The bad guys of Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery often tend to be less like rampaging, world-dominating superpeople, and more like lower-level criminals who develop grudges against Spider-Man for doing his job. That’s usually the case with Mysterio, a caped bad guy who wears a glass ball on his head and uses illusions and special effects for his villainy.
We know that Mysterio is due to face Spider-Man in the next movie with the Marvel Comics hero, an as-yet untitled sequel to the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” We also know the role of Mysterio, also known as Quentin Beck, has gone to Jake Gyllenhaal.
So who is Mysterio and what is his deal? He’s a bad guy with ties to Vulture, Michael Keaton’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” villain, and he likes to try to make Spider-Man believe he’s going insane. So this should be interesting.
Quentin Beck, who was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, first showed up in 1964’s “Amazing Spider-Man” No. 13. In the comics, he starts out as a Hollywood stuntman and special effects master who can’t gain the fame and stardom he feels he deserves working in those areas, despite being one of the best in the world. He hopes to become an actor to finally get some recognition, but can’t quite hack it. When a friend jokingly suggests that Beck’s easiest route to fame would be donning a costume and going superheroing, he comes away with the wrong lesson … and becomes a villain.
Beck’s whole deal is using his Hollywood wizardry to drive his villainy. He doesn’t have any real powers, but he is highly intelligent, so uses special effects and other means to create illusions to throw off the heroes fighting him. He originally went after Spider-Man in the comics because he figured the young, relatively inexperienced superhero would be fairly easy to beat, earning Beck some fame. Of course, Spider-Man repeatedly sees through his deceptions and pummels him, causing Beck to respond by becoming more and more evil.
Mysterio isn’t a mutant or a super-powered enemy like many of the Marvel baddies. Instead, he’s all about technology, but his intelligence makes him formidable. He’s able to counter some of Spider-Man’s abilities with his brain — he’s been known to create means of dissolving Spider-Man’s webbing, taking away one of the hero’s main tools, and can disrupt his spider-sense as well.
Most of the time, Mysterio leans into psychological warfare rather than brute strength. In the comics, Mysterio has messed with Peter’s mind by doing things like posing as Spider-Man and committing crimes, and trying to trick him into revealing his secret identity. Expect the sequel to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” to see Mysterio zeroing in on flaws and fears Peter Parker (Tom Holland) holds. There’s likely a lot of trauma to draw on in the wake of “Avengers: Infinity War” in that regard.
Although for a big part of his run, Mysterio was a fairly theatrical villain, he did take on a darker side during 1999’s “Guardian Devil” run, written by Kevin Smith. There, Beck, dying of cancer, tried to orchestrate one last turn of supervillainy so he could live on in infamy. He zeroed in on Daredevil and uprooted the hero’s life, convincing his former girlfriend, Karen Page, that she had HIV and framing his best friend, Foggy Nelson, for murder. Mysterio pushed Daredevil’s sanity to the brink as he tried to convince him that an innocent baby was the anti-Christ, and tried to get Daredevil to kill the child. Daredevil eventually defeated Mysterio (and did not murder any babies), and when the hero wouldn’t kill the villain, he shot himself in the head.
While that sounds a little dark for the MCU version of Spider-Man, the post-“Infinity War” world could very easily find some villains that are more than a little traumatized and unhinged because of it. The setup from “Homecoming” and “Avengers: Infinity War” could also show how a stuntman might manage to stand against Spidey, especially after he participated in the fight against Thanos (Josh Brolin). The comic version of Mysterio came up in the gang run by the Tinkerer, a villain (played by Michael Chernus) who worked with Vulture in “Homecoming,” so there easily could be a connection there.
We’ve seen how leftover alien technology helped create low-level bad guys like the Tinkerer, Vulture and Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine), and it would make sense if that gave Mysterio an extra-potent kick that lets him mess with Spidey’s perception of reality.
The big question is where the events of “Infinity War” and “Avengers 4” will leave the MCU and its heroes (and villains). The “Homecoming” sequel is set for a July 5, 2019 release date, which makes it the first MCU movie after “Avengers 4.” With Mysterio showing up to mess with the hero’s head, it seems likely we could have an “Iron Man 3”-like story in the offing for Spidey — one where the real villains are his trauma and inner demons, brought out by a bad guy particularly tuned to do so.