A major supporting player introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Spider-Man: Far From Home underwent significant changes influenced by the inclusion of master of illusions Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Spoilers follow.
Far From Home ends with a mid-credits scene revealing J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons, reprising his role from Sam Raimi’s unconnected Spider-Man trilogy) as the pundit operator of TheDailyBugle.net, who exposes Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) secret identity of unassuming high school student Peter Parker.
Bringing in the Spidey-hating Jameson, and having Simmons be the first actor to play a character from an outside continuity in the MCU, are two ideas that “came together pretty quickly,” co-writer Chris McKenna explained to the New York Times.
“I don’t know if it was [director Jon] Watts or someone else who said, ‘It should be the Daily Bugle, and it should be J. Jonah Jameson.’ That idea has been lingering around since Homecoming: How do we insert our new version of J. Jonah?”
McKenna and co-writer Erik Sommers initially considered having a heel-turned Mysterio expose Spider-Man’s identity in the London-set finale, but the ending was changed in favor of preserving the shocker for its mid-credits scene, where Jonah reveals a tape captured by Mysterio before his apparent death.
“There had already been some interest in possibly using J.K. Simmons when we brought J. Jonah back, so once it was decided that we were going to reveal Peter’s identity at the very end instead of the final battle, it all fell into place very naturally that J. Jonah would be involved,” Sommers added.
Because Quentin Beck specializes in deception — “People, they need to believe... nowadays, they’ll believe anything,” Beck says in his dying words — it felt natural bringing in a Jameson inspired by InfoWars’ Alex Jones.
“Something that had been floating through this entire movie was the idea of ‘fake news’ and how can you believe everything you see?” McKenna said.
“We had been toying with the idea that Mysterio would turn Spider-Man into a villain, just like he did in the comic books, and it felt like that then tied into this J. Jonah 2.0 as the Alex Jones of the MCU.”
Gone is the Bugle as a long-established newspaper: instead, “it’s the Whiplash version,” McKenna added, pointing to Simmons’ turn as a rage-fueled drumming instructor in the 2014 film.
“It’s a little less comic-book — we’re taking him in a slightly different direction. But we’re excited that if this continues on and we get to work on the next one, hopefully, it’ll involve a lot of J.K.”
The blown secret identity is a twist that is not expected to be reversed and will instead take the Far From Home sequel in a “completely different” direction, according to Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige.
“Now people know Peter’s identity. People now think he’s a villain, Mysterio plays one last trick on him and succeeds... [so that] means everything’s different,” Feige told Fandango.
“Where it goes, we’ll see. But it’s exciting that it once again sets us up for a Peter Parker story that has never been done before on film.”