Longtime comic book fans were elated when they were offered a glimpse of a suit resembling Peter Parker’s infamous Iron Spider armor in the closing moments of Spider-Man: Homecoming. That excitement was then dialed up a notch with the release of the first teaser trailer for Marvel Studios’ most ambitious endeavor to date, Avengers: Infinity War, which featured a look at Tom Holland’s web-slinging hero sporting the high-tech suit in live action for the very first time.
Nevertheless, the general consensus was that the upgraded suit was something akin to Tony Stark’s countless sets of armor in the MCU, which are often inspired by the comics but rarely referred to by name (i.e. Hulkbuster, Silver Centurion, etc.). After all, these are Easter eggs, more or less, meant to serve as a wink and a nod to fans of the source material without alienating general audiences who’ve never touched a comic book in their lives.
In the case of the Iron Spider, though, are we dealing with just another Easter egg, or is Spider-Man being officially rebranded for Infinity War?
The Iron Spider armor first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #529, by J. Michael Straczynski, Ron Garney, Bill Reinhold and Matt Milla, in February 2006. Designed by Tony Stark, the suit featured such amenities as impact-sensing shields, an emergency scanner, as well as mesh webbing that allowed Spidey to glide into battle. Most notably, though, the suit contained a set of mechanical arms adhered to the back, which functioned not only as an extra set of hands/arms but as cameras, giving Spider-Man the ability to see around corners.
Of course, Tony’s true motive for bestowing this elaborate new costume upon Peter was to recruit him as his right-hand man while fighting to enact the Superhero Registration Act, which was at the heart of the 2006-2007 miniseries Civil War, by Mark Millar, Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell. However, following the death of Goliath, Spider-Man had a change of heart and decided to leave Team Iron Man in favor of siding with Captain America, at which time he returned to his traditional red-and-blue non-metallic suit.
Although the armor has resurfaced in the comics on several occasions, the name “Iron Spider” can be seen as esoteric to those whose only familiarity with the Marvel Universe is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That in mind, it comes as a bit of a surprise that a bulk of the recent influx of Infinity War merchandise and marketing materials refer to Holland’s character as Iron Spider, rather than just Spider-Man. In fact, in recent years, toys have become a major source of potential movie spoilers, so Infinity War action figures from retailers like Toys R Us and Amazon specifically referring to Spidey as Iron Spider may very well be an indicator that the name on those boxes will be the name we hear in the film itself.
Comic book readers may not see Iron Spider as an “inside baseball” term, but it’s important to remember that parents and casual fans could very well see that name on the box of an action figure resembling Spider-Man and think it’s an entirely different character. As such, this could end up being the deciding factor for some consumers as to whether or not they make the purchase.
By making it a point to label merchandise for its biggest blockbuster of the last decade in this manner, Marvel is thinking either strategically or foolishly. Only time will tell which case it truly is.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War stars Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Benedict Wong, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland and Anthony Mackie. The film opens April 27.