(Warning: The following contains mild potential - and, notably, entirely theoretical - SPOILERS for Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as other forthcoming movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Proceed with whatever level of caution your Spidey-Sense suggests is wise...)
Now, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe expanding at a frantic rate, it's no real surprise that recent films in the series have taken to introducing major superheroes in advance of their own solo movies. With Captain America: Civil War alone introducing both Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU, that trend doesn't seem likely to go away any time soon - especially since much the same pattern applies to the introduction of smaller supporting characters, too.
With that in mind, it seemed worth taking a look at what the characters that the rest of Marvel Studios' Phase Three might just secretly throw at us, starting with:
5 Unexpected Cameos We Could See In Spider-Man: Homecoming
Including an iconic hero or two, a handful of classic villains, and a legendary - and controversial - comic-book figure who we definitely wouldn't see coming...
Want to read more about Spider-Man: Homecoming before we get started, though? Check out:
'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Could Set Up A Whole New Marvel Cinematic Universe
'Spider-Man: Homecoming': Is Marvel Setting Up The Sinister Six?
First Look At 'Spider-Man Homecoming' At Comic-Con With Vulture Concept Art
First up in our list of potential cameos, though?
Now, with the vast majority of Marvel's most famous heroes already present and accounted for in the MCU, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the likes of Chris Evans' Captain America or Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow join Robert 'Iron Man' Downey Jr. in cameoing in Spider-Man: Homecoming. An appearance from fan-favorite Jessica Drew, a.k.a. Spider-Woman, however, would certainly make for one hell of a big reveal. What's more, with the character's rights having long seemed a little murkily split between Sony and Marvel, the studio-unifying Spider-Man: Homecoming could be the perfect moment to introduce Marvel Comics' other spider-themed super-spy to the MCU.
4. The Kingpin
Now, with many fans rooting for a cameo appearance from Daredevil in Spider-Man: Homecoming, it'd no longer be all that much of a surprise to at least catch a glimpse of a Matt Murdock-themed Easter egg somewhere in the movie. The Kingpin of Crime, though? Well, he'd make for one hell of a shadowy 'big bad' if Sony and Marvel opt not to utilize the Green Goblin this time out - and he and Spidey have plenty of comic-book history together to fall back on. Also, who doesn't want to see Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk on the big screen?
Now, there are a whole lot of classic Spider-Villains who could yet show up in Spider-Man: Homecoming - personally i'm still rooting for Kraven The Hunter - but one of the most fan-pleasing options would surely be Wilbur 'Stilt-Man' Day. Technically more of a Daredevil villain over the years, Stilt-Man has nonetheless faced off against Spidey on a number of occasions - and has already been teased on Daredevil. Day, then, could be the perfect foe for a frenetic, geek-tastic cold open for the film... especially if Daredevil dived in to help at the last second. He's old-school, low-powered, and has stilts for legs. What more could you want from a throwaway introductory villain in a light-hearted, high school-set superhero adventure?
2. The Thunderbolts
Now, throwing the Thunderbolts into Spider-Man: Homecoming fully formed would likely be far too much of an ask for the film - but teasing the very beginnings of the seemingly heroic but secretly villainous super-team? Well, that could well set Spidey on an intriguingly different path to the Spider-movies Sony have made in the past - as well as opening up some intriguing crossover possibilities for the future. After all, former Thunderbolts leaders Helmut Zemo and General 'Thunderbolt' Ross are currently kicking around the MCU, looking for something to do. Could we perhaps see The Vulture end the movie being recruited by Ross into his very own team of 'Dark Avengers', code-named the Thunderbolts? Suicide Squad made good money at the box-office, after all...
1. Ben Reilly
Yup, that Ben Reilly - the one better known to fans of mid-90's Spider-comics as The Scarlet Spider (and the star of that whole Clone Saga story-line that many fans rate as the worst Spider-tale of all time). It'd be controversial, but a final post-credits scene featuring a blonde haired kid named Ben Reilly who looks an awful lot like Tom 'Peter Parker' Holland would have us all leaving theaters with our minds thoroughly blown. After all, someone has to be able to do something interesting with the Spider-clone concept, right? Right?
Plus, if nothing else, it'd be one hell of a memorable post-credits sequence...
What do you reckon, though?