With Spider-Man: Homecoming racing down the tracks, why does it feel more like an Iron Man film featuring Peter Parker than Spidey’s own movie.
If you’ve watched the latest Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer – you might have seen all the new tricks Peter Parker has at his disposal. Clearly Marvel have taken inspiration from the success of Iron Man and decided to integrate some of that into the tried and tested Spidey formula. It’s a bold move, in particular when the movie has so much riding on it. I just can’t escape the slight feeling that Marvel may be overplaying it’s Iron Man card – and harming the homecoming of one of the MCU’s most beloved characters.
When it was announced that Tony Stark would be popping up in the new Spider-Man movie, my eyebrows raised ever so slightly. See Iron Man’s outings have been a bit rubbish since the second flick, with Iron Man 3 proving to be a the most jarring of Marvel outings. So mixed was the reaction to that film, Robert Downey Jr. openly stated that there probably wouldn’t be an Iron Man 4. In his eyes, the characters arc had been told and he would be used in assemble outings.
Since then Iron Man has become an ever-present figure within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, turning up wherever the powers that be deem him necessary. The biggest incursion thus far was into Captain America: Civil War – but that arguably worked a treat. Iron Man was the perfect ideological counterweight to Captain America’s freedom mantra. After all the subtle planting of seeds (That fight scene in the original Avengers to the two clashing over Ultron in the second Avengers movie) he was more than justified in his appearance. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Marvel want to underline just how connected their movies are. But watching the final Homecoming latest trailer – I get the awkward sense that Iron Man may be elbowing poor Spidey out of the spotlight.
In fact it seems the movie is trying desperately to work in any Iron Man DNA it can. From transforming Spider-Man’s suit into a Tony Stark creation, to having Tony Stark’s assistant on the cast in multiple scenes. Even the films promotional material puts Iron Man front and centre, basically demanding the audience acknowledge his presence. It’s all a little bit awkward for what should be Spider-Man’s huge return to form. The fact he’s not being given his own stage to play on is somewhat maddening.
There’s nothing wrong with Iron Man being in the movie, but if Tony Stark’s presence ultimately only hinders the arc of the tale, then what’s the point? The whole premise of this movie is that Peter Parker is too young to really understand just what he’s getting into, and needs to be grounded in. Tony’s role as a mentor makes sense – but if he’s turning up during Spider-Man’s heroics and demeaning his presence for 90% of the movie, audiences really won’t have much reason to buy into this version of Spider-Man.
Giving him suits that effectively turn him into Iron Man 2.0 is also a huge problem – audiences don’t need a second Iron Man. We love Spider-Man, we enjoy his story. We don’t need to see Peter using an Iron Man AI and bantering with it throughout the movie. We don’t want to see Peter Parker looking through an Iron Man-esq hud. It’s not the Spider-Man audiences want, one that’s overpowered but has powers locked away until Tony Stark deems them “appropriate”. That’s not a leading superhero, that’s just silly.
People give the last two iterations of the cinematic character a hard time – but at least they managed to make those versions of the character stand up on their own. They didn’t have a mysterious benefactor handing them gadgets and toys to amuse the audience. They didn’t need a cinematic universe to stand on. They worked to their benefits; the character of Peter Parker was the star throughout.
By giving Iron Man and his ensemble such prevalence, it robs Spider-Man of his grandeur. It makes him feel like a bit part player in his own movie. I don’t want to see Iron Man’s baggage being landed at the feet of this movie – if we’re getting that to such high levels, I’d much rather have that Iron Man 4 movie. At least then the tired ideas go elsewhere and don’t land onto exciting prospects.
This isn’t Tony Stark’s story. It isn’t about how great he is or how he’s so important, and I worry from the trailers that the direction offered up by the movie seems to be leaning on this idea. In pressing home that idea, we’re in danger of killing the originality of the Spider-Man and the potential that his movies could have. The MCU has been great for allowing cross-overs, but there are reasons why cross-overs only work fleetingly.
I’m still hyped for Spider-Man, but I’m very wary of Marvel’s decision to land the movie in such a strong Iron Man grounding. Ultimately Iron Man movies failed on the basis that they didn’t know exactly what they wanted to be – too many cooks spoiled the broth. With Spider-Man, I’m slightly concerned that we’re getting a Spider-Man that’s really just a vehicle for Robert Downey Jr. to get another pay cheque.
And that’s not good for anyone.