Jake Gyllenhaal’s superpowered Mysterio is undeniably fascinating. He came from another dimension, he’s getting tight with Spidey, and we’re not quite sure we can trust him. Gyllenhaal tells us why he, too, was instantly intrigued.
Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal
July 2, 2019
Just when we thought we had the Marvel Cinematic Universe figured out, there it goes, messing with our minds again.
It’s been about a year since we first learned that Jake Gyllenhaal would finally enter the MCU as comic-book baddie Quentin Beck/Mysterio. The caped character with the fishbowl helmet has always been portrayed as a villain in the comic books, a failed stuntman and magician who uses his powers of illusion to commit crimes.
Sounds like we’ve got Spidey’s new nemesis for Spider-Man: Far From Home, Tom Holland’s second standalone Spidey movie, which finds Peter and his friends, including MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon), going to Europe for a little vacation after the harrowing events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.
Is Mysterio friend or foe?
As the film’s promotional machine started to ramp up after the release of Endgame, there was a shift in how the filmmakers were talking about Mysterio.
Director Jon Watts said that where the (Endgame spoiler alert) late Tony Stark was Peter’s mentor, he saw Quentin Beck as the kid’s cool uncle. Gyllenhaal himself described his character as a “cool new hero who teams up with Spider-Man” during a panel at Brazil’s Comic Con Experience. And the film’s trailer, which gives us the first glimpse of our world after half the population has returned from the dead, positioned Mysterio as an ally, brought in by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help Peter fight the Elementals (supernatural beings with powers based on the elements of air, fire, water and earth). That trailer also showed us that Mysterio came from an alternate version of our planet when Thanos’ snap tore an inter-dimensional hole.
Are we just being set up?
“Mysterio in the comics is obviously a villain,” says the New York-based actor over the phone from a friend’s house in L.A. “But when they approached me about the movie they had a take on this story that will be very surprising, and I feel the answer is no [he’s not a villain].”
We’d be rolling our eyes at this point, if not for one thing, that little switcheroo the franchise pulled in Captain Marvel. It’s true that neither the Kree nor the Skrull are entirely good or bad in the comic books, but we really thought the Kree were fighting the good fight here, with Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers among them. Nope. In the end the Kree were the bad guys and the Skrull the victims. So, yeah, maybe Mysterio is a good guy now…or for now, anyway.
“I don’t know if it’s [Marvel’s willingness to flip storylines] as much as a response to the world itself,” says Gyllenhaal. “We are living in an everchanging world.”
“For me it’s just very important that every character be human, that choices be made from a very particular, rooted sense. I can’t play things that I can’t feel, it’s just the nature of who I am."
A man of character
Playing with Mysterio’s moral compass also helps to create a complex character, which was one of the conditions Gyllenhaal had before signing up for the film. Although the 38-year-old has done his share of big movies — The Day After Tomorrow, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time — it’s in smaller, often indie fare that he shines: think of Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain and Nightcrawler.
“For me it’s just very important that every character be human, that choices be made from a very particular, rooted sense,” he says. “I can’t play things that I can’t feel, it’s just the nature of who I am, I guess. I know that’s sort of broad, but I’m constantly searching for those questions, and [the filmmakers] were always up for answering that and getting deeper and digging into that.”
The post-snap world
Questions, questions, questions. Though we got many answers in Avengers: Endgame, the film also raised more questions. Like, what’s Earth like now that five years after the snap the dead have returned to loved ones who were just getting over their loss, some of whom have surely remarried? And what about this hole that opened up into another dimension, allowing Mysterio to come to our world? Are there others who slipped through?
“I can’t answer that,” says Gyllenhaal.
Right. So just how much of Endgame’s story did he know while filming Spider-Man: Far From Home?
“I think I knew things, but I didn’t know everything,” he says.
He thought he had the full script for Spider-Man: Far From Home — there were no missing pages or sections blacked out — but now he’s not so sure.
“You know, sometimes when you think about it you’re like, ‘Yeah, I had the whole script.’ And then there are moments when you’re like doing post-production stuff or you’re doing looping, like additional voiceover things for the movie, and you’re going, ‘Wait a second. Who’s that? I never saw that in the script.’ So I did have a full script, but did I?”
Despite Gyllenhaal’s crucial new place in the Marvel universe, he didn’t get to see Endgame any earlier than the rest of us. He didn’t even go to the red-carpet premiere.
“No,” he says. “I just went with my friends.”
See Spider-Man: Far From Home early to avoid spoilers!
Just as with Avengers: Endgame, the filmmakers behind Spider-Man: Far From Home have been very cagey with plot details so that viewers can enjoy the film to the fullest when it hits theatres.