Dmitri Anatoly Nikolayevich Smerdyakov (Chameleon)

Another newcomer in Spider-Man: Far from Home is one of Nick Fury‘s newest associates, possibly an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but most likely a mercenary spy: Dimitri Smerdyakov, portrayed by Numan Acar. The grumpy and silent spy accompanies Midtown School of Science and Technology to Austria, and proves himself as a remarkable driver when unexpectedly chased by a hostile drone on the road. If things go as in the comics, we’ll see more of him soon… especially considered that he’s supposed to be the very first supervillain ever faced by Spider-Man! Let’s meet together the world’s greatest spy: the Chameleon.

Born in Volgograd, Russia, Dmitri Smerdyakov was the illegitimate son of nobleman Nikolai Kravinoff and of a servant girl, Sonya Smerdyakova. His very existence was a shame for too many, and Dmitri was raised in contempt and loathing: his father could barely stand to look at his face, and even his mother regarded him as a personal humiliation. The only one who kind of tolerated him was Nikolai’s legitimate son, Sergei, who albeit abusive towards him, was also the only person in the world who from time to time showed something similar to kindness and friendship towards him. It was in the desperate attempt to impress his older brother that Dmitri started making impressions of their relatives and neighbors, something he became terribly good at… so good that he ended up erasing his own identity, so loathed and hated by everyone, to replace it with the one of the people he was impersonating from time to time. This peculiar talent of his didn’t go unnoticed (most likely due to Sergei’s doing), and Dmitri was hired by the USSR government, that trained him as an elite spy exploiting his skills in impersonating anyone. Dmitri Smerdyakov became a master of disguise, literally an invisible man who could become everyone, infiltrate any place, assassinate any target, steal anything as protected as it could be. His fame grew so much within the Soviet secret services that he became known simply as the Chameleon, a living legend. To further erase his identity, he started wearing a white, featureless mask beneath the ones he used to impersonate others, and he kept it on all the time, to the point that he himself forgot what his face truly looked like. Finally, the bastard son of the Russian decadent nobility had found his true place and purpose in life, and as the Chameleon he was more appreciated, feared and respected than he would have ever been as Dmitri Smerdyakov.

Thanks to people like Gustav Fiers, the Chameleon was assigned to missions in the United States, and here he met the one he would have elected to his nemesis. Tasked with stealing classified plans for a new missile defensive system, the Chameleon arrived in New York City, where he learnt of the existence of a new so-called superhero, Spider-Man, relatively new and still seen with suspicion by the press and the public. He observed him for a while, saw him approaching the Fantastic Four looking for membership, and correctly deduced that the hero was young and in financial difficulties. Exploiting the fact that Spider-Man was already wanted by the authorities, Chameleon chose to impersonate him for the theft, and while the first heist worked perfectly, during the second the two came to an unwanted confrontation, one that the non-enhanced Chameleon couldn’t possibly win. The spy was arrested and deported back to USSR, where he could prepare for his next move. After the incident, he considered Spider-Man (and his bothersome Spider-Sense, that could identify him even while disguised) as a threat to his future projects, so he enlisted the help of his brother Sergei, better known as Kraven the Hunter, promising him a game he wouldn’t forget. The only result of this alliance was that Spider-Man defeated them both, and Kraven started to share his brother’s obsession with the Wall-Crawler; plus, the presence in America of Sergei only reawakened Dmitri’s past traumas, and once again he started trying to impress his brother. In an effort to prove himself better than Kraven, Chameleon even impersonated Captain America, convinced Iron Man that the real Cap was actually an impostor, and had them fight one another, nearly causing the fall of the Avengers (only Giant-Man‘s intervention prevented such a catastrophic outcome). Not exactly a victory, this was a success nevertheless: maybe, as Chameleon, he would have done what Dmitri Smerdyakov had never been able to, and prove himself better (and deadlier) than a Kravinoff.

Dmitri Smerdyakov is a broken man, who hates himself and his own face just as much as he perceives the other members of his family hate him (and that’s quite a lot), and who tries to disappear in the people he impersonates. As the Chameleon, he’s one of the world’s greatest spies, a superb method actor who can modify his pitch, body language and posture to be like anyone, and who speaks fluently more than a dozen different languages; with his original facial features surgically removed, he’s a blank canvas for his masks, that complete the transformation; in later exploits, he used a holographic device by Spencer Smythe to instantly transform in anyone he sees, and eventually had his organism surgically and mutagenically altered so that he could actually mold his facial features and body structure to become other people; he’s also extremely long-lived, having taken the same serum as Kraven. Extremely intelligent and brutally cruel, the Chameleon is constantly trying to prove himself, always aiming at being the best in what he does, torn between a deep hatred and a just as deep admiration for his older brother: being targeted by the Chameleon is definitely dangerous, but becoming his role model may be even more…


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