Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Complete History Of Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio

If there is one guy in comics who has as large and fascinating a group of arch-villains as Batman, it's Spider-Man. The webbed wall-crawler has faced off against some of the most iconic villains in the history of the comic medium, and his movies have followed suit. That is what happened with the character of the supervillain Mysterio, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

In the comics, Mysterio made his first appearance in "The Amazing Spider-Man #13" (June 1964). As is the nature with comics, the character has seen various incarnations over the years. He is usually depicted as a man named Quentin Beck, a former special effects artist who dreams of achieving glory through his illusions. He was also at one point a psychiatrist who used hypnosis to take down his enemies. 

Although Mysterio was a popular choice to appear in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" series of films at one point, the project fell through after Raimi left the franchise. It was years later that Quentin Beck aka Mysterio finally appeared opposite Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Let us take a look at the complete history of the live-action version of Mysterio, who is considerably different from his comics counterpart. 

Working for Tony Stark

Over the years, the MCU's Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has developed a notorious reputation for directly or indirectly being responsible for the creation of several supervillains. The MCU's Mysterio also became a part of this trend since he started out as an employee at Stark Industries, as revealed in "Spider-Man: Far From Home." 

Years before turning evil, Quentin Beck was a brilliant scientist who works on various projects under Stark Industries' experimental division. The crowning glory of Beck's time at the company is when he creates the Binary Augmented Retro-Framing program, which is showcased by Tony at the start of "Captain America: Civil War." That means Beck was already active in the MCU at the time when Spider-Man made his first appearance in the franchise. 

Beck's program is a highly sophisticated holographic system that blurs the line between reality and illusion. So, basically, it's a more high-concept version of Mysterio's illusions from the comics. Due to his hand in creating the program, Beck thinks he will achieve money and fame rivaling that of Tony Stark himself. Unfortunately, things were soon to take a turn for the worst and set Beck down a dark path from which there was no return. 

Turning against Tony

Despite his natural brilliance, there had always been something off about Quentin Beck. This becomes increasingly clear after the creation of his holographic program at Stark Industries. Beck hates the fact that his crowning achievement in science has been turned into a joke by Tony Stark, who refers to the Binary Augmented Retro-Framing program with the acronym "BARF."

Feeling that Tony has insulted his life's work and never gave him credit in front of the world for creating BARF, Beck starts acting out at work. So much so that he actually gets fired from Stark Industries. Perhaps years of being a superhero helped Tony get an early sense for when a brilliant scientist is about to go full-on supervillain. It should also be noted that Tony does not actually make fun of Beck's program in the movie, and he even acknowledges that he needs to find a better name for it than BARF, but Beck insists on seeing Tony's joke as a deliberate insult to him and his work.  

In any case, his firing only serves to make Beck even more bitter and desirous of getting revenge. While he does not have a lot of money or resources, what Beck does have at this point is his brilliant mind and a strong desire to replace Tony Stark in the eye of the world as a beloved figure. With these two factors in place, Beck begins his journey towards becoming the man the world will some day come to know as Mysterio. 

Building an army

After getting fired from Stark Industries, Quentin Beck plots and schemes alone while waiting for his chance to strike. That chance comes after the events of "Avengers: Endgame," when Tony Stark sacrifices his life to bring back half the population of the universe that had been snapped away by Thanos (Josh Brolin).

With Tony gone, the world loses its most famous superhero. Earth is also still trying to recover from the effects of the snap, and world governments are in disarray. Beck takes advantage of the confusion to make his next move. He starts recruiting various employees who had also worked for Tony at some point, and who had a reason for hating the man and wanting to get back at him. This group of disenfranchised former Stark Industries employees become Beck's army. 

With their help, he creates the persona of a superhero named Mysterio. The team works to craft elaborately-staged stunts using the Binary Augmented Retro-Framing program to make it seem like Mysterio has a bunch of superpowers. The desire to be seen as a superhero is reflected in Beck's dialogs in "Spider-Man: Far From Home." "You can be the smartest guy in the room, the most qualified, and no one cares," he tells his team bitterly. "Unless you're flying around with a cape, or shooting lasers with your hands, no one will even listen."

Mysterio makes his debut

After years of putting his plans together, Quentin Beck makes his debut as the superhero Mysterio in the most dramatic fashion. At the start of "Spider-Man: Far From Home," Peter Parker aka Spider-Man is taking a European holiday with his classmates when they are attacked by a giant creature called a water elemental. 

Peter is having a hard time keeping his superpowers a secret while struggling to contain the elemental. Suddenly a man dressed in a green suit with a cape and fishbowl helmet appears flying through the sky. Using some unknown form of energy, the man starts attacking the elemental and appears to defeat the creature while Peter runs defense securing nearby civilians. 

After the creature disappears the man in the green suit finally reveals himself as a superhero from another universe who entered ours in search of a group of rogue elementals. With that compelling backstory and his antics against the so-called "water elemental" being captured by the media, Beck makes a big impression on the world as a brand new superhero. To leave no doubt as to how awesome Beck is, his backstory, suit, and powers also conveniently mirror those of Iron Man, Captain American, Doctor Strange, and Thor.   

Becoming an Avenger

Thanks to the careful staging of his "victory" over the water elemental creature, Quentin Beck is able to win the trust of not just the general population but also SHIELD. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) brings Mysterio in to help deal with the new threat of the elementals. Once Spider-Man is brought into the fold, Beck is introduced to him as Earth's latest defender. 

At the moment, Peter is still trying to grapple with the loss of Tony Stark, who had been a father figure in his life. Beck expertly takes advantage of Peter's vulnerability by setting himself up as the older, experienced superhero who can help the teen hero rise up to the challenge of being seen as Iron Man's successor. Beck also feeds Peter a fake sob story about having lost his family under tragic circumstances in his original universe to gain the latter's sympathy. In fact it is Peter who helps Beck come up with his superhero name Mysterio.

Peter and Mysterio are tasked by SHIELD with finding and destroying the elementals. Since Quentin Beck's team had been orchestrating the whole thing from the start, they are able to make it look like the elementals are indeed found and defeated by the combined might of Spider-Man and Mysterio. But a stray drone used by Beck's team that gets damaged and malfunctions threatens to blow the lid off the whole operation. 

Taking over EDITH

At the start of "Spider-Man: Far From Home," Spider-Man is struggling to shoulder the responsibility of being the late Iron Man's protégé. Before his death, Tony Stark had bequeathed Peter a program called EDITH, which is basically a powerful army of drones that can be controlled by a pair of glasses. 

Peter wrestles with the idea of having control of such a powerful weapon. After he meets Quentin Beck, Peter starts to think that the older, seemingly more experienced "superhero" would be a better choice to have control of EDITH. To that end Peter hands over his glasses controlling EDITH to Beck, who promises to use the power of the drones in a responsible manner. 

Of course all of that turns out to be a lie. It is revealed that Beck's motivation behind getting close to Peter was to take control of EDITH, which he would then use to stage an illusion of a giant threat against Earth that would be foiled by Mysterio, thus setting him up as the world's greatest superhero. 

The facade is broken

After handing over the EDITH glasses to Quentin Beck, Peter Parker thinks he has successfully passed on the responsibility of being the next Iron Man to a worthy successor in Mysterio. This leaves Peter free to focus on his personal life. But then he discovers the broken drone used by Beck's special effects team and realizes the elementals had been fake all along.

At last Peter understands that he and the rest of the world had been duped by Mysterio. He races to tell SHIELD about the betrayal. Unfortunately, Beck is a few steps ahead of him, and he manages to corner Spider-Man in an abandoned building. There Beck unleashes the full force of his illusions against Spider-Man using the personal knowledge he has gained about Peter's vulnerabilities. 

Spidey has to deal with a number of frightening illusions, including a zombie Iron Man unleashed from his grave. The illusions manage to throw Spider-Man off his game long enough for Mysterio to push the webbed wall crawler into the path of an oncoming train. And there the matter rests for the moment, with Mysterio having gained the upper hand.  

Last bid for power

With his cover blown in front of Spider-Man, Quentin Beck moves quickly to establish his superhero bona fides once and for all. With the help of his secret team and EDITH, Beck creates his biggest illusion yet. A giant elemental creature that looks bigger than any other seen before, and which attacks a London area where Peter Parker's classmates are also present. 

The plan is for the elemental to cause a reasonable amount of havoc before Mysterio swoops in to save the day. But a spanner is thrown into the works by Spider-Man, who had survived his collision with the train and arrives to reveal Mysterio's deceptions in front of the world. Spidey manages to get inside the elemental illusion, only to be confronted by Beck armed with the highly dangerous EDITH drones. 

What follows is a hair-raising ordeal for Spider-Man, as the drones coupled with Mysterio's illusions make it impossible to judge the real threat fast enough to evade or attack. Despite their earlier friendship, Beck shows no hesitation in trying to kill Peter with extreme prejudice so he can get back to terrorizing London and Peter's classmates. 

His final act

All through "Spider-Man: No Way Home," a minor sub-plot involves Peter Parker not feeling his spider-sense, which he calls his "Peter tingle" any more. In his final moments facing off against Mysterio in London, Peter has no choice but to close his eyes and go in blind, relying entirely on his tingle to evade the villain's drones.

The gambit works, in one of the coolest live-action "Spider-Man" action sequences: Peter manages to destroy the oncoming drones and subdue Beck. Showing his true nature, Beck feigns cowardice and begs Peter for mercy. But this was only a ploy to trick the young hero with another illusion. Spider-Man manages to see through Mysterio's trick just in time. 

During the fight Beck had been shot by one of his drones in an accidental misfire. After Beck succumbs to his injury Peter realizes Mysterio had played one final trick on him. He had uploaded a video on the internet revealing the identity of Spider-Man as Peter Parker, and also accused Peter of having murdered him. This was to be Beck's final revenge against Spider-Man, and by extension his mentor Iron Man. 

The legacy of Quentin Beck

All through his life, Quentin Beck had been motivated by a desperate desire to be famous and popular. That was the reason why he created the BARF program, why he grew to resent Tony Stark, why he left Stark Industries, and why he eventually became the wanna-be superhero Mysterio.

Despite his efforts, all Beck got in the end was a bullet in his body fired by his own drone. Before leaving the earthly plane, Beck's final act of malice is to reveal Spider-Man's true identity to the world and accuse him of murder. With that act, Beck ensures people do remember him after he is gone, and he even becomes a martyr for certain members of the general population. In "Spider-Man: No Way Home," it is revealed that months after Mysterio's death, many people still believe he had been murdered by a villainous Spider-Man. 

Because of this public perception Peter Parker and his friends are harassed by regular people and the police, so much so that Peter resorts to using magic to make everyone forget he is Spider-Man. The plan does not work, and the entire multiverse almost comes crashing down during the attempt. Mysterio may never have become a hero like he wanted, but he managed to become one of the most destructive villains in the MCU from beyond his grave.

Channeling Mysterio

Jake Gyllenhaal has a long history with the Marvel movies franchise. Two decades ago the actor had been in the running to play Peter Parker aka Spider-Man in Sam Raimi's superhero trilogy. After that Gyllenhaal's name was often bandied about in connection to certain roles in the MCU before it was announced that he would be playing the supervillain Mysterio. 

Despite having the looks and physique of a Hollywood superhero, Gyllenhaal has more often been associated with indie and offbeat cinema than blockbuster franchises. But the actor did not take his role in "Spider-Man: Far From Home" lightly. Not did he play Mysterio as a stereotypical mustache-twirling supervillain with no redeeming qualities. Rather Gyllenhaal tried to see the world through Quentin Beck's eyes. 

"I don't think [Beck's] intention was to want to do anything bad to anyone, really," the actor explained to EW. "There was a goal of taking over the mantle [from previous superheroes] because he believes that the person who was making the choices before was doing it irresponsibly." Although Mysterio has not made an appearance in further MCU projects after "Spider-Man: Far From Home," the multiversal nature of the franchise with multiple versions of the same person able to exist side-by-side means there is still hope of seeing the character make a return some day.