Note: This article contains heavy spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming.
In October last year, Marvel insiders teased that we should expect some surprise appearances in Spider-Man: Homecoming. We'd be seeing unexpected characters who are central to the Spider-Man mythos — and destined to play a major role in the films. Since then, the rumor mills have been going wild, as fans considered every possibility from Ezekiel to the Green Goblin.
Sony has at last released the official cast list for #SpiderManHomecoming. And it turns out that some fan theories have been remarkably accurate, because we now have confirmation of at least three possible future villains and the identities of some cast members who were previously unconfirmed.
Confirmed: Donald Glover Is Playing Aaron Davis, A.K.A. The Prowler
In the early 2000s, Marvel launched what they called the 'Ultimate Universe' — essentially a modernized relaunch of their classic titles. The range was tremendously popular, and has had a massive influence on the #MCU. A lot of the character beats we know and love in the films were inspired by the Ultimate range.
In the Ultimate Universe, Aaron Davis is the #Prowler, a sneak-thief who — in one notable adventure — broke into Oscorp and unwittingly took a genetically-modified spider home with him. It wasn't Aaron who was bitten by the spider, though; it was his nephew, Miles Morales, who happened to be visiting his uncle at the time. That's right, Donald Glover is playing the Prowler, thief and uncle to Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man! We've learned that Aaron actually mentions his nephew in the film, and Marvel visionary #KevinFeige has confirmed that's a nod to Miles Morales. It's all so very appropriate; after all, back in 2011 when writer Brian Michael Bendis was creating the character, he was inspired by #DonaldGlover's campaign to play Spider-Man.
Not only does this suggest we may well be on the road to seeing Miles Morales in the MCU, it's also possible that the Prowler will play an important role going forward. In the Ultimate Comics, the Prowler became one of the Tinkerer's customers, stealing advanced tech for him. He actually killed the Tinkerer and stole his technology in order to prevent the Tinkerer exposing Miles's secret identity.
Michael Chernus is already confirmed for the role of the Tinkerer in Spider-Man: Homecoming, so all the pieces are moving into place!
Confirmed: Michael Mando Is Playing Mac Gargan, A.K.A. The Scorpion
The cast list also confirms that Michael Mando (Orphan Black) is playing another important Marvel character — Mac Gargan. He's a character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, one who started out as a private investigator hired to learn #SpiderMan's secret identity. Gargan agreed to undergo genetic experimentation in order to take the wall-crawler down, and was transformed into one of Spidey's greatest enemies — the Scorpion.
The Scorpion is a superhuman powerhouse, who wears a full-body battlesuit complete with a deadly tail. His mind warped by the genetic experimentation, Gargan wound up pursuing a relentless vendetta against Spider-Man (and J. Jonah Jameson, who had persuaded him to go through the experiments in the first place).
Back in April, Marvel confirmed that we wouldn't see #Marvel repeat classic villains we've seen before — so that means the likes of Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin can safely be written out of the sequels. What's more, the webslinger's rogues' gallery is further diminished by #Sony's plan to make films based on other Spider-Man villains. So we can also probably write out Black Cat, Silver Sable, Kraven the Hunter, and Mysterio. Given all these constraints, it's very unlikely indeed that Marvel would toss in a name like Mac Gargan if they didn't have long-term plans to use the character going forward.
Here's where it gets interesting; according to MCUExchange, the version of Scorpion played by #MichaelMando is strongly influenced by the Ultimate Universe. In that reality, he's a scarred and tattooed mobster who becomes a key enemy of Miles Morales. In one arc, Miles's uncle blackmailed him to take on the Scorpion by threatening to reveal his secret identity to his parents. It's another intriguing element that points to the inevitable inclusion of Miles Morales in the MCU.
It's worth noting that both MCUExchange and The Splash Report have said Mac Gargan will appear as a villain in Sony's #SilverAndBlack, although MCUExchange report that this version will wear a traditional Scorpion exo-armor. And here's where things get interesting; Marvel Studios may be making the Spider-Man films, but the contracts are with Sony — meaning they could conceivably ask Mando to play the part. Given there's already a lot of confusion over whether or not the Sony and Marvel films exist in the same universe, things could get complicated.
Confirmed: Selenis Leyva Is Playing Ms. Warren — Possibly The Jackal?
In August last year, a leaked cast list suggested that #SelenisLeyva (Orange is the New Black) was said to be playing 'Ms. Warren,' Peter Parker's school principal. Now that's been officially confirmed.
There's never been a 'Ms. Warren' in the Spider-Man mythology. But there has been a 'Mr. Warren' — Miles Warren, better known as the Jackal. In the comics, Miles Warren was an expert in genetics who became obsessed with Peter Parker's classmate, Gwen Stacy. Gwen's tragic death left Miles Warren twisted and insane, and he turned his skills and expertise to deadly ends; he became the Jackal, one of Marvel's foremost experts on cloning. At one point, the Jackal even managed to convince the real #PeterParker that he was nothing more than a clone.
The name 'Ms. Warren' will leave fans fascinated about the future of the Spider-Man franchise. Is this character some relative of Miles Warren's, perhaps his sister? Or is this actually a gender-swapped Jackal, with Selenis Leyva set up as a potential future villain? Again, Marvel certainly knows full well how fans will react to that name, so it's surely unlikely to be a coincidence.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is but the first in an ongoing trilogy of Spider-Man movies, and this cast list proves that the film is setting up a careful foundation for what comes next. With Ms. Warren, you have a tantalizing hint at a future foe. With #MacGargan, you have the promise of a physical powerhouse who can actually take down Spider-Man — and has done so on many occasions. Most excitingly of all, though, with Aaron Davis you have the potential setup for Miles Morales himself, the Ultimate Spider-Man.
Marvel and Sony are playing the long game, guys. And that's great news for the future of the #MCU!