It’s Spider-man versus “Mister Fix-it”
Marvel just announced the casting of its second villain appearing in the 2017 Spider-man reboot, Spider-man: Homecoming. Playing against Michael Keaton’s Vulture, Spider-man (Tom Holland) will need to also match wits against techno-villain-wizard Phineas Mason aka, The Tinkerer.
Or as Stan Lee would call him “The Terrible Tinkerer”.
Michael Chernus plays Phineas Mason and he is the third villain announced for the movie. The second villain, The Shocker, played by Bokeem Woodbine, has been one of the webslinger’s long time sparring partners.
Most new readers don’t know about Phineas Mason and, truth to tell, he doesn’t get a lot of comic book face time. That doesn’t mean his impact is not felt. Mason is the Q behind all the nastier bad guys’ tech weapons.
It goes like this – Want to beat up that big bad wall-crawler? Having trouble with that star-spangled shield slinger? Need something to take the sting out of Black Widow? Well, look no further. Phineas Mason, The Terrible Tinkerer, has the right tool for you. With just a percentage of what you’ll pull down in your next ten bank jobs, Phineas Mason can supply you with what you’ll need to put Iron Man in the junkyard.
That’s right, the tinkerer puts the bad in bad ass. When a villain needs to take his game to the next level, he calls Mason to take a look at his weapons, do the upgrade, and make them even deadlier.
Comic book fans first saw Mason waaay back in Amazing Spider-man #2 (in a two story issue, the first story featured Michael Keaton’s character, The Vulture). When Spider-man first meets Mason, the Tinkerer appears to be nothing more than an old radio repairman. Peter Parker has no idea why his spider-sense is tingling as Mason goes into his back room to pick up a radio and why he only charged a dime.
What Mason was actually doing was planting surveillance devices within the radios so he could bug scientists for their new tech secrets and politicians so he could blackmail them. He even went to elaborate lengths and posed himself and his henchmen as aliens to confuse pursuers.
Mason has built several high-grade weapons for many of the A-list and B-list villains. These weapons include the Scorpions robotic tail, Rocket Racer’s skateboard, the Whirlwind’s razor saws, the Grim Reaper’s scythe, and Grizzly’s exoskeleton for his bear suit.
At one point when S.H.I.E.L.D. raided his lair, they found rack after rack of supervillain costumes with a vast armory of their weaponry. Whether these were finished projects or weapons to be fixed was not mentioned. What we do know is that Mason is the underworld’s technology go-to man.
What Mason is most infamous for is his involvement in Nick Fury’s Secret War against Latveria.
S.H.I.E.L.D. was on the trail of many costumed armored villains and discovered that many of these petty, although well-armed, villains were committing crimes that were worth far less than what their weaponry cost. Why would anyone hold up a bank with a payout of six thousand dollars when they were wearing weapons that cost several hundred thousand to develop? After several villains like the Grizzley, Jack O’Lantern, and Killer Shrike are caught and interrogated, each revealed only a little about their arms supplier until Killer Shrike “volunteered” to be a mole for S.H.I.E.L.D. to catch to Mason.
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s plan failed when Mason saw through Killer Shrike’s ploy (and also heard he was already caught). He killed Killer Shrike through a booby trap set within his lair, escaped through a tunnel, and ran to Latveria (home to Doctor Doom). When Mason reappeared in Latveria going into a government limousine, the Black Widow who was working undercover spotted him.
The evidence implied that the Tinkerer was working for the new president of Latveria, Lucia Von Bardas, who funded all of Mason’s work in creating and maintaining supervillains in the US. When Nick Fury presented these facts to the President, he said that by definition when a foreign power sponsors destruction on US soil, it’s no longer the act of a villain but that of a terrorist. When the President denied Fury permission to strike at Latveria, he took matters into his own hands and attacked them using recruited superheroes in secret.
What Mason is, is your friendly IT guy gone incredibly and horribly wrong. While he does not have the brain power of someone like Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Doctor Doom, Hank Pym, or the Fixer, he is certainly someone who is much more accessible and affordable for the regular underworld hoodlum.
The thing that makes Mason really frightening is that there are thousands of real life examples of engineer-terrorists like him today.
Phineas Mason should round out the trio of villains in Spider-man: Homecoming nicely as nostalgic Marvel fans who can appreciate the earlier works of Lee-Ditko and know a real threat when they see one.