Spider-Man: Homecoming has finally hit the big screen a year after his cameo in Captain America: Civil War. When the web-slinging superhero was recruited by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) to fight against Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Peter Parker (Tom Holland) got to fight with the Avengers during the iconic airport battle, giving fans what could be Marvel's best fight scene to date. Naturally, the question of whether Spidey would officially be joining the Avengers was raised and debated ever since - and this week we finally had our answer.
Warning: This post has spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Captain American: Civil War (2016).
At the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming, #TonyStark offers #PeterParker a position with the Avengers. At that moment, most of us expected to see Peter do some backflips and cheer in excitement; after all, he did spent the entire movie wanting to prove his worth to Stark, hoping he'd be officially invited to join the Avengers. However, the exact opposite happens instead.
When Stark and Happy (Jon Favreau) discuss where in the new headquarters he would live now that he could join the Avengers, Parker does not seem too pleased with the realization he would have to leave home. Then, to everyone's surprise, young Parker refuses Stark's offer, saying he'd rather stay on the ground a little longer -something that Stark had encouraged him to do earlier in the film.
So, despite earning the opportunity, Spider-Man will not be joining the Avengers. In some ways, this is a sad decision. We were all hyped for Spider-Man's involvement with the Avengers, especially after the catastrophic events of Civil War, which questioned some of the crew's 'official' Avengers status. However, although it might initially seem like a missed opportunity, his decision not to join the Avengers ensemble is actually a great thing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Peter Parker Has Got Some Growing Up To Do!
Let's not forget that Parker is only 15 years old. Tony Stark is probably the only Avenger crazy enough to recruit someone at this age. Stark has been known to make rash decisions that have unfortunate consequences, which is something that led ScreenRant's Daniel Ricwulf to make a great point recently.
When it comes right down to it, Tony Stark has just been winging it since the get-go. While it would be unfair to suggest that he has nothing to offer Peter as a friend and ally, Tony hasn’t exactly written the book on smart superheroing choices. While his fight for the greater good has seen a transition from egotism to pragmatism, it has often ended with horrific results. - Daniel Ricwulf, Screenrant
Needless to say, Stark's track record hasn't been perfect. So, when he put Parker in a suit, it proves to be an premature decision. The fact that Spidey's suit is running on a training wheels program shows that Stark thinks Parker has much more to learn. He also somewhat admits this by highlighting Parker's refusal to join the Avengers as a mature decision. Stark has grown as an individual throughout his time as Iron Man, and Parker needs that kind of time to grow too.
Essentially, declining the opportunity to become an Avenger prevents Spidey from becoming another failed Stark project, and allows him to be a hero in his own right.
When it comes down to it, Spider-Man is a struggling superhero. He is a kid from Queens who was bitten by a radioactive spider, so nobody taught him what it means to be a superhero. We need to keep seeing Peter fall hard, learning that with great power there has to come — great responsibility.
Sure, right now in the comics Peter Parker has moved on to the big time — but that works precisely because he's been struggling for decades. If Marvel really want to make Spider-Man work in the MCU, then in my view they simply have to replicate the formula - Tom Bacon, Movie Pilot
Spider-Man cannot join the Avengers as soon as he's introduced to the universe because he hasn't been seen struggling. In that sense, Peter's decision not to join the Avengers proves to be a very Parker-like decision. However, the decision to invite Spider-Man to the Avengers would also have had a huge impact on the current dynamic that Marvel have introduced.
Including Parker Would Drastically Change The Avengers:
If Parker were to join the Avengers at this early stage, it's likely that characters would start treating him like a sidekick, and not as the independent character we know and love.
"Spider-Man was originally conceived as the first teenage superhero that wasn’t a sidekick. [...] Peter may sometimes wish he could be as strongly convicted and together as the other heroes, but he’ll always finally default back to who he is: the confused kid from Queens who’s just trying to do the right thing. He may not always know how to be the perfect superhero, but he’s humble enough to know he’s got stuff to learn." - Daniel Ricwulf, Screenrant
At this point in his career, characters will continue to lecture the young hero in a manner that can be seen in Ultimate Spider-Man, the comics that have explored Parker's youth and have been cited by Holland as Homecoming's main source of inspiration.
"Like most teens, everyone in the world wants to lecture Peter about what he’s doing, completely ignoring all the good he’s done" - Joshua Rivera, Entertainment Weekly
This type of behavior would simply disrupt the Avengers dynamic and directly affect the group's leading characters. Peter needs to be able to make huge mistakes, much like those in Homecoming, in order to become an equal to Earth's mightiest heroes.
Arguably, what has made Spider-Man one of the most beloved superheroes of all time is the fact that he's extremely relatable. Peter Parker has real life problems and is quintessentially human. By going back to his roots, #Marvel are staying true to Stan Lee's vision of a super-powered teenager with personal problems. In fact, it was this dynamic that made Spider-Man one of the most popular heroes of all time, despite the initial reaction Stan Lee received after pitching the character.
"Stan, that is the worst idea I have ever heard. First of all, people hate spiders, so you can’t call a book Spider-Man. Secondly he can’t be a teenager—teenagers can only be sidekicks. And third, he can’t have personal problems if he’s supposed to be a superhero—don’t you know who a superhero is?'" — Stan Lee (paraphrasing his editor), TIME
Thanks to this unique traits, Spider-Man was the first of a new era of superheroes. Before the web-crawler was put into action, heroes like DC's Superman were portrayed like omnipotent, god-like figures of super perfection. If this were true for Spidey, he'd make a fine inclusion to the Avengers line-up - but it would cost Marvel everything fans love about the character.
When it comes down to it, Marvel gets who #Spiderman truly is. This was perfectly articulated by Jonathan Goldstein, writer of Spider-Man: Homecoming, when specifically asked why Parker didn't join the Avengers.
"It's part of the overall arc for where Peter is in learning that he doesn't need the suit to be a hero, nor does he need membership in the Avengers to be a hero. He is his own guy, and the ultimate embrace of that is turning down an offer from Tony Stark." - Goldstein, THR
We should all be very happy that Marvel has given their golden touch to one of our favorite superheroes, showing that they understand why we love the character. Peter Parker will always be a friend to the Avengers, but first he has to stay in Queens and discover what it means to be our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.