If you’ve kept up with Spider-Man: Homecoming casting news, you’ve probably picked up one major recent addition: Donald Glover, best known for his portrayal of Troy Barnes on Community, not to mention a solid career as a rapper and television writer.
With very few roles confirmed for the movie, this leaves Glover’s role completely in the dark and open to wild speculation from likely to “yeah, probably not, but what if…” We’ve come with a list of our own best guesses. Naturally, a lot of these assume that the character will be switching skin colour from comics to screen.
So with that in mind, here are 15 characters Donald Glover could be in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
15. Robbie Robertson
Robbie is usually portrayed as an older, mature and slightly-grizzled yin to J. Jonah Jameson’s vitriolic yang, acting as a mentor of sorts in Peter Parker’s photography career and generally fighting for the heroic qualities of Spider-Man to be printed in the Daily Bugle. Comics seem to have him chronologically frozen in his mid-forties, but this is the MCU we’re talking about. If Aunt May can go from frail, snowy-haired octogenarian to Marissa Tomei, then Robbie Robertson can shed a few years.
It also makes slightly more sense with the timeline, as Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is around fifteen, still in school and a few years away from pursuing his photography dreams. Robbie would also be slightly younger, still fledgling in his career (though not exactly new to the game either) and the two might even get a chance to cross paths, perhaps in a way that would causes Peter to look into photojournalism. Glover would certainly bring a sunny side to the roll that would counteract whatever brand of perpetual grumpiness Jameson’s actor is producing, plus by the time Spider-Man: Homecoming is released, Donald Glover will be heading into his mid-thirties. A dusting of stubble could do wonders for the roll.
14. Randy Robertson
…but then, Donald Glover really just has one of those faces that could play any age. Have him clean-shaven with some edgier hair and he’s perfect for the role of Randy Robertson, Robbie’s equally alliterative son who Peter Parker has had dealings with in the past.
Randy has bounced back and forth between teen and young adult depending on the adaptation, but his mainstream comics version has had the most prominent role. A rebellious activist with a short fuse, very much unlike his father, Randy has befriended and even lived with Peter for a short time, proving himself a valuable ally even if he never really had all that much to do with Spider-Man’s activities.
Randy went to Peter’s university and not his high school, but this is an easy change to make, and it’ll only be a weird set of fringe fans who object to Randy Robertson being retroactively enrolled in a Queens high school. It might still be the case that he’s in a higher year than Peter – Glover just generally looks older than Tom Holland – but there could still be a connection. Perhaps once again, Randy’s friendship is the reason Peter eventually finds the Bugle. Maybe he’s the only reason puny Parker isn’t regularly beaten up for his lunch money. Donald Glover fits the roll of the nice guy, so it’s probably more along those lines.
13. Flash Thompson
Or, not. It’s a sad fact of adaptation simplification that Flash Thompson is mostly just remembered as Peter Parker’s arch-bully, the stereotypical jock who exists to make all the nerds miserable. At least until the nerds get super-spider powers and end up turning the tables on their former tormentors in an unintentional display of power, after which poor Flash is usually forgotten.
While comics Flash has never been the sweetest guy, he’s certainly a prime example of a one-note character really getting some proper development and transforming into something better. After a stint in the army, Flash bonds with the alien symbiote (yep, THAT alien symbiote) and becomes a good-aligned version of Venom named ‘Agent Venom’. Thus, the character comes full circle and ends up working (indirectly) with Spider-Man, who the character had always ironically admired.
Glover could work as Flash Thompson, mostly because of the aforementioned ability to look a lot younger than he actually is, though he’d still have to be portrayed as older than Holland. Still, this would be a great opportunity to finally establish Flash Thompson as a character with potential for growth, which most other versions (particularly the films) never allow. If Glover is contracted for more than one film, we could very well be seeing Agent Venom down the line. Though of course, first we’d have to have…
12. Eddie Brock/Venom
Venom, Spider-Man’s mirror nemesis and a wildly popular character in his own right. He’s also getting a movie produced by Sony, if they ever manage to get it off the ground. Like Flash Thompson, Venom actually differs greatly from how he’s known to a wider audience, which is to say most people think he’s a straight up dang-nasty evil villainous sort. He started off that way, with Eddie Brock becoming the second host for the alien symbiote and using its power to try to take revenge on Spider-Man. However, the character has masses of room for growth in future movies, and alien space goo is far from the weirdest thing Marvel movies has dished up to us so far.
Donald Glover as Eddie Brock could work, though it’s less likely than the other options. Brock is meant to be a hulk of a man with a perpetually mean look… but then, Topher Grace was neither of those things. And while he was likely miscast, the actual face of Venom from Spider-Man 3 was one of the movie’s greatest features, when it wasn’t being peeled back to let blondie give his best sneer face. Glover might not exactly fit the bill, but parts in these movies are constantly being rewritten, and we’ve been convinced before by sheer strength of performance.
11. Phil Urich/Goblin Knight
When it comes to fitting the part, though, Phil Urich would be far more up Donald Glover’s alley. The character of Ben Urich suffered a tragic and brutal death at the Kingpin’s hands in the first season of Daredevil, but a contributing factor to his murder was the absence of Spider-Man. The deal to share the rights was finalized too late, leading to the iconic character with strong ties to the webslinger dead on the floor and unavailable for further use.
Sony killed him, basically.
And yet his potential nephew could still be hanging around. Phil Urich wouldn’t be a backup for Ben – Karen Page has already slotted nicely into that role – which is fine, since he never was in the comics anyway. Phil has cycled through various versions of Goblins, starting as a hero, turning to villainy and eventually being crowned the Goblin King. His early story is an interesting one, since after retiring from heroics, he started a self-help group for teens in the same situation.
Something like this would help to ground the MCU, form a solid character for Phil Urich, provide a much-needed connection between his late uncle and Spider-Man AND set up a goblin-themed villain for the future. Plus, it’s totally plausible for Donald Glover and Vondie-Curtis Hall to be related.
10. Harry Osborn
Somewhat more prominent in movie adaptations is Harry Osborn, son of the villainous Norman Osborn and part-time villain himself, though he never quite manages to live up to the standards of his father.
The greatest barrier between Donald Glover and the role of Harry Osborn might just be that nigh-impossible hairstyle. Then you remember that James Franco pulled it off with normal hair and Dane DeHaan compensated with a fringe that bordered on having its own zip code, so it’s probably fine. I’m just saying, it’s really weird hair.
Mostly known as the second Green Goblin (or third, or fourth), Harry Osborn also has a significant history of friendship with Peter Parker, with the two forced against each other by circumstance, and also terrible parenting. However, a few adaptations also have Harry attending Peter’s high school, disregarding how terribly unlikely it is that a poor kid from Queens and the son of a billionaire go to the same trashy public school. With a bit of hand-waving, Harry Osborn could show up as one of Peter’s school friends, though again, Glover would likely have to be aged up a few years. Unless we want a “how do you do, fellow kids?” situation on our hands.
9. Miles Morales
A lot of fans seem dead-set on this idea… for some reason. Donald Glover doesn’t even particularly resemble Miles Morales except in skin color, so this one might just be all those Morales fans finally wanting to see their version of Spider-Man on the big screen for the first time.
As gratifying as that will be when it finally happens, it’s really, really unlikely that Glover has signed on for that part, unless you want to see a version that removes the entire soul from the character. Miles Morales is meant to be a younger, fresher Spider-Man following in the example of a veteran Peter Parker; naiveté is kind of his whole shtick. Meanwhile, Glover has over ten years on Tom Holland and we’ve only just managed to squeeze a version of Peter Parker that people actually know into the MCU, so whoever ends up playing the actual Miles Morales, it’s almost definitely still a few years down the track.
But Could Glover have been cast in that role? There’s still a tiny chance, but the same rules still apply: he couldn’t be the Miles Morales people seem to like from the comics, on account of his age making it impossible to create the same character. Though we’re not putting it past Marvel to utterly blindside us with a Morales who’s older than Peter Parker, possibly even having been Spider-Man before him.
8. Cletus Kasady/Carnage
Carnage has been both loved and hated since his conception, creating an oddly-polarizing character that some people want to see in live-action and others would prefer to remain locked in the comic pages. That he was inspired by the Joker doesn’t really help, since there have already been a slew of villains (looking at you, Jesse Eisenberg) who have used Heath Ledger’s MO since The Dark Knight.
Still, it’s a character who could still be done right, and if Donald Glover really wants people to forget his role as dumb, goofy Troy Barnes, then stepping into the role of Cletus Kasady might just be the career changer he needs. An unrepentant serial killer, Kasady was in prison when he bonded with the alien symbiote (yep, still the same one, sort of) and became Carnage, a villain with no morals, no mercy and no inside voice. Given that all signs point to The Vulture taking the spot as main villain, it’s unlikely at this point that Carnage will have any major role. However, Homecoming could still act as an origin story, one that introduces the character and his particular brand of crazy before joing with the symbiote in the future. Plus, it’s not like you go into a Spider-Man movie expecting only one villain. That would just be absurd.
7. The Carjacker
If the weird squid-headed people playing instruments in the Mos Eisley cantina can get their own action figures, it’s not too much of a stretch for the infamous carjacker to get his own arc. That would be the carjacker who shot Uncle Ben, in case you missed that part the first forty times you saw it. Most scenarios have Peter contributing to the murder in some way, thus fueling his desire to see justice done and become a superhero.
If you think this might be too much of a bit part for Donald Glover… well, you’re probably right. Even if he ends up as this character, we’ll probably be seeing a more fleshed out version than usual – plus, Uncle Ben is long-dead in the MCU, so at least some of it will have to be flashbacks. Still, it’s not like fans haven’t got excited about a casting before, only to find out that their beloved actor gets a handful of moments on-screen. Jena Malone was recently demoted in people’s expectations from Batgirl/Oracle to ‘some lab person’. It’d be disappointing, but we still don’t have any clues on exactly who Glover is supposed to be. And hey, maybe he’ll bring a nuance to the role that we’ve never seen before. Like, regret or something.
6. Ned Leeds
For a time, Ned Leeds is just one of Spider-Man’s many goblin-themed enemies. Another one of those Daily Bugle reporters who always seem to be running into trouble, Ned eventually married Glory Grant and was brainwashed by the Hobgoblin while out on a case. This lead to him temporarily becoming the Hobgoblin, though unwillingly, while lacking any sort of serum or superhuman abilities. This unfortunate stint didn’t last long before he was killed while on an assignment.
Ned Leeds is mostly used when the writers need someone else at the Daily Bugle who can do their job competently enough, but can be swayed either direction in their methods. This was his role in the Spectacular Spider-Man series, where he went on a one-man crusade to find out the identity of Spider-Man and completely failed. It’s kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to Spidey-related characters to bring to the big screen, but there’s always room for some character expansion in the MCU version. The Daily Bugle will be showing up eventually, and when it does, it’ll need populating with some faces that we’re not going to forget in about three seconds. Plus, it leaves room for the eventual inclusion of the Hobgoblin, one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes.
5. John Jameson
Given Donald Glover’s former acting role as a jock, it might not be quite so surprising to see him take up the role of John Jameson, already played by Daniel Gillies in Spider-Man 2; that version was less of a character and more of a romantic plot blockade, however.
Jonah Jameson has yet to be cast in Spider-Man: Homecoming, if he’s even going to be making an appearance at all, so the role of his all-American astronaut son is still open to interpretation. Comics John started off as an astronaut but, like all long-running comic book satellite characters, eventually found himself drawn into the weirder side of Marvel and was turned into a werewolf. As fun as that plotline was, he eventually lost those powers and went through a number of rolls as either hero or hero support, eventually fading into history to be occasionally brought up whenever the writers need a semi-obscure member of the Spider-Man family.
John Jameson is another sort of blank slate, in that he’s not widely known and his characterization varies wildly through all his appearances. The MCU version could easily just be a name for Donald Glover to slip into, after which they make him into whatever he needs to be. It’ll offend all those fringe John Jameson fans, but you can’t please everyone.
4. Rocket Racer
On the other hand, it’s incredibly easy to see Donald Glover slipping into the guise of the raddest superhero ever created: Rocket Racer. If you think his name is too on the nose, just you wait. He dresses in a gold and red suit like Iron Man, but also flies around on a jet-powered skateboard and fires his rocket-powered fists at people he doesn’t like. So imagine the most stereotypical action-figure you can possibly think of, then attach a flimsy backstory (he’s a scientific prodigy who turned to crime to support his family, instead of making money as a scientific prodigy) and a totally gnarly speech pattern and you’ve got one of Spider-Man’s lamest villains. Still, he’s pretty fun, plus he later turns good.
In terms of an opening scene showing the webslinger on the job, combating one of his colorful and ineffective villains, Rocket Racer could fit in just fine. He’d probably be a more grounded portrayal, but the MCU specializes in taking B and C-list characters and making something that audiences actually like, so with the charm of Donald Glover, this character might just actually work as an adversary-turned-ally. Plus, just think of how many action figures they’d sell.
3. Abner Jenkins/Beetle
Continuing the theme of Spider-Man villains who sit near the bottom of the pile when it comes to effectiveness or big-name recognition, there’s Beetle, AKA Abner Jenkins. After a series of defeats caused by comic book readers not remembering him in each appearance (probably), Beetle eventually joined the Thunderbolts, a team of villains posing as heroes for criminal purposes. However, like his teammates, Abner Jenkins grew to like being admired as a heroic sort and made the switch, serving his time in jail and generally being a helpful guy ever since.
Though not too well-known as individuals, the Thunderbolts are fairly well-liked as a team (similar to how the Avengers were before steamrolling over the box office), and many have been clamoring to see a version of them in the MCU. Donald Glover might not have the largest role if cast as Beetle – once again, it might just be another case of ‘weedy starter villain’ – but this could set him up for future appearances as Beetle as he joins the MCU Thunderbolts. The team eventually began acting as Marvel’s version of the Suicide Squad, and though Marvel and DC aren’t as loathsome towards each other as their fans, they are still trying to one-up each other, especially with super-team-ups.
2. Victor Alvarez/Power Man
Not to ignite this whole debate again, but when are we going to see some solid links between the Marvel TV and movies? They’ve already established connections – it’s not like they can retcon Phil Coulson from existence – but the whole thing has been bizarrely coy. So while we wait for Jeremy Renner to be cast as a series regular on Daredevil (any day now) Spider-Man: Homecoming is going to be bearing a bit of scorn if it doesn’t acknowledge all the super-hijinks happening in New York.
Not that we need a second Power Man at this stage, since the first one hasn’t even got his own series yet (and he probably won’t be going by that name anyway) but it might be a nice nod to have Victor Alvarez in Homecoming.
Actually the third Power Man in the comics, Alvarez is a teen from Hell’s Kitchen with the sorta-cool ability to draw chi from people around him and convert it into strength. He’s had dealings with most Marvel heroes, but most importantly, he’s helped Daredevil take down The Hand and their cabal of really terrible ninjas.
Should Victor Alvarez make an appearance, he likely won’t be connected to Peter Parker’s school, but may run into Spider-Man at some point in his travels around New York. No telling how they’ll play his character, but here’s hoping for a hint-hint, reference laden conversation that lets us know that Spider definitely isn’t the only vigilante around these parts.
1. Someone Completely New
Here’s a curve ball: Donald Glover might not be playing anyone we know at all. Like in the Jena Malone example, he could just be some random guy, still important to the plot but fleeting and perhaps nameless. Or, he might be an MCU original character with a fair amount of screen-time but otherwise no comic connections.
It’s an unlikely option, since anyone with a significant part in these movies who is also played by a well-known actor invariably turns out to have comic connections, but the possibility is still there. Judging by what we known about Glover, it’s possible that he could simply be a teacher at Peter’s school, a reporter for the Daily Bugle, a drug dealer who ‘knows stuff’ about the neighborhood, an enhanced villain who gives Spider-Man a run for his money while in the middle of robbing an armored car or just your average Queens citizen walking his dog for fans of Community to see and declare that they totally know that guy.
Provided the character isn’t wasted, it could go any number of ways at this point, not necessarily leaning towards Glover turning out to be a major comics character. Miles Morales is pretty much out the window at this point, while we just don’t know what the director has in store for this movie. Maybe he’s trying to craft a unique, original cast to leave a mark on the MCU. We’ll just have to watch Twitter and find out soon.
Any other characters you think might suit the acting talents of Donald Glover? Let us know in the comments!