Doctor Strange In Spider-Man: No Way Home Fixes MCU's Iron Man Mistake

Marvel Studios is using Doctor Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home to rectify the MCU's big Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) mistake, namely that of Spider-Man's over-reliance on Iron Man's mentorship. After years of existing in his own separate franchise, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios entered a deal to bring Spider-Man into the MCU. Since then, the current iteration of Peter Parker has appeared in five movies — with a sixth one manifesting in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

When the wall-crawler joined the MCU a year later in 2016 via Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark introduced him to the MCU's expansive network of superheroes. The pair's relationship was subsequently fleshed out: while the genius, billionaire Avenger was initially reluctant to become a mentor, the wall-crawler eventually became so important to him that Spider-Man's Avengers: Infinity War death haunted him for years. However, it's no secret that not everyone is happy with the way Marvel Studios developed Tony and Peter's dynamics. Critics pointed out that Marvel Studios may have overdone the mentorship, with Spider-Man barely having his own identity removed from Iron Man.

Related: Spider-Man: No Way Home Is Missing Its Perfect Release Date

Now that Iron Man is gone from the MCU, many presumed that Peter Parker would finally be able to stand on his own. However, the revealed inclusion of Doctor Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home has worried naysayers that Marvel Studios is simply replacing Iron Man with the sorcerer, potentially repeating the same mistake presented by Spider-Man and Iron Man's relationship. Fortunately, this seems not be the case. On the contrary, they're using Doctor Strange to address criticisms about Spider-Man being overly-reliant on a mentor. In a recent interview, Cumberbatch talked about how different Doctor Strange's relationship to Peter is compared to Tony's. While he admitted that he becomes a parental figure for the young hero at some point in the film, it's also not an outright mentor/mentee dynamic, since Spider-Man is already an experienced hero by now -- the wall-crawler is capable of handling himself. Considering the criticisms around Iron Man and Spider-Man's codependent relationship in the MCU, this almost seems like Marvel Studios is not just aware of the problem, but they're also making a conscious effort to rectify it.

Instead of being a father figure à la Tony Stark, Doctor Strange could function almost as a teammate or peer of Peter. The pair did get to spend some time together in Avengers: Infinity War, so they were able to get to know each other quite well. Since Iron Man is no longer in the MCU, Peter is forced to seek out the sorcerer for some help due to sheer desperation. However, no longer needing an adviser, Peter could really just be looking for an ally, especially since people that he loves are being put in danger after the world found out about his secret superhero identity. Considering that Spider-Man: No Way Home is dealing with a multiversal storyline, it makes sense that Doctor Strange is somehow involved because Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will also deal with the same concept. Perhaps Spider-Man might even factor in the Sam Raimi-directed flick since he's about to learn more about the existence of alternate realities in his own movie.

Most importantly, Marvel Studios and Sony seem to be aware of the criticisms that Spider-Man lacks his own identity in the MCU. Although it may seem counterproductive, Doctor Strange's appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home could ultimately prove how far Peter has come in terms of operating as a capable and confident hero. Assuming that this is the case, their upcoming partnership could effectively set up the next phase of the wall-crawler's story in the franchise. 

More: Spider-Man: No Way Home: Why It's Better If Garfield & Maguire DON'T Appear



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