It’s hard to believe that after 11 years of avenging Tony Stark is no more following his heroic sacrifice at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
And with Iron Man dead and buried (too soon?) the world wants to know who they can turn to now its ‘greatest defender’ is dead. Will it be the mighty Thor? The cosmic Captain Marvel? Or might it be a teenager from Queens?
This is the question at the centre of the newest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Far From Home, specifically: is Peter Parker ready to be the world’s new Iron Man?
It’s an interesting dilemma for a character like Spidey who’s traditionally always grappled with the concept of responsibility, how to use his powers for the good of the world, while at the same time balancing his normal life.
After all if Tony Stark has chosen him to be his successor, then does he owe it to his dearly deceased mentor to step up to the plate and become the world’s new Iron Man? Or is he better off as a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?
To help me answer this question I turned to a leading Spider-Man authority for advice the man himself, Tom Holland, who’s played the Wall Crawler five times now (including Far From Home) making him the most prolific big-screen version of the character.
We started by dissecting the opening of the film (no spoilers it’s in the trailers), where we see Peter awkwardly run away from reporters and paparazzi, basically doing the opposite of what Tony would have done in that situation, and Tom offered some insight into that scene.
The film starts with Spider-Man grieving for Tony Stark who’s just died and he’s trying to deal with that, and he’s trying to get his head around ‘The Blip’ (the in-universe name for Thanos’ snap) plus now there’s all this attention on him it’s a lot to handle.
So he responds like any teenager in that situation would he runs away, that’s what I would do in that situation because he’s not got that Tony confidence yet and he’s still thinking about Tony’s death.
The death of Tony is, as you might expect, something that looms large over Far From Home and when I asked Tom why it’s affected Peter so much he was pretty clear that in the MCU he sees Tony Stark as ‘his Uncle Ben’.
This is just me, it’s something you’d have to ask Chris [McKenna] (one-half of the writing team) about but I’ve always seen Tony as my version of Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben.
In my mind this version of Uncle Ben died when Peter was quite young before he got his spider powers and it’s the death of Tony that teaches him about responsibility.
While some fans will no doubt see this as sacrilege (I must confess to being slightly shocked when Holland told me) it’s worth remembering this is just Tom’s headcanon, but it actually makes a lot of sense.
In a world where superheroes have always existed, it makes sense for a young kid like Peter to idolise a character like Iron Man and when he gets his powers who’s he going to think of, his Uncle Ben or the superpowered beings he’s known about his whole life.
Attempting to draw Tom back to the question of whether he’ll be the replacement Iron Man I asked what the future may hold for his Spider-Man.
Surprisingly, Tom didn’t want to give anything away (which makes a nice change considering his predilection for spoiling things) but he did give a few hints when pressed.
[Spider-Man’s future] is well beyond me, so I don’t know where they’re going to go with the character. That’s definitely more of a Jon Watts, Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal decision so I can only tell you where I’d like to see where the character go.
I’d like to see Spider-Man carry on the path we’ve set out from him, you know? Growing and learning as he goes. We see that in this film he doesn’t see Mysterio as a mentor like Tony but more as a big brother, he’s growing in his own way.
Interestingly while Tom Holland couldn’t offer any insight into where Peter may go in a hypothetical third film, he does know which villains he’d like to battle in the future.
I’d like to fight Kraven the Hunter one day, but not as a proper bad guy for the whole film. I think it would be cool if he was like the villain in the cold open before the credits and I just easily beat him [laughs].
And I’d like to fight Doc Ock one day as well, I think that would be really cool to do with all those arms and what we could do in those fight scenes.
Anyone who’s read a comic will know that if, as Tom wants, Kraven and Doc Ock did appear then four of the original six members of the Sinister Six (a group of Spidey’s deadliest enemies) would have appeared in the MCU, which will get any Spider-Man fan’s spider-senses tingling.
Sony has flirted with a cinematic version of the terrifying team in the past (there were plans for a spin-0ff involving Andrew Garfield’s version of the character that never came to fruition) so could Tom be hinting we’ll one day see him battle all of his deadliest foes at once?
Well aside from a ‘that’d be cool’, Tom refused to be pinned down on the subject (which means your guess is as good as mine) but there was one iconic villain he’d love to be in a film with, Venom.
I’d love to do a film with Tom [Hardy] and his version of Venom. You know? I watched that film and I loved it and I think that would be so cool for the fans who really want to see Spider-Man and Venom together on the big screen.
I’ve worked with Tom in the past on a film called Locke and we get on really well so I’d love to work with him again, especially because the fans really want it to happen. I think we owe it to the fans to make that happen for them.
Quite how Eddie Brock and his sinister symbiote would make their way to the MCU is something Tom couldn’t really explain, but the introduction of the multiverse and time travel in Endgame basically means that nothing is off the table.
Tom also knows he wants Peter to stay in the Stark family’s lives, telling me that he pushed hard at one point to include a scene with Tony’s daughter Morgan but that had to be dropped because there was just too much in the film.
I’d love us to see what Peter and Morgan’s relationship is like in the future. I think Peter could kind of be for her what Tony was for him, that’d be cool.
But will Peter ever step up to the plate and become Earth’s greatest Avenger? Well in the last moments of our interview I finally asked Tom straight up. His response? ‘We’ll see.’
And while that may be frustrating for some (myself included) it at least promises a whole lot of Spider-Man adventures for fans to enjoy in the years to come.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is in cinemas now.
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More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.