NOTE: This is all my personal wild speculation on Spider-Man and the MCU. Opinions may play into this, so take it with a grain of salt.
ALSO NOTE: This may contain partial spoilers to Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Here we have it, Spider-Man: Homecoming, the 3rd reboot of the Spider-Man franchise on the big screen. And it looks to be quite successful, so far. So, what does this mean for the wider scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let’s wildly speculate!
As a Hero:
Tom Holland, the latest actor to take over the role of Peter Parker, may be 21, but he’s playing the part as a teenager. He’s excitable, brash, head-strong, and far more competent than he’s given credit for. All the pluses and minuses of any teen out there. Peter Parker is meant to be relatable and thrust into something much bigger than himself. He’s not the billionaire playboy philanthropist, the patriot who wanted to be the hero, or a living god – the most successful archetypes that have carried the MCU so far.
That raw uncertainty of youth is a major factor in the magic of the character’s origin that, personally, felt somewhat missing from the two previous incarnations. Let the kid be a kid, let the audience grow with him, and don’t treat it like it’s a plot gimmick.
If this “youthful” take is applied to more heroes, we may see a powerful shift in upcoming hero introductions. Cloak & Dagger, The Runaways, and other potentials like Ms. Marvel, the Power Pack, or Young Avengers could all provide viable (and profitable) jumping-on points for younger audiences so long as it’s handled realistically (yes, I used that word to describe a superhero movie trope).
With the upcoming Spider-Man sequels, I can only imagine we’ll see Peter grow with the audience. I think he could be groomed as a leader-type figure, but the Parker Luck demands that he get smacked down time and time again.
I was surprised to see his suit be so tech-heavy in this film. I’m betting that at some point soon, we’ll see something more following the design of the “Iron Spider” suit from the Civil War comics where Tony Stark outfits him with a suit with 3 extra appendages and a red and gold design that’s as much Iron Man as Spider-Man. Maybe to prepare him for a space-fight?
As a Villain:
One of the major criticisms people seem to have with the MCU as a whole is it’s “problem with villains.” Basically, the villains are disposable and are often not much of a threat in the long run. There are seemingly two exceptions. The first is Loki, whose character dictates that he be “evil” at times and “good” at times, as his personal desires dictate – so not fully a villain. The second is Thanos, who as of yet has been seen menacingly sitting on a throne and putting on a glove – the entirety of his threat level coming from what we expect from the comics and nothing from the films.
Enter: the Vulture. I love Michael Keaton as an actor and he made this role great. Suddenly, we have a villain who is almost relatable, if not at times even likable. He’s a blue-collar guy, working to give his family the best. He’s been screwed over by big business and big government. Maybe he makes his money from arms dealing now, but it’s all low-level and nowhere near as egregious as the deals that made Tony Stark and his dad so rich.
The Vulture is willing to kill. But respects the fight in those who stand up for what they believe. Even in Peter, when they finally have their showdown. He has a sense of honor, albeit twisted, and he doesn’t bring down destruction and violence in a wanton fashion. Peter saves his daughter’s life – that’s respectable. Peter saves him from an explosive death after a foiled heist – that’s respectable. In the end, the Vulture doesn’t give up Peter’s identity to the other crooks that Spider-Man has stopped because of that same twisted honor. As an audience, we now have a respectable villain who is justified in his hatred and can be rooted against with a passion at their next showdown.
Because you know there’s got to be a next one! The crook Vulture doesn’t reveal Parker to is Max Gargan, who has a scorpion tattoo on his neck that clues you into him eventually becoming the supervillain Scorpion. We’ve also seen the Shocker, and Donald Glover’s character was a nod to The Prowler. I think, once this new trilogy is complete, we’ll see the formation of the Sinister Six. This was rumored to be the goal of Andrew Garfield’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” run, but now seems much more plausible. Look for rumors surrounding Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, The Green Goblin, Sandman, and Doctor Octopus to begin circulating.
As an Avenger:
Spider-Man is an Avenger…basically.
By the end of this film, it would seem his spot on the team is reserved, at least. So, I’m thinking we’re going to see a lot Peter’s relationships to the other heroes. I want to see more with “awkward dad Iron Man;” I want him to be busted for staring at Black Widow; and I’m scared to see what exactly the consequences are for rooming next to Vision, who isn’t big on walls.
And I want to see a space-fight!
We know Spider-Man will be in the upcoming Avengers movies, but we don’t know to what extent. Does he stick to his guns and stay on the ground, or does he go off to fight in space (as you figure they have to) to duke it out with Thanos. Tony could pull the Adult Card again and tell Peter he can’t go, but would that stop him? I don’t know what Spidey can do against a cosmic threat, unless…
What if Spidey gets the Iron Spider suit from Tony specifically to prepare for this. It doesn’t do much, it gets ruined, and Peter is beaten. How would he survive? Maybe he’d need to suit up again, this time in a black symbiotic suit that gives him even more powers? It would be a legit lead-in for the upcoming film Sony has planned.
Then again, Spidey did get cosmic powers in the comics for a moment, there…
Any of these possibilities can make for an awesome twist to the new Spider-Man mythos and, as a fanboy, I’d happily buy a ticket for that ride.
As an IP:
So what might this mean for Spider-Man as movie Intellectual Property? So far, this has been a successful reboot of the character, with an opening domestic weekend of roughly $117 million dollars. With a production budget of $175 million, this means profits and sequels are virtually assured.
The standoff between Marvel Studios and Sony over character usage seems to have proven itself to be much more lucrative as a partnership. I want to see what this new union can bring now that there is more of a focus being placed on continuity with other films and (more importantly) the spirit of the character. While I enjoyed the Sony-only versions, this new version seems far more poised to create an expanded Spider-Verse. Sony is already pressing forward with a Venom-based movie with Tom Hardy and rumors of films with Black Cat and Silver Sable are already rumored to be underway, as well. And if teaming up with Marvel Studios is profitable, how long can Fox deny the potential of The X-Men, Fantastic Four, or Deadpool interacting with the major players in the MCU?
I do, however, think this could also bring about a bit of a cold war as the studios race to claim any character not already claimed under contract. Imagine the meetings discussing the viability of a Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman movie?
Also, this new type of younger hero is necessary in the long run. When considering that the character of Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming is played as 15, that means he was born in 2002, the same year the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie was released. The audience for this film has barely been alive longer than the superhero movie craze. (I’m not counting the older Superman, Batman, etc. films as they were great, but didn’t have quite the level of cultural influence even outside of the fan community that this new generation does.) This new audience needs to be retained and (to an extent) tailored to.
I believe this movie is also preparing us for two new waves of heroes. The first is the youth groups (mentioned earlier) and the second are heroes along the lines of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. These Netflix characters are “street-level,” or “friendly neighborhood,” heroes that keep a narrow focus on their scope and feel much more real. Yes, these shows existed before this new Spider-Man film, but this does create a larger budget and movie-level involvement that can still bring greater attention to such characters.
What I’m saying here is that I want Moon Knight. TV or movie, don’t care, just do it.
“Yeah, Spider-Man!” – guy on Staten Island Ferry
“Yeah, Iron Man!” – same guy after Iron Man comes clean up Spidey’s mess
I think the new Spider-Man movie is great. Yes, on its own merits, but also in large part due to its connection to the MCU. They’ll feed off each other, symbiotically. While Spidey gets that Marvel Studios soul, the MCU gets the vitality of a new wave of heroes and their fans.