We have been racking our brains about the possibilities in the future of the MCU and once such theory we have (mostly me), is that Uncle Ben Parker is still alive in the MCU. As for what condition Ben is in, or what he has been doing since we were introduced to Tom Holland’s Peter Parker back in Civil War? Well, that could be anyone’s guess. Need convincing? Well, we assume that’s why you’re here.
At this point in time, it goes without saying that if you have not been caught up on all the MCU has to offer, specifically the movies up and beyond No Way Home, that is on you. Still, we extend the courtesy of letting you know that there are spoilers ahead. This is your only warning.
What We Know
Having recently watched all the MCU films, I can say that there is no real verbal acknowledgment of Ben. By that, I mean that no one ever says Ben by name or by familial position (“my uncle”, “your uncle”, etc.). We do know that a handful of indirect references have been made since Homecoming that suggests May and Pete have suffered great tragedy, they don’t outright allude to Ben specifically. However, there are a few obvious references that all but confirm Ben is around but not dead. Let’s delve into this a little deeper.
Despite Ben not being named or referenced verbally in any MCU capacity (aside from What If…), we know that Ben exists due to two obvious reasons. The first is that, well, he’s a Parker. This should be pretty obvious for anyone who has read a Spider-Man comic but for some reason, we haven’t really seen this discussed much. The fact is, Peter’s father Richard Parker is the younger brother to Ben, which we assume hasn’t been changed in the MCU as that would be a pretty odd creative decision. Of course, if you think that is a possibility then consider how marriage works. For Peter’s last name to be Parker, and for Aunt May to be a Parker, the name would have had to have been passed down paternally. This means that for Peter to be a Parker is to get it from his father and for May to be a Parker is to mean she got it through marriage. Less likely is that May is blood-related to Richard and Peter which could technically be a thing but at that point, the changes are made for the sake of change rather than logic. Of course, there is still more evidence to prove Ben’s existence, specifically in Far From Home.
In Peter’s second solo outing, he travels abroad with his classmates before encountering the villain Mysterio. Leading into this, rather early on in the movie, among Peter’s luggage is a suitcase with the initials “BFP” embossed in the leather lining by the handle. BFP being the initials of one Benjamin Franklin Parker. Still need more convincing?
The fact that the Parker name had been passed down to Peter and retained by May should be enough for comicbook fans and if not, BFP should put a period at the end of that sentence right quick. You don’t need any further evidence but if for whatever reason you are still not convinced, then I impart to you another massive bit of proof.
At the end of No Way Home, after aunt May states the significant “with great power” line to Peter, young Pete is standing in a graveyard alone, before being joined by Happy Hogan. Since everyone in the world forgot about Peter Parker due to his selfless request of Dr. Strange, Pete stood by as a stranger looking at the headstone belonging to his dearly departed aunt. Notice anything strange about that? Perhaps that it stood alone and not among any other Parker relatives? The mysterious absence of Ben Parker or Peter’s parents suggests that they are all still alive. Most family members would opt to share a plot beside their departed loved ones but May being alone is rather odd. Comic fans know that in some iterations and storylines, Peter’s parents are actually alive and well as SHIELD agents, but that is a whole other story in and of itself that may or may not be integrated into the MCU at some point.
So, the above may just be logic applied to those who haven’t thought about it much or simply don’t care to think about it at all. Say what you will about conspiracy theories but this seems to be a bit more grounded in the reality of the MCU fiction. That said, there has been additional info shared by the screenwriters of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley stated there were references in the movie to Ben with Daley adding they had a more direct approach initially in mind. Daley stated the following:
“We did talk about there being a scene where [May] references him directly. It was when [Peter] was getting ready for homecoming and the wardrobe she was giving Peter was all Uncle Ben’s clothes. It was a nice moment, but we also knew that it veered away from his arc. If you’re going to talk about someone’s death, you don’t want it to be a throwaway.”
Daley brings up a good point that we assumed lines up with the notion that the origin of Peter’s spider bite and origin relating to Ben’s passing had been done enough with Sony’s Spider-Man trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2. Since audiences have seen Peter’s origin as much as Bruce Wayne’s, it’s possible they skipped over it to get to the good stuff and in doing so, felt that there was never a proper way to introduce Ben without feeling like an afterthought. Of course, I personally think that leaving Ben out was intentional and that there could very well be bigger implications for the character in his relationship with young Peter, despite having been forgotten by everyone in the universe.
I also think it is important to note that there are other reasons to skip over Spider-Man’s origins and by extension, Uncle Ben. Considering that Spider-Man makes his first appearance in Civil War after being recruited by Iron Man, it would make sense that Tony would look for an enhanced individual with a little experience. When audiences first encounter Tom Holland’s Peter in his apartment, Tony reveals that he has kept his eye on Peter and it is later revealed that Pete has had his powers for six months, operating as a hero around the city doing what he can to help the neighborhood. Tony is smart and calculating and would not want to grab some random enhanced kid off the street to help his cause if say, for example, Peter got bit by a spider last week and had no idea how to use his powers. Tony knowing when the time was right to call on Spider-Man to help his cause was a necessary and calculated move. This meant that there would never have been a proper or organic way to focus on Spider-Man’s origins until his first solo film. By then, it would have been awkward to shoehorn in the origin so much later in the character’s career.
Personally, I strongly believe we will see some relationship between Ben and Peter at some point. Either the MCU confirms Ben’s death and explains that in a justifiable and respectable way, or they confirm that he is alive somewhere doing something significant to justify his absence. After Pete’s six appearances in the MCU with no confirmation of his uncle’s death, we have to say that feels awfully suspicious. However, we may get those answers in the upcoming animated series Spider-Man: Freshman Year which will serve as a prequel to Civil War and will surely provide a lot of answers to questions that still linger this far into the wall-crawler’s career.
With Aunt May filling the roles in Peter’s life previously occupied by both the aunt and uncle guardian figures, as seen in previous Spider-Man films, we have to say she filled those shoes quite well. But even though she left behind a void that Peter will undoubtedly try to fill somehow, we can’t imagine Ben being left out in such a vague, gray shroud of the unknown for too much longer. After all, at the end of No Way Home, we finally see that up until this point, Spider-Man’s story was just getting started.