Tinkerer (Marvel Comics)

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Tinkerer (Phineas Mason) from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition.
Art by Peter Poplaski.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe Amazing Spider-Man #2 (May 1963)
Created byStan Lee
Steve Ditko
In-story information
Alter egoPhineas Mason
Team affiliationsMasters of Evil
Notable aliasesThe Terrible Tinkerer, Dr. Walker
AbilitiesExpert weapons designer and manufacturer
Scientific Genius
Extensive scientific knowledge

Tinkerer (Phineas Mason) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the character made his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (May 1963). The character has an almost superhuman gift of genius in engineering, able to invent sophisticated gadgets from nothing more than spare parts left over from ordinary household appliances.

The character has made appearances in television and various video games before making his cinematic debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming, portrayed by Michael Chernus.

Publication history[edit]

The Tinkerer was a character creation by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, as part of the original publication of The Amazing Spider-Man and made his first initial appearance in April 1963 in The Amazing Spider-Man #2 opposing Spider-Man as a villain.[1][2] It would however be several years before he would return, and in September 1976 in The Amazing Spider-Man #160 made his second appearance, once again opposing Spider-Man in a losing effort.[3]

In July 1978, the Tinkerer would be mentioned in The Amazing Spider-Man #182. This became his first mention in the publication as a supporting side character to the other villains.[4]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Phineas Mason is a brilliant inventor and technician who designs advanced weaponry for criminals and sometimes undertakes crimes of his own. As the "Terrible Tinkerer", he runs an underground fix-it shop disguised as a radio repair shop. On at least one occasion, a potential customer gained the inventor's attention by presenting a transistor radio and telling Mason that "I've got a radio that just can't carry a tune". Tinkerer's original scheme involved the employment of a team of petty has-been stuntmen and thugs. They specialized in placing bugs into radios and blackmailing state officials and politicians. Tinkerer tried to present himself as an alien to confuse his pursuers by leaving behind a mask that looked like his face when he escaped from Spider-Man in a hovercraft shaped like a flying saucer.[5]

His next encounter with Spider-Man resulted in deploying the Toy, a hi-tech robot that serves as an assistant and lackey.[6] Toy also helped Tinkerer escape from his hideout when it was raided by the police.[7]

He is known to have created the suit for Mysterio, a man that once worked as one of his alien-suited servants.[8] Much later he was hired by the Kingpin to rebuild the Spider-Mobile to destroy Spider-Man.[9]

He redesigned Rocket Racer's rocket-powered skateboard,[10] designed an armed wheel-shaped vehicle called the Big Wheel,[11] and repaired the Goldbug's bug-ship.[12] He robbed loan companies by using remote-controlled toys until stopped by Spider-Man.[13]

Tinkerer also provided Whirlwind with improved armor and weaponry,[14] provided Diamondback with new throwing diamonds,[15] built the Grim Reaper's scythe-like weapon,[16] and even fixed Grizzly's exo-skeleton harness and grizzly suit.[17]

He has worked for Hammerhead,[18] the Beetle (Abner Jenkins),[19] the Black Cat,[20] the Jack O'Lantern,[volume & issue needed] Owl,[volume & issue needed] the Ani-Men,[volume & issue needed] Jester I,[volume & issue needed] and the Constrictor.[volume & issue needed]

Since he is a small business operator who works alone (and arms criminals), the Terrible Tinkerer takes precautions to prevent being cheated. For instance, Killer Shrike commissioned Tinkerer to improve his weapon gauntlets. At delivery time, the criminal decided to use them to threaten the inventor and avoid paying. The gauntlets backfired on Killer Shrike, wounding and immobilizing him due to a failsafe the Tinkerer engineers into his products for such situations.[21]

Phineas is forced to work for the Vulture (Adrian Toomes) interested in freeing Nitro from custody. This falls apart when the heroic mutants Rusty Collins and Skids chance upon the situation and defeat the villains. The Tinkerer is arrested off-panel.[22]

Trapster later sued Tinkerer for selling him faulty equipment. Trapster's character witnesses in his case against Tinkerer include Beetle, Blacklash, Blizzard, Boomerang, Jack O'Lantern, Mad Thinker, Porcupine, Ringer, Stilt-Man, Spymaster, and Taskmaster. When Taskmaster accuses the other villains of not properly using the equipment that Tinkerer provided them, it resulted in an in-court brawl that was broken up by She-Hulk which leads to the villains getting arrested. When Tinkerer and Mad Thinker ask She-Hulk who is superior, She-Hulk tells them to sort it out themselves and storms off.[23]

His son Rick Mason was a world-class spy for the American government and freelance operative. Despite the two being on opposite sides of the law, they remained on good terms and met frequently. Tinkerer even aided his son from time to time, and once provided Rick with information about a South American coup.[24] After Rick was seemingly killed in action, a grief-stricken Tinkerer decided to mend his ways while still maintaining links to supervillains to give him information he could discreetly pass along.[volume & issue needed]

In the Secret War miniseries, Nick Fury discovered a link between the weaponry of most of the known technology-based villains in the Marvel Universe and the kingdom of Latveria. Tinkerer was revealed to have received a vast portion of his funding and presumably the resources and technology from which he has developed most of his clients' arsenals over the years from Latveria. This was part of an ongoing "terrorist" initiative fostered by the kingdom's despotic leader Doctor Doom and minion Countess Luciana Von Bardas.[volume & issue needed]

S.H.I.E.L.D. agents discovered Tinkerer's workshop by using Killer Shrike as a mole. When the agents converged on the workshop, the canny villain detected them. Killer Shrike was struck down by Tinkerer's security systems, and the Tinkerer fled to Latveria rather than face justice.[volume & issue needed]

Early in the Marvel Knights imprint of Spider-Man, Eddie Brock sells the Venom symbiote through an auction put on by Tinkerer.[25]

Frank Castle finds and confronts Tinkerer after a confrontation with the murderous Stilt-Man. Tinkerer begs for death. Not only was his son Rick dead, but Rick's own son perished in the Stamford, Connecticut explosion that heralded the beginning of the Civil War. Without his beloved son or grandson, he became suicidal and continued his work in the hope that both superheroes and supervillains would wipe each other out. Castle stabs Tinkerer in the back, likely leaving him paralyzed.[26]

Phineas, now bound to a wheelchair, has been contracted by the resurrected villain Silas "Cyber" Burr to subject his new body to the Adamantium-Epidermal Bonding Process. Phineas agrees to create a "pacemaker" for the ailing Cyber's heart condition, as well as three carbonadium bullets for Logan in exchange for the use of Logan's mysterious carbonadium synthesizer. Cyber awakens from the procedure to discover the deadly radioactive device permanently attached to his chest and that Logan has disappeared with the C-synth. Phineas is last seen in the clutches of an enraged Cyber.[27]

He survived his encounter with Cyber, however, and is seen attending "the Survivors' Guild", a therapy group for survivors of the Punisher.[volume & issue needed] He is later apprehended by Iron Man for ties to a super WMD black market.[volume & issue needed]

During the Secret Invasion storyline, Johnny Storm, the Ben Grimm, Franklin Richards and Valeria Richards free him from Prison 42 to help them return to the Earth dimension. It is mentioned that Phineas had retired as Tinkerer, but was imprisoned for breaking the Registration Act anyway. He is initially reluctant to help his old foes, but the resemblance of Franklin and Valeria to his own grandchildren causes him to relent.[28]

It was revealed Rick is in fact still alive, under deep cover, and killed a deep cover CIA agent whom assisted in Carol Danvers's murder for Norman Osborn in exchange for Phineas's release and a cleared record for Phineas.[29]

Tinkerer is later seen in jail where he repairs Hypno-Hustler's costume.[30]

The Hobgoblin (Phil Urich) later visits Tinkerer to have his gear upgraded so that he can evade Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus' mind in Peter Parker's body). It is shown that Tinkerer has taken in Tiberius Stone as a secret apprentice as Tiberius gets revenge on Hobgoblin by making it so that Hobgoblin's tech fails him.[31]

Powers and abilities[edit]

The Tinkerer has a genius intellect, with extensive knowledge in a wide variety of scientific disciplines. He has a high degree of expertise in the design and manufacture of inventive weapons and devices derived from pre-existing technologies. Tinkerer has invented a wide variety of scientific and technological devices, and often has access to these devices as needed. Tinkerer's advanced age limits his physical abilities, and he possesses no superhuman abilities.

Other versions[edit]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Phineas Mason is a scientific prodigy at Nursery Two, one of the think tanks of young geniuses sponsored by the U.S. government. The Mole Man kidnapped Mason and his fellow students with the intention of using them to seed a new underground civilization in Subterranea. With Fantastic Four's help, the Nursery Two students defeated Mole Man. Rather than return to their lives above ground, Mason and his teammates opted to stay behind and start a civilization on their own terms.[32]

The Ultimate version of Tinkerer is original character Elijah Stern which is rendered to resemble actor Paul Giamatti.[33] This original iteration was a former employee of the Roxxon Corporation after he discovered a way to use vibranium as a power source, and a key indicator of his alias is when he stated that he merely "tinkers". The vindictive Stern hires Killer Shrike, Omega Red and the Vulture (Blackie Drago) to torment his former boss Donald Roxxon as revenge for being fired. When his plan was foiled, he is given a choice by Nick Fury to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. or die. Choosing to work, Elijah impressed Fury with a robot.[34] Elijah later appears commanding the Spider-Slayers to destroy Gwen Stacy's clone.[35] Elijah showed an evil side when he secretly ordered the Spider-Slayers to arrive at Queens.[36] While repairing the Beetle's suit, Stern is approached to accommodate a group of villains with weapons to go after Spider-Man (Peter Parker). As Stern says no, the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) "motivates" him to help out. Stern does so by giving Drago's Vulture suit an upgrade and allowing Kraven the Hunter to pick out a set of blasters and knives.[37] The Prowler (Aaron Davis) later breaks into Tinkerer's lab to blame for bad tech. Tinkerer then gets interrogated by Prowler about Osborn. Confused about the questions, Tinkerer is then killed in cold blood once Prowler realized things about the new Spider-Man (Miles Morales).[38]

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows[edit]

During the "Secret Wars" storyline in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, a version of Tinkerer resides in the Battleworld domain of The Regency. When Regent defeated every superhero, Tinkerer gave up a life of crime and started a fix-it shop. When Spider-Man came to him for Inhibitor Chips, Tinkerer stalled until the Sinister Six could arrive. Though Spider-Man managed to steal the Inhibitor Chips and escape.[39]

In other media[edit]


  • The Phineas Mason version of Tinkerer appears in The Spectacular Spider-Man, voiced by Thom Adcox-Hernandez. This version is depicted as younger and with more hair than his original counterpart. In season one's "Persona", he works alongside Quentin Beck under the Chameleon's employ until being arrested at the end of the episode. In season two, he assumes the 'Tinkerer' identity. In the episode "Blueprints", Tinkerer designs Mysterio's gear and devices. Following Spider-Man taking out Mysterio's android doubles, Mysterio talks with Tinkerer who asks why he made the android controlling the others look like him. Tinkerer tells the Master Planner that everything Mysterio stole has not been found in the warehouse that he was hiding in. Tinkerer later oversees the Sinister Six and works as Master Planner's second-in-command. In the episode "Probable Cause", Tinkerer is hired by Tombstone to create/upgrade the Enforcers' power suits: Montana's Shocker gauntlets, Fancy Dan's Ricochet suit and Ox's power suit.
  • Tinkerer appears in the Spider-Man animated series, voiced by Aaron Abrams.[40] In the episode "How I Thwipped My Summer Vacation", he appears at a baseball game where he uses his special wand to rig the game so that his team would win. While waiting to pick up May Parker's snacks, Peter Parker catches Tinkerer in the act, changes into Spider-Man, and chases after him. After being webbed up by Spider-Man in the locker room, Tinkerer claims that he is a master criminal which Spider-Man is not convinced. When the police arrive, Spider-Man quips to Tinkerer, "You're out."


  • Michael Chernus plays Phineas Mason / Tinkerer in Spider-Man: Homecoming.[41] He is a weapon maker and part of the salvage company that Adrian Toomes, Herman Schultz, Jackson Brice and Randy Vale are a part of. He makes weapons out of advanced technology. When the salvaging company goes out of business due to Damage Control, Phineas helps Toomes in a crime spree where he builds the Vulture suit out of salvaged technology and creates modified versions of Crossbones's gauntlets that shoot vibro-blasts out for Schultz and Brice. He also figured out how to reactivate the Chitauri technology. During Vulture's heist on an airplane transporting the Avengers' equipment to a new base in Upstate New York, Phineas coordinated the Vulture. After Vulture is defeated by Spider-Man and arrested by the authorities, Phineas's fate is left unknown.

Video games[edit]

  • The Phineas Mason version of Tinkerer appeared as the first level boss in the Master System version of the first Sega Spider-Man video game.[citation needed] He fights Spider-Man at the end of the Warehouse level, driving a forklift.
  • The Phineas Mason version of Tinkerer appeared in the Funhouse level in the 1995 Spider-Man Animated Series video game,[citation needed] and while he is fought in the Sega Genesis version, he only has a cameo in the SNES version.
  • The Phineas Mason version of Tinkerer appears as a primary character in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, voiced by William Utay.[citation needed] He is initially incarcerated at Ryker's Island, but Spider-Man breaks him out and enlists him to create a sonic device to stop the symbiote invasion consuming Manhattan, as he couldn't contact any other scientific genius. Tinkerer begins work on the device at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base located at Stark Tower, but is later moved to Fisk Tower, where he demands $25,000,000 in cash, a full pardon, a specific castle in Italy, and a specific girl from his favorite tool calendar waiting by the pool in exchange for building the device; he also mentions that the device must be installed on the Trask Building, as it was made from American steel that was forged before 1940, and is also the tallest building in Manhattan, allowing the sound waves to reach the entire city. The Kingpin informs Tinkerer that his facilities are at his disposal and will make some calls for the castle and the girl while the full pardon and the money can be given to him by Black Widow. After Tinkerer builds the device, S.H.I.E.L.D. installs it on the Trask Building and Black Widow informs Tinkerer that his money has been wired and to begin the detonation sequence. However, a symbiote infected Vulture cuts the data links to the device and leads a symbiote attack to destroy it, killing all the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents positioned there. Tinkerer objects to Black Widow calling an air strike since they need the Trask Building intact, but Spider-Man is able to defeat Symbiote Vulture and foil the attack, before either activating the device manually, saving the city, or destroying it, so that he could rule over the symbiote army. In both evil endings, after Spider-Man takes over Manhattan with his army of symbiotes, Kingpin, Black Widow and Tinkerer joins forces to stop him, with Kingpin telling Black Widow that Tinkerer is ready, while she enlists a symbiote-controlled Wolverine to find Spider-Man and bring him to her, dead or alive. In the PlayStation 2 and PSP versions of the game, Tinkerer is a boss character and has a headquarters by the docks. He has also captured and brainwashed Venom, and plans to use a rocket to spread the symbiotes to other major cities around the globe. When Spider-Man breaks into his base, Tinkerer fights him a giant robot surrounded by a force field, but is ultimately defeated by the web-slinger. Tinkerer escapes by ejecting from the robot, but Spider-Man is able to foil his plan and disables his rocket, which he can then fire at Tinkerer as revenge.
  • The Phineas Mason version of Tinkerer is the main antagonist of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, voiced by Philip Proctor.[citation needed] He has been supplying Lucia von Bardas and other supervillains with technology. When encountered by the heroes, Tinkerer unleashes some robotic soldiers on them. In the reactor room, Tinkerer attacks the heroes in his Tank-Bot. Tinkerer escapes when his Tank-Bot is destroyed. Tinkerer later pops up in Nick Fury's secret base stating that he might know who is the one responsible for pulling the strings on the supervillains that Iron Man had under control of his control nanites. While Fury and the heroes infiltrated Prison 42, Tinkerer had already left. He is later revealed to be the one behind the nanite hive mind called The Fold. The heroes later encounter him in a Repeater Tower in Reykjavík, Iceland where he attacks the heroes alongside two Fold soldiers (which is when Tinkerer is invulnerable in his personal forcefield until they are destroyed). He managed to escape to the top of the Repeater Tower to jam the Nanite Statis Signal. The heroes make it to the top and knock him out. In the game's n-space version of Wii/PS2/PSP, Tinkerer is referenced to be supplying advanced equipment from von Bardas to supervillains, but he is nowhere to be found in Latveria. Eventually, Tinkerer comes to Fury's secret base to explain to the heroes that he did the research behind the nanites, and says the nanites have become unresponsive to all signals, and that he needs a pure sample of uninjected nanites. After retrieving the nanites by infiltrating Ryker's Island while Captain America attacks and enters the Negative Zone, Tinkerer is nowhere to be found. Eventually on the tower in Iceland, Tinkerer is fought. He is defeated by destroying supervillain-shaped toys with powers matching their specific villain which causes his control panel to explode in his face.
  • The Phineas Mason version of Tinkerer appears as a boss exclusive to the Nintendo DS version of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, voiced by Jim Cummings in a homage to Sterling Holloway.[citation needed] He uses a fragment of the Tablet of Order and Chaos to power up a machine that creates an army of robots. Spider-Man tracks him down to his lair in an abandoned construction site and destroys his machine. Before Spider-Man takes the fragment from him, Tinkerer gloats that he sold an army of robots to Electro.
  • The Phineas Mason version of Tinkerer appears as a playable character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, voiced by Kevin Coello.[42]


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  3. ^ Ross Andru, Dave Hunt, Mike Esposito (p), Dave Hunt, Mike Esposito (i). The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #160 160 (10 September 1976), Marvel Comics
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  6. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #159
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  8. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man #51
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  11. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #183. Marvel Comics.
  12. ^ Incredible Hulk #238. Marvel Comics.
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  14. ^ Captain America #324
  15. ^ Captain America #369
  16. ^ Avengers #52
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  18. ^ Fantastic Four #233
  19. ^ Deadly Foes of Spider-Man #1
  20. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #369-370
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  23. ^ Sensational She-Hulk #59 (January 1994). Marvel Comics.
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  29. ^ Ms. Marvel #37. Marvel Comics.
  30. ^ Avenging Spider-Man #13. Marvel Comics.
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  32. ^ Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #2. Marvel Comics.
  33. ^ Brucie, Dylan (March 2007). Ultimate Spider-Man. Wizard Xtra!. p. 117.
  34. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #90. Marvel Comics.
  35. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #97-105. Marvel Comics.
  36. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #101. Marvel Comics.
  37. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man #158. Marvel Comics.
  38. ^ Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #7. Marvel Comics
  39. ^ Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #3. Marvel Comics.
  40. ^ "How I Thwipped My Summer Vacation". Spider-Man. Season 2. Episode 26. June 18, 2018. Disney XD.
  41. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (August 10, 2016). "Michael Chernus Joins 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' As The Tinkerer". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 11, 2016. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  42. ^ "Characters". IGN Database. Retrieved 28 January 2018.

External links[edit]