Sure, there were a lot of problems to fix, and most of them would take more than one lifetime to complete, but Tony wasn't worried. A trademark smirk here, a rolling of eyes there, and the world turned its back and let him do what he pleased. No one in the tower even bothered to notice, too focused on petty villains and idiots whose egos were big enough to make them think they could take on a team of superheroes by themselves. Tony wasn't that stupid. Take them out, one by one, until the world notices too late that it just might be the asshole Tony Stark behind it all. Phones and computers were easy to get into when you were the one who designed almost all of them. People were harder, fickle and unpredictable. Tony didn't gamble, didn't feel safe until he knew what all the possible outcomes were, and wouldn't do anything until and variable was either under his control, or destroyed entirely.

The world mourned the death of Black Widow, an unfortunate accident when the building wasn't as stable as it looked. A piece of rubble, and she was dead. No saving her. Tony paid for the entire funeral, and anyone who'd known her as Natasha in any capacity came. Steve spoke, eyes wide and either so empty they looked right through you, or so full of emotion you couldn't look at them. Tony let himself smile in the lab, the world mourning its loss, but what was one hero? Surely the Avengers could keep protecting them all, even down a man.

Tony knew she had to go first, or the entire thing would never work. She was a little to smart, a little to perceptive. Although, considering she'd blindly believed him when he told her the building was steady, maybe not. Steve has even given him a pep talk, telling him how it wasn't his fault. Tony has nearly burst into laughter, biting the inside of his lip to stop himself. But the fact that Steve knew presented an issue.

Tony has planned to do this faster, but that wouldn't work. One time was a tragic accident. Twice in a row was an issue, and anything more than that was a very bad pattern for anyone to notice. It was now or never if he wanted to move forward, to save the world.

They thanked him at first, Tony Stark, the most generous man on the planet, who gave the world clean energy with the flick of his wrist. The oil and coal companies fought him at first, but Tony knew they'd be taken down easily. If you could rally everyone behind someone, you'd always lose someone along the way, someone who questioned the leader just a little too loudly. But if you rallied them against someone? Well, people loved to fight for what they get told is the right thing. Tony just had to point them in the right direction, to get the word out about how they controlled the world, that they were the real villains. Then he could sit back and watch, laugh in the lab as people claimed their freedom, declaring it loudly, while under the direction from a man who planned to take the downed ruler's place.

The problem, Tony figured, with ruling the world was sustainability. You could take it over easily, clearly. But the issue was always squashing rebellions without causing another two to pop up, stronger than the last. There were always anarchists, people who wanted no part of society as a whole. But those people were much easier to shut up than the people who questioned the leader. Every ruler gets overthrown at some point, even the loved ones. The solution, then, is not to rule the world. But that doesn't work with his plan.

The next to go had nothing to do with Tony, ironically. While fighting robots downtown, poor Falcon hit a building just a little to hard. Tony actually felt a little bad for the guy, who never really asked for any of this. By the time medical had arrived, he was too far gone. Tony paid for the funeral again, and did his best to act aloof, but breaking on the inside. Steve was a mess, two members down so close after one another. Bucky tried to comfort him, but both soldiers were broken for months. Tony stayed out of the public eye, and the world cried out for a man they never knew personally.

If the solution to rule the world is not to rule the world, then the problem gets stuck. But there could be another answer. A figurehead was a lot easier to blame, rather than the puppet master. The puppet was seen, heard, either hated or loved. The puppet master was a shadow, sitting behind the stage. But even the stage had to decay after a while. The solution was temporary, but useful to think about. But who made a good enough puppet?