The best Spider-Man stories are as much about Peter Parker himself as they are about the superhero. As a result, his greatest friends and enemies usually hold a strong personal connection for him; that's why the Green Goblin and Venom are generally viewed as Spider-Man's greatest foes. Fortunately, Marvel's been careful to add that personal touch to #SpiderManHomecoming, not least in some of the secondary characters they've introduced.
Take a look at Peter Parker's classmates and you'll be surprised to see how many future superheroes (and even supervillains) attend Midtown High. Be warned: light spoilers follow from this point...
Let's start with Tiffany Espensen's Cindy Moon, a fellow member of the Academic Decathlon team. We first learned Cindy's first name back in last August, when a cast list leaked online. Fans immediately realized that there's only one Cindy in Peter Parker's life, and Espensen confirmed that she's playing this role on Twitter.
Cindy Moon was created by Dan Slott back in 2014, and was retconned into Spider-Man's origin story as another teenager who was bitten by that famous radioactive spider. Unlike Peter, though, Cindy was found by the spider totem known as Ezekiel, and was persuaded to hide away for years. Ezekiel knew that, should Cindy be out there using her powers, she'd unwittingly draw the interdimensional hunters known as the Inheritors to our world in order to kill the spider totems. When Spider-Man learned of Silk's existence, he busted her out, confident that he'd dealt with the threat of the Inheritors. Alas, Spidey was wrong, and Silk's release essentially launched the 'Spider-Verse' event.
The MCU version of Cindy Moon seems very different. For one thing, not only is she still in class, Homecoming also gave her an opportunity to demonstrate any spider-powers — if only to save her own life. That said, with Spider-Man's MCU origin still cloaked in mystery, Marvel could easily chose to introduce Silk further down the road.
Yes, that's right, Laura Harrier's Liz Allan is a superhero too! In the Ultimate Universe, Liz Allan discovered that she was a mutant, and took on the identity of Firestar. She's a powerful pyrokinetic, able to generate searing blasts of heat and radiation, and is even gifted with the power of flight.
There are no signs that the MCU's Liz Allan has super-powers, and the rights to 'mutants' sit with Fox. That being said, Laura Harrier has publicly noted that she'd love her character to go in this direction, and #Marvel could easily switch her origin story up.
You may not have noticed Liz's friend Sally Avril — played by Isabella Amara — but in the comics, she's a superhero too! Sally was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as part of Flash Thompson's entourage back in Amazing Fantasy #15, but Kurt Busiek and Pat Olliffe turned her into a far more important character in the '90s. Sally was retconned as an ambitious, thrill-loving gymnast who tried to cash in on a Daily Bugle contest to unmask Spider-Man. She became smitten with the web-slinger (ironic, given she turned Peter down in Amazing Fantasy #15).
Sally briefly took on the costumed identity of the Bluebird, and Spider-Man did his best to discourage her — even letting the Black Knight's thugs beat her up quite badly on one occasion. Bluebird didn't take that lesson to heart, with disastrous consequences; Attempts to photograph Spider-Man fighting the Black Knight led her boyfriend to speed through a red light, and their car was struck by a bus. Sally was killed outright, much to Spider-Man's sorrow.
Kelsey Chow played the role in The Amazing Spider-Man, and Sony intends to bring her back as a recurring character.
Tony Revolori's Flash Thompson is very different to the brash high school jock of the original comics, and it's certainly got fans talking! In the comics, Flash became a soldier, but was crippled while on a tour of duty. Eventually, Thompson wound up bonding with the Venom symbiote, becoming Agent Venom.
We can be pretty confident that this is never going to happen in the MCU. Homecoming's Flash Thompson is hardly the type of guy to become a military man in the first place, while Sony has their own plans for Venom.
You've heard of the Black Panther — but have you heard of the Black Tiger? Abraham Brown (played by Abraham Attah in Homecoming) was one of the Sons of the Tiger, three martial artists who are strengthened by mystical tiger amulets. He ultimately took up a solo career as the Black Tiger, one of the stars of the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu comic.
Let's close off with a supervillain — Ned Leeds himself! A classic Spider-Man character, Ned was introduced as Peter's rival for Betty Brant, and was brainwashed into taking on the identity of the Hobgoblin. His was a tragic story, as the brainwashing led to the end of his marriage, and ultimately cost poor Ned his life.
Again, it doesn't look likely that the MCU's Ned Leeds will become a supervillain anytime soon. This version of Ned is strongly influenced by Ganke, a schoolfriend of Miles Morales's Ultimate Spider-Man, and Ganke doesn't have any history either as a superhero or as a supervillain. That said, a teaser in the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends panel at #SDCC2017 teased that may be about to change; fans were given a glimpse of interior art featuring 'Super Ganke!'
It's entirely possible that most of these roles are simply Easter Eggs, brief references to leave fans thrilled at how Homecoming honors the original comics. At the same time though, Laura Harrier has already said that she'd love to see her character develop into Firestar, and the Bluebird's story is tragic enough to add a real theme of 'consequences' to the developing #SpiderMan corner of the #MCU. It's going to be fascinating to see whether the sequels pick up any of these plot threads!