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The entire Spider-Man MCU story finally explained

In a little less than 20 years, we've had three distinct live-action depictions of everyone's favorite wall-crawling, web-slinging superhero on the big screen, not to mention plenty of animated appearances. There was Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker in the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man trilogy, Andrew Garfield's brooding hero in The Amazing Spider-Man duology, and currently, we've got Tom Holland's Iron Man-worshipping Avenger in the MCU.

If you're having a little trouble keeping track of what's actually happened to the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Spider-Man, we don't blame you. So to help out, we'll break down all the events of Tom Holland's appearances in the MCU, step-by-step. By the time we're done, you'll never have to wonder if this version of Spider-Man fought the Lizard or if that was somebody else. From starting out as a friendly neighborhood hero to traveling through space and hanging out with a wizard, here's the entire Spider-Man MCU timeline explained.

Peter Parker makes an early appearance in Iron Man 2

Surprisingly, Peter Parker's first appearance in the MCU doesn't come in Captain America: Civil War. Instead, that honor goes to Iron Man 2, where Tony Stark saves a little kid during the climax of the film. While Tony's flying in to stop Ivan Vanko from using weaponized Hammer drones to attack the attendants at the Stark Expo, a young boy in an Iron Man mask raises his toy gauntlet to stop one of the drones. Iron Man swoops in, blasts the robot, and tells his pint-sized fan, "Nice work, kid," before blasting off again. Fans have long speculated that the masked child was actually a young Peter Parker, years before Marvel got the go-ahead from Sony to officially add Spider-Man to the MCU. After all, the Stark Expo takes place in Queens, and Peter is a long-time science geek who wouldn't miss the opportunity to go to an event like that. 

Tom Holland told The Huffington Post in 2017 that as far as he and MCU head honcho Kevin Feige are concerned, that unnamed boy is definitely Peter Parker. The actor even "triple-confirmed" it, so it's about as canonical as it can possibly be. No wonder Peter Parker grows up to have so much hero worship for Tony Stark in the modern-day MCU.

Uncle Ben disappears in the MCU

By the time Spider-Man: Homecoming hit theaters, audiences had seen Peter's Uncle Ben die on the big screen twice in two different franchises (three times if we count Spider-Man 3's new perspective on the murder), so it's no wonder that the filmmakers of Spider-Man: Homecoming chose to skip over that particular part of Spider-Man's origin story. That said, there's been enough hints and references to make it clear that the MCU version of Peter definitely had an Uncle Ben that he lost at some point. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter's luggage looks second-hand and bears the initials "BFP." The luggage almost certainly belonged to one Benjamin Franklin Parker before Peter used it.

According to Spider-Man: Homecoming writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, an earlier draft of the film would have seen Aunt May explicitly mention her dearly departed husband. With all that, we can peg Uncle Ben's death at around six months before the events of Captain America: Civil War, since that film shows Peter telling Tony that he's had his powers for "six months." Peter even indirectly mentions that he blames himself for Uncle Ben's so-far mysterious death by saying that, "When you can do the things I can, but you don't, and then the bad things happen, they happen because of you." In other words, with great power comes great responsibility.

A Spider-Man shout-out in an Ant-Man movie

In 2015's Ant-Man, Scott Lang's titular tiny hero runs afoul of Sam Wilson, The Falcon, while sneaking into the Avengers' headquarters. Naturally, it leads to the two superheroes battling each other in the classic Marvel style. Although neither hero walks away the obvious victor, Scott gains the device he's after and something else that he wasn't expecting: Sam Wilson's respect. 

At the end of the film, Scott's friend Luis tells him that his cousin Ignacio met this "crazy fine writer chick" who actually knows Falcon. And in Luis' summation of the conversation, we learn that Sam's been looking for new heroes that have appeared on the scene in an effort to find Ant-Man. While he was looking for one bug-themed superhero, he very nearly finds another, since the crazy fine writer chick tells Sam that, "We got a guy who jumps, a guy who swings, a guy who crawls up the walls."

There are plenty of superheroes in the Marvel Universe who jump and swing around the city, but there's only one wall-crawler that casual fans would be likely to recognize. It's a quick reference to Spider-Man, but in conjunction with his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, we can infer that Spidey started operating as an official local superhero during the events of Ant-Man, even if the bigger media outlets (like TheDailyBugle.net) hadn't noticed him.

Peter Parker enlists in the Civil War

Six months after Peter gets his powers (and, coincidentally, around the time Sony and Marvel would come to a deal about bringing Spider-Man into the MCU), Tony drops by Aunt May's apartment to sample some of her walnut date loaf and meet the mysterious, arachnid-themed superhero who's been showing up on YouTube. Peter explains what he's all about as a young superhero, and Iron Man adds him to his team of Avenger-hunting Avengers, as part of his ongoing feud to take down Bucky. So Peter heads to Berlin, does some sightseeing, and annoys Tony Stark's bodyguard and pal, Happy Hogan. Then he gets a costume upgrade courtesy of Tony Stark, and fights against Captain America, Winter Soldier, Falcon, Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye.

Spider-Man acquits himself nicely in the fight, briefly trapping Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and even helping Iron Man and War Machine take down a giant Ant-Man. However, the fight ends with Tony's best friend, Rhodey, wounded by friendly fire. As for Peter, he suffers a pretty frightening fall, although he ultimately emerges unscathed. The whole experience seems to put Tony off of the idea of using literal teenagers to help him catch a brainwashed former KGB assassin, which is probably for the best. However, Peter seems to have had a good time, as he filmed pretty much the entire battle.

Coming home to be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter heads back to Queens with his new, more technologically advanced Spider-suit. Tony tells Peter that the Avengers will "let him know" if there are any future missions, and in the meantime, he should go to school and focus on being a local hero. Two months later, while swinging around on his after-school crime-fighting rounds, he accidentally interrupts an ATM heist organized by crooks who are using high-tech — and extremely dangerous — weapons. After a phone call report with Happy goes ignored, Peter follows up on the weapons dealers and gets into a fight with their leader, the Vulture.

Tony sends a drone to bail Peter out and give him yet another talking to about how Peter should stop trying to fight supervillains. Peter half-listens — mostly to the parts about how his suit has a ton of capabilities that he didn't know about — and gets his buddy Ned to hack the suit and give him full access. Round two with the Vulture in Washington, D.C. ends with Peter trapped in a warehouse for the night, and when he heads off for round three on a ferry ride in New York, it turns out that Iron Man and the FBI had organized a sting operation that Peter inadvertently interrupts. 

Disappointed in his protégé, Tony takes back the suit, and Peter recommits to his regular life and asks his crush, Liz, to prom. Unfortunately, Liz's dad is the Vulture, forcing Peter to take him down in his original low-tech suit before the winged villain can steal a ton of valuable Stark tech. Spider-Man succeeds, Vulture goes to prison, Liz moves to Oregon with her mom, and Tony offers Peter a place on the Avengers roster if he wants. Instead, Peter turns him down, choosing to focus on being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for a while.

Re-enlisting for the Infinity War

Peter's decision to stay close to the ground and look out for the little guy lasts about as long as it takes to watch the credits for Spider-Man: Homecoming. When Thanos and his Black Order invade Earth in search of the ultra-powerful Infinity Stones in Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man hops right in to help Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Bruce Banner, and Wong in defending Earth. Dr. Strange is kidnapped by the Black Order's Ebony Maw, and Peter chases after him, hitching a ride on the Maw's spaceship before it flies away completely. Tony quickly joins him, giving the younger hero the even more high-tech super suit last seen at the end of Homecoming to help him battle Thanos' crew of aliens.

Spidey and Iron Man free Dr. Strange, blast Ebony Maw out into space, and land on Titan, Thanos' home planet. They're quickly joined by some of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Peter Quill, Drax, Mantis, and Nebula. The heroes prep to fight Thanos, who soon arrives to take Dr. Strange's Time Stone to add to his Infinity Gauntlet. The heroes put up a valiant effort, but their plan goes awry, and Thanos teleports to Earth after nabbing the Time Stone. Soon after, he gets the Mind Stone from Vision, puts it all together, and snaps his fingers, causing half of all life in the universe to fade away. Unfortunately, Peter's 50/50 probability comes out on the negative side, and he turns to dust in Tony's arms on an alien planet.

Spider-Man was blipped out of existence for five long years

After Thanos kills off half of the universe, the remaining half are left to mourn their fallen friends and family. Unfortunately for Peter, it doesn't seem like there are many left to remember him. Aunt May, his best friend Ned, his new crush MJ, and even Flash, his bully, all get "blipped" by Thanos after the Mad Titan snaps his big purple fingers. For the five years between Thor killing Thanos in the beginning of Avengers: Endgame and when Captain America gets the gang back together, it seems like the only one left to mourn Peter is Tony Stark. He even keeps a framed picture of his young protégé in the kitchen of his cabin home.

Luckily for Spider-Man, Tony eventually feels guilty enough to rejoin the Avengers. Once he's back on the team, he develops a time travel machine, goes back in time to steal the Infinity Stones before Thanos could destroy them in the present timeline, and reconstructs another Infinity Gauntlet. And with one snap of Hulk's mighty hand, the dusted half of the universe is restored exactly how they were when they disappeared. Thanos from a previous timeline heads to the present in order to re-snap everything into oblivion, but every superhero or superhero-adjacent character stands in his way — including Spider-Man. Peter joins the fight, meets some of his new superhero peers, murders a bunch of aliens with his suit's "Instant Kill Mode," and then watches as Tony Stark gives his life to dust Thanos' crew with a snap of his own.

Far From Home and back again

After all that space alien craziness, it's back to normalcy for everyone's favorite wall-crawler in Spider-Man: Far From Home. With his schoolmates recovering from being dead for five years and his aunt discovering a passion for fundraising to take care of "blip" victims, Peter joins a class trip to Europe. He's looking forward to a relaxing vacation to decompress from being dead, and maybe confess his burgeoning romantic feelings for MJ. Instead, he's quickly embroiled in a fight against multiversal Elementals alongside Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and the superhero from another universe, Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio. To make things worse, Peter's struggling to live up to Iron Man's legacy, a job that seems all the more difficult when he receives a pair of high-tech sunglasses from Tony's will that give the young hero control over a ludicrous amount of information and technology.

Desperate for a mentor, Peter gives up the sunglasses to Beck, whose magic powers and big brother attitude seem to make him a better successor to Tony than Peter could ever hope to be. Unfortunately, Beck's running a con on Peter and Nick Fury, as he's amassed a villainous cadre of former Stark Industries employees to help him trick the world into thinking he's the next Iron Man. Peter learns the truth and eventually defeats Mysterio, with the villain seemingly dying in the final battle. Spidey returns to New York having saved the world (or at least London) once again, and everything seems to be going well. Until, that is, J. Jonah Jameson of TheDailyBugle.net leaks Mysterio's dying confession and reveals to the entire world that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. So what's next for the MCU's wall-crawler? We'll just have to wait and see.