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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
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Then what was the point of bringing up the Civil War comic?



    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.
    To show that Peter wouldn't just take crap from Tony when Tony took it too far. There's never a scene like that in the MCU, where Peter calls Tony out on his actions. Before you bring up what happened in the Civil War comic, I'm referring to the general idea, regardless of context.

    Also, there's more to the character than just being physically there. He casts a shadow over the entirety of Spider-Man in the MCU. My best, most charitable guess, is that Spider-Man in this incarnation is truer to the comics in the respect that he exists in an established superhero world, rather than being the only superhero of his setting. They wanted to emphasize that, but went way too far, kinda like the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series.

    That and he completely takes the place of Uncle Ben as the most important figure in his life. Yes, I know Ben likely existed in the setting and he went through process of losing him, but they did a terrible job at portraying it. Peter and Aunt May do not act like individuals who just lost the most important person in their lives recently. And yes, I know they didn't want to repeat the Uncle Ben origin story, that's well and good. They could at least acknowledge it better and establish the events as having happened to begin with.

    As for the shared universe aspect, a real and organic way to do it would be like Spider-Man PS4. He's in a shared world where other superheroes exist, and it's pretty implicit he's had adventures with them. There was Avengers Tower, Alias Investigations, a Wakanda embassy, Nelson & Murdock, the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Raft, Roxxon, Damage Control, a statue of Lockjaw, and of course Taskmaster makes a welcome appearance where he mentions going toe-to-toe with the Avengers in the past.

    Yet it's still focused on his own lore first and foremost, and makes the mythos feel relevant. Even if the sequel features more characters outside the Spider-Man lore, it will have felt earned because his own was properly developed. If they decide to have Phil Coulson, Human Torch, Daredevil, and yes, even Iron Man, appear in the sequel, it'll all be well and good because it's not intrusive to his setting.

    In other words, I wouldn't mind having the shared universe aspect of Spider-Man in the MCU, if the basics of his own lore had been properly represented. Get what I mean?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    To show that Peter wouldn't just take crap from Tony when Tony took it too far.
    Key words being, "took it too far". Between this and the Gail Simone tweet, I feel like people's issues with MCU Peter is that they don't like the Avengers and feel Peter should be as hostile to them as they are.

    There's never a scene like that in the MCU, where Peter calls Tony out on his actions.
    Everybody and their mother has done this to Tony in the MCU. Peter doing would be nothing special.

    Before you bring up what happened in the Civil War comic, I'm referring to the general idea, regardless of context.
    Yeah, I figured that much. The problem is that unless there actually is a reason for Peter to get in Tony's face, it isn't necessary for him to do that.

    That and he completely takes the place of Uncle Ben as the most important figure in his life. Yes, I know Ben likely existed in the setting and he went through process of losing him, but they did a terrible job at portraying it. Peter and Aunt May do not act like individuals who just lost the most important person in their lives recently. And yes, I know they didn't want to repeat the Uncle Ben origin story, that's well and good. They could at least acknowledge it better and establish the events as having happened to begin with.
    People mocked BvS for showing the Waynes getting shot yet again. After two movie series and four different animated series that dealt with it, aren't you just a little bit tired of hearing about Ben Parker?

    As for the shared universe aspect, a real and organic way to do it would be like Spider-Man PS4. He's in a shared world where other superheroes exist, and it's pretty implicit he's had adventures with them. There was Avengers Tower, Alias Investigations, a Wakanda embassy, Nelson & Murdock, the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Raft, Roxxon, Damage Control, a statue of Lockjaw, and of course Taskmaster makes a welcome appearance where he mentions going toe-to-toe with the Avengers in the past.

    Yet it's still focused on his own lore first and foremost, and makes the mythos feel relevant. Even if the sequel features more characters outside the Spider-Man lore, it will have felt earned because his own was properly developed. If they decide to have Phil Coulson, Human Torch, Daredevil, and yes, even Iron Man, appear in the sequel, it'll all be well and good because it's not intrusive to his setting.

    In other words, I wouldn't mind having the shared universe aspect of Spider-Man in the MCU, if the basics of his own lore had been properly represented. Get what I mean?
    You're talking as if Peter was fighting Crimson Dynamo and Madame Masque. He's dealt with his own villains for every Spider-Man focused MCU movie.

  9. #9
    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

  10. #10
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    Ultimately this is all for the benefit of Iron Man and at the expense of Spider-Man, that's really what irritates me. In the same sense that for instance that Superman being beaten up by Batman via "prep time" or Kryptonite irritates me because again it's at the detriment of one character for the benefit of another. This also applied originally in the comics at the time as well. When Spider-Man moved to Avengers tower, was that a bright new chapter for Peter Parker, or was it a bright new chapter for the Avengers and Tony Stark? I think the answer is that it was for the benefit of Stark at the expense of Peter.

    It adds value to Iron Man that he is the mentor of Spider-Man but it subtracts value from Spider-Man to be the sidekick of a character who has historically been a mediocre seller and who has very few classic solo stories to his credit. I mean if you compare Iron Man with Captain America and with The Mighty Thor, you will find that the latter two have far more important and vital solo stories each, than Anthony Edward Stark can ever claim to. Heck Doctor Strange, a character who has had a far smaller time as a solo character than Tony has far many great stories than Tony Stark does. Iron Man was always a character with a very mediocre publishing history, and a character of little impact and influence on creators and artists working in the Marvel Universe and wider comics' business. Iron Man worming his way into Peter's life is how a majority of readers first learned of the character back in 2004. Tying Spider-Man to Iron Man made him more prominent in storylines like CIVIL WAR (which entered the front page of media coverage and brought in civilians when Spider-Man unmasked, not for anything Iron Man did in that story)

    Basically, when I heard that Spider-Man was coming to the MCU:
    My Expectations
    -- Peter hangs out with all the heroes. He interacts with Iron Man yes, but he also interacts equally with Thor, he bonds with Captain America, and hangs out with Doctor Stange, and he also bonds with Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner who he sees as a kindred spirit and a relatable guy. I mean Spider-Man's very earliest interaction with The Avengers in the comics (ASM Annual #3) is when they basically give him a street gang initiation to join the club, by going out and hunting the Hulk, and Peter decides that the Avengers aren't worth it when he realizes how poor and oppressed Banner is. Likewise, Hulk was also the first founding Avenger to appear in ASM, in #14.
    -- Each new movie is going to part ASM, and part Marvel Team-Up. So one movie might have had Peter dealing with Iron Man, but the second one could have Peter hanging out with Hulk (like Part 2), and Part 3 will be Dr. Strange or who knows.
    -- Now that the Fox buyout happens, we can see Spider-Man/Human Torch on Disney Plus, or alternatively Spider-Man fights the Juggernaut (which is the major shared universe in Spidey history).

    Reality
    -- Peter hangs out all the time with Iron Man and barely exchanges more than a few sentences with any other hero.
    -- Not only does Spider-Man hang out with Tony, Tony's supporting cast merges with Peter.
    -- Tony's supporting cast has a bigger role and impact than Peter's supporting cast does. So Happy Hogan has more lines of dialogue and bigger role in plot than Aunt May does, even if Aunt May is played by Marisa Tomei, a far better performer than Jon Favreau, and an Oscar winner to boot.
    -- Spider-Man is so low that Nick Fury appoints a Skrull-double to look over him, refusing to interact with him personally.
    -- Spider-Man is so tied to "next Tony Stark" that Tom Holland as an actor isn't allowed to stand on his own and carry a movie entirely by himself.
    -- MCU Spider-Man is more mascot than character.

    Worse than that was the toxicity that this has bred among fans who defend this.
    -- Billionaire daddies are right, they can abuse and f--k the poor and can never be called out. Toomes and Beck are worthless a--holes undeserving of dignity and respect and Tony has no responsibility over the former losing his honest livelihood and stealing credit for the latter's invention. They are evil people and Tony is right just like Stan Lee was right to screw over Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
    -- Peasants like Parker cannot invent anything. They must wait for rich people like Tony Stark or the Walt Disney Corporation to give them two s--ts, and so no Peter cannot sew on his own. Doesn't matter that sewing and other DIY stuff is something low-income people are more likely to do than rich dudes who can 3D Print everything in their microwave, the point is that poor people must be denied agency, and representation.

    Essentially the subtext of the MCU Spider-Man movies is More Randian than Ditko. Now I don't think this was intentional. I think the producers behind this made the movies unthinkingly, out of compromises, and back-and-forth on how much or how little they want Spider-Man to tie in to the MCU, and the result is what we get. Feige doesn't treat other characters this way, nor do Sony treat Spider-Man this way in their movies. So this must be a result of restrictions people face on both sides.

  11. #11
    Fantastic 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

  12. #12
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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.

  13. #13
    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!

  14. #14
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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.

  15. #15

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    On the cinematic aspect, Spider-Man was the third reboot in a very short timeframe (the same generation has seen the 3 versions). This one had something that the others did not, it was set in the MCU, and I guess they overacted it to make very clear, more than what a mere cameo or reference may do (note that it's not just Tony, we have references to the Avengers and Captain America as well). And even then, my wife (who knows nothing about comics, and has just a casual knowledge of films) keeps asking what happened with Mary Jane, still thinking that it's the same characters of the Raimi trilogy.

    As for canon, this idea was lifted from Ultimate Spider-Man, except that there it was with Nick Fury. But that was a long-runner. We saw Spider-Man start and have his first adventures, cast and enemies on his own. And even when this plot started, it was raised just every now and then, with Peter still keeping his autonomy for the most part. A film, on the other hand, is just 2 hours long, 3 at most. Trying to condense that plot arc in a film changes the way it is seen, and turns into the story of a sidekick.

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