Marvel has brought back one of the Iron Man trilogy’s most controversial characters. Harley Keener, the young boy from Rose Hill, Tennessee who receives aid from Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) in Iron Man 3 (2013), has been revived in an unexpected place — a Spider-Man comic book.
ComicBook noted that Simpkins, a young engineer who reminded Stark of himself, has become a member of the Worldwide Engineering Brigade:
WEB of Spider-Man #1 chronicles the would be academy set up by Stark to encourage innovation. Peter Parker joins Moon Girl, A Wakandan genius named Onome, Keener, and Squirrel Girl in the Worldwide Engineering Brigade.
In the artwork from the Marvel Comics issue [above], fans can see that Keener appears to be working on a Spider-Bot, which fans can purchase for themselves at Disneyland Resort’s new Avengers Campus land!
Keener is among the more controversial characters in the Iron Man franchise, with many Marvel fans having mixed feelings toward his portrayal — and some noting that they believe he is a blatant representation of classism in the South, and that Kevin Feige’s Marvel Studios could have done a better job writing the boy’s story.
Keener has periodically popped up in the MCU, with his most recent appearance coming at the conclusion of the Infinity Saga in Avengers: Endgame (2019). A grown-up Keener (Ty Simpkins) was present at Tony Stark’s funeral, which also saw a number of other Avengers fan-favorites, such as Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).
At this time, it is unknown if Keener will play a major role in Marvel Comics moving forward, or if he will appear in future Marvel Cinematic Universe projects, though Simpkins has expressed excitement at returning to the role in the past:
“It was so cool coming back. When they gave me the call that I was going to do it, I was freaking out and screaming in the car,” Simpkins said. “I like to think that they [maintained contact] and that Tony was still taking care of him, because for Harley that bond was super close and he was his kind of his only father figure. So that’s what I was thinking about in the funeral scene, about how sad Harley would have been.”
If you’d like to watch Harley Keener’s first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man 3 is currently streaming on Disney+. The official description reads:
Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: Does the man make the suit, or does the suit make the man?
What do you think about Harley Keener’s return? Would you like to see him come back to the MCU?