When the cast list for Spider-Man: Homecoming crawled online prior to the film's release, fans were immediately caught in a web of intrigue. Among the various names credited was actress Jennifer Connelly, whose last superhero venture was in Ang Lee's Hulk movie, way back in 2003. However, this version of the Green Goliath isn't technically part of the MCU, so there's no way that Connelly could be reprising the role of Betty Ross — and we're sure that Liv Tyler would have had her own "LIV SMASH!" moment in response to that.
Furthermore, the character name listed for Jennifer Connelly was simply described as "Karen," which doesn't correlate with any popular figures from Spidey's life in the comics. The closest possibility would have been Karen Page, Daredevil's long-suffering girlfriend, but she's already being played by Deborah Ann Woll in the Netflix shows.
However, now that Spider-Man: Homecoming has swung into cinemas, we finally know who Jennifer Connelly is really playing, and it's someone who holds rather unique ties to the rest of the MCU. Spoilers ensue, because, obviously.
Requiem For A Robot
Anyone expecting to see Jennifer Connelly in the flesh will be disappointed to discover that she plays none other than the A.I. voice in Spider-Man's new suit, officially named "Karen." Fortunately, Connelly's charisma still shines through despite her robotic voice. When she's not advising Parker on how to effectively interrogate criminals or use his 576 new web-shooting combinations, Karen even provides timely dating advice for the hapless teen.
Created by Tony Stark, the Karen A.I. brings a welcome humor to Spider-Man: Homecoming that's reminiscent of J.A.R.V.I.S., the A.I. who dryly provided commentary in the Iron Man movies. The similarities don't stop there, though. Bizarrely enough, Connelly's real-life husband Paul Bettany provided the voice for J.A.R.V.I.S. before he was assimilated into the Avengers as a fully-fledged member called the Vision. This means that both A.I.s are tied to each other by the couple's real-life commitment, linking both of Tony Stark's creations in a romantic way.
It seems as though Jennifer Connelly's newfound role will next appear in Avengers: Infinity War, aiding Spider-Man in the battle against Thanos. While it seems doubtful, we would give anything to see Karen's A.I. transferred to a body of its own, much like how J.A.R.V.I.S. was transformed into the Vision, thereby reuniting Connelly and Bettany together onscreen. While there's no Karen A.I. linked to Spider-Man in the comics, a female android called Jocasta could potentially provide the basis for this if Marvel decides to move in that direction.
Given that Parker's Iron Spider Armor was revealed at the end of Homecoming, does this mean that one of the couple's three children will provide the A.I.'s voice in future installments? Probably not, especially as the eldest is only 13 years old, but you never know what surprise casting choices #Marvel could make next, and Parker will need all the help he can get facing the Sinister Six in upcoming sequels.
Would you like to see the Karen A.I. return in future Marvel movies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!