Spider-Man and Batman have easily the most successful film careers out of all the superheroes. That means multiple directors have put their own spin on the two characters over the decades. Recently, the co-director of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Peter Ramsey, had an issue with the direction taken with the webbed wall-crawler in the MCU, where it was announced that Doctor Strange will feature in the upcoming Spider-Man 3 as a mentor to Peter Parker. Ramsey took to Twitter to express his opposition to the idea.
“I hope [Doctor Strange is] just a ‘special guest star’. Don’t know why Spidey needs a mentor…one of the things I always liked in the old comics was that he was a loner, grappling with things on his own, not beloved or accepted like the Avengers or the FF.”
It is true that the MCU’s version of Spider-Man does not seem to be able to function in the franchise without the presence of a mentor or “father-figure”. In his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark quickly assumed a leadership role over Peter Parker, presenting him with the iconic Spidey suit, and bringing the teen superhero into his first superpowered brawl against other supers.
Spider-Man’s first solo MCU movie Homecoming continued with that theme, with Peter grappling with the burden of responsibility of being a superhero-in-training under Iron Man. Their relationship continued to evolve until Avengers: Endgame. After Tony died, the characters of Nick Fury and Mysterio took over as temporary mentors to Peter in Far From Home. Now, it is being hinted that Doctor Strange will be the latest in a long line of heroes telling Spider-Man how to be a hero.
Ironically, Ramsey’s own Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 featured just such a trope, where Miles Morales was taught how to be Spider-Man by a host of Spider-Men and Women from different realities, including a grown-up Peter Parker. But as the filmmaker points out, Spider-Man in the comics has traditionally been defined by his outsider status, even within the superhero community. This whole thing of various superheroes constantly taking Peter under their wing is a pretty new phenomenon.
The truth is, the need to unite Spidey with other heroes onscreen is more for their benefit than his. Spider-Man is arguably the most popular superhero in the world. With great popularity comes great responsibility. For instance, his inclusion in the Civil War movie came about as a result of the studio needing a way to push the film to greater heights in terms of popularity above Batman v. Superman, that was released around the same time.
The strategy worked, and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man quickly established himself as a huge audience favorite. Such is the character’s popularity that he is getting his own cinematic universe under Sony, and Disney is trying to wring as much blockbuster potential out of him as they still can by teaming him up with Doctor Strange.
It now remains to be seen in what capacity the two superheroes will bond in Spider-Man 3. Considering the fate of Spidey’s previous mentors, with Tony dying, Mysterio turning out to be a fraud, and Nick Fury being an alien the whole time, Strange better tell his magic cloak to watch his back at all times.