The Marvel Cinematic Universe needs to avoid Spider-Man’s oldest continuity problem. The last three versions of Peter Parker/Spider-Man — in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films, and the MCU Spider-Man — have all focused on the character as a teenager. His high school exploits have been at the center of his story. From the struggle to ask out Mary-Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, or Liz Toomes, to attending events like prom or class trip visits to universities, the web-slinging hero has not aged out of this time in his life. However, Spider-Man: No Way Home could resolve this.
The habit of keeping Peter as a teenager has hindered some of his growth. If it wasn’t for Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War, Peter would have graduated high school and likely been close to graduating from college as well. However, Peter (like half of Earth’s population) lost out on five years of his life because of the Mad Titan’s nefarious plans, leaving him a teenager for Spider-Man: Far From Home and the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, which will be set in the aftermath of Mysterio outing his identity to the public.
One of the biggest issues of Peter remaining a perpetual teen is that superheroes like Iron Man are always taking him under their wing, mentoring and advising him on what he should and shouldn’t do. Iron Man has been a big part of Spider-Man’s journey in the MCU thus far and, while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the web-slinger has been consistently put in the position of mentee, pushed into positions he otherwise would not have had. It’s hard to grow out of that when you’re still a teen and the remaining Avengers are much older than him.
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, it’s been reported that Doctor Strange will serve as an additional mentor to the superhero, once again putting him in the position where he has to learn from others besides himself. While little is known about the overall plot of the MCU’s third Spider-Man film, it’s possible the movie can rectify Spider-Man being a teenager by leaving him to his own devices for a while. After all, Peter might be more capable of doing things on his own when he isn’t constantly under adult supervision.
He’s got his powers, he’s smart, and his friends know his secret and can help him achieve a lot without the interference of other superheroes. It’s unclear if there will be a time jump in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but the fact that Peter probably has to avoid high school altogether now that he’s on the run and probably in hiding might help to alleviate the problem. Ultimately, Spider-Man has to grow up eventually and it would greatly benefit his story if the MCU allowed him to move past the teenager stage and into adulthood. There are a lot of story avenues to mine with regards to Peter getting older and it would be refreshing if he finally got to move forward and into a different stage in his life once and for all.