Was Tony Stark's father the real superhero creator in the family? In a new MTV Splashpage interview, "Iron Man 2" director Jon Favreau let it slip that Howard Stark will not just be making a cameo in the upcoming Captain America, as he revealed in a previous interview. Apparently, Howard will have a hand in Cap's creation. The revelation happened when Favreau explained the reason why a half-completed replica of Captain America's shield originally appeared on Tony's work table in the first "Iron Man" film.

"An ILM artist put it in there as a joke to US for our cinesync sessions, when we're approving visual effects. And they got a laugh out of it. And I said, 'Leave it in, that's pretty cool - Let's see if anybody else sees it!' " When asked further if the shield had any significance now other than a visual gag, Favreau answered, "Part of the history of the Stark family is the super-soldier program."

This revelation seems to go along with a remark made my Nick Fury in "Iron Man 2" about his history with Howard Stark. And in the continuity of the comics, we've recently learned that Howard Stark was a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in the 1950s and possibly earlier, working alongside Nathaniel Richards (father of Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four).So the possibilities are out there. Interestingly, there seems to be a division among fans as to whether all this cross-continuity is a good thing or a bad thing. Some people wish there were MORE references to other parts of the Marvel Universe, such as one audience member I spoke with who said he had hoped to see Tony Stark at least have a phone conversation with Hank Pym, Bruce Banner or Reed Richards in "Iron Man 2." But other fans have complained that the movies no longer stand on their own and are weakened as a result.

I personally think that this cross-continuity is good and fun. We've had decades of super-hero films where it's treated as if the title character is the only hero in existence. One great thing about comics is that it is a UNIVERSE where you can throw people into fun team-ups and into strange genres you wouldn't normally expect, such as having Iron Man visit Asgard or throwing Captain America into outer space. If we complain about most movies not being faithful enough to the work they're based on, don't we then ask for films that showcase a whole universe of heroes who will, by the nature of their lives, cross paths in strange and sometimes unexpected ways? Discuss.

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