Mild spoilers for Captain America: Civil War, as well as the pre-existing MCU and Spider-Man: Homecoming follow:
Captain America: Civil War has landed in theatres, launching the Marvel Cinematic Universe headlong into Phase 3 while also signalling the triumphant return of one of Marvel's most beloved characters: Spider-Man.
As newcomer Tom Holland's youthful and perfectly awkward Peter Parker delights audiences worldwide, the unprecedented Sony/Marvel partnership looks to be moving full steam ahead on the first solo reboot film, fittingly titled Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Production has begun to ramp up ahead of the June start to principal photography in Atlanta, and there has been no shortage of rumours surrounding Spider-Man's first MCU entry. And while some of these rumours have been mere fluff (alas, Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin will not be facing off with Spidey), if a recent JoBlo scoop holds up under scrutiny, it may have massive consequences for the MCU.
The exclusive scoop emphasizes that Michael Keaton, who was previously rumoured to have turned down a major role in the film, has in fact signed on to play classic Spider-Man villain: Adrian Toomes AKA The Vulture (which has since been confirmed by Deadline ) More enticing however, is the following:
Not only is The Vulture in the film, but he is, in fact, the main villain. But, he’s not the only bad guy in the mix. The Vulture will be aided by none other than The Tinkerer, who will help him build his suit with recovered Chitauri tech from the Battle of New York.
The addition of genius inventor The Tinkerer to the film is interesting on its own, however the real takeaway here is that The Vulture's suit will be utilizing repurposed Chitauri technology from the aftermath of the events of The Avengers.
If you are wondering who the heck The Chitauri are, or what this means for the MCU, fear not!
The Chitauri are described by the MCU wiki as
A powerful, reptilian warrior race, a hybrid between organic beings and machines. ...They have superhuman physical attributes, superior strategy, energy-based rifles and flying vehicles...
Recall that this cybernetic alien race was controlled by none other than Thanos, the cosmic big bad whose time on the obscure horizon will come to a close when Phase 3 concludes with the massive Avengers: Infinity War. And while the destruction of the Chitauri mothership at the climax of the Battle of New York effectively neutered the invading Chitauri forces, the aftermath left dangerously powerful alien artifacts and tech up for grabs.
The revelation that the Tinkerer will fashion Keaton's Vulture a suit with this recovered Chitauri technology has huge implications for both the Spider-Man franchise, and the MCU as a whole.
When news broke that Sony would be partnering with Marvel to bring Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many wondered how far this melding of universes would go. Would the new Spider-Man films acknowledge the rigorous existing MCU continuity? Would the shared deal turn out to be a cash grab gimmick? Would characters from the MCU be able to feature in the Spider-Man films, and vice versa? Because while Marvel has been given a great deal of creative control of the character, Sony still holds the distribution rights, and the final say.
Spider-Man's glorious introduction in Civil War proved that the beloved web slinger belongs with the rest of the Marvel family, and the news that Robert Downey Jr. will appear in a significant capacity in Homecoming only confirms that the studios agree. However continued banter and mentorship with Tony Stark is not the only thing the new film will share with Civil War.
Captain America: Civil War took a long hard look at the catastrophic consequences of the activity of the Avengers, specifically invoking the world changing Battle of New York. By tying Spider-Man: Homecoming in directly with The Avengers, Marvel and Sony are making a strong statement about how they intend to move forward with the property. Our new Peter Parker very much lives in the world of the MCU, and the events of past films will shape the future of the Spider-Man franchise.
With Chitauri technology reappearing in Homecoming, it seems the fallout from these events will not be resolved any time soon, as the legacy of this incident will continue to plague our earthbound heroes.
However this is not the first time Chitauri technology has resurfaced.
In the Marvel One Shot: Item 47, a hapless young couple Benjamin Pollack and Claire Wise found and fixed a Chitauri gun, using it to run a string of bank robberies. The two were eventually apprehended by SHIELD agent Jasper Sitwell, who was acting under the orders of Agent Felix Blake (a markedly paranoid xenophobe who would eventually go on to form the anti-alien militia The Watchdogs).
Agent Sitwell, who later was revealed to be a Hydra turncoat, recruited Pollack to reverse engineer the Chitauri technology in order to create more human functional designs, then heavier vehicle-mounted weapons, and finally an artillery piece. These innovations were passed along to Hydra, who later utilized them within their armed forces, notably Baron Von Strucker in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The downstream effects of the Chitauri invasion spread beyond the films however; On Agents of SHIELD, Chitauri artifacts have surfaced numerous times.
In the pilot episode, Agent Grant Ward was dispatched to Paris to recover a stolen Chitauri Neural Link that was en route to be sold on the black market by international criminal Vanchat. While it is unknown what the intended use of the salvaged Neural Link was, one can imagine that such advanced technology could be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Vanchat, who specialized in acquiring and selling such alien relics, was later apprehended by SHIELD while meeting with a potential buyer of a Chitauri metal alloy also recovered from the Battle of New York. Chitauri metals such as this were utilized in the Centipede project, a Hydra funded super soldier program responsible for the creation of the cyborg Deathlok, amongst others.
However the dangers of Chitauri technology extend beyond the technological.
A Chitauri Helmet that was taken from New York as a souvenir by a group of firefighters who responded to the crisis was found to contain a dangerous alien virus. This virus resulted in the deaths of three people, as finding a cure was difficult considering the unknown factors surrounding Chitauri biology and pathogens.
As evidenced above, the total chaos of the Battle of New York allowed for some scattered Chitauri artifacts to remain unaccounted for. Despite SHIELD's best efforts to contain the global circulation of such items, the incident ushered in a new era for mankind, where alien technologies and biological information were now in the hands of the public, whether that be Hydra, black market dealers, or just a brash couple in need of some adventure.
We've seen how dangerous Chitauri technology can be, even when not fully understood by the user. As acquired knowledge of the artifacts has increased, it has resulted in the unregulated creation of enhanced soldiers, devastating weapons, and powerful armours.
Thus when Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into theatres next summer, expect the very tech-savvy Tinkerer to have engineered something impressive for the Vulture. We've seen Spider-Man tussle with a winged foe in Captain America: Civil War, however his non-lethal skirmish with the Falcon will likely pale in comparison to what's coming.
It is fitting that for MCU Spider-Man's first solo outing he will be fighting against a monstrosity borne of the ashes of what was a defining moment for the city of New York.
Plus, with the rumour that Spider-Man will be getting a set of wings of his own, it will surely be a showdown to remember.
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