In 2016, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) got something nobody every thought they were going to get. Captain America: Civil War saw the introduction of Spider-Man into the larger universe, something fans had been clamoring for ever since the sad failure that was the Amazing Spider-Man series. Finally, the most popular superhero in all of Marvel comics was […]
In 2016, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) got something nobody every thought they were going to get. Captain America: Civil War saw the introduction of Spider-Man into the larger universe, something fans had been clamoring for ever since the sad failure that was the Amazing Spider-Man series. Finally, the most popular superhero in all of Marvel comics was back where he belonged. Fighting with the Avengers in the larger universe controlled by the ones who wrote and cultivated his story since the very beginning. Only, there was subtle but important change made to his character that wasn’t immediately apparent. Spider-Man is not Spider-Man anymore, he’s Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia.
For those unfamiliar what My Hero Academia is, first of all, do you mind renting me a room in the rock you live under, and second, it is a manga/anime about a world of superheros, where Izuku Midoriya is a young fledgling superhero aiming to be the best hero in the world like his idol, All Might. That’s a big, oversimplified version of the series, but the whole point of it is that Midoriya, henceforth known as Small Might, is chosen to be mentored by All Might as he grows to be the best hero he can be and discoverer what it means to be a hero. Now re-read that synopsis and replace All Might with Iron Man and Small Might with Spider-Man. Now tell me that isn’t pretty much how they introduced Spider-Man into the MCU.
Classic Spider-Man has been largely defined by guilt and failure. He becomes Spider-Man because he failed to save Uncle Ben when he could have and now refuses to let anybody else die like that. He fails to save Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, and countless other, leading him to push himself even further to be a better hero and push the Peter Parker parts of his life to the background. His guilt and failure motivates him to be help everyone he can, because he know that if he can help people, it’s his responsibility to do so (No, I’m not saying the line).
MCU Spider-Man is motivated to help people before Tony Stark shows up, sure, but when they explore his reasons for being Spider-Man in his own movie, it’s mostly about the dynamic between Peter and Tony in a surrogate father sort of relationship. Peter idolizes Tony and wants to be a hero just like him, all while helping people amd being “mentored” by Tony (well, as much as Tony can mentor a small child, I guess) to learn what it means to be a superhero.
Peter’s motivation to be a hero is not longer coming from the guilt of failing to save Uncle Ben, but a desire to be like Tony. This is the exact relationship Small Might and All Might have with each other, with the added themes of passing the torch to the next generation and exploring the difference between a hero as a job, and being heroic. By changing the core of his motivation, the character becomes a much different version of himself that the rest of the movies they’re in seemed keen to explore.
Honestly, I get why the change was made. In the last 15 years, we’ve seen movie Uncle Ben die twice already, so adding a third one wold just be overkill. Seriously, how many times have we seen Batman’s parents die already? It’s practically a meme at this point, where you can’t have a Spider-Man or Batman movie without them dying. So adding that in there would be super redundant, so I understand not putting that in there for him. What I didn’t expect was was that they would replace Uncle Ben with Tony Stark, which to me feels like a weaker motivation for that character. In My Hero Academia, that motivation works because there are so many other character and villains to bounce ideology off of and All Might is literally the most important character in the entire world. Since Small Might has been chosen to succeed the literal most important person ever, motivation to be the best is plenty to keep the story going, because he has to be or the world loses it’s best hero.
Now, there is a way to bring the motivation of loss and failure back to being the biggest motivator for Spider-Man, and if if you haven’t seen Endgame, again, let me have some room in that rock, but also stop reading cause spoilers incoming.
Since Tony died in Endgame, depending on how they approach it in the next movie about to come out, they could bring back the “classic” Spider-Man of “I’m a hero because I failed before and I will never let it happen again.” At it’s core, almost all of the best Spider-Man stories are exploring that theme and if the movies want to start looking at how to use that, the death of Peter’s father figure is the best place to start. Based on everything we’ve seen for the trailer so far however, it seems like they’re exploring the theme of passing the torch. That will no doubt make for a entertaining movie, but really, watching it will just makes me want to watch My Hero Academia. Because that’s what you’re really watching now.
Posted by Austin Hamblen, Owner and Main writer of Endlessmonkey.com