Gwyneth Paltrow portrays Pepper Potts in Spider-Man: Homecoming for the first time since Iron Man 3 in 2013. She had been conspicuously absent from the past few Marvel films, so where exactly has Gwyneth Paltrow been? Why had she not been in the Marvel movies for four years?
Gwyneth Paltrow told US Weekly in 2013 that she was going to scale back her time spent acting in order to focus on her lifestyle company, Goop. In early 2016, she told The Today Show that she was now completely devoting herself to Goop and not taking on any more roles, although saying she would return to the screen at some point.
“We took some investment last year so as soon as we had other people’s money, I realized I really better focus on this completely,” Paltrow told The Today Show in March 2016. “…I’ll return to acting probably, but probably not right now.”
Iron Man 3 was the last movie that was a part of Paltrow’s original Marvel contract.
The first Marvel film where Pepper Potts’ absence was felt was Avengers: Age of Ultron, released in 2015. In this movie, Tony Stark mentions Potts during the party scene early on, saying that she’s away helping to run Stark Industries. There’s conflicting information out there about why Paltrow wasn’t in the film. Paltrow herself has suggested that Marvel just didn’t need her and that she was never asked to appear.
When asked if she would be in the second Avengers movie in 2013, Paltrow told Uproxx, “I don’t think so, nobody has asked me…I don’t think so. I haven’t heard any…my phone has not rung for Avengers 2.”
However, on the Avengers: Age of Ultron commentary, director Joss Whedon makes it sound like Gwyneth Paltrow was not available to be in the film.
Pepper Potts also did not appear in Captain America: Civil War. It sounds like Paltrow would have been up for a part in the movie, though, and she told Dish Nation (via Comicbook.com) six months before Civil War‘s release that she had heard rumors about a Potts appearance and that she had her fingers crossed.
“I don’t know. I’ve heard rumors that maybe, and I don’t know,” Paltrow said. “My fingers are crossed. I would love to be Pepper Potts again at some point in my life.”
In this film, it’s stated that Tony Stark and Pepper Potts have decided to take a break from their relationship. The movie’s directors and screenwriters have said that Potts did not appear because they felt that this off-screen relationship turmoil would help bring Tony to a darker place, and it would mean that there would be nobody around to pull him back from wanting to kill Bucky Barnes.
“The intent in this movie, because we knew where we were going with the character, [was] that we had to motivate Tony to want to kill Bucky Barnes in the third act in order for the third act to work correctly, that Tony would have to be off-balance,” co-director Joe Russo says on the Captain America: Civil War commentary, according to Business Insider. “The way that we thought we could make him off-balance was by pulling things out of his life, making him emotionally vulnerable. Really emotionally vulnerable. So, Pepper is out of his life. It clearly is an issue for him, as you can see, by Robert’s performance here.”
However, Gwyneth Paltrow is now in Spider-Man: Homecoming, meaning it is likely she has signed a new contract with Marvel and could also appear in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. It’s unclear how extensive her role will be going forward, though, as her Homecoming appearance is mainly just a cameo.