One of the many reasons fans are excited to see this summer's Captain America: Civil War is that it marks the introduction of a Spider-Man that's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Played by Tom Holland, the wall-crawler has been praised as one of the film's highlights, increasing anticipation for his solo vehicle, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Plot details for the 2017 movie are scarce right now, but it was recently confirmed that Robert Downey, Jr. would be reprising his famous Tony Stark role in Homecoming, setting up the possibility Spider-Man teams up with Iron Man to stop some kind of threat.
In Civil War, Spidey is a member of Team Iron Man, recruited by Stark specifically because he's the "greatest non-lethal weapon" available for the conflict. Given Peter and Tony's science backgrounds, a potential mentor/mentee relationship between the two is being established in the films, an intriguing angle that moviegoers - including Captain America 3 co-director Joe Russo - can't wait to see developed further.
Speaking with IGN, Russo was asked if he wanted to see the dynamic of the two characters be fleshed out in later films, saying that he's excited to see where things go thanks to the partnership between Marvel Studios and Sony:
"Absolutely, and it's going to. I think Downey is officially signed on now to Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I think that's what so fun about it. That's what's different in terms of this interpretation of Spider-Man. Two things: one, is that we cast an actor who is very close in age to a high schooler. Tom is really the first young actor to portray the part, and he has an incredible vulnerability and a certain confidence married together that create this very youthful and exciting character. Two, the other thing that's compelling is he's now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he can interact with the characters in that universe. I think that this mentor relationship that Tony has developed with Peter Parker is probably one of the most interesting things the universe has moving forward."
Unlike the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield iterations, Marvel intends to keep Tom Holland's Spider-Man in high school for the foreseeable future, growing Peter over time. With that in mind, it wouldn't be surprising if Parker (who has already lost Uncle Ben at this point) viewed Stark as a father figure and/or role model, looking towards him for guidance as he tries to balance his personal life with the responsibilities of being a superhero. This would also be a fun new aspect for Downey to explore, forcing him to shed the carefree rock star persona that defines Tony Stark as he's thrust into the part of a surrogate guardian of sorts. Perhaps this is part of the "wonderful expansion" for Iron Man Jon Favreau was referring to when he offered praise for Civil War.
Opportunities like this is why it was such a big deal for Peter Parker to be brought into the MCU. Sony's solo Spider-Man films all had their merits (and Sam Raimi's work was monumental for the comic book genre), but there's no denying they were limited by rights restrictions. Now with Your Friendly Neighborhood and the full roster of memorable supporting characters all at Marvel's disposal, the possibilities for fun and entertaining stories are endless. Just like in the comics, Spider-Man can work with other heroes from time to time, and the franchise may be better for it. As the contracts of some of the original Avengers start to expire, Marvel will need a familiar face to carry the MCU through Phase 4 and beyond. They don't get more familiar than Spider-Man.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.