charisse?” Tony said. “Yeah, legs for days on her. My dad had a thing for her.” This movie was probably where Tony's thing for chicks with good legs came from. Pepper had nice legs. She couldn't dance that great, though, which was, like, her one flaw, and one Tony could live with very happily.
Thor got more incensed as the movie headed toward the climax, first because he was more interested in the movie-within-the-movie (which had swordfights and stuff) than the movie itself, and then because apparently honors were being slighted left and right and no one had demanded satisfaction for them.
“That woman is deceitful, and she should not be allowed to speak to her king like that,” he declared.
“He's not the king, he's the head of a movie production company,” Natasha said.
“He is the leader of the group, he should be respected,” Thor insisted.
“Don't worry, she'll get her comeuppance,” Tony promised. “Huh. I don't think I've ever used the term comeuppance before. Too much time with Captain Archaic here.”
Thor found the comeuppance unsatisfactory but claimed to find the overall tale 'amusing', so Tony thought that was a solid thumb's up from the Norse God. Steve was totally enamored; he had a big, happy smile on his face at the end.
“See? Best movie musical ever,” Tony said. “I told you you'd like it.”
“It was really good,” Steve said. “Could you put it on the tablet for me?”
“Yep, will do,” Tony said, and received another sincere thanks from him. Three in one day was kind of sickening. Too much sincerity going on, made him feel like he'd stepped into a 1950's sitcom.
“Yes!” Barton declared, throwing his arms up in triumph as the next film started. “This is a proper movie. Thor's gonna love this. This is the kind of shit we need to be showing him and Cap.”
It was The Magnificent Seven. Yeah, Thor was going to love this one.
“Have you seen On the Town?” Natasha asked Steve.
“No, should I?” Steve asked.
“It's pretty good,” Natasha said.
Steve got out his little notebook.
“Guys and Dolls,” Bruce offered.
Steve wrote it down.
“Marlon Brando singing is weird, though,” Tony said. “It's Always Fair Weather, put that on there. There's a routine on roller skates in it. Very cool.”
“No, stop telling him about musicals,” Barton objected. “Put some westerns on there. Stagecoach. True Grit.”
Steve's pen moved faster. “I've seen Stagecoach,” he said. “When it came out.”
“The Quiet Man, then,” Barton said.
“Rodgers and Hammerstein,” Natasha said. “He'll need to see those ones.”
“Come on, you think he's going to get through The Sound of Music?” Tony said. “With the singing Nazis?”
Steve's pen stopped. “Singing Nazis?”
“It makes more sense in context,” Bruce said. “Kinda. How about Some Like it Hot?”
“Breakfast at Tiffany's,” Natasha said.
“Rebel Without a Cause,” Barton offered. “Spartacus.”
Steve's pen kept flying until they were all done suggesting movies. He did a quick count. “There's twenty-seven films on here,” he said.
“We should go in order by year,” Natasha said. “You and Thor can go through history.”
“That's not a bad idea,” Tony said. “All in favor of Avengers Movie Night to Educate Aliens and Time Traveling Super Soldiers?”
“Aye!” everyone said.
“Motion passed,” Tony said. “J.A.R.V.I.S, make that a weekly thing on the calendar. We'll start with...” He did a quick search for which film came first. “The Third Man.”
“Yes, sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S said. “I'll schedule it around currently planned events and send notifications on the day.”
“Rock on,” Tony said.
“Can you put Top Hat on the tablet, too?” Steve asked him.
“Yes,” Tony said. “And I'll go out to the house this weekend, see what I have in the attic for you.”
“Thanks,” Steve said.
God, four thanks in one day. Tony didn't know how people in the 1940's stood that much sincerity. They must have gone to the movies so much just so they could stop thanking each other for things.
“No problem,” Tony said. “But you might want to hold off on the gratitude. You haven't seen what I have in the attic, yet.”