How Did Peter Parker Show Up in the MCU 6 Years Before 'Civil War'?

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' director Jon Watts did his research — and concluded a fan-favorite theory was true.
Courtesy of Marvel Studios
From left: Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland in 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'

Captain America: Civil War, it turns out, isn't the first time Peter Parker showed up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and fans have the viewing habits of Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts to thank for that.

Earlier this week, Tom Holland revealed that Peter Parker's first appearance came in 2010's Iron Man 2, as the small kid in the Iron Man mask who stares down a robot at the Stark Expo.

The theory, which has been floating around fan circles for some time, was confirmed by Holland, who said, "I literally had a conversation with [Marvel Studios head] 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."

For those wondering, in 2010, Spider-Man was between cinematic incarnations as a proposed fourth Sam Raimi-directed installment starring Tobey Maguire was in the midst of running aground and the Andrew Garfield era was still a couple of years away. But how did it actually happen? Watts revealed all to Uproxx, and the reality is that helmer was simply living the dream of countless fans around the world.

"I was watching all these other [Marvel] movies and being like, 'What if that little kid at the Stark Expo was Peter Parker? In the Iron Man mask,'" said Watts. "Like, he’d be about the right age for that. And he loves Tony Stark. 'Oh, what about after the Avengers battle, who would clean that stuff up?' Because they mention Damage Control at one point in the movie. So it’s this thing where, because it’s not completely figured out, that you can just go back and basically write fan fiction for those movies, then the fan fiction becomes reality. A lot of the Easter eggs in this movie just started by rewatching the movies."

It might seem outlandish for a Marvel director to talk about making fan fiction for the MCU, but couldn't the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe just be described as particularly expensive, beloved fan fiction for Marvel Comics in the first place? (Warner Bros.' Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is most definitely fan fiction inspired by Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, and I refuse to accept anything different.)

Now, if only someone could convince Watts to create fan fiction inspired by this comic storyline for the next movie…