Radio Times: Fake news has always been Spider-Man’s greatest foe

**Warning: this article contains MAJOR spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home** 

“People tend to believe – and these days, they’ll believe anything.”

So says master illusionist Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Marvel Studios’ latest Spider-Man: Far From Home, and when our real, non-superhero world uses “fake news” and “post-truth” as regular buzzwords, it’s not hard to draw some topical parallels.

If our own world is beset by official, high-profile denials of basic fact to favour the biases of individual people, what hope for a world where magic, aliens and insane super-powered characters really exist? Really, it’s a surprise it took this long for somebody to try and seize control of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s narrative from within – but maybe Quentin Beck was just the man to do it.

Throughout the movie, Mysterio is performing the sci-fi equivalent of disseminating doctored video, creating sophisticated illusions and lies to sell his story of being the world’s latest superhero – and then, when Spider-Man (Tom Holland) foils his plans he goes back to basics, editing fake footage to suggest that Spider-Man committed his last attack and leaking the film to controversial online news outlets, who immediately call for Peter Parker’s head.

The latter story point in particular seems to draw a line between the idea of fake news and Mysterio’s illusions, and it’s tempting to roll your eyes at such a heavy-handed attempt to tie a family superhero movie into serious issues of trust in the Fourth Estate, not to mention the real-world denigration of reported fact that continues every time Donald Trump sends a tweet.

But the real truth is, Spider-Man has been fighting fake news for longer than any of us – even if in the 1960s they didn’t really have that word for it. Back then, it was just the Daily Bugle newspaper and its hyperbolic editor/publisher J Jonah Jameson, who had it out for Spidey from day one.

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