Another Fan Theory Friday (on a Saturday)
You have presumably seen Spider-Man: Far From Home by now. If you haven’t, I think it’s safe to assume that it’s not particularly important to you. This is my way of telling you that everything that follows contains spoilers for the latest Spider-Man film, including discussion of that big mid-credits moment at the end.
At the end of 2018, I wrote a blog post about Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film has become my favorite Marvel film, down to every last joke, gag, action scene and throwaway line.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is everything we didn’t know we needed in a superhero film: a young hero, compelling and vulnerable, without any clunky origin story or the dark-n-gritty reboot tropes. Between Homecoming and Into the Spiderverse, Spider-Man has gone from a character I never cared for to one of my favorites, up there with Batman, Wolverine, and Captain America.
Because of this, I was anxious (in both a good way and bad) for Far From Home. Excited and nervous over whether it could match the balanced joy and energy of Homecoming.
To my relief, not only did I love the movie, but it also delivered something I had not anticipated: it reaffirmed a fan theory I had about Homecoming.
The Tony Stark Blogging Fan Theory
While you can easily go re-read my blog post from last December, I’ll summarize it now:
At the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony Stark makes a remark about how bloggers aren’t “real journalists.” While it can be read as an off-the-cuff comment, my theory is that it was a deliberate comment, delivered to dissuade Peter Parker from continuing in the vlogging efforts we saw earlier in the film and in Captain America: Civil War.
This fan theory included one major assumption: bloggers and vloggers in the MCU are probably very irritating to superheroes.
To quote myself:
…any aspiring writer can call him- or herself a journalist and start chasing superheroes.
How often has Tony Stark been bombarded at a charity event or press conference by someone with question credentials? How often has his bartender tried to get a scoop for a new Medium post? How often does Stark get attacked with scathing tweets from angry onlookers?
However, aside from Peter Parker’s vlogging, this is never something we saw direct evidence of…
Until Far From Home. There are two distinct iterations of video blogging in the latest Spider-Man.
Flash and the Flashmob
One of the funniest developments in Far From Home is the character Flash Thompson and his simultaneous disdain for Peter Parker and admiration for Spider-Man. He’s Peter’s high school bully, who also delivers this line about Spider-Man:
He’s just awesome, okay? He protects the neighborhood, and, you know, he’s inspiring. He inspires me to be a better man.
Okay, so there’s no way that the character was on Stark’s radar. But his behavior throughout Far From Home involves constantly live-streaming his trip to Europe. It’s as if the writers are reminding us: Remember when Peter Parker vlogged his trip to Europe? This is what he could have become.
But there is another character who could have gotten the attention of Tony Stark…
J. Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle (Dot Net)
I saw Spider-Man: Far From Home in a packed theater, and the most pronounced reaction was when J. K. Simmons appeared in the mid-credits scene. It was a huge moment, as he’s essentially reprising his role from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, but playing a re-imagined Jameson.
This new Jameson of the MCU is dramatically different from that of the Maguire-Spider-verse. The previously depicted J. Jonah Jameson was closer to his original comics iteration: the editor-in-chief of a lowbrow tabloid, both dependent on smearing Spider-Man to sell his newspapers and the ongoing employer of Peter Parker.
Jameson’s newest incarnation appears to be the Alex Jones of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rather than editing a print newspaper, he’s broadcasting in Times Square, yet apparently the onscreen personality of TheDailyBugle dot net. As his brief scene involves revealing Spider-Man’s true identity as Peter Parker, it becomes immediately clear that the Parker of the MCU will never end up working under him.
All of this is just to say: this is the state of vlogging in the MCU. Internet personalities revealing the true identities of superheroes while releasing doctored footage. Is it any surprise Tony Stark didn’t want Peter Parker to go down this path?
Not a major fan theory, of course. Not even a new one. Just a quiet re-affirmation of the one I’ve been thinking about since I first saw Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Interested in more Marvel fan theories? Check out Is Captain America Ruining Grief Counseling?