Spider-Man: Far From Home is just a few short weeks away, and due to the fact that we can’t trust Marvel’s trailers anymore, fans are anxious to see how it plays out. There have been rumors that, since Mysterio is an ally of Spider-Man in the movie (or so it seems), the Chameleon will turn out to be the real villain. Numan Acar has been cast to play a character named Dmitri – who is rumored to be the Chameleon – in Far From Home, so now is the perfect time to brush up on the character’s history in the comics. Here are 10 Questions About The Chameleon, Answered.
The Chameleon doesn’t have many superpowers, per se, but he is a master of disguise. He can seamlessly disguise himself as another character, just like Loki or the Skrulls, but instead of magical powers, he’s just really good at making convincing masks and doing impressions. This makes him more of an intellectual threat than a physical threat. He has brains instead of brawns, manipulating Spidey instead of beating him to a pulp. Due to this, a big-screen portrayal of the Chameleon has the chance to be as brilliant and as sinister as the Joker in The Dark Knight – in other words, the crème de la crème of big-screen supervillains.
The Chameleon has been affiliated with the Sinister Six – the group of supervillains dedicated to destroying Spider-Man – but he’s not a member of the core six. The core group in the Sinister Six consists of Mysterio, the Vulture, Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, Electro, and Kraven the Hunter. So far, we have seen five of these characters portrayed on the silver screen. The only one we have yet to see in a movie is Kraven the Hunter, who coincidentally enough, is often depicted in the comics as the Chameleon’s half-brother. This relationship allowed the comics to build on the Chameleon as a character, as opposed to just having him as a solo villain.
The Chameleon is a rare Marvel Comics character whose name isn’t alliterative. We’ve had Peter Parker, Stephen Strange, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Bruce Banner – very few of this universe’s characters don’t have alliterative names. But the Chameleon doesn’t. His real name is Dmitri Smerdyakov. Actually, his full name is Dmitri Anatoly Nikolayevich Smerdyakov (two middle names!). The fact that there’s a character named Dmitri in Far From Home is what has led some fans to believe that the Chameleon will appear in the movie. It seems unlike that Marvel Studios would give a character in a Spider-Man movie the same name as a classic Spidey villain without having some ulterior motive.
The Chameleon can flawlessly embody anyone, but he’s not a shapeshifting Skrull – he’s just a human master of disguise. Of course, there’s every chance that if he appears in Far From Home, he’ll be depicted as a Skrull. Marvel has been known to tweak its characters to fit into the MCU.
A lot of fans were disappointed when the Skrulls’ involvement in Captain Marvel didn’t lead to the “Secret Invasion” storyline being adapted for film, so this could’ve been their plan all along. After all, it hasn’t been officially announced that the Chameleon is in Far From Home, just a guy named Dmitri, so that could just be the human form that a Skrull takes to become the Chameleon in all but name.
The source of the Chameleon’s disguises has been depicted in a few different ways in the comics. In the beginning, he merely used masks to portray people. However, he’s figured out a few more modernized methods in recent years to create more convincing disguises. He has a microcomputer in his belt buckle that analyzes someone’s face and immediately creates a perfect copy in the form of a hologram over the Chameleon’s face to fool people. This technology might not be entirely realistic, but at least it explains the imperceptible disguise more than a simple mask made to emulate someone’s face.
The Chameleon has actually been in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery since the very beginning. He was included in the very first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, way back in 1963. In chronological terms, Supercharger was the first Spider-Man villain, but this storyline was written well into Spidey’s run, as a prequel. The Chameleon was the first Spider-Man villain to be printed on a comic book page, aside from the guy who murdered Uncle Ben, but he was just a common thief – he wasn’t a flamboyant guy with a fancy costume and a made-up supervillain name.
The Chameleon – or, rather, Dmitri Smerdyakov – was born in Russia. In fact, his Russian birth name is Дмитрий Смердяков. “Dmitri Smerdyakov” is just the Americanized spelling. He was a citizen of the Soviet Union and spent his youth there. Since the comics were written in the 1960s, when things were pretty tense between Russia and Marvel’s native U.S., the stories were pretty politically charged. At one point, Smerdyakov was affiliated with the KGB, the Soviet Union’s premier law enforcement agency. Later, he emigrated to the U.S. to avoid his abusive half-brother Sergei and that’s where he became a foe of Spider-Man.
Since there’s an awful lot of retcons in comic book lore, some fans are confused as to whether or not the Chameleon was the one who killed Uncle Ben. It’s widely known that the Chameleon was the first Spider-Man villain to appear in the comics, so some fans think this means he’s the one who killed Uncle Ben.
In an alternative version of the future, the Chameleon did come across Uncle Ben and kill him and replace him. But in the Earth-616 timeline, the most commonly accepted version of events, the Chameleon was not the one who killed Ben Parker.
Al Gore. Hands down, the most famous person the Chameleon has ever disguised himself as is former Presidential hopeful and current climate change activist Al Gore. It was a part of a diabolic plan by Doctor Octopus to convince the world that they need him, only to then wreak havoc when they give him the resources. It was a pretty good plan, and it involved the Chameleon appearing at a summit attended by the smartest and most powerful people in the world in the guise of Al Gore. As Gore, he assured the summit’s attendees that they needed Doc Ock. This led to a priceless comic book panel in which Spider-Man punches what looks like Al Gore in the face.
So far, it’s unclear if the Chameleon will be in Spider-Man: Far From Home. The only confirmed villains at this point are Mysterio – who is being portrayed, at least in the trailers, as a good guy and not a bad guy – and the Elementals. However, Numan Acar has been cast as a character named Dmitri, who could very well turn out to be the Chameleon. Acar was pretty coy when he was asked about it: “Well, Dmitri in the film works for Nick Fury and I think anyone who works for Nick Fury, they certainly have a mysterious past. We’re not specifically saying that he's...but we’re not not saying.”