When Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced that the Infinity Saga would wrap with the standalone adventure Spider-Man: Far From Home rather than the Earth-shattering Avengers: Endgame, plenty of fans were confused. Over the past 11 years, everything seemed to have been leading up to the Avengers’ epic final showdown against Thanos, not a summer flick about Peter Parker’s misadventures in Europe.
**SPOILER WARNING: This story contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home.**
While Far From Home does prove just why it, rather than Endgame, is the final chapter in the Infinity Saga (it’s a Marvel movie about making Marvel movies, for one), its soon-to-be-infamous mid-credit scene is the real selling point. Spider-Man: Far From Home’s mid-credit scene changes the MCU game forever.
In the scene, we see a suited-up Spider-Man (Tom Holland) put MJ (Zendaya) down after having taken her on a swing through Manhattan. As she catches her breath and tells him she never wants to do that again, a newscast starts up on the screen on the 8th Avenue facade of Madison Square Garden, announcing that a tabloid website, the Daily Bugle, has exclusive, disturbing footage of Spider-Man’s evildoing.
Up pops a blustering J. Jonah Jameson, once again played by J.K. Simmons, who famously portrayed the character in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy. As if Simmons' return weren't enough to blow audiences' minds, his Jameson, always the charmer, accuses Spider-Man of being Public Enemy No. 1 and shows doctored footage in which Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), accuses Spider-Man of killing him and being the bad guy all along.
But that’s not all, folks. In his final act of evil-doing, Mysterio drops arguably the biggest, most gasp-inducing bomb in MCU history: “Spider-Man is Peter Parker.”
Now, Peter Parker’s secret identity being public knowledge isn’t exactly unheard of in Marvel’s comics, but live-action Spidey stories have always insisted on Spider-Man’s anonymity. Perhaps more than any other hero, much of Peter Parker’s anxieties have always come from the potential danger to his loved ones if anyone were to find out who he is.
While other live-action Spider-Man movies have played around with this — the train scene in Spider-Man 2 (2004), Dr. Curt Connors discovering Peter’s identity in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), and Adrian Toomes figuring it out in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), for instance — no Spider-Man movie has ever been so bold as to tell the whole world.
There’s no doubt bad things are coming Peter’s way because of this. But that’s not all.
Revealing Spider-Man’s true identity ends up fulfilling a kind of prophecy.
A majority of the Far From Home’s marketing asked the same question: Who will be the new Iron Man? Throughout Far From Home, Peter struggles with the weight of Tony’s legacy; the world expects him to step up because no one knows that a dorky 16-year-old kid is behind the mask, and his superiors, like Nick Fury, expect him to step up because they aren't in touch with their emotions. Iron Man personally made Spider-Man an Avenger, which makes everyone think he’s the best choice to replace him.
As we learn in Far From Home, Tony’s final act was to entrust Peter Parker with EDITH, a weaponized AI system that puts the user in control of the kind of power comic book supervillain dreams are made of. It’s the kind of loud, somewhat garish symbol Tony would choose to pass on his legacy, an unspoken version of “with great power comes great responsibility” that has more to do with the man behind the mask than the mask itself — EDITH is Peter’s responsibility, not Spider-Man’s, something that Tony is far more comfortable with than Peter himself.
Because that was always Tony’s shtick, right? While the MCU has never been big on the sacredness of the whole “secret identity” thing, Tony was on another level. Unlike, say, Steve Rogers’ quieter approach to heroism, in which the shield and all its symbolism came before the man, Tony and Iron Man existed as one and the same. Tony’s journey from impetuous billionaire genius to father figure (and, yes, literal father) over the course of the Infinity Saga started and ended with a simple statement: “I am Iron Man.”
Now, the Infinity Saga ends on a similar note, effectively passing the torch to the next generation of heroes with another simple statement: “Spider-Man is Peter Parker.”
Unlike Tony, though, having his true identity revealed was never Peter’s plan, and Spider-Man and Peter Parker have long been two sides of the same coin, making him a very different creature from Tony/Iron Man. Peter never wanted to be in the spotlight, and now he doesn't have a choice.
We've seen the public turn against superheroes before; Civil War was all about the consequences the Avengers should or should not face for the mass devastation that happened in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But even then, no one knew their real identities, so their families were safe. Now Aunt May, MJ, Ned, and the rest of Midtown School of Science and Technology are in the crosshairs. Peter made grave mistakes in Far From Home, precisely because he is a teenager. He learned from them this time, but that doesn't mean he won't goof up elsewhere in the future.
This puts the MCU on two very parallel tracks: Captain Marvel is immortal and flawless, while Spider-Man is every bit the opposite. It's what makes them so compelling and what will drive the series in new directions going forward.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is now in theaters.