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Spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home contained in this article - read on at your own risk!
Spider-Man: No Way Home went as big as it’s possible for a Spider-Man movie to go. Three generations of webhead teaming up to battle a Sinister not-quite Six while the fate of the multiverse hangs in the balance? I still find myself clutching my pearls like a southern belle every time I think about it. This is not what Spider-Man movies were like when I was growing up.
That’s not me having a dig at the new movies in an “old man yells at cloud” kind of way, to be clear. I truly love what we’ve gotten out of the Marvel/Sony Spider-Man collaboration (even if it means I occasionally wake up in a cold sweat in the dead of night after having a bad dream that Sony has once again decided to pull the character out of the MCU).
Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has fought Captain America in Germany, battled Thanos in space, and hunted Elementals across Europe with Nick Fury… more or less. Since joining the MCU, our webbed hero has been able to embrace so much more of the, for lack of a better term, really weird shit.
But as much as I have loved seeing the character taken out of the familiar New York setting and his usual comfort zone, at this point the only real thing the next movie can do is return Peter to his roots. It'd be refreshing to see Spider-Man 4 (for lack of an official title) take our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man back to the neighbourhood.
The end of No Way Home set up this back-to-basics approach, obviously. By the story’s end, we see Peter has moved into a dingy apartment, before swinging into the night armed with little more than a police scanner and a cloth suit. That’s a far cry from the kid who just one movie ago had limitless access to Stark tech and the help of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but it’s also exactly the change fans wanted to see.
Longtime Spider-Man producer Amy Pascal herself also admitted in a recent interview with the New York Times that the fourth MCU Spidey movie probably won’t top No Way Home in terms of spectacle. “Otherwise movies just get larger and larger for no reason, and it’s not a good result,” she explained. In other words, you aren’t getting Tobey Maguire in every movie.
So, with a more traditional Spider-Man story all but confirmed for the next Holland outing, my pitch is simple: give us Michael Mando as Scorpion.
You may remember that Mando (Better Call Saul, Far Cry 3) appeared briefly in Spider-Man: Homecoming as Mac Gargan, a low-level criminal who ends up badly injured following Spidey’s botched attempt to halt a weapons deal with Vulture.
In that movie’s post-credits scene, an incarcerated Gargan makes it clear he intends to find out who Spider-Man really is and take his revenge. Apparently he didn’t enjoy being yeeted off a ferry and having his face sliced open, which… fair enough. Anyway, anyone with a passing knowledge of comic books will know that Mac Gargan eventually transforms himself into the Scorpion, a terrifyingly strong villain originally designed with one goal: to take down Spidey.
It seemed like a Spider-Man/Scorpion throwdown was on the cards… but in the five years and two movies since that Homecoming post-credits tease, we’ve heard nothing. Spider-Man 4 needs to be the story that addresses this and gives the world that sweet Michael Mando Scorpion payoff.
For one thing, Mac Gargan is 100% Peter Parker’s problem, and that's a good thing. This isn’t another classic villain like Vulture or Mysterio who had their MCU origins reworked to feature Tony Stark grudges, this is a guy who hates Spider-Man and specifically wants him dead.
Given that the last three Spider-Man movies all featured villains who didn’t actually care about Holland’s Spidey until he got involved with them (think about it, it’s true!), it’d be neat to see a villain with an honest-to-goodness personal vendetta against our hero right out of the gate. Scorpion also has ties to J. Jonah Jameson in the comics, and… well, do we need an excuse to want more J.K. Simmons in our Spider-Man movies? I don’t think so.
No Way Home was all about Peter learning to deal with his own shit. Introducing a foe as powerful as Scorpion for the sequel would be the next logical step in seeing him continue to do so. No friends, no superpowered allies or fancy suits to help him. Just Spider-Man, his wits, and a bad guy that is far, far stronger than him and wants nothing other than to see Spider-Man’s head on a stick. What does Peter do when his back is against the wall, facing overwhelming odds? His best work, usually. I, for one, would love to see it.
There’s also the fact that Michael Mando is an incredible actor, which obviously helps. Whether you’re more familiar with him from Far Cry 3, Better Call Saul, or one of his many other roles, he has an impressive ability to go from immensely likeable to bone-chillingly terrifying at the drop of a hat. There’s no doubt in my mind that he would nail it if he was given the chance to play the lead villain in a Spidey movie.
Finally, bringing back Gargan opens up one particularly interesting route for the future. We all know Sony and Marvel love a franchise, after all. While Gargan is best known as Scorpion, he also served as Venom for a brief stint a few years ago. With Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock in another universe, who else could pick up the small piece of symbiote he left behind in the MCU at the end of No Way Home? Having Gargan come back in a future movie as the MCU’s Venom would finally give fans the Tom Holland/symbiote showdown they’ve been waiting for.
In short, Michael Mando as Scorpion in Spider-Man 4 is the best possible thing for the story, the fans, and, most importantly, me. Do it for me, Sony. Okay? Okay.
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