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Mysterio And The Elementals: Too Many Villains, Or One Masterful Illusion?

By Tori Preston | Film | January 16, 2019 |

By Tori Preston | Film | January 16, 2019 |

MysterioElementalsSpiderMan (1).png

Yesterday’s trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home seemed to reveal a lot, to the alternating delight and chagrin of fans. “Mysterio is the best!” said some, while others were more focused on whether the trailer’s very existence was too much of a spoiler regarding the outcome of Avengers: Endgame (my take? If you seriously thought the Grand Dust-ing in Infinity War was gonna stick, that’s your problem). But as people have had more time to watch the trailer, over and over and over again, a new conversation has emerged:

Who even are the villains of this movie, anyway?

There’s a couple of elements (HA!) to this confusion. One is that Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is one of Spider-Man’s more popular foes in the comics. I mean, duh, of course he is. He has a fishbowl for a helmet! And yet, in the trailer, he appears to be acting as a hero, stepping in for Peter and fighting against a giant, destructive water-dude.


And then there’s the nature of that water-dude. And the dirt-dude that Nick Fury shoots at. And the firey-dude Spidey encounters.


Are THEY the actual bad guys? And if so, who are they?

There’s compelling evidence that we’re seeing three other established Spider-Man villains in these scenes: Hydro-Man, Sandman, and Molten Man. And by “compelling evidence” I mean “easter eggs indicating the Marvel Comics issues that introduced them,” which has already been spotted by eagle-eyed fans:

But even without those clues, it’s not hard to connect these elemental baddies with the characters Spidey has historically fought. Sandman is likely the one who is most familiar to viewers, as he has already been seen on the big screen (played by Thomas Haden Church in Spider-Man 3). William Baker (alias Flint Marko) came into contact with some radiation, and some sand, and… well, he basically became sand. Similarly, Hydro-Man began life as a ship crewman named Morrie Bench, until Spider-Man knocked him into some water where an experimental generator was being tested, and voilà — he mutated into a living water-being. And Mark Raxton was a scientist working to develop an experimental liquid alloy made of, like, space metal? And then he got covered in the stuff, like a metal skin… which then started burning up. The moral here is that science experiments are no good, I think.

Still, that’s a lot of evil manpower to jam into a movie — and just because the easter eggs are pointing to the comic origins of the characters, it doesn’t mean the film is going unpack those backstories on screen. Basically: even if Sandman is in this, it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to meet Flint Marko. Which may explain why some fans are wondering if these elemental villains might actually be inspired by another group of fairly obscure Marvel characters: The Elementals. Which are, as I’m sure you can imagine, a group of characters with the powers of earth, wind, fire, and water (but not heart!).


Hellfire (fire), Zephyr (wind), Hydron (water), and Magnum (earth) are powerful extradimensional beings that were cast out of their own universe and eventually made their way to Earth in ancient times, where they tried to set up their own little kingdom and pretend to be gods. And it, uh, didn’t work. And according to IMDb, Numan Acar is playing a character called “Magnum” in the film. The Elementals were introduced in “Supernatural Thrillers #4” in 1974, and other than a few run ins with the Living Mummy they haven’t really been seen much in the comics. Which might make them a great blank slate for the writers, and a fun easter egg for the fans, but also means they have virtually no stakes in the Spidey universe. Of course, it’s possible that the what we saw in the trailer is the idea of The Elementals (elementally-powered other-dimensional baddies), but reworked to feature the established Spider-Man rogues mentioned above — or the more well-known baddies, reworked to be Elementals. But there’s another possibility, and it brings us back to Mysterio…

Who probably IS the real villain, and has conjured the illusion of these big elemental monsters to build up his hero street cred. Because that’s the thing: in the comics, Mysterio is hardly the weird Doctor Strange/Thor/Iron Man mash-up the trailer makes him out to be. In the beginning he was just… well, a normal dude with a very specific skillset. Quentin Beck began as special effects guru in movies who wanted to make a bigger name for himself, and figured that taking down Spider-Man could be his meal ticket. He framed Spidey for some robberies, then emerged as a new hero (Mysterio!) to bring the webslinger to justice. His mysterious magical abilities were, just like in Hollywood, nothing more than smoke and mirrors, but Beck’s talent for inventing, engineering, and strategy still made him a surprising and persistent threat. From holograms to hallucinogens, Mysterio’s illusions are formidable. But are they as formidable as a giant water-dude attacking Venice? We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s not unimaginable to think that Mysterio might be once again playing the hero for his own gain.

On top of Mysterio and the elemental combo, Michael Keaton’s Vulture is also including in the cast list (according to IMDb), which could mean anything from a quick check-in scene with Toomes to a new villainous scheme. Marvel and Sony have clearly given themselves a lot to juggle here — but they also are playing the long game, with more sequels to prepare for down the line. Maybe Mysterio is a hero, this time! And maybe we’ll all find out he’s actually evil in the next film.


Tori Preston is the managing editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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