A lot of people seem to have taken aim at the fact that Iron Man has a supporting role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Some claim that the movie will essentially be Iron Man 4, relegating Spider-Man to a glorified sidekick. While the majority don't take it that far, that opinion is a little bit understandable given the movie's posters screaming: IRON MAN IS IN THIS MOVIE!
A lot of people feel that Stark is stealing Peter's thunder in a way, that #SpiderManHomecoming should only be about Spider-Man. Many were unhappy that Spider-Man worked with the Avengers so early in his career, in Captain America: Civil War. Well, I think these people have a very justified opinion of #SpiderMan, but I think they've completely missed the point of what Homecoming is about. The film is a narrative that is rich with the wall crawler's comicbook history.
Spider-Man And Super Teams
The crux of the argument is that Spider-Man, unlike most of the heroes in the Marvel universe, was never part of a team until recently, with one infamous exception.
A big part of his charm is him going it alone, tackling problems with his own intellect and skill, not needing or necessarily wanting the help (or hassle) of a team. What these people are forgetting is that Spider-Man has been trying to join a team since the beginning of his career. It is, in fact, through these circumstances that Spider-Man comes to the realization that he prefers working alone. Have you ever read the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man from 1963?
Spider-Man literally breaks into the Baxter Building in an attempt to join the Fantastic Four, under the misconception that it would come with a salary. Admittedly, he does not end up joining the team, it is far from the last time he tries to join a famous Marvel team. In fact, it was just a year later in 1964 that Spider-Man first appeared in an Avengers comic, though he had appeared alongside several individual Avengers before (more on that later.)
In the issue, Spider-Man helps the Avengers take out a robot version of himself sent by Kang the Conqueror. Thinking he's proven himself, Spider-Man asks to join the team but is squarely turned down by none other than Tony Stark himself.
It isn't long before Spider-Man gets another crack at the team life, again with the Avengers, in the 1966 issue The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3.
This time he's actually given an official tryout. Unfortunately, Spidey ends up failing when the test results in a Hulk rampage. While it may have been disheartening for the wall crawler, it would not stop him from teaming up with the Avengers again and again, even helping to fight Thanos in the late '70s.
His final big brush with the team before becoming an actual, full-fledged member of the Avengers in the modern era (is 2004 still even considered the modern era?) was in the mid '80s. Though he was designated a "trainee" Avenger because of a legal loop hole, it was just another example of the many times Spider-Man has helped out — and been helped out — by fellow heroes.
I think it is safe to say that buddying around with the Avengers is well within Spider-man's purview.
We had Raimi's Spider-Man movies, which were essentially made to be like the classic Amazing Spider-Man comics. In the reboots, they went a little more Ultimate Spider-Man, a little bit weird Hollywood edge. Both follow Spider-Man's solo outings. While we've already established that Spider-Man isn't always a loner, many people forget that the long-running “Marvel Team-Up” comic was a Spider-Man story.
In over 90 percent of the comics, the team up was Spider-Man and someone else; it might as well have been called "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends." So, not only had Spider-Man spent a decent amount of time among teams, but he had his own comic completely dedicated to seeing him work one on one with other heroes, often Avengers. It's really a genius move to approach the movie with this fresh dynamic that more than agrees with the established continuity of the comics, and is a great way to differentiate these new movies from the old ones.
At The End Of The Day, Yes, Spider-Man Is Best As A Loner
You might see all this and say, “Yeah, OK, It's not outside the realm of Spider-Man to team up with someone, but it's not where he works best. The team-ups teach us that. He always goes back on his own.” And to this I say: I agree 100 percent. Doing things his own way and following his own compass is one of the things that makes Spider-Man so enduring. We've all had to handle difficult situations, and sometimes we know they are best left for us to handle by ourselves.
If you've been paying attention to the marketing for this film you should know this is the entire plot of the movie. Just take a look at this trailer:
What seems to be the overall message here? Spider-Man is basically Stark's lap dog. Iron Man is arguably the world's biggest hero. Under his tutelage, Spider-Man might learn some things, but he can't be Iron Man. He's being forced into becoming Iron Man Jr., and somewhere in the middle of the film he realizes that's not who he is, and he has to go it alone — Stark's opinion be damned.
This movie seems to show us who Spider-Man is, and that he works best alone. It's another example of Marvel knowing their characters so well that Marvel faithfully interprets them in ways we didn't even realize were central to the character. We need Iron Man to serve as an antagonist of sorts, to demonstrate to us that, yes, Spider-Man works best alone.
Haters Gonna Hate
Maybe there aren't that many people making a stink about this. Maybe they're just a small group loudly churning out meme after meme to make their numbers appear bigger, or maybe it's something a little bit easier to explain.
I know we're not supposed to bring it up, but there is a rift between Marvel and DC fans. A lot of the people I've personally seen in my news feed complaining about this movie have been people who fall on the more DC side of the spectrum of comicbook love. They're high on the success of Wonder Woman and emboldened to talk smack. Let them have their day. Who doesn't love a good rivalry?
Now this post may already be moot, as the reviews have already started to pour in and they are pretty overwhelmingly positive, but I'm still seeing people complain about this, so I felt it prudent to write up this article.
Three big pieces of news dropped very recently that have huge bearing on the Homecoming sequel. They are:
- Avengers: Infinity War Will Kill Off Some Of Our Heroes
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 Will Feature A Different Marvel Hero
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 Will Start Minutes After Avengers 4
It's not difficult to put the pieces together here. Major characters will die in Infinity War, Iron Man won't return in Homecoming 2, and Homecoming 2 picks up minutes after Avengers 4. If you've been paying attention to Marvel's recent productions, you'd know that Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 are filming back to back, so it is likely that their stories will follow very closely to each other, if not forming two halves of one story.
I think it is safe to assume that Iron Man will die in Infinity War, likely not permanently, but long enough for Spider-Man to seek help else where when he gets in over his head. Given the cosmic nature of the events in the next two Avengers movie — and the assumption that Homecoming 2 will start with Peter in some kind of cosmic trouble — I think I have a safe bet on who he'll go to for help.
Yup, I'm placing my bet now that Homecoming 2 will be another Marvel Team-Up type film featuring Benedict Cumberbatch's Dr. Strange. Any longtime Spider fans will know that these two have worked together several times, and it is almost always delightful. Now, what plot line from the comics could they chase up?
Well there you have it, my argument for why people need to calm down about Iron Man sharing the screen in the first MCU Spider-Man solo outing. I hope you enjoyed the article, and I hope everyone enjoys Spider-Man: Homecoming, so that this Marvel train just keeps on chugging. I am all aboard.
What do you think of the Iron Man and Spider-Man team-up in Homecoming?