[Editors’ note: The following post contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home.]
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” saves one of its biggest surprises for last when J. Jonah Jameson makes his grand introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe during the film’s first post-credits scene. The surprise is that the new J. Jonah Jameson is played by the old J. Jonah Jameson: J.K. Simmons. The “Whiplash” Oscar winner played the easily-aggravated Daily Bugle editor in chief in the “Spider-Man” movies directed by Sam Raimi. In “Far From Home,” J. Jonah Jameson has been reimagined as an Alex Jones-style video blogger who goes public with Spider-Man’s real identity. While Simmons plays the character in both “Spider-Man” franchises, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is adamant this is not the same character.
“The thing is, J.K. Simmons is such a versatile actor. Look at what he’s done over the years since his iconic portrayal of this character in the Sam Raimi films,” Feige recently told ScreenRant. “And then all of his work, ‘Whiplash’ being one of the biggest ones. It can be the same actor with that somewhat similar voice inflection, but with a totally different persona. That had never been done before. We really liked the idea that it’s a new Jameson, he’s not from another dimension or multiverse or something like that. It’s a new Jameson in this world played by the same actor.”
For Feige, transitioning the J. Jonah Jameson character away from the newspaper publishing world and into the digital space was an obvious choice. “The notion of the powerful publisher doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “Selling newspapers, ‘get ‘em out, they gotta go to print!’ is a very romanticized notion that doesn’t exist anymore. So, you know, in the Ultimates there was the Daily Bugle website and things like that. But taking it into an even more contemporary radical left and radical right news journalist that kind of scream in front of the camera. And thinking, ‘Who could do it?'”
As the “Spider-Man: Far From Home” director previously told IndieWire, Simmons was the only person considered to play the part. “There was always the chance that he would say no, but I always wanted that,” Watts said. “There was maybe a brief conversation about like, oh, is there a way to reinvent what The Daily Bugle is and who J. Jonah Jameson would be? But it just felt wrong. It’s gotta be him. Like, if it wasn’t him, it wasn’t worth doing.”
Whether or not Simmons returns to play the character in the next MCU “Spider-Man” movie remains to be seen. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is now playing in theaters nationwide.