Who Is Mysterio? Everything You Need to Know About Jake Gyllenhaal’s Spider-Man Villain
Peter Parker isn’t the only hero in the new Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer. Nick Fury shows up, and so does a mysterious guy in an elaborate costume who fights off some monsters — a man made out of water, another made from fire — using laser beams he emits from his gauntlets.
Except that dude is no hero. That’s Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
(Note that this what follows could be considered a SPOILER for the movie, but only insofar as we’re going to talk about the Spider-Man comics that the character is based on.)
Mysterio debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #13, written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko. Don’t let all the lasers and flying in the Far From Home trailer fool you: The guy has no super powers. He’s actually a master of illusion. (Think GOB from Arrested Development if he was really good at his job and also kind of scary.)
The costume is one of Ditko’s best, and it’s pretty faithfully recreated in Far From Home. There’s a bit more technology on the chest, but the textured green bodysuit and distinctive plated gloves are intact, along with the famous “fishbowl” helmet. (Don’t ask me why Ditko gave him a cape that makes it look like he has eyes on his pecs. No one knows.)
Mysterio — real name Quentin Beck — is a Hollywood stunt man and special effects expert by trade. In his first appearance, he uses his knowledge of special effects to frame Spider-Man for his own crime spree. Spidey eventually uncovered his ruse and stopped him, but Mysterio has returned over and over to mess with Spider-Man, using increasingly convincing magic tricks.
Mysterio’s a great villain in the Spider-Man canon for a few reasons. His illusions are so realistic they can be used in stories that bring seemingly bring dead people back to life or turn Manhattan into a supernatural hellscape. He’s the perfect way to bring weirdness to the extremely grounded world of Spider-Man. He’s also fun because he’s always got plans within plans — like, say, creating elaborate monsters he can publicly fight and destroy so he can become a famous superhero, to offer just one very plausible theory for what we see in the Far From Home trailer. Spider-Man’s prone to self-doubt, and few can bring out that side of him better than Mysterio.
Here’s one more really important thing to note about Mysterio that could be very relevant to the future of Spider-Man movies. Mysterio was the villain of a 2012 mini-series called Spider-Men. In that story, Mysterio’s technology becomes so advanced he is able to create portals to other universes. He builds a robot avatar that he uses to jump between dimensions.
Naturally, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man arrives just in time to put a stop to Mysterio’s plans. But his portal goes haywire and sucks Peter Parker into it. The next thing he knows, he sees this:
Mysterio’s portal sends Peter to the “Ultimate” Marvel Universe, where he meets Miles Morales’ Spider-Man for the very first time. The two have an adventure together, and before Peter returns home, he officially endorses Miles as his universe’s Spider-Man. (Sound familiar?)
Using Mysterio is no guarantee of anything, but I can’t help but observe that he’s showing up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe right after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has become a huge hit, and introduced a whole new audience to Miles Morales. If you don’t think Sony is at least trying to figure out how to make a live-action Miles movie, you’re crazy. And Mysterio is one extremely easy way to do it. Imagine a Far From Home post-credits scene where he finishes a machine that opens a gateway to the Ultimate universe? Or what about having Gyllenhaal voice Mysterio in the next Spider-Verse cartoon and having him open up new dimensional portals, which lets the animated Miles meet ... the MCU Spidey voiced by Tom Holland? He creates a lot of fun possibilities.
That’s all in the future, though. For now, you just need to keep in mind that no matter what public image he projects, he’s really not a nice guy. With Mysterio, there’s always an ulterior motive. You can hide a lot of stuff under a smoky, fishbowl helmet.
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