The Marvel Cinematic Universe has given fans an opportunity to see some of their favorite heroes and villains on the big screen. One of those characters they’ve seen a lot of in recent years is Spider-Man.
With one of the richest backstories in all of Marvel Comics, Spider-Man has a whole litany of friends, foes, and side characters to tap into. One of those characters is Flash Thompson, a frequent adversary to Peter Parker and admirer of Spider-Man.
One report recently confirmed that actor Tony Revolori, who portrayed Thompson in the first two MCU Spider-Man films, will return for the third. Here’s how his Flash Thompson has differed from the traditional depiction of the character in a really smart, inventive way.
Flash Thompson’s depiction in Marvel Comics
While there are multiple versions of Thompson in the pages of Marvel Comics, he’s often portrayed as a somewhat obnoxious jock and early-life foil for Parker. He’s a football player with a seemingly perfect life on the outside, masking a troubled home life.
According to the official Marvel Comics website, Thompson turns to bullying after his alcoholic father does the same at home to his family.
Thompson’s disdain for Parker is matched only by his enthusiasm for and admiration of Spider-Man. It’s an interesting juxtaposition — he bullies the same man he actually looks up to very much. Thompson eventually warms to Parker and the two eventually become friends after high school.
How Flash Thompson was portrayed in prior Spider-Man films
Some fans may remember a baby-faced Joe Manganiello attempting to beat up Tobey Maguire’s Parker in the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man. This version was as one-dimensional as it gets. Unlike the comics, this one is never really given a redemption arc.
According to the Spider-Man wiki, Manganiello’s version of Thompson is dumped by Mary-Jane Watson at their high school graduation.
The Amazing Spider-Man series saw similar treatment of Thompson with a slight twist. According to the Amazing Spider-Man wiki, In this series, he serves as an athletic bully who continually taunts Parker while singing the praises of Spider-Man. The only change is that he does attempt to show a bit of remorse. He tries to give his condolences for the death of Parker’s Uncle Ben, though Parker misinterprets this at first and initiates a physical altercation with Thompson.
Now that Spider-Man is part of the MCU, it gave Marvel’s filmmakers an opportunity to totally reimagine the character. They have done just that while also keeping it true to the spirit of the original.
Flash Thompson’s portrayal in the MCU and why it’s changed
In the MCU, Thompson is portrayed expertly by Revolori. He adds humor to the role while also serving as an antagonist to Parker.
A recent Reddit thread pointed out that Deadline is reporting Revolori is returning for the third Spider-Man film in the MCU. One Redditor pointed out how the genius of Revolori’s take on Thompson. The poster pointed out that while he’s different from past iterations of Flash, it works because:
“Modern day bullying isn’t so much being physically imposing anymore- it’s moved almost entirely to online harassment.”
In short, Thompson has changed along with the very nature of bullying. He’s no longer some musclehead jock looking to pound Parker into oblivion. Now, he’s an insecure rich kid with what appears to be a less than ideal life at home who belittles Parker.
In a time when a lot of harassment has moved online, Revolori’s take on the character is a refreshing change of pace. The MCU is a fantastical world, but what makes it work is that it’s very much grounded in a consistent reality. Each character has an explanation for why they are the way they are. Revolori’s Thompson makes sense as our society has evolved.
Now that Thompson knows Parker is Spider-Man, it should make for an interesting character arc moving forward.