In Spider-Man: Homecoming, our web-slinging hero (played by newbie and BAFTA-winner Tom Holland) might be getting a little help. A superhero might seem like the perfect teacher, but Iron Man isn’t exactly conventional.
From Obi-Wan to Dumbledore, classic mentors share a common type; patient, old and wise. With the greatest of respect, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t share these familiar traits, apart from his beard of course. Still, it looks like he will be guiding Tom Holland’s Spiderman in the art of saving the world.
But don’t write off Iron Man yet – cinema is full of unusual mentors who can still teach us all a thing or two…
Tyler Durden – Fight Club
They say change comes from within, right? Well, that's literal in the case of Tyler Durden, Brad Pitt's anarchist alter ego. Charismatic and with quotes so good they could have come from a self-help book, he easily seduces the narrator (Ed Norton) to enlist in his revolution.
Problem is, Tyler’s lessons aren’t the best ones to follow. His mantra of rejecting "the basic assumptions of civilisation" isn’t in the interest of his disciples and it soon spirals into chaos. No one said a mentor had to be a force for good, did they? What makes Tyler so unique is the link between mentor and student, which is much closer than it first seems...
Sarah Connor – Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Cast your mind back to the events of the first Terminator. A surprise visit from killer cyborg (Arnie) changes Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from wide-eyed waitress to sequel soldier. This seismic shift from scared college girl to doing chin ups in a mental hospital makes her unique.
With warnings of a future yet to come ringing in her ears, this ass-kicking Nostradamus is driven to impart her survival skills onto her son and future resistance leader, John. Her teaching style? Ultimate protection. Whether that’s teaching him how to use guns, or learning how to wire an ATM. Not your typical mum then but every action she takes is to safeguard the future of her son and ultimately mankind.
Yoda – The Empire Strikes Back
Underestimating this little guy might be your first mistake. When we first see this 900-year-old green guy (voiced by Frank Oz) he is outwardly a simple being: small, intrigued and with a habit of mixing words in sentences. Far from what you’d expect of a Jedi knight, but that’s part of the lesson. size matters not.
In fact Yoda is a powerful Jedi, having trained many of his kind and as we have seen in the prequels he is pretty good with a lightsaber as well. His knowledge and philosophical teachings help to transform Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) from an impatient gung-ho boy from Tatooine into a master of the force. Not too bad for the little geriatric.
Tallahassee – Zombieland
Sometimes people don’t set out to become mentors; instead, it just kind of happens. In the undead apocalypse of Zombieland, there aren't many people left to be too picky, which is where we find Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). This efficient zombie killer sports a cowboy hat and sawn-off shotgun, not the ideal image of someone to look up to.
Nevertheless, this survivor befriends protagonist Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and becomes something of a father figure. Despite his obsession with Twinkies he imparts sage advice, which Columbus adds to his every growing list of apocalypse rules of survival. This includes the most important lesson: "You can’t spend all your time worrying about where your next Twinkie is going to come from, so follow rule #32 and Enjoy The Little Things."
Tony Stark – Spider-Man: Homecoming
An egotistical, self-obsessed millionaire isn’t always good company – we can think of better people to have to learn from.
The Iron man creator does a few things going for him however: he’s a technological genius, brave and frankly, he’s cool. Captain America: Civil War sowed the seeds for his mentoring relationship with Spider-Man and he promises to bring nifty upgrades to the famous Spidey suit, which might include some web-wings...
As for life lessons he’s not the kind of person to lead by example, so the most important advice he might give is from the trailer: "Just don’t do what I do." The question is whether the young Peter Parker, at high school age and possibly highly susceptible to outside influence, is ready to take those lessons or will rebel...
How good a mentor will Tony turn out to be? We will have to wait and find out. We're just happy that the coolest Avenger will be added to an already awesome cast of characters in Spider-Man: Homecoming, swinging onto the big screen on 7th July.
Tom Nightingale is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.