The MCU might have tried something different in introducing its version of Spider-Man, but the franchise also inadvertently weakened his potential for the future. Before the days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man was undeniably Marvel’s most popular asset. As well as being a staple of pop culture for many years, there were also a number of excellent pre-MCU Spider-Man movies.

Tom Holland’s iteration of the character was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, and was written to be something of a protégé for Tony Stark. His subsequent solo appearance doubled down on this, giving Spidey a suit imbued with Stark technology while he learned what it meant to be a hero. Then, Spider-Man was blasted into space in Avengers: Infinity War, where he was Snapped out of existence. He was brought back to life in Avengers: Endgame before appearing in further solo movies.

The problem with the MCU’s Spider-Man is pretty clear. He was established as an Avenger first and a hero second, and relied heavily on Tony Stark. Stark’s death caused him to re-evaluate himself, but the damage was already done. Moving forward, Spider-Man stories in the MCU will be much worse off for the manner of his introduction.

Too Much MCU Prevents Holland From Ever Being “Friendly Neighborhood” Spider-Man

MCU Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War and Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home

From his very first appearance, the MCU’s Spider-Man has been involved in the Avengers’ business. Setting him up as part of something bigger misunderstands part of the hero’s charm: he’s small-time. This is what makes him relatable: first and foremost, he’s trying to do good in his community. In other words, involving him in global issues right off the bat was a bad move.

Though Spider-Man: No Way Home effectively set the character’s arc back to where it should be, his reliance on Stark tech and time as an Avenger still formed the foundations of the character. He’s already big-time, even if he takes a step back, meaning he’s hardly the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man we know and love. In the comics, Spidey’s stories are largely self-contained, as he has a healthy Rogues’ gallery of villains to face off against. Having already seen him fighting Thanos and an army of aliens, it’s hard to see the likes of Hydro-Man or the Scorpion as a genuine threat.

Though Tom Holland is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors and his turn as Spider-Man is great, the MCU has already failed him. His Spider-Man has been forced into big stories way too early, and it will undoubtedly hurt his long-term development. That said, we’re still excited for Holland’s return and Spidey’s future, so maybe it’s not all bad.