Spider-Man: Homecoming is the web-slinger's first solo adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, it will introduce never-before seen characters to audiences.
One of them is the villain Herman Schultz, a.k.a. The Shocker, played by Bokeem Woodbine. We know that his role will be very small compared to the Vulture, who is being played by Michael Keaton. However, we haven't gotten any clues as to how exactly Shocker will factor into the film... or have we? Director Jon Watts may have revealed Shocker's role as well as a tease of the appearance of a major character in Homecoming. The director posted this picture on his Instagram last month:
At the time, no one really said much about it. Seems innocent enough, right? Just a funny image from a comic book of Spider-Man eating under the rain — except it might hint at how the web-slinger will meet Shocker.
What's The Significance Of The Image?
The image is from Amazing Spider-Man #578, a short, two-issue story arc in which Spider-Man spends the little money he has to buy a meal; because of it, he doesn't have enough money to take the subway and avoid the pouring rain. Fortunately, a metro card literally flies into his hand and Peter is able to take the subway to meet Aunt May.
But, it's a Spider-Man story, folks, so there's bound to be some misfortune for our hero. Peter's spider-sense warns him of danger in the last subway car right before it's detached from the rest of the train, leaving Spidey and a small group of people stranded in a subway tunnel. It's then revealed that the rest of the passengers are the jurors on a case against a mobster named Giacomo, and they soon figure out that their predicament was an assassination attempt in order to tank the case against him.
While Spider-Man does his best to protect the survivors, some are very skeptical of his motives and refuse to trust him, except for an older gentleman: J. Jonah Jameson Sr., the father of J. Jonah Jameson — you know, Peter Parker's Daily Planet boss and anti-Spidey zealot.
How Does The Shocker Fit Into This?
Spidey and the survivors eventually discover who is behind the attack on their car: The Shocker. He was hired to kill the jurors to better Giacomo's situation and later comes back to finish the job. He and Spider-Man battle and cause the subway tunnels to start collapsing but the hero manages to get the upper hand.
Shocker is then forced by Spider-Man into revealing how he'd planned to escape and point to a way out. On the way out, Spidey grabs one of Shocker's gauntlets to help remove rubble with its electromagnetic pulses.
For a bit, Shocker works with Spider-Man and the other passengers to escape but, you know, he's a bad guy so he betrays Spidey by remotely detonating the gauntlet. Then he escapes.
Spider-Man is able to get everyone to safety, including his new friend, J.J.J. Sr. And even though he disappears at the end of the issue, Sr. becomes a big part of Peter Parker's life, even marrying his beloved Aunt May.
Throughout the issue, J. Jonah Jameson, Sr. cultivates a friendly relationship with Spider-Man and tells him how he was away for most of his son's life, creating a rift between them. Spidey even (maybe) jokes about his reason for saving him being to finally have something over Jonah (the mean one).
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What Does This Storyline Mean For 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'?
It's easy to assume that Jon Watts posted the image from these comics randomly. However, it's telling that the story that the panel is from revolves almost entirely around Shocker. For a character who is expected to have a minor role in Homecoming, using this story as a jumping-off point for his introduction works on several levels. He's been a regular antagonist of Spidey over the years, appearing in various media from the comics to the video games to the animated series, so honoring their history with an epic battle in Homecoming would be great:
You can set up what his personality is and his relationship with Spider-Man fairly quickly. And due to the length and contained nature of the storyline, it's easy to make a quick but powerful scene out of it. Yes, in the original story Shocker and Spidey already know each other but it would take very few changes to successfully adapt it.
How about J. Jonah Jameson, Sr.? Will be in the film? This story also serves as his character's introduction. Jon Watts could have posted an image from any other of the hundreds of comics in which Shocker appears but he chose that one specifically and, if we know anything about Watts, it's that he likes his Instagram teasers.
However, seeing how his son's character is not expected to appear in Homecoming, he should be established as a character first. After this, exploring his father would have a greater impact both for him and Spider-Man, as seeing Spidey liking a Jameson would be a fun aspect to explore.
It Could Also Affect Public Perception Of A Young Spider-Man
Let's not forget about how this storyline also deals with the public perception of Spider-Man. In Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker had been crawling on walls for a few months to a year, but we never got an idea of how citizens see him: Is he accepted? Is he seen as a menace? The short scene that this storyline inspires would be an interesting dilemma to explore in Homecoming with a Spider-Man that lives in a world full of superheroes: People are trapped in a collapsing subway tunnel with someone they fear: Will they trust him or not? With it being part of his very DNA to save the people of New York, hopefully they will.
As you can see, this small storyline introduces and explores several Spider-Man aspects. The MCU is dropping Peter Parker's origin story and a close adaptation of this arc can cover several bases. Was Jon Watts actually teasing a major plot point with that Spider-Man image? I think so. Are all the elements in that story arc going to be used in the movie? We'll just have to wait to know for sure.
Do you think Jon Watts is hinting at Shocker's role in Spider-Man: Homecoming? Let me know in the comments!