Iron Man 3 often gets a lot of flak, but I’m a fan. The fan reaction to the Ben Kingsley Mandarin fake-out was hilarious, Stark dealing with the fallout of the Battle of New York made sense, and Shane Black’s buddy cop tone hit the right mood. Now one major element from the movie has finally made the leap from the MCU to Marvel Comics: boy genius Harley Keener.
Harley is the talented boy played by Ty Simpkins who Stark meets in Rose Hill, Tennessee. They build a friendship when Stark is at his lowest ebb, with Harley clearly reminding him of himself as a young engineer. Stark must have kept in touch, as the Russo Brothers took the time to include him in the Avengers: Endgame funeral scene. When asked about what Harley had been doing, Simpkins said:
“I like to think that they [maintained contact] and that Tony was still taking care of him, because for Harley that bond was super close and he was his kind of his only father figure.”
Now the character is a part of Marvel Comics. The new series W.E.B. of Spider-Man #1 focuses on an academy created by Tony Stark to encourage budding young geniuses. The issue sees Spider-Man invited to participate in this program, joining Wakandan child prodigy Onome, Lunella Lafayette (aka Moon Girl), Squirrel Girl, and Keener. We don’t learn too much about Keener in the comic, but the new version is also from Rose Hill and is described as a “friend of Tony Stark”.
He’s also not the first MCU character to transition to the regular Marvel Universe. Phil Coulson appeared in 2011 comic Battle Scars, looking similar to Clark Gregg’s live-action original. Stellan Skarsgård’s Erik Selvig has also popped up in the 616 continuity, as has Luis from Ant-Man.
Let’s hope we get some more backstory on Harley soon in the next few issues. One day he could fill the Iron Man-shaped vacancy in the MCU, though he’ll have stiff competition from Ironheart. But more on all that as it develops.