In Captain America: Civil War, the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduces us to its version of the friendly neighborhood web-slinger and he immediately stole every scene he was in.
Tom Holland brought the nerdy awkwardness of Peter Parker and the quippy confidence of Spider-Man together in a blend that was a delight to behold.
His subsequent appearances in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home just keep on cementing his status as one of the best on-screen versions of Spider-Man.
However, the MCU keeps making two big mistakes with this Spider-Man.
The Iron Man Connection
In Civil War, Peter joins the fight after Tony Stark asks for his help.
With the established MCU continuity and their relationship in the comics, this made perfect sense.
However, instead of just using that connection as his introduction and giving Spider-Man his own separate stories, the MCU hitches his wagon to Tony Stark and positions him to be his successor.
His story in Homecoming is, ostensibly, about him moving out of Tony’s shadow and becoming his own hero which is difficult to understand when he is using Iron Man tech and trying to impress him for most of the movie’s runtime.
Surprisingly enough, Tony is portrayed as actually wanting Peter to be better than him and his disappointment that he isn’t striving for that is part of the reason he’s cut off.
In Far From Home, Spider-Man is literally handed the keys to the Iron Man kingdom and wrestles with whether or not he deserves it. Spoiler alert…he decides that he does.
A big part of Spider-Man’s comic book lore has been his solitude. Peter Parker was a socially awkward person with very few friends and that extended to the beginning of his work as a hero.
Later on, he develops relationships with other heroes like the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Iron Man, etc., and those connections then lead him to joining teams.
Spider-Man in the MCU is very different in that regard. Peter Parker is part of a social circle and his need to disconnect from it and pursue superheroics (in Homecoming) is a fantastic adaptation of the comic book lore. But turning that around into him pursuing a spot on the Avengers and Tony Stark’s approval was a misstep.
That connection also extends to the villains he faces.
The Vulture (Adrian Toomes) and Mysterio (Quentin Beck) are more Iron Man adversaries in the movies. But they are long-standing Spider-Man nemeses, having served in numerous incarnations of the Sinister Six.
They are explained away in the MCU continuity as people slighted by Tony Stark and, as compelling as it makes them, the only reason for them to be Spider-Man’s antagonists then is because he’s Tony Stark’s protégé.
That’s a disservice to the character that we all know and love.
The Ben Parker Disconnection
“With great power comes great responsibility” is almost as well known as the man who is credited with its saying.
Ben Parker serves as the reason Peter Parker makes most of his choices as Spider-Man. The guilt of failing his uncle has been his motivation in the comics, in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies and in The Amazing Spider-Man movies.
The MCU makes the choice of only hinting at this with Easter Eggs and obscure references in dialogue but, for the most part, Uncle Ben isn’t mentioned.
Peter doesn’t reminisce about the time they spent together, Aunt May doesn’t miss or mourn him, Ned and Tony do not bring him up, even though they should have at least heard about what happened to him.
The biggest indication that Ben Parker existed is the suitcase that Peter takes on Europe trip in Far From Home.
Skipping the integral backstory because it’s as well known as Bruce Wayne’s tragedy is one thing, ignoring the crucial character beats and just replacing them with a surrogate is a different issue altogether.
Once again, Tony Stark (after his sacrifice in Endgame) takes the role of Ben Parker as Peter grieves his loss the way he should mourn his uncle.
Having that grief serve as additional weight for Spidey would have been the stronger narrative choice and given more weight to his struggle to take up Iron Man’s mantle. Instead, Uncle Ben is just overwritten with Tony Stark.
Spider-Man is a great character, no matter the medium he is portrayed in. His lore and character have often been retooled and rewritten to serve the needs of where he needs to fit in. While some nail it on all fronts (like Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4), the MCU’s choices leave much to be desired. Thankfully, they still have the opportunity to correct the course and give us Spider-Man the way he should be.
3 thoughts on “The Problem with MCU’s Spider-Man”
Seconded, the Uncle Ben thing really annoys me (and kinda makes me resent Tony Stark as a character too, which I don’t want to do.)
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Exactly!! This doesn’t just affect Spider-Man, it extends to the characters that are associated with him.
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My hopes are high that Uncle Ben might get a mention in the third MCU Spider-Man now that Tony Stark is out of the way (Sorry Tony Stark.) It’s just such a bizarre decision to leave him out in the first place though!
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