What if Ned Stark and Tony Stark were brothers?S

One is the warden of the North, the Lord of Winterfell, and the incorruptible Hand of the King. The other is a genius playboy inventor, armored superhero and leader of the Avengers. But what if the beloved heroes from Game of Thrones and Iron Man were brothers? It might look kind of like this.

(Note: this is based on a terrible joke I made on Twitter back in April, and various people dared me to actually write it up. Who's sorry now, random Twitter people? Warning: Possible spoilers for all of the Song of Ice and Fire books ahead.)

So at this point you're probably asking, how can Tony and Ned Stark be siblings? After all, they're from different times and possibly different actual planets. But once you skate over certain incongruities in their backstories, the whole thing just falls into place, almost as if it were meant to be. And it actually explains away some of the inconsistencies and mysteries in their respective storylines. For real. Allow us to explain.

So obviously when Ned Stark gets sent off to the Vale to be fostered by Jon Arryn, his brother Tony is sent off to live with the Crannogmen, in the home of Lord Howland Reed. His father Lord Howard Stark is hoping this would curb his son's hard-drinking, carousing ways — but instead, Tony makes sport of the Crannogmen and their froggy ways and green dreams. He starts working on upgrading the suits of armor in the castle, adding new enhancements to make them lighter and more durable, and eventually adding some rudimentary hydraulics inspired by the currents of the swampland and the biomechanics of the fen creatures.

About the time Benjen Stark chooses to join the Night's Watch, his brother Tony's choice has become clear — he'll become a Maester. Soon enough, Tony is living at the Citadel, getting links in his chain for medicine, alchemy, nuclear fuel cells and lasers. The laser chain link glows bright green. Tony's closest friend and mentor is Grand Maester Obadiah. Also, Tony takes an interest in the work of the Pyromancers, and develops a method of increasing the efficiency of wildfire 1000 percent.

Tony's zeal backfires when the Mad King uses the wildfire he improved to burn his father, Howard, alive, along with his brother Brandon. Tony vows revenge and joins Robert's Rebellion. And the rest, you know.

Whenever Tony Stark comes to visit his relatives at Winterfell, how much mayhem does he bring with him? Much and more. Possibly even more than that. How much does Tony care? Little and less.

The last time Tony Stark visited the North, he turned everything upside down. He gave Arya and Bran a ride on his armored shoulders as he flew around the castle keep, he gave Theon some tips on winning friends and influencing people, he took Robb to the local brothel, and he told Jon Snow who his real parents were, all in the first five minutes. It took them a month to get everything back to normal, and remind everybody that Winter is Coming, etc. etc.

So when Lord Eddard sees Tony flying into King's Landing, where Ned has just taken his new role as Hand of the King, his first words are "I like it not." Tony comes spinning down over the Blackwater and glides down in a beautiful three-point landing in front of the Red Keep, only cracking half the stones in the process.

"Oops," Tony looks around at the damage and shrugs his heavily armored shoulders. "You know, for a town called King's Landing, they have a remarkable shortage of places to land."

"Hello, brother," Ned grumbles. "What brings you here?"

"I needed to talk to you," Tony says, flipping his helmet open. "There was something you were going to tell me."

"That Winter is Coming."

"No, that's not it."

"That we Starks have a grave responsibility to the North."

"No, not it either."

"That the wolf-pack that sticks together is stronger than the wolf that runs alone? That honor is everything? That the man who passes the sentence must swing the —"

"No, not any of those." Tony Stark snaps his fingers. "Oh yeah. You were going to tell me why you were idiotic enough to accept this Hand job. Have you seen the safety record?" He waves at the nearest wall, where he's just hung a sign that says "Days Without Hand of the King Dying," followed by a number in the low double digits.

Ned starts to explain to Tony about duty, and about his need to investigate the death of Jon Arryn, the previous Hand, and Tony is all like "Hand, talk to the hand," until he suddenly stops and wheels around.

"Did you say 'murder mystery'?" Tony beams unexpectedly. "I love those. As long as the answer's not, 'The High Septon did it.'"

And thus, the Stark Brothers set out to investigate the murder of Jon Arryn side by side, the ultimate buddy-comedy to end all buddy comedies. Ned Stark is Danny Glover, Tony Stark is Mel Gibson.

They talk to Varys the Spider, who tells them cryptic things about how the King is in danger and there are men without honor behind all these poisonings, and how nobody sings songs for spiders. Tony Stark begins to suggest that Varys look into the works of the great bard Ziggy of Stardust, but Ned shushes him.

"What doom does the King face?" Ned asks, but Varys just vagues it out with lots of forboding and sinister warnings.

And then Cat Stark shows up with a dagger that an assassin tried to use on poor Bran Stark, and a warning. Cat and Tony don't entirely get along in general, and she's annoyed that Tony keeps pointing out that daggers can be lost, mislaid, stolen or whisked away by electromagnets. Cat is staying at Littlefinger's brothel, and Littlefinger offers his help solving all the big mysteries. Tony is like, "Thanks, and if we need any sly innuendos and greasy hints, we will send a raven."

They go to visit the blacksmith's boy, and the brothel, and all the other places that Jon Arryn investigated. They read the book about the noble houses of Westeros.

In the end, Tony and Ned decide to set a trap for whoever killed Jon Arryn, because they know that Jon's ex-squire Ser Hugh is the key to the whole mystery. And the Hand's Tournament is coming up, and Ser Hugh is competing — so Tony arranges to contact Ser Hugh anonymously through a third party and offer him the Best Armor in Human History. When Ser Hugh rides in the tourney, he basically has armor that could deflect wildfire, dragon fire or catapults, plus a full scrolling heads-up display (that admittedly is basically just an actual scroll.)

Ser Hugh wins all his tourneys, even when he's put up against the best knights in Westeros, and even though he can barely aim a lance, he's an unstoppable force as long as he's wearing Tony's fancy armor. His horse moves faster than a normal horse, as though Ser Hugh's boots were giving a little extra lift on every gallop.

Before long, Ser Hugh is being nominated for the Kingsguard and Sansa Stark has decided to transfer her crush from the Knight of Flowers to the dashing Ser Hugh. And that's when the assassins come after Ser Hugh — but Ned is ready, with Jory Cassel disguised as a houseplant in Ser Hugh's chambers. They capture the assassin alive, and Ned promises clemency if the assassin gives up whoever hired him. The assassin fingers the Lannisters, as he's been ordered to do by Littlefinger.

Soon enough, Tony and Ned figure out that King Robert's children are not King Robert's children — and Ned is like, "Let us warn Queen Cersei that we know the truth, so she can have a head start." Tony says, "Or not."

Alas, King Robert still gets himself gutted by a wild boar, and Joffrey is all set to be crowned the new King. Ned wants to intervene, and enlist the aid of Littlefinger in seizing control. Tony responds that they could always just rig the Iron Throne with an ejector seat.

But meanwhile, Tony has heard whispers that the Maester Only Designed for Obliterating the Karstarks (MODOK) has been using the Extremis virus to turn people into snow zombies. And they are going to need a LOT of catapults on the Wall. Like, a few million. Not only that, but Daenerys Targaryen has just hatched some dragons, and one of them is secretly Fin Fang Foom — who is easily identified by his purple shorts.

Tony convinces Ned that realpolitik means not dividing the realm at a time when there are Extremis zombies and Fin Fang Foom to deal with. Ned isn't sure about this "realpolitik" thing which sounds foreign and dishonorable, but he finally agrees to Tony's plan.

And then Tony reveals, "I just blew up all my suits of armor. All 40 of them. It looked really cool."

"Why did you do that?" Ned asks. "Did you do it because honor demands that you give your enemies an unfair advantage?"

"No," Tony says.

"Did you do it because the man who passes the sentence must swing the blade?"

"No," Tony says. "You see, I was with Lady Pepper, and she said she thought I was spending too much time working on my armors. So I blew them all up to show her how down to Earth I am."

Alas, this turns out to have been a bad move, because right after Tony explodes all his armors using the last remaining stash of wildfire, Fin Fang Foom shows up and lays waste to King's Landing. (Daenerys is still busy trying to free every slave in Essos with her awesome white-lady powers, but Fin Fang Foom slips away in the confusion, leaving a cactus in purple shorts in his place.)

Meanwhile, MODOK and his Extremis snow zombies crash through the wall and come South. They burn down Winterfell and smash the Dreadfort, before coming down the Kingsroad toward King's Landing. Luckily, by now, Ser Hugh has become the greatest warrior that Westeros has ever known, besting every other knight in single combat and rising to the leader of the Kingsguard. He single-handedly goes out to face Fin Fang Foom with Tony's one remaining suit of armor.

And when MODOK reaches King's Landing and attacks the Red Keep, Tony and Ned hit the "ejector seat" button on the Iron Throne, causing King Joffrey to fly up and collide with MODOK. Unfortunately this backfires horribly, because MODOK and Joffrey are merged into one terrible creature: the Joffrey Only Designed for Oppressing Westeros, or JODOW. Soon enough, Tony and Ned are beheaded for their treason, and JODOW destroys Fin Fang Foom and begins his hundred-year reign as King of the Seven Kingdoms. And soon, the known world.

So, you know, things could be worse.

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