Spider-Man finally swung into the Marvel Cinematic Universe this year, after Sony and Marvel Studio achieved a compromise for the iconic comic book character. This third big-screen incarnation of Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) made his MCU debut in the massive hero-on-hero extravaganza that was Captain America: Civil War, but it’s his first solo outing that has fans really excited. Spider-Man: Homecoming is set to hit theaters in the summer of 2017, and there is little doubt that it is going to be huge. The first exciting trailers for the film were released last week, giving us our first look at (among other things) the movie’s bad guys.
Set post-Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming will skip the origin story and focus on Peter Parker’s struggles to balance life as a teenager and life as a superhero. Described as a coming-of-age story, we’re going to see a strong focus on Parker’s school life, relationships, and experiences as a teen – albeit a genius teen who invented his own webbing and has superpowers. Despite this focus on the adolescent Peter, we’ll still be seeing plenty of web-slinging fun as Spider-Man explores his new, Stark-created suit and takes on various criminal elements in NYC. He’ll also be taking on one primary super-villain – the Vulture.
Played by Michael Keaton, the Vulture (a.k.a. Adrian Toomes) is one of Spider-Man’s regular comic-book nemeses. Although Spider-Man: Homecoming will be the character’s first live-action incarnation, he has appeared in multiple animated series including the series from both the ’60s and the ‘80s, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Spider-Man Unlimited, Spectacular Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man. We have also seen a nod to the character in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, when Vulture’s wings were seen next to Doc Ock’s harness in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot.
Although Vulture has been battling Spider-Man since the sixties, he’s still going to be a new character for many viewers, as he never quite reached the same level of popularity as some of the bigger Spidey villains such as Green Goblin. Thankfully, Vulture has a relatively straightforward backstory. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Adrian Toomes is an inventor, and his intelligence is potentially his most dangerous weapon. Toomes worked with a business partner, Gregory Bestman, and created a harness that allowed the wearer to fly. It would have been an incredible invention that catapulted the two to fame and fortune, but Toomes discovered that Bestman had been swindling him and embezzling funds. He lost his company, and the betrayal (not only by Bestman, but by the legal system that was unable to help him) turned him to a life of crime as the winged Vulture.
Vulture’s harnessnot only gives him the ability to fly, but also enhances his strength, durability, speed and agility, making him a formidable opponent. His wings are also razor sharp and usable as weapons, and he has been known to use other gadgets and even guns. He has beaten Spider-Man on more than one occasion, and even broken his arm to get away. While Spidey has had his fair share of wins on the scorecard as well (he has neutralized the harness and sent him to jail), Vulture was not an easy villain for Spider-Man to take down. There have been a few other characters who have used the Vulture name, as well as some later storylines connected to Aunt May’s boyfriend Nathan Lubensky, Adrian’s cancer, and his search for eternal youth – though it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing these in the film.
Vulture is the ideal villain for Spider-Man: Homecoming, fitting with the version of Peter Parker that we are likely to see, as well as hinting at a future super-villain team up. The Vulture first went up against Spider-Man when the wall-crawler was a new hero (he had been fighting crime for only about a month when they first met), which fits perfectly with the MCU’s new take on Peter Parker (who had been Spider-Man for around six months at the time of Civil War). Adrian Toomes’ passion for inventing also makes him an interesting opponent for this version of Peter, who is also a fan of tinkering and creating (and dumpster-diving). This has the potential to be an evenly-matched battle of the scientists, which will be incredible to see.
Though the Marvel movies tend to focus mainly on their superheroes, with villains only rarely making second appearances, the Vulture could potentially lay the groundwork for a Sinister Six movie at some point in the MCU’s future. Toomes was one of the original Six, and while his part in the group isn’t vital to the character (especially when he first came up against Spider-Man), it seems likely that this will come up down the line. Whether this points toward the Sinister Six or not, we can’t wait to see more of Keaton’s Vulture in 2017.