The Marvel Cinematic Universe has found massive success through its careful adaptation of countless Marvel stories and characters. The weaving of such a vast interconnected narrative is certainly something to be applauded, although the franchise isn’t without its issues. Over time, the franchise’s smartest trick became bad news for one of the best Marvel heroes in the MCU.
The franchise began with a six-film arc, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man and ending with the MCU’s first team-up movie in 2012 with The Avengers. Over the course of Phase 1 of the MCU, the franchise introduced some of its most important heroes: Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. These characters served as not just the MCU’s founding Avengers, but some of its most important heroes.
Though it may not be obvious now, at the time, many of these characters were more obscure Marvel heroes. With the exception of the Hulk, none of the other heroes of the MCU’s early years had enjoyed a great deal of on-screen success, and though they weren’t entirely unknown, they certainly weren’t Marvel’s greatest assets. By beginning the franchise with lesser-known characters, Marvel allowed themselves greater creative license in the MCU, but it came at a cost further down the line.
The MCU Trick Of Adapting B-List Heroes Makes Its Spider-Man Stories Bad By Comparison
Spider-Man is undoubtedly Marvel’s most iconic and successful hero. In terms of overall pop culture relevance, Spider-Man is one of the most popular heroes in the world, and after a few rights issues, he finally found a place in the MCU in Captain America: Civil War. However, the MCU trick of introducing lesser known characters was actually bad for its version of Spider-Man, as it subtly alters much of the makeup of the character himself.
Adapting the stories of B-list heroes such as Iron Man and Thor and making them central to the MCU was an excellent idea, as it reduced the potentially divisive nature of taking creative liberties with their stories. However, by making the likes of Tony Stark such a hugely important figure within the franchise, the MCU effectively made its Spider-Man his sidekick. Though the pairing remains one of the franchise’s most wholesome, it weakened Spider-Man’s impact on its stories as a whole.
In a less comic-accurate world, the MCU’s Spider-Man doesn’t fit neatly into the character’s origin story. With such a vastly popular hero, this departure from tradition seems a much more heinous choice (compared to the revisions of Tony Stark’s backstory, for example). In essence, what made the MCU’s foundational characters so popular is exactly the same thing that made its adaptation of Marvel’s most popular hero a less complete representation of the source material.