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I’m starting to get a little bit annoyed by Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Let me get this out of the way up front. I consider Holland’s interpretation of Spider-Man to be the best version that we have seen on screen. He’s both an excellent (dare I say, spectacular) Peter Parker, as well as a nimble and lithe Spidey. But as a lifelong, devoted Spider-Man fanatic, there’s something about Holland’s Spider-Man that rubs me the wrong way, and the actor keeps doubling down on it.
He keeps doing wrong by Peter’s Uncle Ben.
You might have heard this before. Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, the man who indirectly leads to the birth of a superhero by instilling the tragic sense of right and wrong in Peter, has been absent from Marvel Studios’ interpretation of Spidey in the MCU. There’s an Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and hints that there was an Uncle Ben, at some point. But the “role” of Ben, the mentor part in Peter’s life, has been handed to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in the MCU. And Holland’s not eager to correct that.
During a recent live stream on the carpet for Pixar’s new film Onward, to which Holland lends his voice, the actor was asked by IGN which character he’d bring back from the dead in the Spider-Man universe for one more day. He was given the option of Uncle Ben, Tony Stark, Gwen Stacy or Peter’s parents. And while Holland lingered on Ben for a hot second, he ultimately said:
It would have to be Tony Stark. It would have to be him. Because I love working with Robert so much, and if I could do another day with him. It would be great fun.
Wrong answer. In my mind, anyway. Tom Holland, in that instance, is answering as the actor who’d love to reunite with a fellow actor on set in the future, because they had a blast together. Fine. But Holland had a golden opportunity to restore some mythology to a huge portion of Spider-Man’s backstory that largely has been ignored, and he chose Tony Stark over Uncle Ben.
Watch Holland do it himself, to get context, at the 50-minute mark of this live stream.
Why does this keep happening? At the time Marvel and Sony brought Peter Parker over to the MCU, Kevin Feige and the powers that be made it clear that they didn’t want to rehash Peter’s origin, and have a moody, broody kid who was lamenting the death of a loved one. They put more of an emphasis on Parker’s new relationship with Tony Stark, and some fans argued that the overreliance on Stark Tech took something innocent away from Spidey. Our Peter Parker sews his costume by hand. He doesn’t talk to A.I. that’s built into his suit, or launch drones from the Spider on his chest.
That’s a huge part of the reason why I still consider this to be my favorite MCU Spider-Man suit. It’s authentic, and homemade. It’s very “Peter Parker,” and less about Tony Stark.
At this stage in the game, though, Peter Parker is free from Tony Stark’s legacy. In case you happened to miss the news, it’s 2020, and Marvel killed off Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame. By the conclusion of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter was growing into his own storyline, and was finally taking his place as the savior of New York City. And Holland had a chance to restore the significance of Uncle Ben, who should be the reason why Peter is a crimefighter, in the first place.
Will Uncle Ben’s influence on Tom Holland’s Peter Parker ever be felt in the MCU Spider-Man stories? Aunt May has been busy warding off Happy Hogan’s advances. Will she ever address the man we think she once was in love with? Or is this never going to be a part Holland’s take on the immortal Spider-Man history? If that’s the case, does that bother you? Or am I alone on an island here? Vote in the poll and let me know.