Every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is chock full of Easter Eggs, references, and subtle connections to other films in the franchise… but perhaps no allusion was more subtle than the recently-revealed Spider-Man cameo in Iron Man 2. The cameo was confirmed by none other than Tom Holland himself, the 21-year-old Brit who debuted as the MCU's version of the webslinger in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, and who spilled the beans in a recent interview with The Huffington Post. While moviegoers might have thought that Civil War signified Spidey's induction into the MCU, Holland insists that that's not actually the case.
"I can confirm that that is Peter Parker," the actor said when asked by HuffPo about the fan theory. "I literally had a conversation with [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige only 20 minutes ago. Maybe I've just done a big, old spoiler, but it's out there now. It's cool. I like the idea that Peter Parker has been in the universe since the beginning."
But where exactly in Iron Man 2 the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man appear, you may be wondering? The scene in question comes during the film's climax, when Justin Hammer's drones are invading the Stark Expo and trying to take out Tony Stark. In the chaos, a little boy in an Iron Man mask steps up to confront one of the imposing drones; just as it begins to target the pint-sized hero, the real Iron Man lands behind the boy and blasts the drone away. "Nice work, kid," Tony quips before flying away to take on more of the mindless machines.
A half-serious fan theory took root that the kid in question was none other than a young Peter Parker. And in fact, the theory does make a certain amount of sense — and there's plenty of evidence to support it. Peter is supposed to be 15 in 2016's Civil War, which would have made the character about nine years old in 2010's Iron Man 2. The Stark Expo was taking place in Queens, which is Peter's hometown. The kid seems to be wearing a glowing device on his hand to mimic Iron man's armor, perhaps pointing towards the child prodigy's burgeoning technological prowess. And, as viewers know from the characters' interactions in Civil War, Peter Parker is a huge Tony Stark fan. If that's not enough evidence, you can now add Holland's word to the list.
Of course, given the fact that Marvel Studios wouldn't get the rights to use Spider-Man in their films from Sony until the studios struck a deal in early 2015, this whole things smells a bit like a retcon. (If you're not familiar with the term, "retcon" is short for "retroactive continuity," and it signifies when a film franchise or a television series adds significance to a past event after the fact in order to tie it into a current storyline.) But if Spider-Man's cameo in the Iron Man sequel is a retcon… well, it's a particularly clever one, and one that adds a surprising amount of pathos to the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Knowing that Peter Parker was an avid Iron Man fan since he was knee-high on Stark's armor lends even more resonance to the relationship between Peter and Tony, which will be on full display in Homecoming. While Civil War established a warm mentor-mentee relationship between the established superhero and the wannabe Avenger, the Homecoming trailers tease a growing level of tension between the former teammates.
Tony seems to be becoming something of a surrogate father for Peter after the death of Uncle Ben — a role that the billionaire has little time or patience for. And Peter's desperation to prove himself to his idol looks like it will push him into increasingly precarious situations. Knowing that their history stretches back even farther than we already knew just makes the interplay between them that much richer.
It's unclear as of yet whether the Iron Man 2 cameo will remain an Easter Egg for fans to enjoy during their many MCU re-watches, or whether the long-ago interaction between Peter and Tony will actually be a plot point during the events of Homecoming itself — perhaps in a flashback to the actual scene itself.
So apparently, this kid in Iron Man 2 is Peter Parker.... pic.twitter.com/bWheFRWqE1— Dark Bunny Tees (@DarkBunnyTees) June 26, 2017
But given that Kevin Feige is confirming the connection and talking to his actors about it teases the possibility that this history between Iron Man and Spider-Man may very well be explored when they share the screen together this July.