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Who Is Mysterio? Decoding Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘Spider-Man’ Villain

Jake Gyllenhaal is in talks to join the cast of the "Spider-Man: Homecoming" sequel as Mysterio. Here's a primer on the Spider-Man nemesis.

[Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for “Avengers: Infinity War,” in theaters now.]

When “Captain America: Civil War” introduced Spider-Man (Tom Holland) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was considered a huge triumph for fans who love Peter Parker and had been waiting for years to see him finally interact with the Avengers. Holland’s pitch-perfect cameo was one of the film’s highlights, and made fans even more excited for “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which proved to be another hit for both the MCU and Sony.

After the film’s success, a “Homecoming” sequel seemed like a no-brainer, until the shocking end of “Avengers: Infinity War,” when Spider-Man, along with a slew of other heroes, is faded into dust by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. The onscreen death of Spider-Man was a shock, and one that the Russo Brothers knew would hit fans hard. In an interview with IndieWire’s Kate Erbland, the Russos explained that they didn’t take the decision lightly, but that sometimes villains win. “The first question after the screening was from a 10-year-old kid,” Anthony said. “And he just said very feebly, ‘Why did you kill Spider-Man?’” “It’s hard,” Joe added.

There might still be hope for Spider-Man after all. According to Variety, Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal is in talks to play longtime Spider-Man nemesis Mysterio in the “Homecoming” sequel. According to IMDb, the still untitled sequel is set to hit theaters on July 9, 2019, and Tom Holland is still part of the cast, reprising his role as Parker. Also returning are Zendaya and Marisa Tomei, and Michael Keaton, who played villain Vulture. Jon Watts will also return to direct the sequel, which will be written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley.

Per Variety, plot details are still unknown, but Marvel and Sony, who will co-produce the film, were looking to cast a new male and female lead, with the desire for the male lead to be played by an A-list actor. Although a new lead actress has yet to be cast, the A-list actor in question is likely Gyllenhaal. But just who is Mysterio and how will he fit into the “Homecoming” sequel? Here are some ideas.

At the end of “Homecoming,” Vulture finds himself imprisoned after his attempt to steal Tony Stark’s technology is thwarted by Spider-Man. While in prison, he runs into Mac Gargan (Michael Mando), who was busted during a sequence set on the Staten Island ferry scene in which the FBI are called in to stop a weapons exchange. Gargan asks Vulture if he knows Spider-Man’s identity, but Vulture shrugs him off, saying that Spider-Man wouldn’t be alive anymore if he did. It’s a bluff, but a good one. Gargan, in turn, says he and some friends of his are going to go after Spider-Man when he gets out.

Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures' SPIDER-MAN™: HOMECOMING.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Chuck Zlotnick

Why is this so important? Because of the scorpion tattoo on Gargan’s neck, which hinted to fans of the comic that Gargan just might be Scorpion and the Sinister Six could be in play in the sequel. The Sinister Six are group of supervillains originally put together by Spider-Man nemesis Doctor Octopus, and we’ve seen a few of them pop in previous Spider-Man films, including Electro and Rhino in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” The film’s post-credits scene also hinted at the future Sinister Six lineup, which would include Rhino, Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, and Kraven the Hunter being led by Green Goblin.

With the Andrew Garfield–led Spider-Man films squashed, the Sinister Six seemed to be shelved until the “Homecoming” post-credits scene. This, paired with Vulture’s appearance in the “Homecoming” sequel and the news that Gyllenhaal might be playing Mysterio, means our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is going to have some big problems whenever and however he makes it back to Queens following the events of “Avengers 4.”

So who is Mysterio? In the comics, Mysterio is the alter ego of Quentin Beck, a Hollywood stuntman and FX wizard who dreams of becoming a big film star. For Beck these dreams aren’t obtainable, however. He’s a crap actor and his FX work isn’t going to get him anywhere, until he gets an idea to utilize his ability to create expert illusions to help him get a leg up on a life of crime. Much like Leonardo DiCaprio’s future turn as a washed-up actor in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the idea of the Oscar-nominated Gyllenhaal playing a bad actor is delightful and could be a lot of fun.

Mysterio is also a pretty formidable opponent for Spider-Man. He doesn’t have superhuman abilities like Parker, but in addition to being able to create special effects and illusions, he’s a hypnotist, a chemist, and he knows robotics. He’s skilled in hand-to-hand combat due to his work as a stuntman, which allows him to keep up with Spider-Man despite the latter’s super strength. His ability to misdirect also gives him an upper hand in combat and will likely keep Spider-Man on his toes.

It will be interesting to see how Mysterio’s costume is translated on the big screen. While Vulture got a more realistic look, pairing a set of robotic wings with a fur-collared bomber jacket, Mysterio’s look in the comics is highly theatrical, iconic, and also a little absurd. He’s often clad in a long purple cloak, a green-checkered bodysuit, and a helmet that no one can see into. It seems likely that Mysterio’s look will get an upgrade in the “Homecoming” sequel to make him look less cartoonish, but, much like Spider-Man, Mysterio’s costume is also vital to his abilities.

Mysterio often uses chemicals and gases to create smokescreens, and his helmet protects him from the effects. He is able to create a gas that dulls Spider-Man’s spidey sense, an abrasive that destroys his webbing, and hallucinogens and hypnogens that create illusions and make anyone around him susceptible to his will. His boots contain magnetic coil springs that allow him to jump and cling to surfaces similar to Spider-Man. He’s a formidable opponent to his nemesis, aided greatly by his technology and ability to create diversions.

There’s good reason why Mysterio is one of Spider-Man most iconic villains, and one who fans are incredibly excited to see on the big screen. The casting of Gyllenhaal is an exciting one, not only because it hints at the Sinister Six finally assembling in the MCU, which is something fans have been hoping to see for a while, but also because even a cursory glance at Gyllenhaal’s recent resume proves he’s more than capable of bringing Quentin Beck to life with an unforgettable performance.

The only downside to the news? Waiting until 2019 to see what finally happens to Spider-Man in “Avengers 4” before his big return in July 2019.

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