Why Spider-Man could be portrayed as a mutant in the MCU

Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: INFINITY WARSpider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland)Photo: Film Frame©Marvel Studios 2018
Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: INFINITY WARSpider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland)Photo: Film Frame©Marvel Studios 2018 /

Could Spider-Man be considered a mutant in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and could this pave the way for the arrival of the X-Men?

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.

Granted, Spider-Man hasn’t yet been portrayed as a mutant in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yet, adapting him in a different fashion going forward could very well allow Marvel Studios to introduce the team that has eluded them for so long: The X-Men.

The rules of adapting and enhancing to fit your narrative

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.

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.

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.

Could Spider-Man’s origins be key to him being a mutant?

Now that we have got that out of the way. The miracle of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man being in the MCU can’t be more praised. Even so, it 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.

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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?

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?

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.

For those that don’t know, Terragen was highly explored throughout the show Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD in Earthquake’s character development and the show’s story arcs before taking off into space in the future to meet a Kree who favors and trades Inhumans to other space dwellers. Very complicated I know, but we are getting to the meat and potatoes.

Since the success of Iron Man and the rollout of Iron Man 2, the MCU has set the stage to honor Marvel’s first mutant Namor through a potential Easter Egg and reference (explored here). This could suggest that he’s been dwelling in the heart of Atlantis for years and could eventually join the MCU  at some point. Why is this important? Because the MCU needs a creative way to introduce the Fantastic Four and the existence of mutants like the X-Men – which Spider-Man has a really deep connection to in the comics.

Is Spider-Man the key to bringing in the X-Men and the Fantastic Four?

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?

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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.

It’s likely that the vast majority of fans (except perhaps hardcore comic enthusiasts) would accept Spider-Man’s organic web-shooting rewrite because it would ultimately position him as a mutant and perhaps even provide a gateway for the X-Men (and perhaps even the Fantastic Four) to arrive.

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.

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.

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Would you like to see Spider-Man as a mutant in the MCU? Let us know in the comments below!