In a year that's jam-packed with superhero goodness, few films are generating the kind of excitement that surrounds Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tom Holland made his phenomenal debut in last year's Captain America: Civil War, but Homecoming sees him star in his first solo movie. Not that he'll be on his own — the trailers have consistently teased that he's teaming up with Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man.
But why is Iron Man such a major part of Homecoming? And what motivates Michael Keaton's Vulture, the main villain of the film? In an exclusive sneak peek, USAToday has blown the lid on all these secrets — and more!
The Vulture's Story
Most superhero films have focused on world-changing events, ripping terrifying portals open in the sky or flooding the Earth with marauding aliens (sometimes both at the same time). Spider-Man: Homecoming, though, is very different; this film will focus in on the little guy. Director Jon Watts explains it like this:
“My whole approach for this movie is that we’ve seen the penthouse level of the universe. We’ve seen what it’s like to be a billionaire inventor and to be a Norse god. We’ve seen the very top of this world. But we’ve never seen what it’s like to be just a regular joe.”
Adrian Toomes is a disgruntled businessman whose world has been upended by Tony Stark. In the wake of 2012's The Avengers, he saw a business opportunity and jumped for it; he founded a New-York-based company that's responsible for cleaning up the messes superheroes leave behind. Unfortunately, Spider-Man: Homecoming sees Tony Stark interfering yet again — in the wake of the Sokovia Accords, Stark takes charge of a government agency responsible for cleanup. There goes Toomes's livelihood...
What follows sounds to be a fun tale, with Toomes setting himself up as the "dark Tony Stark." He gathers together a crew, including the Shocker and the Tinkerer, and they begin a new business venture: to scavenge alien and advanced tech, and sell it on to criminals. Vulture sees himself as a victim, a man who should have been great but has just had really bad luck and is trying to make ends meet. Unfortunately, this self-pity seems to turn into incandescent rage!
A Whole New Approach to Super-Villainy
Let's face it, #Marvel has justifiably come in for a lot of criticism over its villains — but Homecoming looks to take a radically different approach. Where most villains' motives have been inscrutable — ranging from Zemo's abstract desire for revenge to Malekith's hope to plunge the cosmos into darkness — the Vulture's is very, very human. As Watts observes:
"You can be a villain and a real person, too. Being a supervillain isn’t necessarily your full-time job.”
#SpiderMan's rogues' gallery is a rich one, and is perfectly suited to this very human kind of villain. After all, he's a street-level hero who takes on everything from gangsters to mad scientists! The #MCU iteration of the Vulture sounds to be a fascinating one, and Watts hints that we'll see lots of odds and ends from previous movies, from Chitauri tech to... well, who knows? He deliberately avoids giving too much away.
Iron Man's Role Makes Sense
All of these details give us an answer to another mystery, though; just what is Iron Man's role in Homecoming? Spider-Man fans had been wary that Peter Parker was getting too close to Tony Stark; a mentor figure is all well and good, but Spider-Man is a hero who needs to stand on his own two feet. These details reveal a plot that centers around Iron Man as much as it does Spider-Man, suggesting that this film will almost be something of a team-up movie.
It's actually quite an interesting twist; there's very much a strange sort of symmetry between Tony Stark and Adrian Toomes. Both deal with advanced technology, and both have recently started supplying that technology to others — just in very different ways. Spider-Man is caught between Tony Stark as a mentor, and an madhouse-mirror inversion of the man. It could be tremendous fun, and it certainly explains why Stark is integral to Homecoming's plot.
In another note, it's interesting to see that Tony Stark's next step after the Sokovia Accords is to run a government department responsible for cleanup. It's an entirely appropriate next step for the character, continuing his journey from Captain America: Civil War to Avengers: Infinity War.
Can We Kiss Damage Control Goodbye?
One thing to note: Toomes's business sounds very familiar to Marvel fans. After all, the comics featured a company called Damage Control, founded to clean up the mess superheroes leave behind. Just as in this version, Damage Control wound up run by the bad guys. They began quietly leaking technology (and Mutant Growth Hormone) to supervillains in order to up the amount of damage and make bigger profits. It ultimately led to the famous 'Civil War' arc, when one of their customers, Nitro, was amped up on Mutant Growth Hormone, and caused something of a disaster.
Here's the catch; way back in 2015, we were told Marvel Television was working on a series called Damage Control, a sitcom that explores the idea of superhero cleanup. There's been no news for years, and DC seemed to beat Marvel to that punch with the conceptually similar Powerless. If the Vulture's company is the MCU version of Damage Control, then we can be pretty confident that TV show can be written off.
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These latest revelations are the mother-lode of spoilers for Spider-Man fans! They hint at a thrilling dynamic between the Vulture and Iron Man, and suggest that Peter Parker's role will be wonderfully complex. Meanwhile, it's going to be refreshing to see a more three-dimensional kind of villain, a businessman whose motivation is really nothing more than self-pity and greed. I'm pretty excited to see how this plays out!
Do you think Michael Keaton's Vulture sounds to be a step in the right direction for Marvel?
(Source: USAToday; Poll Image Credit: Sony Pictures)