Officially, Peter Parker (and Spider-Man) didn’t join the Marvel Cinematic Universe until his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, but Tom Holland confirmed a longstanding fan theory about a much earlier Peter Parker cameo.
In Iron Man 2, a young boy in an Iron Man mask is face-to-face with a Hammer Drone. It “recognized” Iron Man, and they’re both prepared to shoot before the actual Iron Man swoops in and destroys the Hammer Drone.
“Nice work, kid,” Tony Stark told him before flying away.
It was a throwaway scene, for the most part, and we don’t return to it. However, it led some to theorize that the “cameo” of the mini-Iron Man was none other than Peter Parker.
The theory dates back at least a year and has some evidence behind it. For one, the Stark Expo took place in Queens—Peter’s home turf—and Peter is a big ‘ol Iron Man fanboy. Peter is about 15 or 16 in Civil War, so he would’ve been around 8-10 when Iron Man 2 was released. For the most part, MCU films take place present-day.
Now on the press tour for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Holland confirmed that theory in an interview with Comicbook.com, and he even talked to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige about it.
“I can confirm that as of today,” Holland said. “I literally had a conversation with Kevin Feige only 20 minutes ago. Maybe I’ve just done a big, old spoiler, but it’s out there now. It’s cool. I like the idea that Peter Parker has been in the universe since the beginning.”
Of course, Peter’s cameo in the MCU fits into a nice clean box, and it’s definitely cool that now Peter was always there. But it’s likely more of an afterthought than something that’d been planned this whole time. Iron Man 2 came out in 2010, which was three years after Spider-Man 3 and two years before Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man films were released. Spider-Man was owned by Sony, so Marvel couldn’t have touched him then. It’s only because of a special deal between Marvel and Sony that Holland’s Spider-Man is even part of the MCU in the first place.
But now that it’s part of the canon, we can point back to this particular instance to demonstrate how in the face of danger Peter was always willing to stand up for what’s right long before he ever became a superhero.