One of the biggest mysteries in the MCU is what happened to Uncle Ben Parker?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of the Peter Parker Spider-Man has been refreshing. When the character introduced in Captain America: Civil War, actor Tom Holland was just a teenager. Now, he’s an adult playing a teen, not that it matters. However, what did stand out is the absence of Ben, Aunt May’s husband and Spidey’s uncle.
In the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films, Uncle Ben was there to some degree. In the Holland movies, he’s absent. Across most of Peter’s appearances in the MCU, there’s been small Easter eggs and references but nothing to suggest what might have happened to him.
We’re going to try and shed some light on the situation now using the evidence we have of Ben’s presence in Peter’s life before he became Spider-Man.
Peter’s Middle Name – Honouring Uncle Ben?
We need to start looking at the most obvious thing in this mystery. While not stated on screen, Peter’s middle name is Benjamin. According the Spider-Man page on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Fandom, the kid who would become New York’s favourite web-slinger was born on August 10 2001 so that leads us to wonder if he was named in honour of Uncle Ben.
We know Aunt May exists in the MCU as she is his guardian and one of his biggest supporters outside of Ned and MJ. There’s been no reference to Peter’s parents either so they would’ve had to die for him to be placed with his aunt.
However, what if Ben had died before Peter was born and his parents gave him the middle name as a nod to the relative he never got to meet? Also, his parents or at least, his father would’ve had to be close to his uncle [Peter’s father’s brother]. Another possibility could be that Ben hadn’t died by that time and his brother and sister-in-law just wanted to give their son the middle name.
Aunt May’s Necklace – Captain America: Civil War
Peter and Aunt May first appear in Captain America: Civil War when Tony recruits the young wannabe hero to his side in his disagreement with Steve. Parker enters the apartment after returning from school to find Iron Man himself sitting on the couch talking to his guardian.
While this escaped our notice, fans were quick to pick up on the necklace May is seen wearing in the scene. In the wide shot, you can make out a long chain with a gold ring attached. It’s speculated that the ring belonged to Uncle Ben and was his wedding ring. This alone gives us another hint that Ben is dead as a divorced woman wouldn’t keep her ex-husband’s wedding ring let alone around her neck.
What Is Peter Talking About?
After following Peter to his room [in Captain America: Civil War], Tony manages to get the teenager to open up a little to him about how he got his abilities. However, it’s this line that makes you think:
When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t, and then the bad things happen, they happen because of you.Peter Parker to Tony Stark – Captain America: Civil War
What exactly is Peter referring to here? If you bypass the dialogue and read Peter’s face, you can see that he’s talking about something traumatic and tragic. But did it have something to do with something he did? This is never explained in Civil War or Spider-Man: Homecoming. Also, it looks like Tony knows exactly what his new charge is talking about given his facial expression.
Did Peter do something that got his uncle killed and him becoming Spider-Man was his way to making up for it? Perhaps he saw Ben die and couldn’t do anything about it and blamed himself.
“She Won’t Let Me Do This Anymore!”
During Spider-Man: Homecoming, Ned accidentally finds out Peter is a superhero. His BFF tells him to keep his alter ego a secret. When asked why, Parker tells him that if May knew about it she wouldn’t let him go out and be the hero he wants to be.
Peter tells him:
May cannot know. I cannot do that to her right now. You know? I mean everything that has happened with her…Peter to Ned – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Here’s the clip:
The way Peter begs Ned to keep quiet makes us think Ben’s death is something that he feels guilty about. Also, he knows that if May found out he’s Spider-Man, there would be hell to pay. Though, we know May’s feelings towards her nephew’s superhero activities are resolved as she is seen to be supportive.
Whether Peter decided to become Spider-Man because of whatever happened to his Uncle Ben is still unclear. Given the dialogue we would have to think so.
Originally, there was a scene in Homecoming where May gave Peter some of Uncle Ben’s clothes. However, the idea, according to John Francis Daley, was cut.
The Suitcase – Spider-Man: Far From Home
One of the biggest hints to Uncle Ben’s status is the suitcase Peter packs for his trip to Europe. On the bag, there’s a set of initials: BFP. These stood for Benjamin Franklin Parker meaning the suitcase was handed down to his nephew after his death.
Also, when Peter returns to America and reunites with May, she asks where his bag is before remembering it got blown up. This might have been a nod to her husband’s demise.
What Do We Think Happened To Uncle Ben?
Using the evidence we have of his existence in the larger MCU, we would have to say that something happened. We think it was large enough for Peter to blame himself for it. Perhaps, it had something to do with the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2 where Peter stood up to a Hammer Drone. While we might never find out what happened to him, we think there’s enough evidence to conclude Uncle Ben is dead. Was he murdered? Did he perish in some accident? We may never know.