For an actor who once seemed to want out of the Marvel game, Robert Downey Jr. is doing a damn fine job of sticking around. Yesterday the news broke that Iron Man would feature in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is awesome and all, but begs the question...
And before anybody comes at me with the whole "because Marvel want to make sure all the fanboys go see the movie bro!", let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that Iron Man will be somewhat integral to the story of Homecoming.
This is not an origin story. [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) will introduce a Spider-Man who's been doing the whole suit thing for... well, at least for a little while. He is only 15 at this point, so not exactly an old pro like Tony, but we're not getting to see him getting bitten by a spider either.
Effectively, Spidey is in that blissful "first six months" phase of a relationship. You know how it goes. You've been dating for a while, but things haven't gotten serious. It's still fresh. There's no talk of meeting parents yet, and you aren't expected to take care of her cat whilst she "does drinks" with her girlfriends.
What's interesting about Spider-Man in comparison to the other heroes of Civil War, both on page and screen, is that he has more to lose by getting involved. Whilst the Avengers don't hide behind their superhero aliases, Peter Parker's identity remains a secret. In that respect, his suit is not just something designed to look badass - it's a crucial part of keeping his two lives distinct, hence the mask.
In comic book canon, prior to the events of the Civil War arc, an older Spider-Man - married to Mary-Jane at this point - effectively becomes Tony's right-hand man at Stark Industries. Tony designs a new suit for Peter and, ultimately, convinces him to call a press conference and reveal his identity to the world, aligning with Tony's stance on the Superhero Registration Act.
Whether or not the MCU decides to take that route remains to be seen. Although Spider-Man is on Tony's side of the Registration Act debate, there's a possibility that it won't actually get that far before some resolution is found. Given Parker's age, though, he should be around 17 when Homecoming hits, so it could well be that Tony awards him some kind of internship at Stark Industries.
Then again, it could just be that Tony has become bored of his current romantic situation and decides to pepper Aunt May's potts instead. Now that would be something worth seeing.
In summary: We don't have much clue what Iron Man is doing in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but his technological know-how, billionaire businessman status, and comic book history with Peter Parker all hint at some kind of mentor/protege dynamic which has the potential to be pretty cool.
For more Spider-Man: Explaining Spider-Man's Suit in Captain America: Civil War
Civil War releases May 6, whilst Spider-Man: Homecoming is due July 7, 2017, meaning the rumour mill will be working overtime until next Summer. Until then, tell me...