What the Surprise Cameo at the End of 'Far From Home' Means for Spider-Man's Future
This post contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home.
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced Spider-Man as a giddy youngster played by Tom Holland, it also decided to reinvent some of the characters surrounding the eager webslinger. Aunt May, typically presented as a weathered woman, became the very hot Marisa Tomei; Spidey's love interest, Mary Jane Watson, became Zendaya's cynical Michelle, who goes by MJ but otherwise bears little resemblance to the aspiring actress once portrayed by Kirsten Dunst. But the ending Spider-Man: Far From Home proves that some elements of the Spider-Man mythos are too good to be altered.
Enter: J. Jonah Jameson, played once again by the inimitable J.K. Simmons. He's back. He's mad. And he presumably wants photos of Spider-Man.
The mid-credits scene opens with Peter Parker taking his new girlfriend MJ on a joyride, swinging through the city in full Spidey costume. She hates it, but that's not the big twist to come. Just before they're about to part ways, a news bulletin flashes on the side of a building. It signals breaking news obtained by The Daily Bugle, which has been refashioned for the 21st century as a website with Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson as the bellowing figurehead. Think: Breitbart News, but about superheroes.
Before appearing to die, Jake Gyllenhaal's villain, disgruntled Stark employee Quentin Beck (a.k.a. Mysterio), apparently manipulated footage of the film's big finale to make it seem as if Spider-Man was actually ordering drones to kill a bunch of innocent people. Who obtained that shaky video? J. Jonah, of course, who broadcasts it to the world along with the biggest reveal contained therein: Spider-Man's name. By the time Far From Home ends, the whole world believes that Spider-Man is a menace to society and knows that he's actually Peter Parker, a teenager from Queens.
Once you get over the delight and shock of Simmons' cameo, you can start to consider the implications of it. There are already a number of people aware that Peter is Spider-Man: Aunt May, his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), all the Avengers, and, in Far From Home, MJ figures it out. Still, he's been holding out hope of leading a double life and existing as a normal high schooler when he's not in the suit. Those dreams are now shattered. However, the turn is perfectly in keeping with this franchise's ethos. Ever since Tony Stark declared that he is Iron Man, these movies have largely ignored the notion of secret identities. Holland's Spidey was the last bastion of that trope.
And yet, somehow, the concluding sequence also brings the MCU Spider-Man closer to the world of Spider-Man canonized in the Sam Raimi films of the early 2000s. For the first time, Holland's version of the hero is going to have to deal with public animosity, personified in J. Jonah Jameson.
Of course, this is a new spin on that character as well. He's no longer the gruff newspaper boss hungry for photos that will make copies of the Bugle fly off the newstand; he's updated for the contemporary media climate, echoing the way he appears in the popular PS4 video game, where he's a pissed-off, reactionary podcaster. But even though it wouldn't make sense to have The Daily Bugle be a New York Post-type tabloid in 2019 -- print being on its last legs and all -- it would have been a downright shame if someone other than Simmons had played Jameson. Prior to his Whiplash Oscar win, Simmons gave what is essentially the ultimate comic book movie performance. His Jameson is so broad that he somehow channels an illustrated panel, and yet blends seamlessly into the world around him. I wouldn't want anyone else chomping on that cigar.
Sure, the ending of Far From Home foreshadows a tumultuous stage in the saga of Peter Parker, one that the MCU will have to address in the next Spider-Man movie. That's bad news for him, but it's great news for us if Simmons is along for the ride.