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Since the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans have been asking one very important question: so....does Uncle Ben exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? With Tom Holland's trilogy now concluded and nary a mention of Ben Parker (beyond the references made by the two Spider-Men from other realities), the answer to that mystery seems to be a resounding "no."
It actually makes a lot of sense, considering that Uncle Ben's death is well-trodden territory thanks to previous Marvel movies. We didn't really need a third depiction of Peter Parker's origin story in the MCU.
"[Screenwriters Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely and the Russos were so smart with Civil War to side step rehashing the origin story," No Way Home co-screenwriter writer Chris McKenna recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "You just leap over it, but it leaves so many questions and gaps. Some people [ask], 'Oh, did Uncle Ben die? Was he guilty [of Ben’s death]? Are we losing that gravitas as part of that character?' I think that’s something we’ve always discussed."
In the end, it was decided that the role of Uncle Ben should be folded into the character of Aunt May (played by Marisa Tomei), who utters a variation of those famous words — "With great power comes great responsibility" — before succumbing to her injuries caused by the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe).
"Those words are so tied to Uncle Ben, there didn’t seem to be a natural place for it," admitted co-writer Erik Sommers. "We weren’t even thinking necessarily, 'Oh, we have to do it in this one.' As the story started to develop, and as we got to the scene with May, we realized, 'This is going to be Peter’s Uncle Ben,' and the words are going to come out. For the scene on the rooftop, where the three Peters meet, we felt pretty strongly that we need something to really, finally crystalize it for these three guys that they are the same, that they are brothers. And that they are bound in a cosmic way by something and having them share those words in common seemed like the thing to do."
"We started thinking ... 'Maybe his mentor is May and she’s instilled this thing in him,'" added McKenna. "He doesn’t say, 'With great power comes great responsibility,' but he says something to that effect in Civil War, which is, 'When you can do the things that I can do and you don’t do anything, then you are responsible.' It’s that same sentiment that I think has been instilled in him from May, but you start realizing that May really is the moral guide of his life and he’s had a father-figure."
The overall goal was to present "a different Peter Parker" through the unique lens of Iron Man.
"This Peter is the only one of these three who has had a Tony Stark in his life. So he chases the fame. He chases this father figure and approval from this billionaire, philanthropist playboy," McKenna continued. "Then he realizes, 'I don’t want to be an Avenger. I’m chasing the wrong thing.' And the next movie was, 'I can’t be Iron Man. I can only be Spider-Man.' In this one, there is a whole new way he has to get tested about what these other two guys have been tested by. By the death of a loved one at the hands of a villain. What are you going to do about that? They help him get there. I think people can draw from it what they want, but these were the things we were working with as we were moving towards the creation of this story for him and really taking him down a dark path. I think it’s the darkest place he’s ever gone."
Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters everywhere.