Director Jon Watts initially thought Nick Fury would have Iron Man's role in Spider-Man: Homecoming as Peter's mentor. Right from the start of Peter Parker's introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, has been there. It was he who took Spider-Man away from his homework to fight in a mega battle in Germany, and right at that moment a new relationship was formed between the two. This is why it was a no-brainer to include Iron Man in Homecoming as the mentor/father figure every young hero needs.
But he was not always the choice to appear. It's already been confirmed that Iron Man won't be the MCU hero to appear in the sequel, but maybe that could've been possible if things had gone differently with the first. As it turns out the director initially wanted Nick Fury in this role.
io9 spoke to Watts about how he crafted his first blockbuster. Most of this particular article covers the balancing act between Peter making his own legacy as a scientist, as opposed to Iron Man providing him with his gadgets and suits. While it appears as though Watts and the writers found a way to make it work, the director initially imagined Samuel L. Jackson appearing alongside Tom Holland instead of Robert Downey Jr. Here's the excerpt from io9:
Interestingly, while Tony was the obvious choice, especially after the events of Civil War, Watts created images of Nick Fury as the mentor in the story in early “mood reels” before getting the job. “I don’t know what the situation would be,” he said. “But that would be a person he’d want to get in trouble with.”
It sounds as though this concept was what Watts was pitching to Sony and Marvel Studios to get hired, but was ultimately changed once he was officially brought onboard. With the chemistry between Downey and Holland being an instant hit in Captain America: Civil War, it would've been strange to see Fury take on this role instead of Stark. That said, it could further show how limited Iron Man's screen time will be - despite him being all over the marketing.
Neither Fury or Stark are perfect mentors, but both appear to be pretty good at it. Even though the majority of the population has yet to see Homecoming, Spider-Man's continued involvement in the MCU and the growth he experiences will all be the result of Stark's mentorship, for better or worse. Fury meanwhile kept Stark afloat in Iron Man 2 and has served as a default mentor to the Avengers due to his role in them coming together. Even though we'll never know how great of a fit he'd be in Homecoming in Iron Man's role, audiences will hopefully not have to wait too long to see the two interact.
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