The best retcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to be putting Spider-Man into Iron Man 2. Marvel Studios acts as though the MCU is meticulously planned out, but there have been plenty of changes and retcons over the last decade of films. Their plans have ben publicly adjusted in obvious ways such as release dates moved around, new films being announced, some canceled or delayed, and the timeline more freely played with. This has led to some more background retcons, such as Captain Marvel being the first hero Nick Fury met, but the best one comes from Iron Man 2.
Following the success of Iron Man in 2008, Marvel sped their way through development to get Iron Man 2 moving as quickly as possible. They started figuring out the story as Jon Favreau's return as director was finalized and the sequel started filming in early 2009 with Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow returning as Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, while Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke headlined new additions to the cast - and Don Cheadle famously replaced Terrance Howard as Rhodey. The film hit theaters in May 2010 and was another hit for the studio, even if reviews weren't as kind this time around.
Related: Every MCU Movie Iron Man 2 Set Up
The biggest complaint that Iron Man 2 receives is how focused it is on universe building. Marvel needed to quickly pave the way for The Avengers and used Iron Man 2 to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Expanding S.H.I.E.L.D.'s role was a major priority, as it gave Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) more to do. It also had to introduce Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow so that she could be part of the Avengers roster two years later. There are several Easter eggs sprinkled throughout too, some that were obvious at the time and others that have only more recently been paid off (such as Wakanda in the final scene). Despite all of the planning, it is an unexpected connection that stands out above the rest: retconning Peter Parker into Iron Man 2.
- This Page: Peter Parker Is In Iron Man 2
- Page 2: How & Why Marvel Made The Spider-Man/Iron Man 2 Retcon
The Kid In Iron Man 2 Is Peter Parker
The climactic battle of Iron Man 2 takes place at Stark Expo on the night of Justin Hammer's presentation. Unbeknownst to him, Whiplash has spent his time reprograming Hammer's ripoffs the Iron Man suit to follow his every command and uses them to launch an attack on Iron Man once he crashes the presentation. This leads to these suits attacking Stark Expo and those that are in attendance. While trying to find a way to stop Whiplash, Iron Man must also take down all of his drones before they hurt any more civilians. In one of these instances, Iron Man swoops in and destroys a robot that is ready to kill a kid wearing an Iron Man mask. Tony blasts the bot and says, "Nice job kid," to the child he just saved. That kid was none other than Peter Parker.
This originally was just a theory that many fans had, but then Tom Holland confirmed it is now canon during the promotional tour for Spider-Man: Homecoming; the actor said studio head Kevin Feige approves. Even Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts got behind the idea, so the theory clearly found momentum at Marvel Studios. Of course, the retcon has yet to go beyond this verbal confirmation at this point, with no direct mention in the movies themselves. Of course, it could be something that is addressed moving forward, possibly in either Avengers: Endgame or Spider-Man: Far From Home later this year; but even if not, it's a very powerful idea.
How The Iron Man 2 Cameo Helps Spider-Man's MCU Arc
Although this small retcon may not seem like much at first, it actually strengthens Peter's arc in the MCU. When we were first properly introduced to Tom Holland's version of Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, he is starstruck when Tony Stark appears in his apartment. Yes, Tony Stark is one of the biggest celebrities and heroes in the MCU, but this suddenly becomes a more personal moment for Peter given their previous encounter. He's not just properly meeting a hero of the world, he's meeting the man who saved his life all those years ago.
It also further explains why Peter idolizes Tony Stark more than any other superhero; his chronologically first appearance instantly establishes that Peter is a giant Iron Man fan, wearing a toy mask of (presumably) his favorite superhero. This can even be taken a step further that Peter wants to be just like him even at a young age. Instead of running from the Hammer drone, Peter stands there and raises his arm to act as if he has all the power of Iron Man.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019