Could RDJ’s Iron Man ever return to the MCU? With the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, there has been a lot of hype. The movie brought together three different eras of Spider-Man adventures on the big screen to create one grand, wall-crawling saga. Ever since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the MCU’s NWH broke barriers both within and outside the MCU.
There is no better way to pay homage to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man legacy than with a look at the character’s possible future on the big screen, as demonstrated by No Way Home. For the first time in his MCU career, Tom Holland’s web-slinger is on his own, relying solely on his mentor Tony Stark, RDJ’s Iron Man.
In addition to his first love, mentor, and maternal figure in Aunt May, Holland’s Marvel hero has lost quite a lot. While Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield have been guiding the young hero, fans have been wondering “why didn’t RDJ make an appearance to assist the young hero?”
It appears that the search for a specific superpower has finally found an answer.
Chris McKenna, the Spider-Man: No Way Home writer, appeared on an episode of The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith to explain why RDJ’s Iron Man didn’t return during the Multiverse shenanigans in the film.
When Goldsmith brought up the idea to Chris Mckenna, he was told that such a return was “an out in the halls of Marvel.” As they were writing the script, the writing team realized that Stark wasn’t “Uncle Ben” to this Peter Parker, despite the fact that he served as “a father figure.”
“Honestly, that’s like a non-starter in the halls of Marvel, at least in our experience. They just don’t really like constantly invoking… I mean, Tony cast such a large shadow even after Endgame, which we dealt with in Far From Home. But I think everyone felt like we can’t just keep on going to the Tony well. And I think what we started realizing as we were writing this is that he wasn’t the Uncle Ben. I mean, he was a father figure. There was a bond between them. In Endgame he even has a photo of Peter and it seems to be the final moral impetus to have him risk everything to try to reset the balance of the universe.”
Uncle Ben for Holland’s web-slinging hero; this realization led to Aunt May. “The moral impetus, the guidepost of [this Peter’s] life is May,” Chris McKenna said of the film’s goal to tell a “different story for Peter Parker.” That’s what the film was ultimately about, he says.
Is it possible for [Peter’s] new self to “truly live up” to the code that May has instilled within him?
“But I think in writing this we started realizing that we had an opportunity here to tell a different story for Peter Parker that by the end of this movie, maybe, is a different origin story than everyone else has assumed up to this point. And I don’t think having Tony there would have done anything. I think we start realizing that the moral impetus, the guide post of his life is May. And that for the first time he is tested about whether he can actually truly live up to this code that she’s instilled in him. That is what this Peter Parker story is all about.”
The idea of bringing back Tony Stark, even in the form of a Multiversal cameo, is currently a “non-starter” at Marvel, but it was still a wise decision not to have the original MCU figurehead appear. There’s no way that they could have included him in No Way Home if they had the chance because it would have detracted from the story.
This was the origin of Spider-Man, something fans were unaware of prior to this latest outing. “Oh, okay, now he’s Spider-Man,” he thought. Because this was a Spider-Man movie from start to finish, the inclusion of RDJ’s Iron Man would have diluted the personal story being told.
Yes, Garfield and Maguire’s appearances made sense, but that was a completely different experience. Neither of these characters was a mystery to anyone. Like Spider-Man, they were and are. Also, they were necessary for helping Peter in this incarnation realize this for himself.
To get to NWH, the young Avenger’s hero had suffered a great deal in his MCU career thus far. However, the Spidey prequel’s emotional impact on Holland was perhaps greater than any other. This Peter has already lost his mentor in Tony Stark. However, Tony acted on his own initiative in making that decision. Tony gave his life for the greater good. He did so in part because he cared so much about Peter.
In No Way Home, the protagonist must deal with the loss of his maternal figure, Aunt May. There was absolutely no choice in the matter. In this version of Peter’s story, this was the pivotal moment. Ultimately, without May’s death and the thought of no one returning to help, he had to make the heartbreaking decision of having everyone forget who he was.
The death of May and Peter’s decision to end the film would have been significantly lessened if Tony had shown up at that time or earlier. Tony’s omission from the film was probably a wise decision, as it would have been fun to see Holland and RDJ back on the big screen together again.