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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default The problem with Iron Man being Spider-Man's mentor in the MCU

    Note: I actually posted much of this in a different topic, the "MCU arch-nemesis" one, but felt like it could hold its own and hoped it would inspire discussion.

    I enjoy the MCU Spider-Man movies but I have gripes with them, gripes that I've seen expressed elsewhere, in that the shared universe, and Tony Stark in particular, dominates Spidey's own narrative. I'll explain the issue with this in great detail.

    They essentially decided to make Peter into a legacy character for Tony. The main issue with that is that it's completely antithetical to Spider-Man as a character. Stan Lee designed Spider-Man as a counterpoint against the idea of kid sidekicks, against the "juniors" of any team, who had to be guided by an older and wiser hero. Peter wasn't someone who was supposed to have an adult mentor to walk him through everything. He was a self-made man, in his essence.

    The MCU counterpart's motivation is impressing "Mr. Stark", vying for his approval, gaining a seat on the Avengers for the prestige, and living up to his legacy. Everything from his suit, gadgets, connection to the world, and his villains, all came directly from Iron Man. Sure, he was officially Spider-Man before then, but without any real gadgets. He was stopping cars and rescuing old ladies from the street, and that's all he'd ever amount to if Tony didn't come along to make him into a "real" hero. It stands in direct opposition to Spider-Man as a character.

    In fact, the final fight with Vulture was embarrassing to watch, mainly because he got his ass beat and only lucked out when Vulture's suit malfunctioned, ie Vulture had to take himself out. People have said "If he had his suit, it would be different!", and to that I say "Doesn't that just prove he needs Tony to begin with?".

    Spider-Man is a solo player, because he likes it best that way. He envies teams like the Avengers and the Fantastic Four because of their stability, their fancy homes, and the fame, but he couldn't be part of that because he believes himself to be his own man. Likewise, he's also on good terms with the X-Men, bonding over their sense of being heroic outcasts, but he's also not in the business of joining them. They're an organization of mutants, fighting for mutantkind, and thus he isn't part of that culture. While they've had some non-mutants among their ranks like Longshot, those are the big exceptions. Besides, can you imagine Spidey as a teacher there for anything more than a fun little miniseries? Something tells me the everyday commute to Westchester alone would be too much of a pain for him, and what could he teach mutant kids about life with himself as a non-mutant, that the X-Men couldn't teach? Yeah.

    Any time he's on a team, in most cases, he's either an associate, a reserve member, or it's very short-term. Being on the Avengers for a long period only highlighted this, mainly for being the "funny guy" that the others rag on and make him feel unimportant. That only reinforces the idea of Spider-Man being best as a solo hero rather than a team player, especially since that was his purpose. Many characters in Marvel are designed for teams in mind, but not Spidey. He can bounce off people in interactions, but it feels like a disservice to have Spidey as just the comic relief in a team story.

    Another main issue with Iron Man being Spider-Man's mentor, father figure and role model, is that it has little basis in the canon itself, and going before 2005, none at all. Before the New Avengers run by Bendis, Iron Man and Spider-Man had practically nothing to do with each other. At best, they've teamed up on several occasions to fight bad guys, such as in Marvel Team-Up, Spidey guesting on the Avengers, or some event where numerous heroes joined forces. At best, you could say they had a "professional" relationship, in that they can work together as superheroes for a task, but outside of it they weren't friends at all. Why would they be? Tony's a wealthy billionaire industrialist bankrolling the Avengers, and Peter is a working class individual who remains a solo hero associated with, but rarely actually a part of, any team he works with.

    Granted, I did say before 2005, which yes Bendis, and JMS since he obliged to Bendis' wish to have him in New Avengers, gave more to the idea of Tony and Peter being close partners and friends, with Peter moving alongside Aunt May and MJ to Avengers Tower and Spidey initially fighting for Iron Man's side in the Civil War. So yes, on a very technical level, Tony being a mentor to Peter has some level of basis. But the funny thing is that it did not end amicably, at all. Spidey turned on Iron Man in the Civil War when he learned of the Negative Zone, leading to a brawl and Spidey switching sides. That was the end of that. That was also seen as a high point of an otherwise very divisive event, so in other words Tony and Peter's most iconic interaction was them at each other's throats. Just look and see for yourself.



    This kind of contrasts the whole "Mr. Stark" attitude of the MCU Spider-Man if you ask me.

    Overall, it's very random to do, and only serves in the favor of the established MCU rather than Spider-Man. Imagine when they introduce Ms. Marvel, what with Kamala being like a modern, gender-inverted Spidey archetype, but they have her be guided by Black Panther of all people, and that's the defining part of her characterization, to the point where she's cleaning up his messes and fighting villains somehow connected to him and Wakanda. T'Challa and Kamala have nothing to do with each other, and about as much as Tony and Peter in most cases.

    Which brings me the point where Tony as Peter's mentor just makes no sense and almost seems fanfictiony, had it not been for the fact that Tony was the crown jewel of the MCU. Iron Man's place in the Spider-Man movies was just off, and I felt uncomfortable with how Tony both talked down on him and Peter just quietly accepted it. We never had a scene where Peter calls him out, and optionally, kicks him through a wall when Tony takes it too far. MCU Peter would never do that.

    Also consider that David Michelinie, the definitive Iron Man writer who essentially made Iron Man what we know, eventually wrote Spider-Man for a very good run of his own. He could've easily introduced Iron Man as a major character in his Spider-Man run, like how many writers bring back elements of their past work, and probably do so more organically. He didn't. The reason why is simple: Tony and Peter have nothing to do with each other, and he knew it.

    It's both antithetical to Spider-Man as we know, covered in detail above, and that it just has little to no basis in the canon of Marvel itself. Before 2005, how many times did Tony and Peter have any meaningful interactions? Probably not many. Even the basis it does have was brief overall, and not seen as a high point for either of them, apart from Spidey calling Iron Man out for a being a fascist of course (which doesn't really support the MCU version). So I doubt that had much to do with it, but was just something created whole cloth.

    At the end of the day, Tony as Peter's mentor, father figure and role model was more likely done out of brand reasons first and foremost. As in, Iron Man is what started the MCU and is their signature IP, so Spidey taking after him so much in his narrative was to help to further reinforce that idea. It feels a bit ridiculous when we have two major villains, two iconic Spider-Man villains with Vulture and Mysterio, that were rewritten to have been connected to Stark. It makes Spidey look like someone cleaning up his messes he left behind, a janitor. Spider-Man's villains are not just iconic, but they're his own. Sure there are examples of Spidey fighting other people's villains and taking in outside elements, but those are the exception, and furthermore, are done more organically than here.

    Not only that but his rogues are so iconic, that other heroes often fight them because of the recognition. Think like Sandman to the FF, Rhino to Hulk, Kingpin to Daredevil, Beetle to Iron Man, Kraven to Black Panther, recently Shocker to Kamala Khan, and Norman Osborn for everyone. The bottom line is that it's rather funny to see Spidey's rogues tied to Iron Man, with their beef mainly with them and Spidey just being in the way, when in the comics it's more the reverse if such a thing happened, as many heroes often pull from Spidey's rogues because many of them are just so much fun to watch and interesting. All the while, Iron Man's rogues are infamously lackluster, apart from a few exceptions, yet they tie many things to him at the expense of others, which is especially true for Spider-Man.

    That's my take.

  2. #2
    Fantastic Member Hugo Strange's Avatar
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    Spidey living under the shadow of another hero sucks.

  3. #3
    Kinky Lil' Canine Snoop Dogg's Avatar
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    Uncle Ben should have been MCU Mar-Vell.
    Quote Originally Posted by ???
    The world has changed, and so have I.

  4. #4
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    So you're complaining that MCU Tony Stark wasn't an authoritarian jackass who locked people up in the Negative Zone without trial?

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    So you're complaining that MCU Tony Stark wasn't an authoritarian jackass who locked people up in the Negative Zone without trial?
    No?

    I'm complaining about MCU Tony Stark completely overshadowing the narrative of Spider-Man.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    No?
    Then what was the point of bringing up the Civil War comic? Tony in the movies doesn't go down the same path as his comic counterpart.

    I'm complaining about MCU Tony Stark completely overshadowing the narrative of Spider-Man.
    He hasn't. He's barely in Homecoming and is completely absent in Far From Home. You might as well claim Captain America was overshadowing Bruce Banner's narrative because the Hulk was created due to an attempt to revive the Super Soldier program.

  7. #7
    World's Greatest Hero blackspidey2099's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Strange View Post
    Spidey living under the shadow of another hero sucks.
    100% agree. I think the OP put it very well as well. This is why I was pretty disappointed to hear the news that Spider-Man 3 is going to be in the MCU again - I have nothing against Tom Holland, but I think Feige and co. have no idea what makes Spider-Man tick (either that, or they just don't care).
    "Anyone can win a fight when the odds are easy! It's when the going's tough - when there seems to be no chance - that's when it counts!" - Spider-Man

  8. #8
    Incredible Member Cruelrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Strange View Post
    Spidey living under the shadow of another hero sucks.
    I agree with this

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    The problem also lies in how essentially unsatisfying it all is.

    Peter is shown as sidekick because he's "training" and will one day get better. Five movies in, he's still not there, so the answer seems to be he won't get better. Which sucks, because they aren't interested in telling actual Spider-Man stories, i.e. the character from the comics. They are interesting in telling the story of Tom Holland Peter, fanboy of the Avengers living in the MCU.

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member The Kid's Avatar
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    I'm not a big fan of it really either but the MCU is pretty much its own continuity. I like a lot of the references it makes to the comics but it really is its own thing with its own history. Spider-Man may be the biggest comic book hero of all time but Tony Stark was the main character of the Infinity Saga in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the end of the day, the MCU is the house that Iron Man pretty much built so it makes sense for things to shoot out of him in this particular continuity (Spidey, Ultron, etc..)

    Once I view as another interpretation of a character that I have mixed feelings about, I'm ok with taking and enjoying the parts of it I like. It's not like every other version of Spider-Man is close to Stark. It's just the Holland one. And there's a lot about MCU Spidey I love so I enjoy him even though he's not my favorite version of the character
    DC, hurry up and make your own version of Marvel Unlimited!

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Kid View Post
    I'm not a big fan of it really either but the MCU is pretty much its own continuity. I like a lot of the references it makes to the comics but it really is its own thing with its own history. Spider-Man may be the biggest comic book hero of all time but Tony Stark was the main character of the Infinity Saga in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the end of the day, the MCU is the house that Iron Man pretty much built so it makes sense for things to shoot out of him in this particular continuity (Spidey, Ultron, etc..)

    Once I view as another interpretation of a character that I have mixed feelings about, I'm ok with taking and enjoying the parts of it I like. It's not like every other version of Spider-Man is close to Stark. It's just the Holland one. And there's a lot about MCU Spidey I love so I enjoy him even though he's not my favorite version of the character
    Well that's a good point. As long as you accept Holland "a" Spider-Man and not "the" Spider-Man, you can accept it at a point.

  12. #12
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Kid View Post
    I'm not a big fan of it really either but the MCU is pretty much its own continuity. I like a lot of the references it makes to the comics but it really is its own thing with its own history. Spider-Man may be the biggest comic book hero of all time but Tony Stark was the main character of the Infinity Saga in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the end of the day, the MCU is the house that Iron Man pretty much built so it makes sense for things to shoot out of him in this particular continuity (Spidey, Ultron, etc..)

    Once I view as another interpretation of a character that I have mixed feelings about, I'm ok with taking and enjoying the parts of it I like. It's not like every other version of Spider-Man is close to Stark. It's just the Holland one. And there's a lot about MCU Spidey I love so I enjoy him even though he's not my favorite version of the character
    Main issue is that the MCU is seen as the be-all-end-all portrayal of the Marvel Universe, more legit than other sources including the comics themselves, and being in the MCU some kind of rite of passage to being recognized as a "real" character. In any other adaptation, such as animation and video games, if you make a wishlist that includes lesser-known heroes (relatively speaking) that weren't featured in the movies, you'll be called "unrealistic" for wanting a "fringe character". A prominent example of this being Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Unfortunately, Marvel has done nothing to combat this perception and indeed has even added to it themselves, what with the animated series just being MCU ads, and the aforementioned MvCI being horrible because it's just an MCU plug.

    Now, if we're being perfectly fair, this problem exists in other spaces. The FoX-Men for example focused so much on Wolverine, then Magneto and Xavier, that the numerous other characters in the X-Men lore got shafted. As a result, when making a wishlist for a hypothetical Marvel vs. Capcom 4, I included both Kitty Pryde and Magik on my wishlist, and got crap for choosing "random and obscure X-Men" characters over others, primarily MCU ones even if they would've added little to the game itself. That's also why many are excited for MCU X-Men, mainly that we'll actually see other parts of the mythos and get focus on other characters. Hopefully.

    Likewise, the horrible Fox FF movies are the reason why people have this idea that the FF are as lame as you can get, because that's all they've been exposed to. The concept can not only work, but work very, very well. I mean, The Incredibles was basically FF in spirit, and everyone loves that movie.

    It shouldn't be that way, and it is. As a result, for something that is the be-all-end-all, I feel the characters' portrayal in that universe matters. Spider-Man's portrayal in the MCU is going to take precedence, and that sends a bad message. Spider-Man in the MCU should be perfect opportunity to promote his own lore, not someone else's.

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