spider-man in iron man 2

Back in 2010, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still an ambitious experiment somehow surviving the dire Iron Man 2 and Spider-Man was caught in a limbo between Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man. Despite their shared origins, these two franchises were never going to intersect. Sony owned Spidey and Marvel Studios was its own thing. The deal that would bring both companies together was still years, and a few poorly received Spider-Man movies, away.

That didn’t stop fans from fantasizing, though. Surely Spider-Man was somewhere to be found in the burgeoning MCU. One fan theory even suggested that a young Peter Parker showed up in the climax of Iron Man 2. And now, with Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man now a full-fledged member of the MCU, that theory has been confirmed! With a caveat.

Here’s how it all fits together. In the climax of Iron Man 2, Tony Stark does battle with an army of killer robotic drones across the Stark Expo. On the ground, a young kid wearing an Iron Man costume stares down a drone, facing certain death, only to be rescued at the last moment by Tony himself. He even gives his young buddy credit for scene, quipping “Nice work, kid!” before flying away. And despite there being no evidence to actually suggest it, people starting wondering if this kid was Peter Parker. After all, the expo is held in Queens (the New York City borough Spidey calls home) and this kid is obviously science-obsessed enough to attend. Of course a young, brainy denizen of Queens named Peter Parker would attend the Stark Expo, right?

Still, the only thing powering this theory at the time was an optimistic hope that Spider-Man would one day brush shoulders with Iron Man on the big screen. And then Spidey showed up in Captain America: Civil War and got his own solo adventure with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Now, Tom Holland himself says that yes, that little kid from Iron Man 2 is Peter Parker. Here’s the quote (via ScreenCrush):

I can confirm that as of today. I literally had a conversation with 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.

Let’s be honest with ourselves here: it’s awfully unlikely that everyone who made Iron Man 2 actually set out to lay a Peter Parker Easter egg. What’s more likely is that everyone at Marvel Studios heard this fan rumor, found it amusing, and decided to retcon it into canon because it helps make the MCU even more cohesive. Luckily, it does line up perfectly. Six years passed between Iron Man 2 and Captain America: Civil War, giving that little kid at the Stark Expo enough time to age into the 15-year old nerd who suits up for that big brawl at the airport.

Spider-Man: Homecoming opens on July 7, 2017.

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