Since Tom Holland became Spider-Man, the MCU has been consistently hesitant to reference Peter Parker's Uncle Ben, the man who - in most iterations of the character - served as the wall-crawler's heroic inspiration. The emission of Peter's famous uncle has long been a point of controversy among fans as Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark aka Iron Man filled the parental inspiration role in his place, leading to the infamous Iron Boy Jr debacle.
Nonetheless, subtle nods have made clear Uncle Ben certainly existed in this world, with more mentions than ever in recent times, but how did he influence this Peter Parker and Spider-Man? The recent release of No Way Home offered some updates on the question which has confused some fans.
Did the MCU Have an Uncle Ben?
After going without any direct references in Spider-Man's first four MCU appearances, Spider-Man: Far From Home finally made reference to Uncle Ben with his initials - BFP for Benjamin Franklin Parker - being inscribed on the suitcase taken by Peter on his European school trip.
But prior to that, Homecoming made a subtle reference to Aunt May's past trauma and implied Ben had previously passed away. After Ned discovers Peter is Spider-Man and asks if his Aunt is aware, the young Avenger tells his friend that "May cannot know" after "everything that's happened with her:"
Peter: "May cannot know, I cannot do that to her right now, you know. I mean with everything that's happened with her."
Uncle Ben got his first direct mention in the MCU with the zombie-centric fifth episode of What If...? as an alternate timeline Peter Parker referenced his deceased uncle in a list of close friends and family he has lost: "My mom, dad, Uncle Ben, Mr. Stark. Now Happy."
Uncle Ben's Relationship with MCU Peter Parker
Tom Holland's Peter Parker has never explicitly explained the circumstances that led to him becoming Spider-Man. Up until now, most had assumed he shared a similar backstory with his past iterations, but No Way Home surprised fans as Aunt May delivered the "with great power, there must also come great responsibility" speech for the first time.
Funnily enough, Holland's Peter was almost unphased when Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's iterations mentioned Uncle Ben and their familiarity with his famous inspirational quote.
The references towards Uncle Ben make it certain he was married to Aunt May in the MCU and had a close relationship with Peter Parker before his death. Even if he never had the chance to deliver his iconic line, that doesn't necessarily mean his death wasn't the factor that inspired Peter's heroic beginnings.
Unlike other interpretations of Spider-Man, Peter Parker has had a string of other father figures from across the Marvel universe since Uncle Ben died. Between Tony Stark and Happy Hogan, the entire Iron Man family has had a great influence on the young man in his growth as both Spider-Man and Peter Parker.
Although No Way Home certainly provided some course correction from this angle after the infamous Iron Boy Jr. controversy. Aunt May finally had the opportunity to deliver Uncle Ben's famous speech with her dying breath - something which may have been given to Tony had it not been for the divide his relationship with Peter created.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
From subtle hints to outright namedrops, it's undeniable that Uncle Ben existed in the MCU and had some level of a relationship with Tom Holland's Peter Parker. Whether he was the inspiration to this Spider-Man's origins is another question altogether, but he absolutely never got the chance to deliver this iconic "with great power comes great responsibility" line.
Perhaps fans will finally get their answers as to how this Spider-Man came to be and what his relationship with Uncle Ben looked like from the upcoming Freshman Year animated prequel series coming to Disney+ in the next few years.
But if one thing is for certain, Aunt May's death and her delivery of Uncle Ben's classic inspirational speech set Peter Parker on a new heroic path that will be explored deeper in Spider-Man's next MCU trilogy as he is forced into a fresh start.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters around the world.