Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is the Uncle Ben figure for Tom Holland's Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The inaugural hero of the MCU ushered in the introduction of the web-slinging hero in the franchise. Stark recruited Peter during the events of Captain America: Civil War, and while his debut could've come at better circumstances, it also paved the way for one of the most special relationships in the franchise. Since Spider-Man's debut in 2016, Marvel Studios continued to develop his dynamic with Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming. By the time Avengers: Infinity War rolled in, the genius, billionaire had embraced his role as a mentor, so much so that he was willing to risk it all to bring back Peter in Avengers: Endgame after dying due to Thanos' (Josh Brolin) snap.
Now, the MCU is an entirely different space and time without Stark in it. Spider-Man: Far From Home tackles this head on by looking at the situation from Peter's perspective. Considering the significance of Iron Man's life and eventual death to the young hero, it's not difficult to see the parallel between him and Uncle Ben, whose death is an integral part of the classic Spider-Man origin story. Even Holland himself acknowledges the similarities.
Speaking with UPROXX while doing the press rounds for Far From Home, Holland was asked what his thoughts are about the comparison between Tony Stark and Uncle Ben in terms of his version of Spider-Man. The actor agrees on the parallel especially given how Iron Man's death's effect on the character. He adds that Peter's loss makes the perfect time to introduce a new mentor in Mysterio.
I think he probably was. I think he probably was, you know? I think he was very, very much took on the mantle as his father figure, and losing him is a huge blow to Peter Parker obviously. And that’s what’s so nice about Mysterio kind of flying in is that he can fill those shoes a little bit and be Peter Parker’s mentor and his big brother at the same time.
Marvel Studios opted to skip re-telling Spider-Man's origin story when they introduced their version of the character although that story remained intact. Peter has implied about the death of Uncle Ben a handful of times although it hasn't been bluntly tackled. And from the looks of Far From Home, it seems like Stark's death will have more impact on how he operates as both Peter and his superhero alter-ego than his traditional mentor. This understandably doesn't sit well with comic book purists who want the character's conventional narrative play out on the big screen.
The thing about Marvel Studios' approach with Spider-Man is they tend to mix things up with their characters. Zendaya's MJ for example is obviously inspired by Peter's love interest, but she's very much her own character in the movie. The same can be said with Vulture (Michael Keaton) and even Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). And yet, despite some tweaks, they still serve the same purpose in terms of storytelling. So while Tony somehow becomes the Uncle Ben figure in the MCU, that doesn't take away the fact that Peter became a hero because the death of his original mentor. Whether or not the MCU will fully tackle that moving forward is another conversation. But in the service of what's been established in the MCU, it makes sense that Iron Man's death affects his mentee deeply reminiscent of how past incarnations of the character were impacted by Uncle Ben's demise.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019