It Turns Out that Peter Parker Was in the MCU Since 2010

Of all of Marvel’s expansive roster of superheroes, few have had the same, fanatical, lasting appeal as Spider-Man.  The character’s initial debut — which was only meant to be an open-and-shut one-shot story — was so instantly popular that it immediately spun off into its own series despite the comic it debuted in, Amazing Fantasy, getting canceled in the interim.  Since then, it has been the subject of more cartoons, movies, reboots and spin-offs than any other Marvel franchise.

The character’s cinematic debut in 2002 helped launch the current age of superhero blockbusters that persists as the norm for Hollywood even today.  His return to Marvel Studios — and subsequent reintroduction in Captain America: Civil War — was celebrated the world over, with many fans calling the handful of scenes the character appeared in the best of the entire movie.  Now we stand a mere week away from his first solo movie in the longstanding Marvel Cinematic Universe: the aptly-named Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Understandable, given both the character’s persistent popularity, rumor and intrigue has surrounded his first solo movie since 2012’s disastrous Amazing Spider-Man 2.  Sony has used this time to announce several spinoff projects of its own, reveal key voice actors for his upcoming animated movie and even wholesale claim that their already suspect side projects for the franchise were going to be MCU canon (spoiler alert: they’re not).

Most of these range from the usual sort of prerelease hype to the lamentable ambitions of Sony for the property, neither of which are particularly interesting nor relevant to the new movie.  One choice bit of news, however, has taken the Spider fandom by storm.

Spider-Man actor Tom Holland announced during a recent press junket that Civil War wasn’t Parker’s first appearance in the MCU.  The character actually had a secret cameo years back that not only cements his connection to the greater goings-on of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but explains his particular fascination with Iron Man in particular.

The character, as it turns out, appeared way back in Iron Man 2: a full six years before his supposed debut last year.  During Whiplash’s drone strike at the Stark Expo in the film’s climax, Tony Stark is scrambling across the compound in a madcap attempt to save civilians and take down the remote controlled death suits causing pandemonium in the heart of the city.  One of the drones locks onto a small child in the middle of the scattering crowd; fixating on the boy’s Iron Man mask, he stomps over to take down the man he was programmed to kill.

The boy raises a red-gloved hand, clearly imitating his hero’s repulsor blasts, oblivious to the very real danger that the two thousand pounds of stomping death bearing down on him poses.  But Iron Man jumps in behind him, shoots the drone with his actual repulsors, and tells him “nice work kid” before flying off to the next rampaging robot.

That’s Peter Parker: the young boy wanting nothing more than to imitate the 21st Century’s first superhero, only to be saved by him against certain death.  It’s hard to tell exactly what age the child was behind the mask, and Phase 1’s compressed timeline makes it a little uncertain exactly when the movie takes place, but it all seems to fit.  The kid appears to be the right age to have grown into the baby-faced Spider-Man by the time Civil War and Homecoming rolled around.

When asked about the subject, Holland stated:

I can confirm that, that is Peter Parker. 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.

It might be a little thing, but I love this retroactive Easter Egg more than most of Marvel’s world-developing post-credit scenes.  It’s honestly up there with “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers initiative” and our first look at the Afro-futurist nation of Wakanda, and I am ecstatic about how it might come up in future movies.

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