A new fan theory suggests that Iron Man 3 character Harley Keener, portrayed by Ty Simpkins, is being setup for the role of Iron Lad. This is supported due to his appearance during the funeral scene following the events of Avengers: Endgame. Iron Lad was a member of the Young Avengers and the past self of the time-traveling villain Kang the Conqueror.
Out doing interviews for his role in Endgame Simpkins spoke with IGN. He was asked about returning to the MCU and what he thought may have been going through Harley’s mind at the funeral:
“I like to think that they did 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.”– Ty Simpkins, IGN interview
He is also asked if he supports the fan theory of his character Harley becoming Iron Lad. Even with the knowledge of potentially becoming a Marvel villain, Simpkins states he would still be on board to become Iron Lad and eventually Kang the Conqueror.
“Yes, 100%. I would love that! I’d do it, I’d do it. Without a doubt.”– Ty Simpkins, IGN interview
Kang the Conqueror
In the comic books Iron Lad’s alter ego is actually Nathaniel Richards, not Harley Keener. However, it isn’t unusual for Marvel to change the comic book canon to meet the needs of the MCU. Nathaniel would discover his future when Kang the Conqueror took him through time to show him how he became the super villain known as Kang the Conqueror.
However, the plan to inspire the young Richards back fires. He flees Kang the Conqueror and travels back to the past (his present). He then forms the Young Avengers and models his armor after Iron Man, becoming Iron Lad. After fighting and defeating his future self, however, the timeline drastically altered. In order to correct the timeline, Nate returns to the future fulfills his destiny by becoming Kang the Conqueror.