Speculation regarding December’s release Spider-Man: No Way Home has reached a fever pitch on social media, with the latest rumor questioning if the film will even reach theaters on time as concerns over the Delta variant continue to occupy headlines. That’s out of our control, so we’ll focus as much as we can on the movie at hand. And in the absence of a trailer (or even a teaser) telling us what the movie could be about, we’re left to gobble up any sorts of crumbs on Spider-Man: No Way Home from any type of legitimate source, and I’m here to tell you that a Spider-Man toy I’ve been seeing over and over has me worried that the franchise could be doubling-down on a Marvel Cinematic Universe mistake. Let me explain.
The first round of official merchandising for Spider-Man: No Way Home showed up on Marvel.com, so this isn’t Reddit Dark Web fan theorizing. Included in the batch were the usual Funko Pop figures for Spidey (Tom Holland) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who has been confirmed to appear in the sequel. But we also get a look at two new Spider-Man suits that Marvel claims “will be seen in the movie.” The one that has me most worried is the one that’s described as the Iron Spider Integration Suit, and in several art pieces as well as in action-figure form, it looks like this:
Fans have deduced (and I agree with them) that this suit will be a combination of the Upgraded Suit that Peter built in Happy’s jet at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, but also the Iron Spider suit that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gave to our hero in Avengers: Infinity War, and was featured prominently in Avengers: Endgame. The gold Spider designs on the chest, wrist and waist lift from the Iron Spider, and I can imagine that those handy mechanical legs that Spidey used to catch Guardians of the Galaxy members when fighting Thanos will spring out of the back of this Integration Suit.
Here’s the issue. Maintaining the essence of the Iron Spider suit does nothing to reduce the criticism aimed at the MCU version of Spider-Man that he’s less Spider-Man and more Iron Man Jr. For the longest time, I’ve pushed back against this narrative, despite the fact that Tony has substituted himself into the Uncle Ben mentor role for Tom Holland’s MCU Spider-Man, and the chief motivation for Spidey’s two major villains in his standalone Marvel movies has been their hatred for Stark. I believed these steps were allowable (though not entirely necessary) because Marvel Studios was bringing its version of Peter Parker into an existing universe, so playing him off of Tony made sense.
For a little while.
Now, however, after Spider-Man: Far From Home, it should be time for MCU Peter Parker to move on. A large subplot of Far From Home was supposed to involve Peter accepting the fact that he isn’t “the next Iron Man,” and no one wants him to be. He’s supposed to be the only Spider-Man. So… give him a new suit that still relies heavily on Stark tech, and integrates the suit that Stark made him? That’s two steps backwards.
I understand Spider-Man fans who balk at the idea that MCU Spidey hasn’t had to struggle with suit and finance issues that plagued Peter in the earliest days of the comic books. Part of the reason why I love the sweatshirt suit from Spider-Man: Homecoming is because Peter made it himself in his tiny Queens bedroom. Giving him a suit with A.I. for the bulk of Homecoming was an odd choice for the first true Marvel Spider-Man movie. Building him the Night Monkey stealth suit in Far From Home was cool, but also a decision to help sell some action figures. Like so many fans, I just want Peter Parker to wear a traditional Spider-Man suit in a Marvel Studios Spider-Man movie, for once!
The red-and-black Upgraded Suit is the closest we’ve gotten to a normal Spidey suit in the MCU. Are they about to chuck it, already, for a bevy of new suits that look nothing like the conventional, and even look downright bad? Because this black-and-gold monstrosity isn’t doing anything for me as a Spider-Man fan.
The argument can be made (and has been made) that Tony Stark’s fingerprints were all over almost every major decision made by Marvel during The Infinity Saga. It was understandable. The MCU was built around Iron Man. But now the company is past it, and movies such as Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and more need to move us past Stark’s legacy. And no character in the MCU needs that growth more than Spider-Man, who has lived in Tony’s shadow since being introduced. An Iron Spider Integration Suit accomplishes the opposite. I don’t want to see it being a significant addition to Spider-Man: No Way Home. I finally want Spider-Man to be a fully realized version of Spider-Man in this third movie. Will it happen? We will find out on December 16.