Spider-Man in the MCU is an… interesting case. For so long people wanted the famous web slinger to join the Marvel line-up. And that wish was granted in 2016 when Tony Stark recruited him in Captain America: Civil War to help with a dispute among the Avengers. We meet young Peter Parker in Queens living with his Aunt May having been Spider-Man for sixth month with a homemade suit, his own webbing, and a glossed over origin story implying rather than specifically stating Uncle Ben’s death and the lesson of with great power comes great responsibility. He had quite his fair share of highlights during the team-ups of Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame. In 2017 and 2019 he had his solo movies and despite Sony and Disney having a falling out which resulted in Spider Man being removed from the MCU after an intense cliffhanger in the second movie, they managed to come together for a third movie and a team-up movie. In all of these Tom Holland managed to portray a great Peter Parker and Spider-Man giving an excitable and compelling performance with a very engaging mentor/father-son bond with Tony Stark. The latter in particular gives way to a very common criticism which I’m looking to address here: Pete’s suit that given their provided by Stark have all sorts of tech and gadgets in them which are very much a deviation to what the character of Spider-Man ought to be about and commonly leads to fans calling him Iron Man Jr. Now in some respects they aren’t wrong but they’re not right either.
The Homemade Suit and the Stark Suit
In Civil War Tony offers Pete an upgraded suit after seeing that the cheap homemade one was a bad reflection of the kind of hero Peter is. He uses it during the airport battle during which time there was no indication that the suit had any kind of hit-tech capabilities. In Homecoming Tony allows him to keep it during which time we do see all the hi-tech features. In fairness this is something that makes sense given the way they’ve used Stark to introduce Spidey. And in all honesty, sometimes it works. Giving Spider-Man things like a communication system to accept phone and video calls, a utility belt to store spare web fluid, making it tear-resistant, the ability to compress the suit by pressing the emblem (allowing him to get out of it quickly), a parachute, or giving him video footage is all stuff that you wouldn’t expect the Spider-Man to have but they’re no-brainer additions that he ought to possess as a superhero going up against big things. Even some of the web shooter combinations (SOME NOT ALL) and the web wings shouldn’t totally be seen as an anathema to what Spider-Man ought to be because at their core both these things do come from Pete’s web fluid design that he creates (which is another aspect I like about this Spider-Man over the original Rami movies. The original had Pete’s webbing be organic which for my taste makes things a tad too easy for him. The man basically has this endless ability he can use against any foe with no limits. Feel free to disagree). But then the suit has other gadgets like the AI Karen, the enhanced interrogation mode, spider-drones and tracers, a reconnaissance drone, instant kill, and some of the other web shooter combinations which while they give way to a lot of funny moments in the movie, not only distance Spider-Man from being Spider-Man but also factor into another problem I have with Spider-Man’s suits which I’m going to get to next.
The Iron Spider Armor
At the end of Spider-Man Homecoming Tony, impressed by Pete’s ability to have stopped Vulture on his own not because he wanted to be an Avenger but saw it as his responsibility, offers him a place alongside the Avengers giving him the new Iron Spider Armor. Despite being tempted, Peter turns it down feeling he’s not ready yet and also thinking it was a test of character. However, in Infinity War, when he and Stark pursue Ebony Maw’s ship through space in an attempt to rescue Dr. Strange, Stark gives Pete the armor to keep him from losing oxygen. And Peter would continue to use this suit through the rest of the movie and Endgame. While admittedly it is a cool-looking suit, outside of the Spider-legs, there’s nothing really special about this suit that makes it better than the first suit Stark provided him. It would have been better to put the AI Karen, instant kill, those spider drones and trackers, and so forth in this suit rather than the first Stark suit. The only upside to them not doing so is that it does lead to an awesome moment in Endgame where Peter does actually activate the instant kill feature in the battle for Earth against Thanos’ army.
The stealth suit and the upgraded suit
One of the things I found Far From Home improved upon was Peter’s use of his multiple suits. He still has the Iron Spider Armor but really all it was used for was a charity event to help those displaced during Thanos’ snap and it along with the Stark suit (which I don’t think appears at all in this movie) are pretty much left at home when Peter travels to Europe. And when Peter does go into battle in this movie it very much falls to his natural abilities as Spider-Man. The Stealth Suit provided by SHIELD to prevent Peter from being seen in Prague as Spider-Man (hilariously dubbed by Ned as Night Monkey) had very little in the way of gadgets or any hi-tech stuff. And the same can be said for the suit Peter creates for himself in the climax to combat Mysterio. While he still uses Stark technology to create it, its colors not only pay homage to Steve Ditko’s original design but it also doesn’t have the drones, the AI, or any of the other fancy gadgetry that the other suits Stark provided in the other suits and once again, the final battle very much falls to what Peter can do not what the suit can do. And personally, I think it’s best Peter stick with this suit for the future.
Tom Holland can portray a believable Peter Parker and Spider-Man through and through. He has fresh, young, optimistic teenage perspective with a likable and overall humble demeanor. Does he have too much of a connection to Iron Man in his movies? Definitely. But both solo movies have shown the little things that make him Spider-Man. And in many respects that’s what Spider-Man becomes in these movies. Being a ground level superhero trying to represent the little guy and I find that shines through when Pete fights bad guys.