Detractors of the MCU usually have one go to when it comes to criticism. The reasons vary, but they boil down to MCU movies being predictable. There is something to be said for that. Marvel has a formula that’s basically tried and true. If you break these movies down to their most general form, there are a bunch of similarities(that is true of just about anything and isn’t MCU specific, but let’s ignore that right now). Spider-Man: Homecoming released last weekend and it’s doing extremely well at the box office. That is a huge win for Marvel. However, Spidey did more for the MCU than push it over $12 billion at the box office. This movie added something to the MCU’s repertoire. That something is trolling. Spoilers ahead so if you are fine with them, continue. If you are, I suggest you go check out some of these thoughts and reviews of the movie.
Am I exaggerating a bit here? Of course I am. Is this your first time reading one of my posts? The thing is, there is always truth in my hyperbole. So what is a troll? Someone who tries to get a reaction from someone by saying things they don’t actually believe. This also goes for the troll saying things they just don’t believe. It’s not always malicious. And in Marvel’s case it was actually, mostly, benevolent. The special thing about their trolling is they did it before, during and after the movie.
It all started shortly after news broke that Zendaya was cast in the movie. It leaked that she would be playing a character named MJ. Of course, this made everyone think of Marvel’s lovable red-head and long standing love interest of Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson. Boy, did the internet go insane. There was a groundswell of reaction from everywhere. People loved it and praised Marvel for trying to catch up culturally. There were people who didn’t want a Mary Jane who didn’t have red hair(like we haven’t seen that before). Lastly, there were people who were actually bold enough to say what they actually felt. They were mad about the idea of a black Mary Jane. Closer to the film’s release, a new rumor surfaced. Word was, Zendaya would be playing Michelle Toomes. This would make her related to the Vulture in some way.
On a smaller scale, people have wanted to see Miles Morales on the big screen for years. More specifically, they’ve wanted to see Donald Glover play Miles Morales. When news broke that Donald Glover was cast in the movie, the internet went a bit crazy again. There was even a rumor saying that he would indeed be playing Miles Morales. Apparently the people who fell into this one weren’t using logic. The defining characteristic of the MCU is their tight interconnected universe. They generally work things out to the most minute detail. Why would anyone think, with Tom Holland in his late teens/early twenties and Donald Glover in his early thirties, that Donald would be playing the person that’s supposed to replace or at least be inspired by Tom’s character? Especially in this Spider-Man’s first solo movie, this thought was ridiculous.
INNER TROLL UNLEASHED
What we actually got was much different than the rumors. In every situation, the truth was better than what was assumed.
Zendaya did indeed play a character named Michelle. She was not Mary Jane Watson at all. She wasn’t even a love interest for Spider-Man. How they executed her name reveal and character was the masterful part. Throughout the entire movie, she basically took on the role of a troll. She was extremely sarcastic and gave pretty much every character a hard time. She targeted Peter several times throughout the film. Additionally, she mentioned that she was “not obsessed with him or anything”. There was even a scene at the Washington Monument where Spider-Man and Michelle are on screen together right before he goes to save his classmates, slightly reminiscent of Mary Jane sending Spidey off to do Spidey things. As far as her playing the Vulture’s daughter, that didn’t happen either. The actual love interest, Liz, is who had familial ties to the big bad of the movie. Then in the last 5 or so minutes of the film, she states that her name is Michelle, but her friends call her MJ. Following this is a call back to a troll she set up earlier when she said she didn’t have any friends.
No black Spider-Man, yet. Donald Glover was not playing Miles Morales. Instead, he played a character named Aaron Davis who is the villain, The Prowler. The other interesting thing about Mr. Davis is that in his scene with Spider-Man, he reveals that his nephew lives in his neighborhood. Who is Aaron Davis’ nephew? Miles Morales.
POST MOVIE PATIENCE
Not every piece of this magnum opus of trolling involved the plot of this film directly. The second most prevalent characteristic of the MCU after the universe building would have to be its post credit scenes. From Iron Man in 2008 when the topic was universe building to the just for fun schwarma scene after the Avengers in 2012 to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the Howard the Duck appearance, these scenes have become a staple. How fitting then, after all the other benevolent trolling, that we get one post credit scene that was about the universe and the very last one be another troll. Captain America came on screen and gave a speech/lecture about patience. Especially poignant was his line about patience sometimes not paying off.
WAS IT SUCCESSFUL AND WHY?
Join us next week when we’ll talk abou…just kidding. I wanted to fit in. They definitely were successful with both the movie in general and the major trolling session they orchestrated. The movie was successful because they had other people’s failures to learn from. This was a new take on Spider-Man from anything we’ve seen on the big screen. They purposely went against the majority of story beats and themes from the two former franchises.
Why did the trolling work? Several reasons really. Chief among them is our(nerds and geeks in general) propensity to be know-it-alls. We want to take in as much info as possible and we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the things we love. The issue here is when we think we know more than the people who make these things. Even now after seeing the movie NaGs everywhere are still calling Zendaya Mary Jane. Even after it’s been said in the movie that her name is Michelle. Though her behavior isn’t really anything like Mary Jane’s. Even after Kevin Feige came out and reiterated that she is a new character and NOT Mary Jane. We still know better. And that my friends is why we are so easily trolled.