At this point, it’s getting rather hard to imagine a Marvel Cinematic Universe without Robert Downey Jr. Since he first debuted as Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, the fan favorite actor has remained a permanent fixture in this landscape, extending beyond team-up films into projects such as Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Now, it’s quite obvious that old Shellhead was added to the movie in order to spell out to the average moviegoer that Spidey’s latest solo outing does, in fact, take place within the MCU – in addition to no doubt increasing ticket sales – but we have to admit that his inclusion actually does feel organic at that point. After all, the two characters already established a rapport in Captain America: Civil War, thus we expect that to continue in subsequent flicks.
That said, director Jon Watts stated that Stark was always intended to play a key role when speaking with Den of Geek:
“Yeah, exactly. He was always a part of it. That was always a big part, the idea of him being this reluctant mentor – or the unintentional mentor – to Peter. Like, just sort of the grand ambition to be like that someday.”
This contradicts a statement he made not too long ago that said Nick Fury was originally going to serve that role, but I guess he could argue semantics by saying the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. was mentioned before the screenplay was written. Still, his followup comments make sense when compounded with Earth’s Mightiest Retcon, which inserted a young Peter Parker into the third act of Iron Man 2:
“Because if you think about it, now that Spider-Man is in the Marvel universe, that means that Peter Parker was probably like eight years old when he saw Tony on TV telling the world he’s Iron Man,” said the director. “And when you start thinking about it as a whole world like that, it gets really fascinating. You know?”
“And now the most famous person in the world has picked Peter Parker and taken him on this crazy adventure, and now dropped him back off and gone to deal with his own thing. And here’s Peter, left in his bedroom, you know, having had the greatest experience of his life, and not being able to tell anyone about it. That would be crazy!”
Spider-Man: Homecoming opens in theaters this Friday, July 7.