The Marvel Cinematic Universe has it’s benefits and problems, one of the latter being how Marvel prior to forming Marvel Studios (which was before and why Disney came calling) had licensed out Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men since they didn’t plan on making their own movies. Disney/Marvel had to buy 20th Century Fox in order to get the Fantastic Four and X-Men back (though I doubt that was the reason why) but Sony, despite having only three successes with the wall-crawler, holds on to Spider-Man as tight as they can. In order to get Spidey in the MCU like fans wanted many hoops had to be jumped through in order to make it happen, including major alterations to Peter Parker and his circle of friends.

Well Michael Williams, writing for Fansided’s “Bam Smack Pow” superhero site, wants to add one more change as he feels the best way to introduce the mutants into the MCU from their former licensing purgatory is to make Peter a mutant. It makes more sense in the context of the article, but as you’ll see it’s an idea I am not on board with as it will not only make the translation errors worse than the Sony deal has made it but comes with problems of its own.

I know, I know – I’m preaching counter comic-culture to all the hardcore comic consumers out there that have that famous issue of Spider-Man saving Gwen on the cover hanging on their wall in a very expensive display case.

I do not, but I’m not a Gwen Stacy fan and frankly….right, going off topic. His point is that he’s talking to Spider-Fans who may already be annoyed with the changes made. For context: Sony wants to have the option of fully recalling their license, which they’re only hanging onto due to the success of Marvel in movies right now but outside of the first two Sam Rami movies and Into The Spiderverse hasn’t really produced a popular or beloved theatrical movie with the character, and that could lead to license issues if they divorce Spidey from the MCU entirely. Licensing is a strange and crazed monster. This is why Aunt May is suddenly younger, MJ is no longer Mary Jane Watson but Michelle Jones (and I once defended Zendaya as Mary Jane, which I would still hold firm on had they done it right), and we have yet another high school age Peter Parker with Ned Leeds now being his best buddy at school and one of the few people in on his secret. Sony wants to ensure that they get to play with the iconic Spider-Man lore if they decide to pull out and apparently Marvel Studios was so happy to just have Marvel’s flagship hero there that they didn’t care about that and figured we wouldn’t either. The sad thing is they might have been right as I don’t see a lot of complaints outside of people like Professor Geek on YouTube, who is all about iconic interpretations of modern mythology.

I guess this is why Williams figures that nobody really cares and they can do what they want. Fans have been trying to figure out how to get the X-Men into the MCU even before Disney bought Fox. Thus he makes his case of using Spidey as a door for both then and the FF.

In order to fully understand this idea, we have to understand that adaptations from comic to film are just that: Adaptations.

Not everything follows the source material because there is a beautiful compromise that usually happens when it comes to adapting something. Some of the time, this can make it even better than the original origin. However, in comic book movies, it doesn’t always work because the ground work simply can’t be laid in the same way that a comic book could lay it.

To a point he’s right, at least when it comes to translating into live-action. The less like the real world you make something the more you can get away with, which is why comics and cartoons will always have the advantage when it comes to fantastic worlds like superheroes. That said, there is something I call “multiversal continuity”, those iconic parts that we all know about a character’s origin, powers, and costume/uniform. If too many of those are changed you end up with an original character wearing the name of a famous character and we have enough namesakes as it is out of Hollywood and not-stalgic comics/games.

Since we’re going to be talking about him anyway, let’s take Spider-Man as an example. If he is swinging from light poles by means of bio-organically secreting web from beneath his skin – governed on a kinetic metabolic energy system similar to how DC’s Flash utilizes his speed abilities – it works in a comic book. Why? We read it, relate to the facts, and then elements of disbelief are accepted… because its a comic book.

Now, go watch Tobey Maguire swing off buildings with webs coming out of his wrists in Sam Raimi’s live-action Spider-Man films. It’s harder to process because the adaptation didn’t follow the rule of disbelief to realistic expectations (or at least didn’t have the time to). This is literally used in the creation of comics all the time. This means you provide enough relative facts grounded to our world so that the elements of disbelief are automatically accepted by the audience because now your consumer can see how that would be possible.

Sure, he should be dying of radiation poisoning/infection instead of gaining superpowers but a science nut inventing things? Not realistic.

Except that was never accurate. For some odd reason “high school student who is a whiz at chemistry with a love of other forms of science like technology creates web shooters using a chemical formula that is probably instinctual from the spider DNA” was the idea he found hard to believe about a guy who sticks to walls and has an early warning “about to be punched in the face” sense. I find it harder to believe Peter can design sew his own costume given we never see that much artistic skill out of him but I’m willing to let it slide for the sake of the story. I do like Rami’s explanation for how Peter climbs walls better than the weird ideas Marvel themselves came up with but the organic webbing I was never a fan of and nobody else has used it before or since (homage aside) for a reason. It’s kind of dumb. So you’re arguing for something the movies did that the comics only did because the movie did.

There has been an abundance of debate over whether organic web-shooting versus web-shooter technology should be used in Spider-Man adaptations over the years for simple reasons like logic and whether or not it makes sense to the world they’re set in. But that’s just one of the examples of the debate that the adaptations of Spider-Man’s biology have caused over the years. And even though many felt it didn’t work all that well in terms of logic, the point is that it could work much better in a world as already outlandish as the MCU.

So why couldn’t the others be as outlandish? In the third movie our hero fights a man made out of sand. In the Amazing movies they borrow a bit more from the Ultimate universe (which so many Marvel movies seem to–see also the genetic “super-spider” origin and Peter’s wrestling gear from Rami’s first film, and Nick Fury being a bald black man who resembles Samuel L. Jackson) for things like Electro’s design but now he’s a guy basically made of electricity rather than a guy who projects it. Only the Rami films, the comics of that period, and the MTV cartoon meant as a tie-in, used the organic webbing, and it’s not what Stan Lee and Steve Ditko came up with for the webbing.

(I)t is a small win for the MCU compared to what it could lead to – an endless array of possibilities including Secret Wars, The Khang Invasion, and Civil War II. But let’s not forget how amazing it would be to have The Avengers vs. the X Men.

Actually, can we not? The last time wasn’t very good from what I hear. And did he mean Kang as in Kang The Conqueror? I have my own typos and poorly fixed sentences over the years but my site doesn’t have a separate editor proofreading articles. As for Civil War II, please Kirby (who is God in the Marvel universe) no. I don’t want the MCU to just be adaptations of major comic events. That’s what the direct to video movies are for, since as mentioned animation can get away with more than live-action can and we don’t need a de-fantasized version of classic events.

Before all that can be established, however, small things have to happen first to lay the ground work. Those small things may involve Spider-Man or at least they could. Think about it: What if Spidey wasn’t just some accidental Captain America by-product? What if he was created as all mutants in the comics were? What if Peter had a mutation all along and, like Wolverine, got the biological push he needed to become the natural or unnatural hero he was always meant to be?

Granted there are still Marvel movies on the Finally Watched list but when was it established in the MCU that Peter’s powers were tied to the super-soldier serum and various attempts to recreate it? And when did Wolverine need a “biological push” to unlock his like five different mutant powers? I know in the Ultimate universe the origin of mutants was tied to the attempts to re-create Captain America (which was dumb) but why go through that here?

Hypothetically speaking, if Spider-Man and Iron Man hadn’t been written as being so close in the MCU as a way to explain how the former got his technically-refined prowess, then we could have explored the organic web-slinging friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. After all, we don’t know much about this Peter’s origins and a ton of groundwork has already been laid to explore that; it’s just waiting to be explored. Yes, he’s been pretty comic-accurate thus far, but the importance of original adaptations, remember?

What’s next, have Spider-Man JOIN the Fantastic Four?

Versus the importance of multiversal continuity and the iconic Spider-Man. Peter creating his own web shooters shows his chemistry and mechanical design skills and taking that away takes away Peter’s scientific knowledge, something that gets forgotten too often. Again, there’s a reason nobody has seen organic webbing since the Mephisto reset button, nor should we. Why is Williams so interested in bringing this back?

For those that don’t know the story premise for the new Marvel’s Avengers game, it has a very interesting link to the Inhumans involving The Avengers failing to save the city from a terrorist hit led by Taskmaster that releases a chemical that changes civilians so that they develop powerful mutations. The corporation of A.I.M. steps up to save them using questionable research to create a cure that is dispersed via aerosol using – wait for it – Terragen.

Wait, isn’t AIM (short for Advanced Idea Mechanics) a bunch of science-obsessed terrorists? Also, unless the game is canon in the MCU and not its own universe should you be using it as canon? From there he talks about how the Terragen mists have been used in Agents Of SHIELD but since I fell away from the show I can’t comment on it. Then he talks about using Spider-Man to not only bring in the X-Men but the Fantastic Four. This could potentially be a problem if Spidey is sucked out of the MCU should Sony think they’d do better on their own (despite their history showing otherwise) as that link is now lost.

Now that Robert Downey Jr.’s exit from the MCU as Iron Man has come to pass, Spider-Man needs a new mentor, and who better than Reed Richards. Why though? Why Reed and not someone from the mutant regime of potential other mentors? Reed is tech-savvy, conflicted, and someone knows what it’s like to go through changes. Tom Holland’s journey as Spider-Man in the films now is going through those changes and his next film is undoubtedly going to showcase the Spider-Man that becomes worthy of Avenger-leading material. You can’t help but wonder with the inclusion of Namor Easter Eggs (and other Fantastic Four Easter Eggs) here and there that this all sounds a little too convenient, right?

I haven’t seen Far From Home or the Endgame movies to confirm that but I don’t know that Peter NEEDS a mentor. Previous incarnations didn’t have a mentor (because there really weren’t any as superheroes were still a new concept until the retcons) and he did pretty well for himself. Have the Fantastic Four go into space to check out the aftermath of the various Avenger movies, get his with space radiation if you don’t buy the traditional cosmic radiation, and have them gain their powers. That was so easy I didn’t need the Staples button. (Do they still do that?)

Perhaps the plan was to introduce them at some point with their own original interpretation of the narrative. Small changes like Reed discovering Peter was actually a mutant carrier exposed to Terregen through Oscorp’s genetic experimentations could easily provide Spider-Man and the MCU connections to every popular group needed for the foreseeable future of the franchise, giving Tom Holland a lot more opportunities to pop up in the future. It is a small thing to change, but if Peter shows up in Venom 2 before his third installment, and the black suit is involved, we could just say that Peter experienced some “alien side effect” of wearing the symbiote that left his body able to regeneratively and organically spin webs.


Why aren’t the X-Men de-aged as often as Spider-Man is? They started out as teens too. Or at least college age.

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. The rest of this is also wrong. Again, going by the source material and multiversal continuity the Terregen mists create Inhumans, not mutants, and we know Marvel Studios has been discussing trying to do the Inhumans over again after the disaster that was the miniseries. (It was intended to be an MCU movie so maybe it’s a good thing it got sent to TV. There’s an opening to undo the damage.) Now you’re just overthinking this whole story. It’s so easy to figure out mutants without all this extra work. Allow me.

While mutants aren’t as plentiful as they would be in the comics or various cartoons they still exist. They’ve been afraid to show their powers and reactions to superpowered beings as far back as Captain Marvel appearing on Earth in whatever year Brie Larson’s movie is set (I think the 80s but it’s also on the Finally Watched list.) The events of Civil War and the superhero registration act (which in the comics was an offshoot of constant attempts to create a mutant registration act) made that even less likely. Professor Charles Xavier has been trying to find and shelter these recently “active” mutants until they can safely be introduced to the world but his old friend Magnus thinks they shouldn’t hide their powers. Instead they should revel it them, perhaps even rule these powerless homo sapiens. Referring to this as the next step in human evolution, which he dubs homo superior, he starts his conquest at a time when the superhero community is weakened and still trying to shake off Thanos’ attack. (In fact Thanos’s actions might be what finally sets Magnus off.)

Taking the name Magneto, he finds like-minded mutants and forms his Brotherhood Of Mutants. However, Xavier was ready for this and formed a team to oppose him, his X-Men. Maybe don’t introduce Wolverine yet or use him as a gateway into this situation since he probably didn’t know what a mutant was all this time and only a select few knew of his abilities (the government exploiting superpowered agents with less morals than Hank and Janet Pym during their time as Ant-Man and Wasp isn’t out of the realm of possibilities in the MCU), but I’d like to see X-Men who aren’t Wolverine get a chance to shine. Now suddenly this small and growing population of x-gene mutations are getting noticed with people looking for others with powers and the ball gets rolling. “Normal” people were already concerned about people with powers and now this leaks out by the end of the first movie (call it X-Men: Reveal or something), leading to further and extreme panic. Spidey doesn’t need to be a mutant and the Inhumans still have another chance at being revealed.

Also, NEVER ADAPT THE PHOENIX SAGA UNTIL YOU CAN PROPERLY INTRODUCE THE SHI’AR AND THE M’KRAAN CRYSTAL! And until you can prove you can do it right. Maybe don’t give it to the same guy who screwed it up twice before.

You might not like the idea of Spider-Man being a mutant, but for the sake of the MCU completing their crusade to adapt more of Marvel’s most historic and popular comics arcs into live-action mediums, it is a small sacrifice for the stories yet to be told.

Really? I just came up with both scenarios without further eroding Spider-Man’s lore and without your stupid organic webbing. No sacrifice was made.

It is an argument that can be traced back to the original Spider-Man and Friends show then throughout all the cartoons and TV shows since. Be it organically or technologically, Spider-Man spins a web, but in this case, it would be the former, allowing the MCU to officially welcome the X-Men and other mutants to the fray.

Wait, what? At what point did Spider-Man or the nature of web spinning ever come up in (I’m assuming you mean) Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends? Because apparently your Saturday morning came from a different reality than mine. In the 90s show Spidey went to the X-Men for help with the growing mutation of the Man-Spider, but they couldn’t help because his mutation was artificial, a mutate rather than a Marvel-style mutant, and they didn’t understand what Spider-Man was asking of them. Spider-Man does not need to be a mutant to bring in the X-Men or need a mentor as an excuse to bring in the Fantastic Four. They came out just fine without him in other media, including the source material. Maybe don’t overthink it?

And get over the organic webbing. Nobody cares about it!

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

One response »

  1. […] Should Spider-Man Be A Mutant: This is one BW Vs article that still confuses me. The writer for a superhero website wanted to toss out what little the MCU gets right about Spider-Man as a way to get the X-Men into the MCU and I didn’t see a need for it at all. Plus he was way too obsessed with bringing back Sam Rami’s organic webbing. […]


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