Spider-Man: Far From Home turned Happy Hogan into a better Uncle Ben-figure than Tony Stark was for Peter Parker. Since the wall-crawler joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many of his classic comic book tropes (which were hallmarks of Sam Raimi and Marc Webb's Spider-Man movies) were abandoned in order to create a Spider-Man who was very specific to the MCU. Uncle Ben was left on the wayside; he certainly existed and died in the past but his influence on Peter's life as Spider-Man has been minimal. Instead, Peter has modeled himself after his mentor Tony Stark, who died to save the world in Avengers: Endgame.
Meanwhile, Happy Hogan has been part of the MCU since the very beginning; he appeared in Iron Man as Tony's chauffeur and bodyguard, but his duties largely became unnecessary when Tony turned himself into a world-famous superhero who wears a technologically advanced suit of armor. Since Jon Favreau also directed the first two Iron Man movies, it was understandable why he kept Happy as a comic relief background character; while James Rhodes got to become War Machine and join Tony as an Avenger, Happy stayed behind with Pepper Potts as the Head of Security for Stark Industries.
However, Happy's depth of character really began to shine in Spider-Man: Homecoming when Tony gave him a crucial assignment: "Watch over the kid", i.e. be Peter Parker's liaison to Tony Stark. Happy openly resented being a babysitter to a 15-year-old but he did what he was told to do and escorted the kid to Germany during Captain America: Civil War. in Homecoming, Happy took the job of moving the Avengers' equipment out of Avengers Tower into the new Compound upstate more seriously than the constant stream of text updates Peter would barrage him with. But after Spider-Man stopped the Vulture from stealing the Avengers' technology - thereby saving Happy's job - Hogan came to admire Peter as much as Tony did. This really set the stage for what Happy Hogan would transition into: he essentially became Peter's new Uncle Ben in Spider-Man: Far From Home and it's a role Happy is ideally suited for.
Many fans miss Uncle Ben's presence in Spider-Man's life since he was the one who instilled the credo "With great power comes great responsibility" into Peter - which is a crucial building block missing from the MCU's Spidey. Instead, Tony Stark slid into the Uncle Ben role; wanting to "impress Mr. Stark" in Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming was Peter's primary motivation. In Far From Home, fear of not being able to live up to Tony's legacy as "the next Iron Man" was partly why Peter insisted on remaining on vacation with his friends in Europe. But while Spider-Man benefits from Tony's technology, Stark himself was lacking as a mentor on a personal level. Despite his genuine affection for Peter, the only real life wisdom Tony ever shared with the kid was when he scolded him, "If you're nothing without the [Spider-Man] suit, then you shouldn't have it." After all, it was really Tony who was drawing inspiration from Peter because of his core of goodness and his "Bruce Springsteen working man's vibe I kinda dig".
But when Peter was at his most desperate in Far From Home, it was Happy he called for help and that felt right. Happy not only came to the rescue with Stark's plane and tech, but he also took the time to emotionally connect to Peter by shedding light on what "a mess" Tony really was and yet picking Peter to be his protege and successor was the one thing Tony didn't second-guess. This was the kick in the pants Peter needed to prevail and the crucial point is Happy encouraged Peter to be Spider-Man, not Iron Man. Happy then went the extra mile by personally helping Peter's friends survive Mysterio's evil plan. On an even more personal note, Happy is also in love with Aunt May, an affection she may not entirely reciprocate, but May and Happy is an exciting potential relationship for two supporting characters who both lost someone important to them and could benefit from personal happiness in their lives.
Ultimately, by dying, Tony Stark fulfilled the classic Uncle Ben role for Peter. But because the MCU continues to forge a new path for Spider-Man - especially now that his secret identity was made public in Spider-Man: Far From Home's end-credits scene - Happy Hogan is the Uncle Ben figure who will be there for Peter day-in-and-day-out.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019