Mysterio. The name alone can give goosebumps to even the most basic comic book fan. He’s one of Spider-Man’s most devious, cunning, and visually stunning villains. And yet, it wasn’t until Spider-Man: Far From Home that he was brought to the big screen. Oh, and by the way, this time he’s not a villain, he’s a hero.
Speaking with director Jon Watts as well as producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, we asked about the idea of making Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, a hero when he’s always been a villain in the comics - and then, well, everything that comes after that.
Head below for our spoilery chat!
“Yes, his name is Mysterio. He’s got the recognisable fishbowl. Comic fans are going to know, or at least you think they know, where we’re going with it,” Feige told Gizmodo.
“It’s a unique time in the MCU right now where even if you know the comics very well, we have changed things enough from the comics that I’ve heard many comments - both when we were testing the movie and now that people have seen the movie - who say, ‘I know he’s a bad guy. I know he’s a bad guy in the comics. But based on those trailers and even the first half of the movie, I thought, oh well, the MCU does things differently I guess. I guess he’s a hero in the universe.’”
A universe that, because of previous Spider films, doesn’t necessarily have to line up with anything in the comics.
“Because of [what we know of the] Spider-verse, there are multiple versions of these characters in different realities,” Pascal said. “Good guys and bad guys who are different in their different parallel universes. I think it’s perfectly logical that he has come from another Earth and is there to help.”
Which is what you are led to believe, at least at the beginning. Eventually, we realise that Mysterio is, in fact, the bad guy we expected him to be. Watts didn’t want that to be the big reveal, though.
“I never thought that it was going to be a twist for Spider-Man fans in the way finding out the Vulture was Liz’s dad played in Homecoming,” Watts said. “My hope is just that maybe half of the audience would genuinely think Mysterio was a hero and the other half would know that he’s up to something, they’re just not exactly sure what or why or how. So, you know, I saved the other bigger twists for later in the film.”
Those bigger twists include revealing that Mysterio is not from another universe, as he states. Actually, he’s one of several former Stark Industries employees who are using Tony Stark’s technologies against everyone to gain power.
“That was just sort of a group of us in a room,” Feige said. “Eric Carroll, our executive producer, [director] Jon Watts, and our writers Chris [McKenna] and Erik [Sommers] finding the story of Mysterio. Tapping into both Mysterio’s very first appearance in the comics, where he wants to replace Spider-Man basically and become a hero, and having him [fill] this void left by Iron Man in Endgame. How to tap into that and also how to give him technology. How would he have enough technology to be able to pull this off?”
“What’s great about making a film in the dense world of the MCU is that a lot of these ideas already exist in the previous films,” Watts added. “So we don’t have to spend the time inventing it from scratch. All you have to do is look back to Civil War and you realise, ‘Oh wait. Tony Stark, whose shadow looms over this whole movie actually, had a realistic holographic technology that he called BARF.’
And then that just opened up the door to think ‘OK, the rest of the technology involved. These weaponised drones. Who makes those weaponised drones? Where do they come from?’ And then you know you just go back and it’s an excuse to watch the other films again and try and figure out if you can piece together this villain plot from little breadcrumbs throughout the other films.”
As if those aspects of Mysterio’s villainous twist and motivations weren’t perfect enough, though, there’s more. Pascal, who has been working on Spider-Man films since the first one, said that while there have been discussions with other filmmakers about bringing Mysterio to life in previous films, this was absolutely the right time. Not just because the MCU offered such a clever way into his backstory, but also because of what he stands for as a character.
“I think Mysterio was the right character because of the times that we’re living in,” Pascal said. “The movie is obviously about ‘Do you believe what’s right in front of you or not?’ And it is about that in every regard.
It’s about that in terms of Peter not wanting to deal with what he’s feeling inside and sort of being in denial and running away. And it’s about that in terms of Mysterio’s story because it’s perfectly logical that he has come from another Earth.”
If living in 2019 has taught us anything, Far From Home hammers home the point even more. Look deeper. Never trust what you see. Which is just oh so damned Mysterio.