If you’ve seen the trailers for Justice League and Spider-Man: Homecoming, you may have noticed something very similar between the two.
Part of the Justice League trailer focuses on Bruce Wayne welcoming Barry Allen, otherwise known as the Flash, onto the team. He brings the Flash to his Batcave and generally treats the youngest superhero as someone he wants to mentor. Bruce Wayne is seen as an older, wiser, wealthier man, and one of the leaders in the DC community. Barry Allen is a goofy teenager who’s just coming into his own powers and trying to navigate this new team he’s been introduced to.
Sound familiar? It’s essentially the same thing that played out in the new trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming. A large segment of the trailer focuses on Tony Stark and Peter Parker’s relationship. Like Wayne, Stark is wealthy, older, considered to be wise and a leader of the Avengers. Parker, like Allen, is a goofy teenager who’s trying to navigate the strange new world he’s recently come into.
This plays into the larger theme of how fathers and mentors are seen in both the Marvel and DC universe. Wayne watched his father die before his eyes and found a surrogate father in Alfred. It wasn’t until much later, in his career as the Dark Knight, that Wayne started mentoring others, including characters like Robin and Batgirl. Tony Stark also had major father issues, often feeling like he was battling with the concept of Captain America for his father’s attention, and ultimately never received it. One of the contentions between Tony and Captain America in the comics was how much attention his father gave the superhero, who he helped develop, instead of his own, teenage son.
Barry Allen watched his father falsely imprisoned for the murder of his mother, and although he appears to have somewhat of a working relationship with his dad in the movie, effectively grew up without a father figure. Peter lost his dad as a kid, but even more devastatingly, watched as his surrogate father, Uncle Ben, died before his eyes. Homecoming has not addressed this part of Parker’s past, and when we’re introduced to the character, he’s already living solely with Aunt May.
The theme of fatherhood and mentorship in comics has been researched and written about at length. But the fact that both Justice League and Spider-Man: Homecoming look poised to tackle the theme, with trailers being released just days apart, has caught the attention of more than a few people.
"An older Bruce and a young Barry may just turn out to be the DC Extended Universe’s answer to the Tony Stark/Peter Parker relationship"— ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤ (@SageTerrence) March 27, 2017
Seeing bruce wayne with barry allen reminds me of peter parker and tony stark. Genius youngster and the rich guy.— Rai Ilham (@raiilhams) March 26, 2017
In relation to the comics, Bruce never actually mentored Barry, but Tony has definitely taken Peter under his wing before, giving him his own Iron Spider armor during Marvel’s first Civil War event. Although Tony and Peter are closer in age in the comics than they appear to be in Homecoming, it’s not too unusual to see the relationship between the two characters play out on screen.
Captain America: Civil War director Joe Russo had similar sentiments about Spider-Man and Iron Man’s relationship, which was first introduced in the third Captain America movie. Tony sees Peter as one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe and wants to bring that to the Avengers, Russo told Screen Rant, but he also wants to make sure he doesn’t get hurt.
“I think he feels like the kid will be well-protected under his tutelage,” Russo said. “You also find out in that sequence, when things go wrong the kid says, ‘What do I do?’ and Tony says, ‘Keep your distance, web ’em up.’ So he’s obviously mentored the kid for what’s about to go down.”
Interestingly, Russo’s comments were echoed by one of the newest additions to the DC Extended Universe. In an interview with IGN, Ezra Miller, who will play the Flash in Justice League, said his character’s relationship with Batman was like pairing someone who was naive and excited about what the future holds with someone who was equally experienced and jaded.
“Bruce, as the aged Batman, is sort of everything you could become as a superhero,” Miller said. “And Barry is just getting into it, so it’s exciting and fun! So I think they have a lot to learn from each other, like in any great friendship.”
Whether or not the mentorship factor plays a large role in either movie is yet to be seen, but considering Marvel, Sony and Warner Bros. are playing it up in trailers, it seems to be heading in that direction.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released on July 7, with Justice League following a few months later on Nov. 25.