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Peter Fenzel returns (he had been far from home) to join Mark Lee and Matt Wrather to discuss Spider-Man: Far From Home, the bagatelle at the end of the MCU Symphony.
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Off the top, just wanted to point out that the Russo Bros., having been asked in interviews, apparently believe that the Hulk’s counter-snappening in Endgame was done in such a way that everyone who came back was basically safe-ish. That apparently doesn’t include being immediately body-checked by a basketball player.
Also, just to answer a question that came up during the podcast, yes, Spider-Man has unmasked himself before. Probably a few times but, outside of “What If?” stories, the really big one was when he registered as a superhero during Civil War. If I remember correctly, this somehow led to Aunt May dying and then Spider-Man made a literal deal with the literal devil (named Mephisto here, but basically the literal devil) to bring her back and also undo the big public revelation. In exchange, he wiped his marriage to Mary Jane from the timeline for what basically boiled down to editorial reasons. This was all very dumb and is widely regarded as one of the worst comic books Marvel has ever made. Personally, I would LOVE to see the MCU somehow salvage an adaptation of this but more than likely they’ll just go in a totally different direction with it. Probably for the best.
It looks like Far From Home is stumbling into what’s now a pretty classic problematization of superhero movies: when the villain speaks, people listen. We’re usually not supposed to. But that’s just how it works. Sometimes people play around with this. Killmonger, for example, is not supposed to be outright dismissed in the same way that the Joker from The Dark Knight is. Regardless, their ideas are given about the same level of credence.
Mysterio may have a lot to say about the dangers of superhero stories. But, you know, he’s also a supervillain. So of course he feels that way. Within the context of the MCU, is Nick Fury really a better choice to hold EDITH than Peter Parker would be? The guy who allowed his super-spy agency to be infected with Nazis? The guy who wanted to point space lasers at everyone on Earth? The guy who is currently actually an alien in disguise?
Was Tony Stark a worse choice to keep the Iron Man tech than the government (also, apparently, Nazi-infected) or The Dude, who was also a supervillain?
So yeah, Mysterio is probably the voice of a lot of criticisms of the MCU. And within the MCU, it makes sense that he’s then the bad guy. But in a broader context, there’s a little more to this. We live in a world where political regressives engage in both constant character assassinations and also obstructionism for nothing better than petty power grabs and stabs at revenge against either individuals or some nebulous notion of the world itself. Wherein agitators who have neither courage nor moral integrity can hide behind their newfound, high-tech capability to create illusions in order to muddy the waters and seize authority away from the people who would use it properly. And wherein we often find the guardians of our institutions, too old and too out-of-touch to understand the foundations of this new reality, to be incapable of what feels to us like the most basic levels of fact-checking. Usually because they’re too distant from the situation to really care.
Like The Vulture before him, Mysterio seems representative of a lot of teen anxieties. And right now, or maybe just always, most of those are being caused by an older generation that just really, really does not have its act together. Even the adults that are closer to Peter Parker are either goofily incompetent, like his teachers, or pushing him in a direction he doesn’t want to take, like Aunt May, or trying to move in on his home life in a way that feels uncomfortable, like Happy Hogan.
I think that for me one of the reasons that this version of Spider-Man resonates in a way that the others never came close to being able to is because they’re actually about these tensions that arise from these liminal states of being that Spidey stories feel uniquely suited to capture, at least within the superhero genre. Adolescence, flirtation, rivalry, betrayal, hidden identity. This isn’t usually Captain America stuff, is it?
Anyways, I was thinking about who the next Spider-Man villain could be and I realized that basically all of the big ones have either been done already or Sony has signaled that they’re ready to poach them for themselves (otherwise, Kraven would be the obvious choice.) So, that leaves pretty much just Tombstone and the Spider Slayers which, while an awesome band name, means that we’re now open to dig into some of the small-time guys that could use a boost.
Here are my personal suggestions:
1. The Living Brain – it’s a computer, but on wheeeeels!
2. The Enforcers – One of them has a lasso!
3. Grizzly – He dresses like a bear! That’s it!
4. Stegron – He’s a stegosaurus-man! The most vicious of all the non-carnivorous dinosaurs!
5. Spot – He just does the portals from Dr. Strange! But on his body and stuff!
6. Slyde – He can go 30 mph! Not quite freeway speeds!
7. Shathra – I don’t even remember this one! According to Wikipedia, “Shathra assumed a human form and calling herself Sharon, she went to Fox News and claimed to be Spider-Man’s lover to draw him out and disgrace him. Spider-Man quickly came to the studio and angrily attacked her, revealing her wasp form.” Speaking of problematic!
… or I guess they could just ask Sony politely if they can use Kraven the Hunter.
I am wondering about the next villain too. The director wants Kraven, but Sony wants him for a spin-off movie. We could still see the lion vest.
I suspect the next Spider-man film will be about Peter trying to hide from the press and authorities trying to prosecute him. Maybe a bounty is placed on his head and Kraven tries to collect. This could also mean the Spider Slayer robots, or the creation of a task-force to hunt him down. Maybe this is where the Sinister Six is brought into the MCU. We’ve already seen several of the members. It could also be the introduction of the Thunderbolts. The Thunderbolts could also be a way of bringing in Norman Osborn again.
Also, do we think Mysterio is really dead? I mean, they glasses said he was dead, but those could have been hacked. It is kind of Mysterio’s gimmick to play dead. Could he come back as one of the Sinister Six members?
If they want to keep up the ties to Tony Stark then they could set the entirety of the Sinister Six plot in a Burger King and call it Spider-Man: Home of the Whoppers.
I like the homosexual interpretations here, even if it was tongue in cheek… hehehe. Young kid, going to decadent europe, finding himself, meets predatory older man, dome head filled with milky white smoke, intimate sharing, etc, etc.
Could there be racial interpretations too? There’s been calls for a black spiderman (Miles), but they went for two consecutive black female love interests instead.
On an even more meta level (than Jon Favreau summing up Tony Stark), the Christmas Story kid pushing buttons for Mysterio was the button-pusher for the original Iron Man movie, as its producer. Naturally, he’s asserting his authority (and author-ity) to continue the Iron Man saga by denying Spider-Man’s claim to the mantle.
I really thought the character/story arc concerning “Flash” (he’ll kinda always just be the bellhop from The Grand Budapest Hotel to me) was heading toward Peter taking those swinging selfies and exclusively delivering them to his biggest fan.
This could’ve accomplished a few things: First, it reinforces Peter Parker as being a generally good guy. From my recollection of the comics, he never hated Dr. Connors or Harry or whoever for having a vendetta with his alter-ego, so there might’ve been a nice inversion in Spider-Man being kind to Peter Parker’s enemy.
More importantly, I thought they were going to touch on the idea that newspapers don’t really matter in the culture, but social media influencers do. A modernization of the Spider-Man story might’ve involved Spider-Man selling pictures not to J.Jonah for rent money, but to the Flash Thompson Twitter feed for clout and a cut of the ad revenue. At least until Flash leveraged Spidey’s good name into the Friendly Neighborhood Fyre Festival…