Maria Collins Carbonell

mariastarkfilmAfter being long mentioned and referred to throughout Marvel Cinematic Universe, finally Maria Stark makes a physical appearance in Captain America: Civil War, portrayed by Hope Davis. Being long dead, she obviously appears in flashbacks only, first during a holographic memory belonging to her son, Tony Stark, in which we see her trying to mediate between her husband and her son before they leave to Washington, then in a sequence showing us the Starks’ death. We know from Captain America: The Winter Soldier that the car accident that killed Maria and Howard had been orchestrated by Hydra, but now we know that the executioner was none other than the Winter Soldier himself. Finally having a face we can relate to, let’s see who the original Maria Stark is in the comics.

Maria Collins Carbonell was born in SouthamptonNew York, from a wealthy and influential family. Despite being surrounded by everything she could possibly want and desire, Maria grew up with a strong sense of responsibility towards the ones “less fortunate” than herself, and she became a philanthropist, using her wealth for charitable purposes. Despite the use she made of her money, there was still quite an amount of it, and it attracted unwanted attentions from powerful people. One of this people was businessman Obadiah Stane, a violent man Maria found herself indebted to. Knowing that Stane wouldn’t have use the money for anything good, Maria tried to lose the men he had put on her trails in a casino belonging to Howard Stark; she started playing baccarat, purposefully losing all her money, thus obtaining the double result of being noticed by the casino’s security and ending up with nothing to give to Stane’s men. Obadiah’s thugs found her, and strongly “invited” her to follow them to their boss’ car; the casino’s owner, Howard Stark, noticed the scene, and approached the woman, asking her if she needed help. Maria declined his assistance, and was brought to Obadiah Stane’s room in that same hotel. The two men left the woman in the room, waiting for their boss, but the one who arrived was mariastarkcomics1Howard Stark, who had followed her ignoring her words of “everything’s fine”. The two talked a bit, and Maria explained her problems to him; when the two guards came back, Howard and Maria knocked them out and left the room. As the hotel/casino’s owner, Howard Stark ordered his employees to kick Obadiah Stane out, and protected Maria from any form of retaliation. From that moment, the woman started dating the billionaire inventor, and some time later they ended up getting married. Soon after, Maria found out she was pregnant with Howard’s son… but there were problems with the gestation.

Apparently, the baby wouldn’t have survived the pregnancy, and Maria was nearly resigned to let him go… but Howard refused to give up, and looked for help in the most unexpected places. Eventually, he made a deal with an alien, Recorder 451 from Rigel, who had come to Earth to protect it from a belligerent race known as the Greys. 451 told Howard that he could manipulate the kid on a genetic level, so that he survived the pregnancy and became humanity’s beacon of hope, programmed since his birth to think differently from other people, and capable of inventing a technology that would have allowed humanity to protect itself from the Greys centuries ahead of what the evil aliens expected. Howard told Maria everything, and she accepted to undergo the process. 451 did as he promised, and the baby was saved, but he also added a “genetic clock”, so that the baby would have died upon reaching adulthood, preventing him from interfering too much with humans’ natural progress. When Howard realized this, he devised a formula to mess with the “time bomb”, effectively nullifying it. Finally, the baby was born, and the Starks named him Arno… unfortunately, Howard’s formula had messed with his brain, and the child was mentally ill. In order to hide from 451 what Howard had done, he and Maria decided to hide Arno in one of the mariastarkcomics2woman’s charitable hospitals (which would have later become Maria Stark Foundation Hospice), and they adopted a healthy baby, Anthony, pretending he was their biological one. Maria raised Tony as her own, and was a loving mother for him; Howard, on the opposite, had some problems relating to the child, and mostly delegated to the family’s butler, Edwin Jarvis, his parental responsibilities. When Howard fell to alcoholism, Maria did her best to protect Tony from him, but to no avail; the only solution to save the boy from his father’s influence was to send him to boarding school at age 6. Maria stayed at home, suffering the physical and verbal abuses of a man broken by alcohol, but watching proudly over Tony, who grew up to become one of the greatest geniuses humanity had ever seen.

Maria Stark is a brave and strong woman, with a strong sense of personal and social responsibility. A loving mother and a devoted wife, she chooses to stay at her husband’s side even when his personal demons have the best of him, robbing him of all the qualities that made him a great man. Her only regret is failing to be a mother for Arno as well.