One of the bigger family dynamics in the MCU is the father-son relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker. As it stands, Tony and Peter have been in 3 films together. Let’s look at their relationship and see how they benefit from it.

CIVIL WAR: Peter Parker Gets Recruited

Thanks to Tony Stark, Spider-Man gets his first MCU appearance in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Needing some extra support, Tony recruits Peter Parker, a young high-school student with spider-powers in his fight against Captain America. Despite having homework, Peter joins Tony in Germany.

Peter Parker
Image from Marvel

It seems as though Tony had been monitoring Peter for some time, keeping tabs on him most likely due to an interest in his powers. Peter is smart, having invented his own web-shooters, and already has a sense of responsibility to use his abilities to help others. Tony sees himself in Peter, providing him with a new suit to use in the battle in Germany. With everything that goes on in CIVIL WAR, this is about all we get as far as their interactions go. There’s the initial meeting, and Tony recruiting Peter, viewing him as a kindred spirit.

It’s also fortunate for Tony that CIVIL WAR sees some deviation in Tony’s overall motivations. The events of the film see Tony gaining a desire to be more responsible himself with his actions and those of his fellow Avengers. Peter essentially becomes an extension of that desire to be more responsible: taking a young hero under his wing, mentoring him to be a capable and effective part the next generation of superheroes.


HOMECOMING: A Mentor Role for Tony Stark

after the fight in CIVIL WAR, Tony allows Peter to keep the suit. When Peter asks when the next mission is, Tony, says that he’ll call him when he needs him. After a few months with no contact, Peter gets restless. He wants to do more. He wants to be a full-on Avenger, just like Tony. After getting involved with the Vulture, Tony tells Peter to just stay a kid.

“Can’t you just be a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man?”

He wants Peter to find his footing, being a hero in smaller ways. Peter insists that he’s ready for more, but Tony disagrees. He tells him he’s not, and to stay away from Vulture and his weapons.

Peter Parker
Image from Marvel

Peter can’t help himself though and decides to go after Vulture anyway. He disables Tony’s tracking on his suit, as well as several safeguards Tony had put in place, humorously labeled, “The Training Wheels Protocol.” Having full access to his suit, Peter decided to intercept Vulture’s weapons deal. After failing to capture Vulture on a ferry, and inadvertently endangering several people on it, Tony arrives, saving them.

HOMECOMING: Tough Love & Consequences

Tony then shares his frustration with Peter, as he had done the one thing Tony told him not to do. Peter argues saying that none of it would have happened if Tony had listened to him. Tony counters that he did, which is why the FBI was on the ferry as well. Tony called them to intercept the Vulture’s weapons deal. He asks Peter what would have happened if someone had died:

“That’s on you. And if you died…I feel like that’s on me.”

Tony’s has an immense amount of care and concern for Peter. He feels incredibly responsible for his wellbeing, hence the safeguards and desire for Peter to limit himself now, so that one day he can be better than Tony ever will. He takes Peter’s suit away, and Peter begs to keep it, saying he’s nothing without it. Tony says that if he’s nothing without it, he shouldn’t have it. Tony sighs, complaining that he sounds like his own dad.

Peter Parker
Image from Marvel

HOMECOMING: Peter Parker Grows As A Hero

Having lost his suit, Peter decides to revert his focus back to school and being a kid. He hangs out with his friends and prepares to take Liz to the homecoming dance. To his surprise, the Vulture is her father. While driving Liz and Peter to the dance, Vulture discovers that Peter is Spider-Man. He keeps Peter asides, threatening to kill him and those he loves if Peter messes with his business again.

After this, Peter is overcome with a responsibility to stop Vulture, upon discovering that Vulture plans to steal tech from Avengers Tower. Even without his suit, Peter Parker saves the day, defeating the Vulture and preventing several high-tech weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Peter learns that he can still do great things as a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. He doesn’t need any kind of suit or status in order for him to help others.


Furthermore, this realization is the foundation of the decision Peter makes at the end of the film. Tony brings Peter to the Avengers facility upstate. He tells Peter he was wrong about him, and that even though Peter initially messed up, he ended up doing the right thing.

He then goes on to say that with some more mentoring, he could be a real asset to the Avengers, offering him an official spot on the team as well as a new high-tech suit. Peter declines, realizing that he has time to still be a kid on the ground. While surprised, Tony appreciates his mature decision. When Peter comes home, he finds the original suit Tony made for him returned.

INFINITY WAR: Peter Parker Stepping Up

INFINITY WAR sees Peter coming to Tony’s aid in his fight with Cull Obsidian and Ebony Maw, two of the Children of Thanos. After capturing Dr. Strange, Spider-Man tries to follow on the outside of their ship. However, as the ship leaves the atmosphere, Peter is unable to breathe. Tony sends the high-tech Iron Spider suit he offered to Peter in HOMECOMING. After Peter has it on and he can breathe, Tony tells him to go home. Instead, Peter sneaks aboard the ship to help Tony.

Peter Parker
Image from Marvel

Tony is initially frustrated that he stowed away, telling Peter that being on the ship isn’t a field trip; It’s a one-way ticket. He says that Peter didn’t think this through. Peter counters that he did:

“You can’t be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man if there’s no neighborhood.”

Despite his better judgment and no real alternative, Tony allows Peter to assist. After saving Dr. Strange from Ebony Maw, Tony tells Peter that he’s an official Avenger now as they head for Titan to take Thanos head-on.

Peter Parker
Image from Marvel

Teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the group sets a trap for Thanos. While they were almost successful in taking the Infinity Gauntlet away from him, Thanos gets the Time Stone from Dr. Strange and departs for Earth.

After getting the Mind Stone from the Avengers on Earth, Thanos has all the Stones. He snaps his fingers, and half of all life begins to fade away into dust.

Sadly, Peter Parker is one of them…

INFINITY WAR: Tony Stark’s Loss

Peter Parker fading away, crying, and telling Tony that he doesn’t want to go is probably one of the most gut-wrenching and tragic scenes in all of the MCU. The kid that Tony sees as a surrogate son is dying before his eyes. Peter tells Tony that he’s sorry, and then disappears. This is where we are currently with Peter and Tony’s relationship: Peter is dead, and Tony feels completely responsible.

Peter’s death before Tony and their father/son relationship is further accented by a conversation Tony has with Pepper Potts, his soon-to-be wife, earlier in the film. He tells her that he dreams that they had a child together. After losing someone you see as a surrogate son right in front of you, what does that do to your hopes of having a real son?

Peter Parker
Image from Marvel

The Benefits of This Father/Son Relationship

There are several benefits to the relationship, both in-narrative for Peter and Tony and out for the audience.

A father/son relationship works for Peter and Tony. Peter’s parents and uncle are gone, so having someone like Tony fills that father space in his life. The same can be said for Tony, having no children of his own, at least not yet. Tony’s own father was distant, and Tony says himself in HOMECOMING that he wants to give Peter more vocal support than he got from Howard. Also, Peter has the benefit of having a father figure that’s a superhero, giving him a mentor who can relate and know his secret identity.

Peter Parker
Image from Marvel

For the audience, Tony’s mentorship and father-like role give Peter a natural fit in the MCU, especially as reasoning for his whole initial introduction to CIVIL WAR. Furthermore, it allows an organic grooming for Peter to take the figurative reins of the MCU when Tony leaves the center stage of the MCU, either by death or otherwise.

Conclusion: The Relationship Is Great & Works

Some may say that having Tony be so integral to Peter’s growth as Spider-Man is detrimental to Peter’s character, taking away from the independent development his has in the comics. However, in my opinion, I will say that Tony and Peter have a similar relationship in the comics, albeit not so much until Peter gets older. Having Tony serve a bigger role in the beginnings of Peter’s superhero career is cool.

We’ve already seen that Peter’s bigger moments of growth and foundations of who he is belonging to him. Tony may help get Peter to those points, but it’s Peter who makes the choices and discoveries. Tony is there as a guide and mentor, filling a space that Peter has missing, and vice versa. It’s not over the top, either. There’s a good balance of Peter being on his own and being with Tony thus far.

Peter Parker
Image from Marvel

As it stands, Peter is dead. Tony is alone on Titan with Nebula. We know that Peter will be making a return somehow, as actor Tom Holland is already underway filming SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME. Even so, whether or not their relationship will continue remains to be seen.

AVENGERS 4 happens first, and Tony Stark’s days may be numbered. Regardless, the figurative father/son relationship they have had is one that is really entertaining and is beneficial to both of their characters. However AVENGERS 4 shakes out, hopefully, we’ll get a few more scenes with Peter Parker and Tony Stark together.

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AVENGERS 4 and SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME are set for release in 2019. 

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