Spider-Man: No Way Home is out in the world, and with it has come plenty of fanfare. The film brought together three generations of big-screen Spider-Man adventures for one ultimate wall-crawling epic. The MCU's Spidey threequel broke barriers both in-universe and out, becoming the biggest film since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic began back in March 2020.
No Way Home not only served as a celebration of Spider-Man/Peter Parker's past but also offered an exciting glimpse into what could be for this character's future on the big screen. Gone are the days of Tom Holland's web-slinger getting the help of his longtime mentor in Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, as this character is truly on his own for the first time in his MCU tenure.
Holland's Marvel hero has lost a lot, including his first love, his mentor, and his maternal figure in Aunt May. But with the Mutliversal barriers breaking down and the character receiving a guiding hand from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's web-heads, fans have been asking "why didn't RDJ make an appearance to help the young hero?"
Well, it seems like the world may finally have an answer to that specific superpower query.
Why No RDJ in No Way Home?
Appearing on an episode of The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, Spider-Man: No Way Home writer Chris McKenna broke down why Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark did not return during the Multiversal shenanigans found in the film.
The screenwriter told Goldsmith that a return like that is "a non-starter in the halls of Marvel." Despite Stark serving as "a father figure" for Tom Holland's Peter Parker, the writing team realized as they were penning the script that "[Tony] wasn't [this Peter's] Uncle Ben:"
"Honestly, that's like a non-starter in the halls of Marvel, at least in our experience. They just don't really like constantly invoking... I mean, Tony cast such a large shadow even after Endgame, which we dealt with in Far From Home. But I think everyone felt like we can't just keep on going to the Tony well. And I think what we started realizing as we were writing this is that he wasn't the Uncle Ben. I mean, he was a father figure. There was a bond between them. In Endgame he even has a photo of Peter and it seems to be the final moral impetus to have him risk everything to try to reset the balance of the universe.
This realization resulted in Aunt May serving as that Uncle Ben figure for Holland's web-slinging hero. McKenna said that they wanted to tell a "different story for Peter Parker" and that "the moral impetus, the guidepost of [this Peter's] life is May." He goes on to say that's what this film ultimately was about.
It's about this version of Peter "being tested about whether he can actually truly live up to this code that [May has} instilled in him:"
"But I think in writing this we started realizing that we had an opportunity here to tell a different story for Peter Parker that by the end of this movie, maybe, is a different origin story than everyone else has assumed up to this point. And I don't think having Tony there would have done anything. I think we start realizing that the moral impetus, the guide post of his life is May. And that for the first time he is tested about whether he can actually truly live up to this code that she's instilled in him. That is what this Peter Parker story is all about."
This Story Was About Spider-Man
While McKenna does mention that the idea of bringing back Tony Stark in any capacity - even by way of Multiversal cameo - is" a non-starter" right now at Marvel, it still was probably a smart choice not to have the original MCU figurehead make an appearance. Even if they had been afforded the opportunity to have him show up, it would have distracted from the story that was ultimately told in No Way Home.
What fans didn't know coming into this latest Spidey adventure was this was the origin. This was that moment of "Oh, okay, now he is Spider-Man." This was a Spider-Man movie through and through, which meant that dropping Iron Man into the fray would have only distracted from the personal story that was being told.
Yes, cameos from Garfield and Maguire made sense, but that was something totally different. These were two characters that already knew who they were. They were/are Spider-Man. And they needed to be there to help this version of Peter (Holland) realize this himself.
Holland's hero had lost a lot in his MCU tenure leading up to No Way Home, but the Spidey threequel arguably packed the biggest punch for the young Avenger, or at least the most personal. This Peter has already lost his mentor in Tony Stark, but that was at Tony's own behest. Tony sacrificed himself for the rest of the universe and, in part, did so specifically for Peter.
In No Way Home, Holland's hero has to come to grips with his maternal figure Aunt May being taken from him. There was no choice in this at all. It was this moment that changed this version of Peter's trajectory significantly. And ultimately, without the death of May, and the idea of no one returning to help, he had to make the heartbreaking decision of having the entire world forget who he was.
If Tony had shown up at that moment, or anytime before, it would have significantly lessened the impact of May's death and Peter's decision to conclude the film. It would have been fun to have seen Holland and RDJ back on screen together one more time, but it was likely the smart decision to exclude Tony from the film in every way.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is in theaters worldwide now.