'Avengers: Endgame' has a subtle nod to 'Iron Man 3' you probably missed

'Avengers: Endgame' has a subtle nod to 'Iron Man 3' you probably missed

(Note: This article contains spoilers about the movie Avengers: Endgame. If you want to avoid spoilers for this very popular movie, close your internet browser, throw your phone in the toilet, pour coffee on your laptop, jam wet toilet paper in your ears, book a one-way flight to East London, South Africa, hitchhike 43 miles to the Khula Dhamma Community, and life off the grid in a self-sustaining ecovillage with a solar pump, garden and outdoor compost toilet.)

Over 21 movies, Marvel introduced us to dozens of superheroes, and told a cosmic story about the big purple alien Thanos collecting Infinity Stones. In last year's Avengers: Infinity War, the supervillain succeeded, defeating the Avengers and wiping out half of all life on Earth with the snap of his fingers. A pretty big downer, until the 22nd movie, Endgame, when Ant-Man and Iron Man concoct a 'time heist' to steal the stones from the past.

This is what happens when you Google 'Thanos'

Endgame is a satisfying conclusion to the epic story, featuring several cool cameos and references to previous films. Thanks to time travel trickery, we see The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Howard Stark (John Slattery) and Thor's mom Frigga (Rene Russo). (No, I'm not counting Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, since they apparently just used footage from a Thor: The Dark World deleted scene.)

However, there's one subtle nod to Iron Man 3 that you probably missed. (Possibly due to your eyes being full of tears.) At Tony Stark's funeral, the camera pans over groups of characters from nearly every Marvel movie, then lingers on one young man standing in the back, by himself. The moment stands out, since he looks familiar, but it's hard to recall from where. Well, here's your answer: That's grown-up Harley Keener from Iron Man 3.

Harley Keener from Iron Man 3 Credit: Disney

In the 2013 film, Ty Simpkins played Harley, a 10-year-old boy from a broken home who meets Tony Stark while he's stranded in Tennessee. Harley helps Tony investigate a local explosion and work through his crippling anxiety after the Battle of New York. It's one of the first times we've seen Tony interact with a child, foreshadowing his sweet relationship with Morgan in Endgame. After Tony repairs his Iron Man suit and gets back on his feet, he sends Harley some high-tech equipment in appreciation.

Simpkins, now 17, reprised his role, which is confirmed by IMDB and Endgame's closing credits. Since Harley attended Stark's funeral amongst his most intimate friends, it's safe to assume the two stayed in touch over the years. So, just in case that funeral scene didn't tug on the heartstrings enough, now you have a new excuse to sob uncontrollably. (Or rewatch Iron Man 3, and relive the good times.)