These gifs aren’t mine, I’m borrowing them from giftedavenger so that I can make a quick comment on these two gifs specifically.
This is Steve and Tony’s first formal confrontation. The snark on the plane doesn’t count because it was as one sided as their squabbles get. This here is the first time Tony meets a childhood legend and Steve meets the only thing tying him to this world besides Peggy. They have both been building their expectations, Tony for years, Steve since the moment he was awoken and told Howard had a son. They are both expecting perfection, a match to their every whims, down to the last detail based on their imagination and what they’ve been told.
Steve has just been told he’s useless, by the Son of one of his closest friends. If that doesn’t break him nothing probably will. Being the soldier he is of course, instead of retaliating and fighting back, telling Tony how much of a disappointment he is, he swallows it and the bitter result is seen here. Steve was looking for a comrade, a friend, a glimmer of the old Starks he knew. Granted, he doesn’t know how much of an asswipe Howard turned out to be and it would make sense that when he does, this moment would haunt him if only a little. He was hoping Tony would console him, guide him, give him something to hold onto. Instead, Tony is cold, flippant and detached, leaving Steve with nothing but bitter disappointment and heartache. This leaves nothing but Peggy tying him to the present, and what are the chances he’s ever going to see Peggy again before she’s buried? He can’t make friends now, not after being turned away by his only opportunity. If Howard’s son won’t have him, then no one else wants him. To try and connect will only hurt and Steve’s been in pain for over 70 years. He cant and won’t do it again.
Now Tony, Tony was raised on Captain America stories. It’s probably even reasonable to say that Cap was partly to blame for his father’s absence. He’s expecting to be swept off his feet, stunned, flabbergasted even. He wants to know that the man who had a hand in his father’s asshole nature was worth it. And what does he get? A Pretty Boy who’s giving orders and doesn’t even know how to turn on a cellphone. A blond stick in the mud who can’t take a joke, who doesn’t seem to know how to smile, and who doesn’t charm ladies into his arms the way he seemed to in the old film reels. And that realization hurts, because he wanted to feel some sort of something with him. I’d say friendship but at this point Tony has Pepper and maybe Rhodey, he doesn’t do friends at this point because he doesn’t understand the concept of trust and compassion towards others who aren’t on his payroll. Steve was supposed to be a hero, the hero, someone who could look at him and see underneath the bullshit facade he puts out and not cringe at what he sees. And instead, Steve treats him like a soldier instead of a friend or comrade and Tony is tired of being treated like that. He knows he screwed up with the snark, his eyes say it, but he can’t let it falter because should it, his whole charade crumbles and he’s not letting that happen in front of The Captain.
And then Bruce is in the back chuckling to himself about how ridiculous and childish they’re being while doing awesome science and for once being grateful he’s not the one under the microscope. Good on you Bruce, tell them to kiss and make up for science.