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These are dark days for the MCU. The aftermath of Captain America: Civil War saw the Avengers divided, with Steve Rogers breaking his allies out of the Raft and going on the run. Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man was left with only three allies: a crippled War Machine, a heartbroken Vision, and the fifteen-year-old Spider-Man. Now, with the first trailers hitting for Spider-Man: Homecoming, it looks as though Stark isn't done with the Avengers just yet...
Why Are the Avengers Needed?
Tony Stark knows that the world is under threat. Although a supreme egotist, in The Avengers he got a sense of just how small he truly is when he flew through a wormhole and saw the Chitauri fleet. Realizing just how vulnerable the world is, he dedicated himself to creating a defence that would take the pressure off the Avengers — and the tragic result was Ultron.
Unfortunately, the world's defences are crumbling. The Avengers were shattered by the Sokovia Accords, and half of their membership is on the run. Stark's few remaining allies are battered and broken; poor Rhodey is regaining the use of his limbs, but his injury has to have shaken Stark to the core. Meanwhile, just what is Vision capable of? The android lashed out with a potential kill-shot, suggesting Vision doesn't exactly have control of his emotions.
But the world still needs defenders. The world still needs Avengers.
What About Spider-Man?
It's pretty clear that Stark is keeping an eye on Peter Parker, not least because the kid has an impressive power-level. I mean, at age 15 he's able to trade blows with some of the Avengers' best and brightest! For Tony Stark, Peter Parker is clearly the next Avenger. It's actually quite telling that Stark had deduced Peter's identity back in Civil War; it suggests that, even before the Accords, he was thinking about extending the #Avengers.
But can even Tony Stark really take a 15-year-old into battle? He did in Civil War, and many fans have called him on it; if #SpiderMan is registered under the Sokovia Accords, then I strongly suspect Stark will have had some real political flak for making this call. Stark's best bet is to train Peter up, to equip him with what he needs to stay alive, and to monitor his performance. If Peter is going to be an Avenger, he'll have to prove himself.
Will Spider-Man Become an Avenger?
Over in the comics, we're kind of used to the idea that Spider-Man is an Avenger — but that's actually quite a new twist in his tale. He first joined up in 2005, and that was seen as a major departure from his usual status quo. You see, Peter Parker has one simple thing working against him:
The Parker Luck.
Spider-Man is a classic everyman, and his infamous bad luck is one of the most entertaining — and relatable — things about him. He gets a date with Mary-Jane? There's a bank robbery across the street. Aunt May becomes ill? Shipments of medicine are disrupted by Doctor Octopus. Sometimes the Parker Luck becomes slapstick, such as the moment when a chemical dissolved his costume, leaving poor Spidey pretty much stark-naked in a New York street. Other times it's tragic, and leads to deaths. But the truth is that, historically at least, nothing has ever seemed to go right for your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
That's part of his charm. He's relatable precisely because he has the kind of bad days we all have. Sure, right now in the comics Peter Parker has moved on to the big time — but that works precisely because he's been struggling for decades. If #Marvel really want to make Spider-Man work in the MCU, then in my view they simply have to replicate the formula.
I'm not saying Spider-Man shouldn't be in #InfinityWar or anything like that; of course he should be. But with an alien invasion likely to sweep across the entire planet, the odds Ol' Webhead will get drawn into the mess are pretty good whether he's formally an Avenger or not. No, I'm just saying that, at this stage in his superhero career, Spider-Man simply isn't ready to become an Avenger. And yeah, the sad truth is that this realization will crush him.
I don't know how this plot thread is going to play out, but it's clear that the interaction between Tony Stark and Tom Holland's Peter Parker is simply going to be outstanding. That said, I want Peter Parker to come out of Spider-Man: Homecoming standing on his own two feet, proving to himself that he's a hero — even if, in some twist of the Parker Luck, that means he blows it on becoming an Avenger.