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New What... If? features first MCU mention of iconic Spider-Man character

Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Image credit: Sony/Marvel/Disney)

The MCU’s version of Spider-Man is the Spidey we all know and love – with one key difference. He never mentions Uncle Ben.

The latest episode of Marvel’s animated series What If…? rectifies that and marks the first reference to Peter Parker’s slain uncle in MCU canon.

At the midway point of the creatively titled "What If… Zombies?" episode, Peter is calm and collected while dealing with not only legions of the undead, but also Hope van Dyne succumbing to a bite in front of him.

"How do you stay so upbeat?" Hope asks Spider-Man. His reply is a history lesson of sorts: "Practice, I guess. My mom, dad, Uncle Ben, Mr. Stark… I’ve lost a lot. But my Aunt May says ‘If we don’t keep smiling when they can’t, then we might as well be gone too."

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There you have it. Uncle Ben does still have an impact – at least on this version of Spider-Man. Remember, the multiverse is part of the MCU now. This all counts as canon.

It remains to be seen if Tom Holland’s webhead will bring up his Uncle Ben. His absence in the story being told across Homecoming and Far From Home was telling – and taken up by Tony Stark in a surrogate Uncle Ben role – but Spider-Man: No Way Home could change all that. If reports that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are returning ring true, it’s likely that Uncle Ben (or Uncle Ben’s famous words) could finally slide into live-action canon.

For more on the MCU’s future, check out our guide to Marvel Phase 4.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.