Tony Stark is adopted by Howard Stark
Does Tony Stark's age match his father's appearance in Captain America?
This is a theme that the movies inherited from the comics. In the comics, some of the characters have been used for half a century or more. To avoid everyone getting old during this time, Marvel uses a sliding time scale. So Tony Stark is always an adult in the currently published comics, although this has been the case for decades. The timescale collapses when you have fixed reference points on this timescale.
The Second World War is one of these reference points. The universal meaning of Captain America and the plethora of fictions that have been written around him are causing problems. In the real world, World War II was ~ 70 years ago and growing. A character written as a child in the 1960s by someone connected to WWII makes perfect sense at the time. But over the decades that connection to World War II makes less and less sense in the real world as the character's personal timeline is dragged from the 60s into the future, while the WWII connection is constantly linked to the real World War II.
This is what happened to Tony and Howard Stark. Tony is Howard's child and this was founded decades ago. In Tony's personal story, his accident that led to his creation of the first Iron Man suit has been updated over the years:
The authors have updated the war and the locale where Stark is hurt. In the original 1963 story, it was the Vietnam War. In the 1990s it was updated as the first Gulf War  and later again as the war in Afghanistan. Stark's time with the Asian Nobel Prize-winning scientist Ho Yinsen, however, is consistent across almost all incarnations of Iron Man's origins, showing Stark and Yinsen working together to build the original armor.
However, they haven't changed Howard and Tony's father-son relationship. They could have brought Howard forward in time, used him as the government's defense firm during the Cold War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, and so on. However, this means that he would no longer be linked to the origins of Captain America. Alternatively, they could make him Tony's grandfather again and introduce a new father for Tony. Instead of changing the continuity in any way to fix this, Marvel let the problem solidify.
Thaddeus Howze ♦
Thaddeus Howze ♦
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