Once the scrappy underdog superhero that Stan Lee’s publisher, Martin Goodman, thought would never succeed, Spider-Man has gone on to become the biggest Marvel hero of all time, and he’s had a major presence in the multiplex since Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire brought him to cinematic life in 2002. But after climbing to the top of the world, the wallcrawler has had a tough few years. Sony’s reboot of the franchise performed below expectations, and Marvel Studios’ focus has been more on the Avengers, and Iron Man in particular.
But last year’s Captain America: Civil War changed all of that when it introduced the new face of Spider-Man: Tom Holland. Holland’s earnest, youthful interpretation of Peter Parker was one of the most popular parts of the movie, and it’s no wonder that this new Spider-Man, fully integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will be getting his own film this year when Spider-Man: Homecoming premieres on July 7th.
So far, all the buzz has been overwhelmingly positive. The release of the trailer back in December only further amped up the excitement, and news has been spilling out ever since. Here is everything that we currently know about Spider-Man: Homecoming, collected into one easy list for your reading enjoyment. This list will be updated whenever more big news pops up, so check back often!
17. Tom Holland is Back
Given the unanimous round of applause that 20-year-old Tom Holland received for his debut in Civil War, it’s no surprise at all that his return to the webs — and the first time that this version of the character will take a starring role — is perhaps one of the most anticipated features of Spider-Man: Homecoming. In the few minutes that he featured in Civil War, Holland knocked it out of the park, combining the heartfelt everyman qualities of Tobey Maguire with the wisecracks of Andrew Garfield, as well as a joyful boyish glee of his own, all of which perfectly suited the role of a teenager bumping shoulders with a bunch of big superheroes for the first time.
In the trailer, we see more of Holland’s take on the role, and it looks like it’s only going to get better from here. Holland, who recently made a nostalgic statement about going to see the first Avengers movie in theaters, has genuinely thrown his heart into the role. In addition to the physical training that he did alongside Punisher actor Jon Bernthal, Holland also went so far as to do some method actor prep: he enrolled in a real life Bronx high school, with a fake name and fake accent, in order to get a better understanding of American high school life.
One amusing tidbit is that Holland says he actually tried to reveal to one fellow classmate that he was Spider-Man, and the kid didn’t believe him. This real life incident helped sell Holland on the idea that no one in the Marvel Universe would ever suspect Peter Parker’s secret identity.
16. This Ain’t No Origin Story (Thank God)
Now, to be fair, Spider-Man has arguably the best origin story in comics. While many superheroes are motivated to act by the death of a loved one, Spider-Man’s tale is unique in that Uncle Ben’s death is not simply the result of a tragic accident or a dastardly foe, but rather, an incident caused by Peter’s own selfishness. The humanity is potent, the subsequent guilt is relatable, and the themes of power and responsibility are key to Spider-Man’s depth as a character.
But let’s face it, we’ve seen Uncle Ben die twice now. We’ve seen the spider bite twice, too. Considering that this is the third time Spider-Man is being reintroduced to the big screen, I think audiences have his origin pretty well memorized by now.
Luckily, Spider-Man: Homecoming will not be an origin story, and will instead launch forward from where Civil War ended. We’re still dealing with a fairly inexperienced Spidey, but we don’t need to worry about any repetition. Hopefully there’ll be some references or maybe flashbacks to Uncle Ben and how that tragedy has motived Peter to do what he does, but either way, this Peter’s origin will be back story, and not the focus of the plot.
15. Expect a John Hughes-Inspired High School Movie, but with Webshooters
Okay, so now that we can safely put all origin-story-repeat-worries aside, another question arises: after two separate runs of Spider-Man movies, with two different creative teams, how can Marvel do something new with the character — without straying from what makes Spider-Man such an icon in the first place?
The answer, according to Kevin Feige, is to look to John Hughes for inspiration. John Hughes was the director of such classic high school films as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. While the prior Spider-Man movies didn’t spend too much time in the high school setting, with Raimi’s films in particular focusing more on Peter’s college days, Spider-Man: Homecoming will be zooming in right on the classrooms, cafeterias, and school dances (ahem, “Homecoming”) that adults remember all too well, for better or worse. In addition to being a new take on a Spider-Man film, this John-Hughes-Meets-Spandex approach will surely stand out quite a bit from the other heroes in Marvel’s slate, which is definitely a good thing.
14. Michael Keaton is the Vulture
Spider-Man has one of the most iconic rogues galleries in comics, and the movies have brought us some equally great cinematic foes, with Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus standing at the top of the heap. This leaves some big shoes to fill. Luckily, the primary antagonist of Spider-Man: Homecoming will be one of Spider-Man’s most classic enemies, and a character brand new to the big screen: Adrian Toomes, AKA the Vulture, who will be brought to life by none other than Michael Keaton.
From what we’ve seen in the trailer, Vulture looks to be a deadly threat, with interesting motivations. The movie’s director has stated that, just as Peter is a regular kid who became a superhero, Adrian Toomes will be a regular guy who becomes a supervillain. Michael Keaton has also hinted at the relevance of the character in today’s world, but kept further details close to his chest. Clearly, there’s a lot going on behind those wings, though we probably won’t know too much until the film’s release.
What we do know, however, is the Vulture has definitely earned his turn as the primary villain of a feature film. In the comics, Vulture was the first super-powered foe that Spider-Man ever faced, and he’s had had a long road to the big screen. He almost featured in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, was then slated to appear in the never-produced Spider-Man 4, and then would’ve been part of the Amazing Spider-Man‘s Sinister Six spin-off.
13. Shocker and the Tinkerer Will Also Show Up
But wait, while Vulture will be the main villain, he won’t be the only badguy getting tangled in Spidey’s web. Two other villains will also be appearing, though their roles will probably be fairly minor, with Toomes taking center stage.
First up is the Shocker, AKA Herman Schultz, a career criminal named for the powerful shockwave gauntlets that he uses to commit burglaries with. Though he’s never been on the A-list level of badguys like Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Venom, Vulture, or Sandman, the Shocker is a popular character who fans have wanted to see for a long time. He will be played by Bokeem Woodbine, from the second season of Fargo.
The third enemy creeping in the shadows will the Tinkerer, played by Michael Chernus. The Tinkerer is an inventor who creates, sells, refurbishes and enhances the special technology and weaponry that power many of New York’s worst criminals; a good assumption is that he probably will have a hand in developing Vulture’s wings, Shocker’s gauntlets, and perhaps many more villains in the future, as the new Spider-Man series continues.
12. Jon Watts is Directing
The guy in charge of all these spiders, vultures, and shockers is Jon Watts, who previously directed Cop Car and Clown. The announcement of an unknown like Watts as director was a surprise to many following the project, but so far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. And really, having a lesser-known talent on board shouldn’t be too big a surprise, since Sam Raimi was also fairly unknown outside of Evil Dead circles before Spider-Man hit theaters in 2002.
Watts himself has shown an amazing amount of enthusiasm for the project, emphasizing how surreal it is to be directing a Spider-Man movie. In one interview, he even recalled how, almost two decades ago, he was in his college dorm room, looking out the window as the Sam Raimi production of Spider-Man took over the Brooklyn Bridge.
In addition to the previously stated John Hughes influence, Watts has also cited Ultimate Spider-Man, and stated that his intention was to make the film a coming-of-age story in a similar mold to Almost Famous and Can’t Buy Me Love.
11. Iron Man is Coming Along For the Ride
That’s right, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man will appear in a supporting role in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and he’ll even have a new armor. Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan will be appearing, too. No big surprises here. One of the benefits of Spider-Man joining up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that he gets to enter the sandbox of Avengers characters. In addition, Civil War established a bond between Peter Parker and Tony Stark, with the latter acting in a mentor role.
…though Tony isn’t necessarily the best mentor, and that’s likely to play a role in the movie’s plot, as well. The trailer hints at conflict between the two, with Tony telling Peter not to get involved, and Peter feeling like Tony is trying to hold him back.
Either way, getting to see Spider-Man and Iron Man together on the big screen should be a lot of fun, especially since it’s something that seemed impossible only a few short years ago. Amidst all of this excitement, though, the important thing from a storytelling standpoint will be staying true to Spider-Man’s legacy as the do-it-yourself superhero, and not repainting him as Tony Stark’s sidekick. However, since the trailer already shows him wanting to break free from Tony’s guidance, odds are that Marvel knows what they’re doing.
10. A Diverse Supporting Cast
Many of today’s superhero movies made a point to add more diversity to their casts, in order to more properly reflect the actual diversity of the world we live in. Spider-Man: Homecoming will further this trend, featuring one of the most diverse casts of any superhero movie to date. Jon Watts has gone on record as not wanting to present the imaginary sort of “lily-white Queens” depicted in prior movies and in the comics. To accomplish this, the film recasts all of Peter’s classic supporting characters with actors of many different races, backgrounds, and more.
In the movie, Peter’s best friend will be Ned Leeds, played by Jacob Batalon. Laura Harrier plays Liz Allen, Peter’s love interest in the film, and Tony Revolori will portray Flash Thompson, Peter’s infamous bully. The cast will also include Donald Glover, Kenneth Choi, Bokeem Woodbine, Jona Xiao, and Zendaya as a new character named Michelle, a nerdy and socially awkward girl in Peter’s class. Though there is some speculation that Michelle may secretly be someone else…
9. Ned Leeds is Going to Be An Important Character
So far from what we’ve seen of the film version, Jacob Batalon’s Ned Leeds is going to be a very different character than the one we know from the comics, and definitely a more important one. First of all, Ned being Peter’s childhood best friend is an entirely new twist on the material: traditionally, that role has been filled by Harry Osborn, and sometimes Eddie Brock. But the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer shows Ned Leeds stumbling upon Peter’s secret identity, which could mean a lot going forward. In addition, Tom Holland stated in an interview that Ned actually helps Peter “tap into” some of his Spider-suit’s most advanced features.
The comic book Ned Leeds is a reporter at the Daily Bugle, probably about a decade older than Peter, who ends up marrying Betty Brant, the secretary famously played by Elizabeth Banks in the Raimi movies. Leeds ends up being unmasked as the villainous Hobgoblin, and assassinated for it — though this whole thing is later revealed to have been a setup by the real Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley.
Notably, the Ned Leeds in the movie seems very similar to an entirely different character: Ganke Lee, best friend of Miles Morales, the other Spider-Man. Since the decision has been made to combine the characters, it’s worth pondering why the film has decided to give Ned such a big role. Perhaps he’s being set up for a future as the Hobgoblin?
8. Zendaya Is Not Mary Jane… Or Is She?
Since she was cast, there’s been massive speculation regarding the nature of Zendaya’s role in the film, with many fans strongly believing that she’s playing an updated version of Mary Jane Watson, Peter’s soul mate and future wife in the comics. Zendaya herself has confirmed that she’s not Mary Jane, and the movie’s trailer positions Liz Allen as Peter’s primary love interest, at least for now. From the outside looking in, the character that she is playing — Michelle — certainly seems incredibly different from any version of Mary Jane depicted so far, with Zendaya describing Michelle as a “very dry, awkward intellectual” who “feels like she doesn’t need to talk to people.” This seems like a far cry from the Mary Jane that we know from the comics, who was originally presented as a carefree, bubbly party girl before it was revealed that she was hiding a fractured home life.
So yes, it might seem like an open-and-shut case. But what if the character evolves, over the course of the film — or films, perhaps — as a surprise twist, which Marvel is holding back until the film’s release?
This sort of twist isn’t unheard of. Just a few years ago, Benedict Cumberbatch “wasn’t” playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, and Liam Neeson “wasn’t” Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins, so the outward denial of Zendaya’s role could be a diversionary tactic. This speculation is further fueled by the fact that both Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn made a point to defend Zendaya’s casting as Mary Jane, if she is Mary Jane. Chances are, we won’t know for sure until the movie’s release.
7. No Osborns… as Far As We Know
As a rule, Spider-Man: Homecoming is trying to stay away from many of the major characters, villains, themes, and storylines that dominated the past two franchises. This is probably a smart move, since as the third Spider-Man series in less than twenty years, it needs to stand out.
Among those missing in action are two iconic mainstays, Norman and Harry Osborn, both infamous for eventually transforming into Peter’s archenemy, the Green Goblin. Goblin and Oscorp storylines have played a huge role in almost every Spider-Man movie to date. The Green Goblin is Peter’s archenemy, but since Homecoming wants to start fresh, it makes sense to take a little breather from all that messy Osborn drama.
In the trailer, casting, and marketing materials, both Harry and Norman are nowhere to be seen. The elevation of Ned Leeds to the role of Peter’s best friend is significant, though that doesn’t mean Harry can’t be included later on down the line, perhaps in a second movie. Norman is also conspicuously absent, though the casting of Logan Marshall-Green in an unspecified “antagonist” role has led to some speculation that he may make a minor appearance as Norman Osborn.
6. Spidey Has Some New Gadgets Up His Sleeve
Without a doubt, Spider-Man’s most notable invention has always been the webshooters, a device that Tony Stark was impressed by when the two characters met in Civil War. But in the comics, Spidey has also carried around a number of other little gadgets that he occasionally uses for specific purposes, and Spider-Man: Homecoming will mark their cinematic debut. Kevin Feige has stated that Tony’s update to Peter’s spider-suit is adorned with the sorts of “bells and whistles” that Tony loves.
Most significant, of course, are the web wings displayed so prominently in the trailer. The post-credits scene in Captain America: Civil War revealed that he has the spider-signal, a red light displaying a circular version of Spider-Man’s mask. The movie version contained a message from Tony, as well: “Swing by the tower. Got some new upgrades you should see.”
5. Michael Giacchino is Composing the Score
Spider-Man has a history of memorable themes. The classic little ditty from the 60s cartoon — yes, you know the one — is burned into the collective eardrums of fans and non-fans all over the world. The electronic theme of the 90s cartoon is also a part of pop culture, and the theme of the animated Spectacular Spider-Man is equally memorable. When it comes to film, Danny Elfman’s main theme for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films still stands today as one of the most powerful musical scores in any superhero film: both powerful and timid, ambitious and self-conscious, perfectly capturing the dualistic nature of Spider-Man himself while also being memorable years down the line.
The music of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come under a lot of criticism for being unmemorable, but arguably, the one score that has stood out from the pack is Michael Giacchino’s grand and operatic score for Doctor Strange. Good news, then, is that Giacchino will be scoring Spider-Man: Homecoming, and bringing his unique touch to the world’s favorite webslinger.
4. The Movie is a Collaboration Between Sony and Marvel
A few years ago, back when Sony was prepping The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as the launching pad for an entire Spider-Man-themed cinematic universe of its own, the idea of Spidey swinging around with Captain America and Black Panther seemed like a fan’s paradise that would never occur. Sony Pictures has held the film rights to Spider-Man since Spider-Man movies have been produced, and considering the worldwide success they’ve had with the property, there never seemed to be a chance that they would ever let the rights lapse back to Marvel, as with what happened to Daredevil.
Well, they didn’t let the rights lapse. They just struck a deal.
After the under-performance of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony changed course and decided to work together with Marvel, combining Spider-Man’s popularity with the creative minds behind the Avengers, in order to serve both parties as successfully as possible. Though Sony’s involvement might make some nervous — the studio’s infamous meddling led to many of the issues with Spider-Man 3, and the reboot series as well — fans should put all worries aside: while Sony is financing the film, they have confirmed that they are deferring the creative lead to Marvel. So yes, Marvel is in the driver’s seat.
3. Sony is Developing a Venom Movie
But while Sony might be handing over the reins for the primary Spider-Man films, that doesn’t mean they’re not also trying to develop their own separate franchises from the same contract. To start with, they want to release a solo film centered around the wall crawler’s most popular supervillain.
Sony has announced that they’re targeting a Venom movie for a surprisingly rapid release date of October 5th, 2018. If they get the ball rolling, then this would hit theaters only about a year after Homecoming. The script for this symbiotic horror/superhero flick is being written by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinker of Jumanji, and other than the fact that it will presumably star a certain black suited, sharp-toothed sociopath, there’s not much else that we know. Which version of Venom will the film use? Will it be an origin story? Will it be rated R? It’s too early to say.
Even more complicated is the question of whether this Venom will tie into the MCU at all. If Marvel Studios isn’t involved, it’s likely that it won’t be connected in any way; Sony might want to have their own, separate franchise to make money off of. On the other hand, they might really miss out if they don’t allow this new Spider-Man and Venom to come to blows on the big screen, and launching Venom without Spider-Man — especially given the symbiote’s complex origin — will be a challenge. Either way, we won’t know more on this for a while, but don’t expect it to have much impact on Spider-Man: Homecoming.
2. There Will be a Prequel Comic
The Peter Parker who will feature in Homecoming may be a newbie at this whole superhero gig, but he still has a history we don’t know that much about. He was swinging around on the webs at least a couple months before Tony Stark scooped him up for the Civil War. We can presume that he’s an orphan, that his Uncle Ben died, and that he got bitten by a genetically altered spider of some variety, but how did it all go down, and in what ways?
It’s possible that some more of this backstory might be revealed not in the movie itself, but in a prequel comic that has already been announced, titled Spider-Man: Homecoming Prelude. The comic’s blurb doesn’t make it clear exactly when it takes place in the timeline, whether before or after Civil War, but it’s sure to answer at least a few more questions about where this new Spidey comes from, what he’s been through, and what his life was like before everything changed.
1. Yes, a Sequel is in the Works
While Infinity War will mark the grand epic conclusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, and perhaps the final storyline of some of its longest running characters, if there’s one character that sure to come out of it alive and well, it’s Spider-Man. Sony and Marvel have just started to reintroduce their biggest character to overwhelmingly positive buzz, so you can bet there’s no way they’re killing him off anytime soon.
Sure enough, they’ve already announced a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, set for release on July 2019. Now, that’s a ways off, and Homecoming hasn’t come out yet, but if it performs to its high expectations, you can bet the rumor mill will start humming before the summer is out. Will the Goblin come out to play? Maybe a symbiote will get under Peter’s skin, or he’ll get tangled up in Doc Ock’s tentacles? Will Peter start working at the Daily Bugle, finally bringing in a new J.J. Jameson?
One interesting notion that has already been proposed by Kevin Feige is the idea of approaching a Spider-Man series in the mold of Harry Potter, with each successive film covering one of Peter’s years in high school. In other words, the sequel to this film may be Spider-Man: Sophomore, or something along those lines. This would be a new take, for sure; high school is a tumultuous time, and each year in high school certainly has its own unique tone and events. That said, it would also mean that all four films would have to be made fairly rapidly, in order to keep to the same pace as the rest of the MCU.
In any case, that’s everything we know so far about Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the movie is still months away, so there is definitely a lot more news coming soon. If you want to stay in the know on the webhead’s return to the big screen, keep checking back for new updates!