Even now, it’s hard to believe that Spider-Man is finally in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — exchanging banter with Falcon and the Winter Soldier, watching a series of goofy Captain America PSAs in school, and exchanging even more banter with the Guardians in space.
When it was announced that we’d be getting a third portrayal of Peter Parker in less than two decades, they made the right decision to skip another retelling of his origin story. Instead, ol’ Webhead was introduced in a way that was both seamless and unforgettable: with an Alt-J song blasting over location titles that read “Queens.” Tony Stark, of course, was keeping track of extraordinary goings-on in New York, and the Spider-guy from YouTube had caught his attention. There was a battle going on, Iron Man needed Spider-Man, and we were witnessing it on the big screen instead of just comic pages. And then he stole Steve Rogers’ shield right out of his grip while proclaiming himself to be a big fan, exhibiting his signature dorky smart-mouth, and the rest was history.
Let’s be real, the airport fight in Captain America: Civil War wouldn’t have been as instantly iconic if Spider-Man hadn’t been there, and he fit right in.
That introductory scene also cemented another aspect of MCU Peter Parker’s character DNA: having Tony himself be an unlikely father figure. Iron Man’s presence in Spider-Man: Homecoming wasn’t just welcome, it made sense. Peter and Tony were both scientific geniuses who could use some stable family-like relationships and support, and the movie was able to develop their characters in unprecedented ways, through each other. (That post-Staten Island Ferry scene comes to mind.)
Spider-Man is the flagship character of Marvel Comics, and will forever be its most iconic: the self-made, friendly neighborhood hero, and his current cinematic counterpart deserves some more autonomy and agency.
Fans loved this development and latched onto the “Iron-dad and Spidey-son” narrative, following it through Avengers: Infinity War and, of course, Avengers: Endgame, where the universe was literally restored because Tony found a picture of him and Peter while cleaning. Their kinship and dynamic is endlessly funny and endearing, highlighting Tony’s soft spot for kids who are a little lost, and Peter’s potential to be a great hero and human being.
It’s just that sometimes, you can’t help but feel that Peter’s ties to Tony are starting to hinder and ignore the important parts that make him who he is.
Dealing with the fallout of Endgame, a major plot point in Spider-Man: Far From Home is Peter’s grief over losing Tony. “I miss him,” he says. “I see him everywhere.” This is very important for the film to address, and even without Robert Downey Jr. in the cast, there’s no shortage of moments to warm hearts and elicit tears — but that doesn’t mean that the audience, too, needs to see Tony literally everywhere. Graffiti and memorials are one thing, but bulletin boards, in-flight entertainment, and the airport not five minutes later?
It’s a little too on the nose, and it keeps hitting us over the head with Tony’s presence instead of focusing on his absence and why this should affect Peter. Scenes that would have been touching begin to feel suffocating when they seem more like overkill. Tony Stark’s legacy is worth honoring and paying homage to, but this is still a Spider-Movie.
(And that’s not even getting to the fact that they’ve downplayed the role of Aunt May and especially Uncle Ben — the people who raised him — in shaping the man Peter becomes.)
In Far From Home, Peter Parker earns his status as the next great hero — a great hero period — because he’s Peter Benjamin Parker, not because he’s the “next Tony Stark.” Spider-Man is the flagship character of Marvel Comics, and will forever be its most iconic: the self-made, friendly neighborhood hero, and his current cinematic counterpart deserves some more autonomy and agency.
Sure, having a Stark suit and tech with awesome abilities makes for cooler battles, but we’d take average every-guy Peter Parker borrowing his aunt’s sewing kit and fixing up his torn spandex after a long night of patrolling any day.