Marvel’s Spider-Man Has an Iron Man Problem
Spider-Man may take center stage for now, but someone’s going to need to put on that armor eventually
(This post contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, but come on.)
Avengers: Endgame may end up as the highest-grossing movie of all time — it’s very close to edging out Avatar — but it hasn’t earned all that money without a cost. It marked the end of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, and now the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a Robert Downey Jr.-shaped hole that needs to be filled. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is clearly being groomed for the position. Here’s why that won’t work.
Although Endgame was the conclusion to Marvel Studios’ first 11 years of cinematic storytelling, it turns out that Far From Home isn’t as much the beginning of something new as it is an epilogue to Robert Downey Jr.’s reign as Tony Stark. While the world mourns the loss of its biggest hero, Peter mourns the loss of his mentor. That is, until Stark’s right-hand man Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) arrives to give Peter the metaphorical key to Tony Stark’s kingdom of enhanced technology, i.e. Iron Man’s A.I.-enhanced sunglasses. In Far From Home, Peter is predictably wishy-washy about stepping into Tony’s shoes at first, but realizes with great power comes great responsibility (as Spider-Men are wont to do) and if Iron Man thought he was good enough, then Peter should indeed step up.
While Stark posthumously asks Peter to be his replacement, Far From Home is equally about Marvel Studios trying to position Spider-Man as its new Iron Man, and Tom Holland as the new heart and soul of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the problem. Spider-Man may have Iron Man’s tech skills, but as affably, dorkily charming as Holland is as Peter Parker, he can’t come close to the titanic swagger RDJ brought to Tony Stark, around which the juggernaut that is the MCU coalesced. For instance, it’s very difficult to imagine Holland’s Peter Parker leading the Avengers anytime soon (whomever ends up on the new roster). Given Spider-Man’s worldwide popularity as a character, putting Spider-Man at the center of Phase Four or Chapter Two or whatever they’re calling their next decade-plus of movies…