We all remember Harley Keener right? The quippy whiz kid first introduced to audiences in Iron Man 3? Well, Marvel certainly thinks we do, giving the character a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo at Tony Stark’s Funeral in Avengers: Endgame. Now, a new fan theory posits that Harley was meant to have a much, much larger role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward, but then along came a spider.
With Spider-Man: Far From Home now in theaters, we finally know that Marvel has set up Peter Parker as “the next Tony Stark.” Yet, Comicbook.com suggests that Harley Keener was originally created to become the Iron Lad and specifically fill this protégé role.
Released in the year between Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man and its much-maligned sequel, Iron Man 3 doubled down on Tony’s paranoia and fear of mortality in the wake of The Avengers. At the time, nobody expected Sony to hand back over the rights to one of their most prized franchises, so it makes sense that Marvel would create their own wise-cracking boy genius who could ascend the Iron mantle when Robert Downey Jr. eventually left. The Iron Man threequel even ends with Tony gifting Harley his own futuristic lab.
But then we didn’t hear from the character again – at least not until his Endgame appearance. Actor Ty Simpkins detailed his surprise cameo in an interview with ComicBook.com earlier this year, saying:
“It was so cool coming back. When they gave me the call that I was going to do it, I was freaking out and screaming in the car. At first it wasn’t confirmed that I was going to come back and I didn’t want to mess it up. So my mom was asking ‘What is it? What is it?’ and I couldn’t tell her!”
There are rumors floating around the web that Iron Lad could still pop up in a Young Avengers adaptation, but with Far From Home’s release, I think the character would need an entire revamp or otherwise feel redundant. Marvel could always give Riri Williams a shot, though – RDJ himself even agrees.
Tell us, do you think Harley Keener was originally supposed to become Iron Lad after Iron Man 3? And would you still like to see the character take up that mantle? Let us know in the comments section below!