SPOILER WARNING: The following editorial contains massive spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home. If you have not yet seen the film, proceed at your own risk!
In 2008, Marvel Studios loaded up a bombshell to drop in the end credits of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man. In one scene that lasted only a few seconds, fans worldwide not only learned that Samuel L. Jackson was playing mysterious spy master Col. Nicholas J. Fury in what would ultimately become known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also that a larger superhero-centric plan called The Avenger Initiative was officially in motion. In retrospect, it’s a moment that changed pop culture.
Since then, Marvel has entertained us with many more excellent end credits scenes, but the feeling of shock and amazement generated by that first one has never fully been replicated… or at least that was true before the release of Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home. To call the mid-credits scene in the new movie an all-timer is an understatement, as what’s presented in the coda material is thrilling and exciting all by itself, and also sets up an epic and perfect plot for the next blockbuster about everyone’s favorite wall-crawler.
Picking up right from where the actual movie ended, the sequence begins with Spider-Man (Tom Holland) completing a swing around Manhattan with MJ (Zendaya) – who is left modestly traumatized by the experience. It’s not a great moment for their budding relationship, but things quickly get much, much worse. A bit of breaking news starts playing all around the city, delivered by The Daily Bugle’s J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), and it paints the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home’s third act much differently than what actually happened. Because of video manipulation performed by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his team, Spider-Man is framed for orchestrating the drone bombing in London. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the master of illusion also reveals Peter Parker’s true identity to the entire world.
Given that Spider-Man: Far From Home is the last chapter of Phase Three and what’s called the Infinity Saga, it’s a poetic turn of events, as it very much juxtaposes the last scene of the first Iron Man, which had Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark outing himself as a superhero. While that was an exciting and charisma-driven reveal, with the genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist simply not able to keep his secret to himself, what’s featured in the latest web-slinger feature is the equivalent of dropping an atomic bomb on Peter Parker’s life, and it should make for some fantastic drama and action in whatever the third movie winds up being.
Putting aside the secret identity factor for a moment, it’s worth considering just how bad the whole terrorism frame job is by itself. So far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man has a pretty positive profile (surely making headlines for stuff like stopping ATM robberies, rescuing people at the Washington Monument, and keeping the Staten Island Ferry in one piece), but his reputation isn’t necessarily strong enough to outweigh the doctored-yet-convincing video evidence released by Mysterio. If a motive can be imagined by Spidey’s detractors, large segments of the population may have no problem turning their backs on him – and it’s not like he has Tony Stark around to support and defend him.
The general public hating on Spider-Man isn’t exactly a new element in the character’s history, as it has long been included in the comics as a way to emphasize Peter’s horrifically bad luck and burden-filled life, but what’s potentially on the table after Far From Home is unlike anything that’s been depicted on the big screen before. It creates the potential for the next movie to carry a whole new kind of weight and atmosphere, but even more importantly it opens the door for some tremendously exciting plot lines that can be adapted.
Being Public Enemy #1 and having his identity exposed will likely lead Spider-Man to go on the run – and the good news is that Marvel Comics already has a very specific character who enjoys hunting him down: Sergei Kravinoff a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter. One of the earliest villains for the hero, he is a big game hunter who sees himself as the greatest in the world, and believes that taking down Spider-Man will serve as the ultimate proof. Some adjustments would have to be made in order to make him suitable for the live-action world, but he slots in perfectly.
That is far from the only route the next movie could take, however, as there is also the possibility of further developing Mac Gargan a.k.a. Scorpion as a significant Spider-Man foe. The character was introduced to the big screen in Spider-Man: Homecoming, played by Michael Mando, and he already has a wall-crawler-related chip on his shoulder – and thanks to Spider-Man: Far From Home there now exists an excellent way to move him forward. After all, in the comics it is J. Jonah Jameson who funds the experiment that turns Gargan into the Scorpion, with the idea being that he can hunt down the costumed menace, and now that J.K. Simmons is back playing the role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that particular arc can be a source of inspiration.
On the subject of established characters, let’s also not forget about Adrian Toomes a.k.a. Vulture (Michael Keaton) – because the whole new business with Spider-Man could totally change public perception of his case. Assuming that he didn’t get “blipped,” Toomes has served eight years in prison because of the criminal activities revealed in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and a talented lawyer could try and get him freed because of Peter Parker’s connection to the case. Once he’s out of prison he could potentially use public animosity towards Spider-Man to raise his own profile, perhaps eventually becoming the equivalent of Normal Osborn for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Even more exciting? None of these ideas are potentially mutually exclusive, and could all be implemented into the next movie in some fashion.
There are many reasons to be excited for what Marvel Studios has coming in the next few years, but few properties in the franchise have set up as tantalizing a path as what’s ahead for Spider-Man. And while at this point we know less than nothing about what’s actually going to happen, the potential alone has our anticipation through the roof.