Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Spider-Man: Far From Home
Mysterio wasn't the only comic book character to make his MCU debut in Spider-Man: Far From Home, and director Jon Watts has revealed what led to the casting of the surprise mid-credits cameo. Directly following the events of Avengers: Endgame, the standalone Spidey sequel sees Peter Parker (Tom Holland) still mourning the loss of Tony Stark. Looking to leave his superhero duties behind for a little while, the newly resurrected teen focuses his attention on a European vacation and a plan to win the affections of M.J (Zendaya).
Unfortunately, Nick Fury has other ideas, recruiting Peter to work with Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) and help save the world from a collection of beings known as The Elementals. Spider-Man: Far From Home marks the first big-screen appearance of the long-time Spidey villain. Had Sam Raimi's original trilogy continued into its planned fourth installment, it would have reportedly featured the franchise's oft-seen Bruce Campbell suiting up in the infamous fish-bowled costume. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be, leaving Gyllenhaal to definitively put his stamp on the character. He joins a whole host of returning faces, including Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), and Peter's best friend and unofficial "Man in the Chair" Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon).
In a surprising twist, however, another familiar face appeared in the film's mid-credits scene. Following Avengers: Endgame's lack of such scenes, the format returned in Spider-Man: Far From Home. In the first of two, Peter and M.J. are seen enjoying their first web-swing together through New York. Although landing safely, a shaken M.J. declares that they are never doing that again, leaving Peter to venture solo on the rest of his patrol. Perching atop a nearby street-sign, however, Peter stops to watch some news footage - which not only introduces J. Jonah Jameson to the MCU but reveals that he is once again played by J.K. Simmons. Speaking exclusively with Screen Rant, Watts revealed just how the unexpected casting decision came about. He said:
"Once we started talking about the Daily Bugle and bringing J. Jonah Jameson back to be the one who finally outs Spider-Man’s identity in this reverse of the ending of Iron Man, there was never a question that it should be J.K. Simmons. It would feel wrong if it wasn’t him. That performance is just so definitive that if it wasn’t him… Why not?"
Simmons previously played the role in all three of Raimi's original Spider-Man trilogy, as well as a hilarious video connecting unofficially to Avengers: Infinity War. As much a foil for Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker as any of Spider-Man's rogue's gallery, Simmons turned in an iconic performance that is remembered fondly to this day - even in the less positively received installments. As such, a large portion of fans clamored to see him return to the role. Fortunately for them, Watts clearly felt the same way. Although, of course, the director made sure it wasn't wholly the same version of Jameson that audiences remember, opting to put a more modern spin on the character:
"What’s really interesting too is that his performance isn’t that far off from the [original]. His look is a little bit less heightened like it was in the Raimi films, but it’s weird that that exaggerated, over-the-top delivery now has some real-world comparisons. The world has changed around his performance to put it in a completely different context, which is kind of fascinating."
Kevin Feige recently also weighed in on the casting. Where things go from here remains to be seen, but given the dire circumstances both Mysterio and Jameson left Peter facing, it's hard to imagine that the character won't have a more prominent role in the next outing. Though many were hoping for a Norman Osborn appearance, the arrival of Jameson opens a lot of interesting potential paths for this section of the MCU to deal with, especially given Jameson's role in the comics as contributing to the creation of such villains as Scorpion. Whether any of those threads connect is equally unknown, but a less old-fashioned newshound and more conspiracy-crazed version of Jameson is sure to give Peter Parker a whole new kind of threat to deal with.