Farewell Spidey, time for Marvel to find the 'next Iron Man' and here are a few heroes who fit the bill
As depressing as it is to come to terms with Tom Holland's Spider-Man no longer being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio now has to find someone else to fill in as their premier superhero. Thankfully, they've got options
The most heartbreaking news of the year is here and it is the end of a beautiful relationship. No, we’re not talking about Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus (though that was quite heartbreaking too). The worst break-up story of the year is sadly the falling out between Disney/Marvel and Sony.
Trouble started when Disney asked Sony for an even 50-50 co-financing arrangement on all future ‘Spider-Man’ movies. After negotiations broke down, the two media giants decided to go their separate ways, leaving Tom Holland’s beloved version of the Web-Crawler an unfortunate child of divorced parents.
According to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, Sony says it was Disney who took the initiative to end the relationship. Sony claimed they were “disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision”.
There’s no chance of shared custody though as Sony made it clear they plan on taking the ‘Spider-man’ franchise forward without Marvel’s involvement. Disney won’t even be getting the movie equivalent of “visitation rights”, meaning they can’t even have him pop in for a few quick cameos.
Losing Spider-Man is a huge blow to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially after ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ established young Peter Parker as the new face of the MCU. Beyond the obvious problem of figuring out how to give Spider-Man a proper farewell from the MCU, Marvel will also have to find a new person to fill the vacant shoes of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man. As Peter himself said in 'Far From Home', "the world needs the next Iron Man" and, unfortunately, it's not going to be the one we all hoped for.
Thankfully, there are a few heroes who could step up and take Peter’s place in the MCU, though not necessarily his high-tech Underoos. The obvious person to take over Stark’s place as the Earth’s leading mad genius would be the Wakandan prodigy Shuri (Letitia Wright).
Joe and Anthony Russo, two of the leading architects of the MCU’s ‘Infinity Saga’ that ended with ‘Avengers: Endgame’, have already declared that Shuri is the “Smartest Avenger”. If that’s not enough of an endorsement, what is?
Other potential replacements include Ironheart, Iron Man’s latest successor in the comics and Iron Lad, a heroic younger version of the Avengers’ long-time enemy Kang the Conqueror (basically Hitler with time-travel). There have been theories that Tony’s daughter Morgan Stark (Lexi Rabe) may become Ironheart when she grows up, though that’s a bit too long-term to be of use right now.
A more promising theory suggests Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), who was introduced in ‘Iron Man 3’ may actually be Iron Lad. Tony’s funeral scene at the end of ‘Endgame’ showed an older version of Harley in a non-speaking role, which could mean he may have a bigger part to play in the MCU’s future (though not necessarily as a megalomaniacal time-traveling conqueror).
There are other options as well. For example, the introduction of a brand-new character. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has already made it clear that introducing Ms. Marvel aka Kamala Khan to the MCU is a priority for the studio, though no concrete steps have been taken in that direction.
Considering Marvel also has all the properties they got back from Fox after the Disney/Fox merger, there really is no end to the options at the studio’s disposal. Johnny Storm/the Human Torch and the mutant Bobby Drake/Iceman have always been close friends of Spider-Man in the comics and they both have a very similar youthful spirit, which could be channeled to have either of them replace Spidey in his role as Marvel’s “friendly neighborhood” hero.
Bringing in Johnny would have the added bonus of helping Marvel introduce a new version of the Fantastic Four, albeit one that focuses on the younger Storm sibling. The older movie versions of Marvel’s First Family have treated him as a supporting character in the life of his sister Sue Storm/Invisible Woman and her husband Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. Maybe Peter’s death could help bring about Johnny’s rebirth.
This stand-off between the studios isn’t something that will permanently derail either’s plans for the future, though certain adjustments will obviously have to be made. Poor Peter has already lost four parent figures since joining the MCU, including his birth parents, his uncle Ben and now Stark.
The last thing he needed was to meet such a premature end and it would be so much worse still if he is brought back with no ties to his lost mentor. Peter deserves happiness, Tony deserves his legacy and we deserve to see Tom Holland in those tights again but, unfortunately, such is life.