If you haven’t seen the new Spider-Man movie and want to avoid spoilers, then I’d recommend not going any further, as I’m going to be talking about the ending as a part of this article. But please come back afterwards.
In the mid-credits scene for Spider-Man: Far From Home, we were treated to two surprise revelations. First, J.K. Simmons reprising his role from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies as J Jonah Jameson, a further testament to the MCU’s amazing casting decisions. In the process, old JJJ out’s Peter Parker’s secret identity as Spider-Man thanks to a last message from Quentin Beck.
This is a decision I, personally, am pretty torn about. Secret Identities are a staple trope in superhero fiction, juggling a dual identity as a normal, upstanding member of society and the hero everyone knows is as expected as the spandex and superpowers.
At the same time though, I can completely understand why Marvel Studios want to turn their back on it. Keeping an identity secret can become a crutch in this form of storytelling, movies only have so much time to tell their story, and having to have a character find excuses to go be a hero can become somewhat tiresome.
It’s a choice I can understand and support for the most part. Tony Stark is pure ego, there’s no way he would want to keep him being Iron Man a secret. Steve Rogers and Thor have no need to keep a secret identity. Spider-Man though, his dual identity is key to his character, more so than practically any other character in Marvel comics. Which is why it’s more difficult to accept this choice.
Don’t get me wrong, I have every confidence in Marvel Studios making this choice work for the sake of the movies, but we’re not going to see another Spider-Man movie for, maybe, three years now. In the meantime I wonder what’s happening in Peter’s life during that time.
Spider-Man is my favourite superhero. I grew up watching the cartoons, collecting the comics and playing all the terrible video games. More so than any other Marvel character, I felt a connection to him growing up.
Peter was the nerdy social outcast, being ridiculed by his peers one minute and saving their lives the next. Juggling the dual lives of Peter Parker and Spider-Man was more core to his character than any other Marvel character as his inability to avoid trouble ended up always having detrimental effects on his life as Peter.
As much as people like to joke about it now “With great power comes great responsibility” really is core to the character in a deep and unshakeable way. As much as I really do like the MCU’s interpretation of Peter Parker, he becomes more separated from his comic book self with each passing movie.
It’s not something I’m going to get hung up on really. However they deal with this will end up turning into something great I have no doubt. But what Spider-Man is, at his core, is becoming less recognisable as Marvel Studios make more choices surrounding the character that benefit the franchise as a series of movies rather than paying homage to the source material.
Going into Phase 4, I think we’re going to be seeing a very different kind of MCU than we’ve been used to. There are Avengers anymore, we’re jumping around in the timeline far more and it seems like the concept of the multiverse is going to be introduced for real with the second Doctor Strange movie.
It’s a refreshing movie that can keep the franchise fresh and constantly surprising for years to come. Like outing Peter as Spider-Man, it’s certainly not a move I saw coming and will really change the dynamic of the character for whenever we next see him.