That Silent Cameo At The End Of 'Endgame' Was So Much More Important Than You Realized

Marvel Studios

Major Avengers: Endgame spoilers ahead. The victory at the end of Endgame wasn't without its casualties. Black Widow sacrificed herself long before the final battle with Thanos and his armies from the past. Iron Man stuck it out for most of the movie, perishing after getting a hold of the gauntlet the Avengers fashioned with the stones and snapping Thanos and company out of existence. Because of his service, friendship, and the influence that he's had on the MCU over the years, just about everyone gathers to pay their respects. While you probably instantly recognized most of the mourners, the teenage boy at Tony Stark's funeral may not have made much sense to you.

We haven't seen him in this universe since 2013, but the mystery man had a special friendship with the lost Avenger. In Endgame, Ty Simpkins reprises his role from Iron Man 3. Yes, that boy is the grown up version of Harley Keener, who stumbled upon Tony Stark attempting to repair his metal suit in Harley's garage. After almost attacking him with a potato gun, Harley and Tony forge a tentative bond that provides some of the movie's most heartwarming and funny moments. You remember this cutie:

Harley lives with his mother and sister, and he latches onto Tony not just because Tony is a cool tech genius who dropped into his life, but because he's missing his absent dad. Though Tony can't take Harley with him to follow the path of destruction left behind by the military's use of the Extremis treatment, the kid won't leave him alone. And thank goodness for that, because it's a call from Harley that gets Tony out of a tight spot. Shown to have been experiencing PTSD symptoms early in the film, he has an ill-timed panic attack that Harley helps him get through by reminding him that, when it all comes down to it, he's just a guy who fixes things.

At the end of the movie, Harley comes home to find every inch of his garage filled with machinery and tech gear from Stark Industries, courtesy of his new friend, the Mechanic.

Over his past few movies, Tony has become more and more attached to the idea of fatherhood. His relationship with Peter Parker is sweet, paternal, and launched many memes. In Infinity War, he's dropping some very direct hints to Pepper that they should have a baby. And, of course, in Endgame, he's a devoted dad to little Morgan. His friendship with Harley may have jumpstarted that part of his character. So his appearance at the funeral is meaningful, even though Harley doesn't have a single line.

As for Simpkins, he's been acting regularly since Iron Man 3, and had tons of roles before that too. In 2015, he played Gray in Jurassic World, teaming up with Robert Downey Jr.'s MCU costar Chris Pratt, and showed up in 2016's The Nice Guys. He's also in the cast of the British miniseries Chimerica, premiering this year. Per his Instagram, he acted in a recent Burbank production of Cabaret.

In an Instagram post about the Endgame premiere, Simpkins wrote:

"Had a blast at the Endgame premiere! Love catching up with some old friends! I’m happy this movie finishes this chapter of the marvel saga. To be a part of this universe. The past 10 years of my life have been a joy. Even though I joined the party late everyone there treated me like I’ve been there since Iron Man in 2008. I’m so excited to see where the MCU is going in the future. Here’s to the last 10 years and to 10 more. #avengersendgame#dontspoiltheendgame

There's a lot to unpack in this split-second cameo, but, above all, Harley's appearance is a reminder of how many lives Tony Stark — and Iron Man — really touched.