Spider-Man: Homecoming has cast a number of known actors as supporting players in the first Marvel Cinematic Universe solo movie for Tom Holland's Peter Parker, but for the most part their identities have been kept under-wraps. The film is expected to draw from the extensive backlog of Spider-Man allies and enemies from the Marvel Comics Universe, but may also invent new characters in order to fill out its largely teenaged cast.
Certain folk who caught the Spider-Man: Homecoming sizzle reel shown during Marvel Studios' San Diego Comic-Con 2016 panel in Hall H were able to catch some off-hand details that offered new insight on that front. Homecoming director Jon Watts has now confirmed the identities of four more characters, while teasing additional details about the film's now-confirmed villain: The Vulture.
Speaking to EW at SDCC after Marvel's Hall H presentation, Watts (Clown, Cop Car) was joined by actors Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Jacob Batalon and Laura Harrier. Their characters are expected to be central figures in Homecoming and likely in future sequels to the film - though that doesn't necessarily mean they're all playing "friends" of Peter Parker. And those characters are:
- FLASH THOMPSON (Tony Revolori) - Flash is one of the most important non-superhero characters in the Spider-Man mythos, and one who has only ever been a bit player in previous adaptations. A popular athlete and bully, the conceit is that Flash mercilessly torments "Puny Parker" but idolizes Spider-Man; never realizing that they are one and the same. In the comics, Flash's Spider-fandom (and chance encounters with his hero) eventually lead him to becoming a better person, renouncing bullying and becoming a decorated soldier in the U.S. Army. He's also (later) the third person to host the Venom symbiote, albeit as an agent of good.
- NED LEEDS (Jacob Batalon) - In the comics, Ned Leeds is a Daily Bugle reporter several years older than Peter Parker who comes into the teen's life as a rival for his early crush on J. Jonah Jameson's secretary, Betty Brant. For a time a mainstay of the comics, he's later brainwashed into becoming the second Hobgoblin and ultimately murdered by the supervillain Jack O'Lantern. Repositioning him as one of Peter's classmates signals a significant reinvention of the character.
- MICHELLE (Zendaya) - Speaking of reinventions, it's widely assumed that Zendaya's character, currently known only as "Michelle," will have a full name of Michelle Gonzales. A recent addition to the comics' continuity, Gonzales is another character Peter meets as an adult; in this case a roommate character who entered the series after the controversial "One More Day" storyline.
- LIZ ALLAN (Laura Harrier) - Liz Allan was the second regular potential love-interest for Peter Parker after (and for a time alongside) Betty Brant, though the "relationship" is largely unrequited and complicated by her being Flash Thompson's girlfriend during their High School days. She was absent from the comics for several years after the storyline had Peter graduate High School and move on to College life, but she returned as a more prominent castmember when it was revealed that she was the stepsister of supervillain The Molten Man - and later became the wife of Harry Osborn.
Although Watts refrained from confirming that Michael Keaton is playing The Vulture (a.k.a. Adrian Toomes) in Homecoming, he did offer the following food for thought regarding the character:
“Vulture’s the first real villain in the Spider-Man comics. He’s in the second issue. He’s one of the classics from the best rogues’ gallery out there, and we’ve never seen him, he’s never been brought to life.”
Of note, the four younger actors are largely representative of Watts' previously-stated commitment to reflecting the diversity within the real-life Queens community with Homecoming's version of Parker's home turf; as actors of Latino, Hawaiian, African-American and multi-racial backgrounds all featured in the Spider-Man film. As for The Vulture: toy leaks for Homecoming have already revealed that he won't be operating alone in the movie, but it will be interesting to see how they (and Toomes alike) will differ from their traditional comic book representations in Watts' movie.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1– May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019;Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.