Stern is a former U.S senator from Pennsylvania and a covert member of HYDRA. Using his position, Stern tried to convince the American people that Tony Stark was actually a threat to their safety and he should hand over his Iron Man armor in the wake of the attack of Whiplash, intending to use them for HYDRA. Stern even tried backing Justin Hammer to replace Stark's work, but this soon failed.
Following this, Stern continued his work with HYDRA, building a relationship with Jasper Sitwell, who was working for the group from within S.H.I.E.L.D.. However, when HYDRA was exposed by Captain America, Stern was soon arrested by the FBI, who had discovered his work with the terrorist organization.
Working with Thaddeus Ross
Six months after Tony Stark became the Iron Man, Stern had a meeting with Colonel James Rhodes of the United States Air Force, in which they discussed Stark's unpredictable behavior. Stern was frustrated over Iron Man's refusal to listen to the military's orders and introduced Rhodes to Thaddeus Ross. They hoped to send a message that the military doesn't need Iron Man, planning to replace him with the Aerodynamic Marvel, designed by Justin Hammer. However, this failed after the vehicle was shot down in enemy territory, forcing Iron Man to intervene.
Senate Armed Services Committee
Sometime later, Tony Stark was summoned to attend a Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C. in order to force him to give his technology to the United States government. Stern demanded that Stark surrender the Iron Man technology since it was deemed dangerous to the public and would be converted for military use. He also attempted to use James Rhodes' report to support his belief that Iron Man's freelance actions posed a threat.
Stark refused, claiming that foreign nations and business competitors were years away from successfully recreating his achievements, and that the armor was, in fact, his own property and not as dangerous as the shown footage proved to be. Instead, it was Justin Hammer who was attempting the same objective, which Stark revealed on the footage. Although Stern tried his best to forge through evidence and get the courts on his side, Stark outwitted him and won the case, causing indignant backlash from a defeated Stern, who cursed at him on live TV.
Dealings with Justin Hammer
Stern had a televised interview with MSNBC after Iron Man and Whiplash fought in Monaco, relaying how Stark was wrong about Arc Reactor technology being five to ten years away. Stark and Pepper Potts watched his interview as they flew home.
Stern later played golf with Justin Hammer, who had promised him an army of Hammer Drones from Hammer Industries. During their game however, Hammer called Ivan Vanko and learned that the Drones would be delayed.
Following the Battle at Stark Expo, Stern was forced to present Tony Stark and James Rhodes with their medals for bravery after they destroyed the rogue Hammer Drones and defeated Whiplash, much to his dismay, which Stark took pleasure to. Stern subtly retaliated against Stark by briefly pricking him with his medal.
Stern had a lunch meeting with Jasper Sitwell, who was a covert HYDRA member within S.H.I.E.L.D.. As their meeting came to a close, Stern and Sitwell discussed the former's plan to deal with a constituent, an aspiring reporter whom Stern valued solely for her physical attributes. As he was preparing to leave, Stern whispered, "Hail HYDRA" into Sitwell's ear.
Senator Stern is depicted as a run-of-the-mill corrupt politician. During the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing into the Iron Man armor, it is shown that he has no problem cherry-picking statements and imagery from Lt. Rhodes' Report, interrupting witnesses as they tried to contradict his claims, and ending the hearing early to save face after having his claims shot down by several witnesses and video evidence presented by Tony Stark.
He is depicted as an extremely unpleasant individual, who has a deep dislike of Tony Stark, even swearing at him during the Senate Hearing on Live TV. He also appears to have inappropriate relationships with young women from his Senate District who want to become reporters, using their ambition for sexual gratification.
- United States Capitol: As a US Senator, and the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Stern would have had an office in the Capitol among the Leadership Offices. He would also have had a larger set of offices for himself and his staffers in either the Hart or Russel Senate Office Buildings adjacent to the US Capitol proper.
- Stern is similar to Harrington Byrd from the comics, a US senator who was wary of Iron Man and testified against Stark in several congressional hearings.
Behind the Scenes
- According to Jon Favreau, Stern was named after Howard Stern, a radio personality who in turn was a big fan of Garry Shandling.