The Hidden Meaning of Spider-Man: Homecoming

With great power comes great limitations

Jan 17 · 8 min read

I recall watching Spider-Man: Homecoming in the cinema for the first time and feeling a little bit like Peter at the close of Infinity War, not so good…

Don’t get me wrong, everything leading up to the climax was thoroughly enjoyable. It was only after that last scene, the one with Tony, that left me a little confused. Do you know which scene I’m talking about? No, I don’t mean Infinity War, I’m back to talking about Homecoming…

Oops, and I probably should’ve mentioned this right from the start. This post contains SPOILERS for Spider-Man: Homecoming. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now!!!

We good? Okay, moving on…

Tony, make him an offer he can refuse

The last scene featuring Tony Stark is one of the most baffling scenes in Marvel film history. Well, at least for me. Allow me to refresh your memory…

After saving Happy’s job and the Avengers from losing their tech to the Vulture, Tony invites Peter over to the new Avengers HQ to thank him personally. While he’s there, he offers Peter a brand new suit and a job as an official Avenger…

It’s a dream come true. Truly, becoming an Avenger is something Peter’s been wishing for his whole, entire life. That’s been made abundantly clear for the whole duration of the film.

After getting handed everything he’s ever wanted, Peter pauses, thinks about it for a moment and then for some strange reason, passes on the offer…

“Thank you Mr. Stark, but I’m good.” – Peter Parker

Um, what? You’re good? Tony has the same confused look on his face that I did when it happened. So… what was the point of this movie again? Isn’t this some exercise in the hero proving his worth?

Finally, Peter has a chance to join the team of superheroes he’s idolised for most of his young life and he says “no.” No spider sense could’ve ever predicted that! It just doesn’t make sense. Well, it wasn’t until I watched the movie again that I had a sense for what might be going on…

Why did Peter turn down Tony?

Usually, at the end of a superhero flick, the hero gets what his heart desires most of all. The hero gets the girl and he gets the prize, but in Homecoming, the hero gets neither…

Yet somehow, the young Peter walks out of the Avengers facility acting like the winner, heroic music playing as he smiles from ear to ear…

The look on my face as I stepped out of the cinema was more a look of confusion. Long after that viewing, I was still scratching my head over that one perplexing scene. What made matters even worse was that no one else seemed to care.

They weren’t perturbed by that closing act as much as I was. Most viewers just took it as a sign of maturity, as did Tony. A young Spider-Man realising that he’s not yet ready to wield such power, to become an official Avenger, once and for all…

Rubbish! Peter proved he was worthy to be an Avenger by the end of this coming of age flick. There’s no doubt in my mind the kid’s passed the, “with great power comes great responsibility” part of his training.

Peter proved that he didn’t need the suit to be a hero. Heck, he took down the Vulture wearing nothing but his Underoos! If there is anyone who deserves to be ordained an Avenger, it’s him…

I rewatched Homecoming recently and I’ve come up with a new theory for why Peter turned down Tony’s offer. It has nothing to do with his supposed readiness for the role and everything to do with the role itself…

Being an Avenger has its limits

Life as an Avenger certainly has its perks…

But it also has its downsides...

Remember the Sokovia Accords from Civil War? Imagine having your every superhero move scrutinised by the world’s media and governments. It’s even mentioned briefly in Homecoming during one of Peter’s classes.

The Avengers, as we all know them, behave less like modern-day deities and more like modern-day celebrities. They’re rockstars!

They reside in a bubble. Hang out with the rich and famous. Get invited to all the best parties and get around in their own private jet. The view from up there is pretty nice…

They’re not grounded in reality. They’re in some other reality that the average person simply cannot relate to. The Vulture puts it better in his speech to Peter justifying why he does what he does…

“Those people, Pete. Those people up there, the rich and the powerful, they do whatever they want. Guys like us, like you and me. They don’t care about us. We build their roads and we fight all their wars and everything. They don’t care about us. We have to pick up after them. We have to eat their table scraps. That’s how it is. I know you know what I’m talking about, Peter.” — The Vulture

And I believe Peter does know exactly what the Vulture’s talking about. He knows deep down that the Vulture isn’t entirely wrong.

Perhaps he’s not going about it in the right way, but there is some veiled truth to what he’s saying. This villain who is just as much a product of Tony’s creation as was Ultron. Just as bitter and twisted. Bonded in their hatred and contempt for Tony…

Both villains were created under the watch of the Avengers!!! It happened right under their noses!!!

Too big for their own good

The Vulture was repurposing the wreckage of the Avengers first melee in New York for almost a decade. Fabricating new weapons he and his crew could sell off to the highest bidders in the criminal black market. Not a single Avenger knew what was really going on…

It wasn’t until Peter, a high school kid from Queens, figured it all out!!! Not that he got much cooperation from the Avengers along the way. Let me see…

Firstly, they ignore him after dropping him back home, post Civil War. Nice job!!! Then they arrogantly refuse to listen when Peter tries to warn them about the Vulture.

Finally, when they do decide to actually do something about Peter’s claims, they wind up delegating it to another authority…

Tony: There are people who handle this sort of thing.

Peter: The Avengers?

Tony: No no, this is a little below their pay grade.

WTF? Having your technology land in the hands of thieves is below your pay grade? Are you friggin’ kidding me? No wonder the Vulture is fed up with the Avengers! I would be too!

It takes one friendly neighborhood Spider to web the clues together and save Happy and the Avengers’ hides. How was he able to do this? By staying on the ground. Let’s go back to what Peter says to Tony straight after his last temptation…

“I’d rather just stay on the ground for a little while. Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Somebody’s got to look out for the little guy, right?” — Peter Parker

And look out for the “little guy” is precisely what this young hero needs to be doing… because let’s face it, the Avengers certainly aren’t doing it!!!

A working-class Spider-Man

Tony takes a step back, he cannot help but admire Peter’s working-class man vibes, he digs it. I don’t think he totally understands it though. Think about it this way…

If you were to ask the person in charge of a huge conglomerate how good the business is running, chances are he or she will show you their profits. They don’t know what it’s really like to work for their company! Look, if you want to know how good a company’s actually doing, you’ve got to speak with the people on the ground.

In some ways, Peter is taking on the role of a union rep. By keeping one foot firmly on the ground, he’s looking out for the rest of us…

Conclusion

By Spider-Man choosing not to become an Avenger, he’s doing the best thing possible to ensure the safety of Aunt May, Ned, and all other potential loved ones…

Not because becoming an Avenger will give away his identity, but because they’re so far removed from the ground they’re blind to the dangers that could be manifesting right beneath their noses…

The Avengers are a reactionary superhero team. If there’s an alien invasion, they’ll be the first to tackle it. That’s great, but what about homegrown baddies??? What about preventing villains from being developed in the first place? The Avengers aren’t so good at that part.

That’s where Peter’s Spider-Man comes in! By keeping one foot on the ground, he can get the intel and see problems before they arise. He can read the crowd. Understand the sentiment and the resentment building up towards the Avengers. He can sense it…

This is the hidden reason behind why Peter decides not to take Tony’s offer. It’s to stay grounded in reality. In Homecoming, it’s to ensure he keeps on coming home.

Sure… in the following movie, Infinity War, we see Peter accept the mantle of Avenger without hesitation, but it ultimately serves the same purpose. As he so eloquently puts it…

“You can’t be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man if there’s no neighborhood.” — Peter Parker


David Caracciolo

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I like big PUNS and I can not lie. You other writers can't deny

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