Of all the villains the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer, there is one who stands above the rest. It's not Hela and her army of the undead or the Mandarin and his terrorist plots or even Thanos, who we long thought of as the biggest big bad the MCU had to offer.
No, the nastiest, most dangerous villain in the MCU is Spider-Man: Far From Home's Brad Davis. And I've got a bone to pick with him.
**SPOILER WARNING: This hit piece contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home.**
We first meet Brad Davis (Remy Hii) as a potential rival to our hero Peter Parker (Tom Holland) for MJ's (Zendaya) affections. Unlike Peter and MJ, Brad didn't fall victim to Thanos' snap, which the kids have taken to calling "The Blip." So, when Peter, MJ, and their friends returned after five years of simply not existing, the world had moved on and the kids who'd once been five years their junior had grown up.
This includes Brad, who, over the course of five years, went from being a scrawny dweeb to the kind of guy reserved for the villain role in '80s rom-coms, a muscle-bound jock type.
Now, admittedly, there are no dumb kids at the Midtown School of Science and Technology. I'm not saying Brad is dumb. Let's squash the stereotype right now that all jock-type folks are dumb. But, we can say that Brad is relatively dumb.
Brad's overall lack of intelligence, though, isn't a passive, harmless quality. His dumb-ness comes through in a general need for validation of his own masculinity. He gets this validation by desperately trying to one-up Peter Parker.
His ultimate crime, in this case, comes a little less than halfway through Far From Home. When the group's bus pulls over for a pitstop, Peter is approached by a wildly intimidating, statuesque woman and forced to strip down to try on his new stealth suit. Brad, who was supposedly looking for the bathroom (which, okay), stumbles into the room while Peter has his pants pulled halfway off as he stands next to said woman.
Thinking this is his chance to both embarrass Peter and convince MJ that he's the one for her, Brad snaps a photo and vows to tell MJ. He tells Peter that, really, he's just looking out for MJ. He cares about her. Really.
Here's the thing. The fact that Brad thinks MJ would be impressed by his little photo shoot is damning. MJ already knows that something weird is going on with Peter, and while Brad points out over and over again how "shady" and suspicious Peter is (which, alright, I'll give him that one), he doesn't do anything worthwhile about it. Rather than ignoring Peter's shadiness and trying to impress MJ on his own terms, he thinks what essentially amounts to blackmail is the correct choice.
Let me also point out that Brad immediately thought the woman was a prostitute. Not only is that remarkably sexist, it also defies any and all logic — did he really think Peter, a teenager who does not speak German, could immediately go solicit a prostitute in the middle of the Alps, mere minutes after getting off a bus?
If I believed Brad truly did care about MJ more than winning her, I'd be a bit more sympathetic. But his attempted take-down of Peter's already flimsy social reputation comes across as less of a love-struck teen's need to protect his crush from a shady rival suitor and more of a self-serving bully's attempts to win a prize. In this case, the prize is equal parts MJ's affections and Peter's downfall.
Of course, by the end of all this, Peter and MJ come out on top. MJ finds out that Peter is Spider-Man and then they save the day together, admit how much they like each other, and start dating. Brad Davis is left in the dust where he belongs. If only he had been dusted... permanently.
This is all a joke. Mostly. Brad's a 17-year-old kid who makes stupid mistakes and is kind of a bully without necessarily trying to be. But there is something deeply infuriating about his character, a realism that other MCU baddies are often lack. Whereas most villains and big bads are fueled by clear "bad-guy" things — revenge and hatred and what have you — Brad's crimes are nearly laughable by comparison.
But that doesn't make him harmless. In fact, it makes him all the more dangerous. If you wanna get real about it, Brad is a bit of a self-obsessed bully who, if Peter hadn't been a secret superhero, probably would have really messed Peter up and caused a lot of damage.
Down with Brad.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is now in theaters.