Now that the movie is out, the rumor can finally be confirmed: Donald Glover does play the character of Aaron Davis in this summer’s smashing Marvel blockbuster, Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s a minor role, and for the time being, it seems like Davis is just smalltime criminal without any particular gimmick. While casual fans might be surprised by how limited Davis’ role in the film is, considering the popularity of the actor playing him, what hardcore comic fans know is that Davis is likely being set up for a far more significant role further on down the line: that of the high-tech burglar known as the Prowler.
While the Prowler’s codename and gear were already hinted at in the film, Glover’s Aaron Davis is clearly still a few years off from donning the purple mask. But while the Prowler is one of the lesser known Spidey villains out there, he’s been making a huge comeback in the last few years.
It’s highly likely that Glover is going to be coming back, and most likely, his part is only going to get bigger from here on out. But while we wait for the Prowler to start crawling up buildings, now is a great time to get an early scoop, and find out what makes this unique, down-to-earth Spider-Man foe tick before he returns in future Homecoming sequels. Without further ado, here are 15 Things You Need to Know About The Prowler.
15. The Prowler dates back to The Stan Lee Years
Because the Prowler is a lesser-known Spider-Man villain, and due to his mask’s resemblance to both Deadpool and Spawn, one might be tempted to think that he’s a recent addition to Spidey lore. But actually, Prowler has been around since Spider-Man’s early days, first appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #78 in 1969. He’s a classic villain from the Stan Lee and John Romita era, who deserves every bit of the same accolades bestowed on his contemporaries like Shocker and Rhino.
One of the things that made the Prowler unique amongst the many lily-white comic book characters of the 1960s was his race, since he was clearly depicted as being black. Also, though Prowler was originally a villain, he’s always been portrayed as extremely intelligent, clever, and sympathetic. Early stories positioned his origin as a parallel to that of Peter Parker, with many similarities existing between the two characters.
14. The Character Was Created by a 13-Year-Old
As previously stated, the Prowler came about during the era where Spider-Man comics were still being written by Stan Lee, and illustrated by John Romita. However, it was neither of these two classic creators who first “invented” the Prowler: that honor goes to Romita’s son, John Romita Jr., at that time only 13 years old. The younger Romita showed his Prowler idea to his father, and the elder Romita showed it to Stan Lee, who liked the character so much that he agreed to include the Prowler in an Amazing Spider-Man comic.
The Prowler would hardly be the last contribution that John Romita Jr. made to the Spidey mythos, however. In the decades since, Romita Jr. has come to be considered one of the greatest Spider-Man artists of all time, with his unique angular art style being one of the defining takes on Spider-Man in the early 2000s.
13. Prowler Uses High-Tech Equipment to Commit Crimes
Like Vulture, Shocker, the Enforcers, and Rhino, the Prowler himself does not actually possess any superpowers. Instead, he relies on his ingenuity, his athleticism, and an array of high-tech equipment in order to commit his crimes.
The Prowler either designs his own gear or buys it from others, but he definitely has a unique style to his burglary approach. He can scale up walls using steel claws, glide short distances with his cape, has been known to use a Vulture-like wing harness, and he attacks enemies from a distance using projectiles, explosives, and hand-held weapons. When he needs to disappear fast, he covers his tail with a cloud of smoke. Basically, he’s sort of a Batman-like figure, but on the wrong side of the law. He also isn’t a billionaire with limitless funds, so Prowler sometimes has to get by with some less expensive, more makeshift equipment, or gear designed by the Tinkerer.
12. There Are Two Different Prowlers
Now, here’s where we get to the somewhat more complicated part: there are actually two different major versions of the Prowler character, both of whom use the same general M.O. and similar costume designs, but each of whom has their own unique background story.
The original Prowler is actually Hobie Brown, a younger character who has continued to hold onto the role in the major Marvel Universe. However, in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, the Prowler is Aaron Davis, a somewhat older and more cynical character. It’s the Aaron Davis version of the character who appears in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but whenever Donald Glover gets around to suiting up in the purple mask in a future sequel, it’s likely that he’ll inherit many aspects of the Hobie Brown character as well. For that reason, in order to understand the Prowler, we’ll start by looking at Hobie Brown, then switch over to Aaron Davis.
11. Hobie Brown Started as a Teenager, Just like Peter
One of the things that made Spider-Man so unique when he first premiered was the fact that Peter Parker wasn’t a billionaire, nor a prestigious scientist, nor an alien, nor a god: he was just a regular teenager, trying to figure his life out. From the beginning, the Hobie Brown incarnation of the Prowler was created from the same mold. Hobie is just a regular kid, also trying to figure his life out, and angry at the world for the struggles he faced; also like Peter Parker, he possesses a brilliant, natural inventiveness.
After getting fired from his part-time job as a window washier, Hobie decides he’s done getting pushed around, done wasting his intelligence on such menial work, and done working for such low wages. So he crafts the identity of the Prowler, armed with technology of his own innovative design, and becomes a supervillain in order to make money.
10. The Hobie Brown Prowler Became a Hero
Since then, Hobie Brown has predominantly used the Prowler identity as a crimefighting vigilante, rather than as a villain. Dedicated to his community, Hobie tends to take on more low level threats as opposed to fighting supervillains, but he does so very effectively. He and Spider-Man have actually teamed up on many occasions, and the two would consider themselves good friends. However, there have been some instances where they’ve traded blows, such as when Hobie believed that Spider-Man was responsible for the death of Captain George Stacy.
Despite Hobie’s best efforts, the Prowler identity, as well as Hobie’s vigilante gear, has also occasionally been usurped by a few opportunistic criminals looking to make a buck. Still, Hobie has continued using the identity in his efforts to help make the shadier parts of New York City a little bit safer.
9. He’s filled in as Spider-Man before
Spider-Man’s secret identity is a very, very important thing, as the comic book version of Civil War made clear. If Peter’s enemies were to uncover the fact that he was secretly Peter Parker, that information would endanger Aunt May, Mary Jane, and all of his loved ones, putting at them great risk of getting killed. However, Peter Parker is just a regular guy, and there have been times when people have started to suspect the true nature of his frequent comings-and-goings.
In order to protect his identity, Peter has called on Hobie Brown a few times, and Hobie has been happy to help out. Since Hobie is highly agile and talented at swinging through the city, he’s worn Peter’s Spidey costume at times and places when Peter himself is also around; having both Peter and Spider-Man in the same room, at the same time, has done a lot to ward off suspicion of Peter’s identity.
8. He Almost Got Killed by the Punisher
Despite the fact that the Hobie Brown incarnation of the Prowler has been a hero for a long time (though we can’t say the same thing about Aaron Davis…) the vigilante named Frank Castle, better known as the Punisher, is not a forgiving person. As far as Punisher’s black and white ideology is concerned: once a criminal, always a criminal. So Hobie has been on the wrong end of Castle’s gun, but luckily, he got away with only a few scrapes (so far).
The Prowler’s bad run-in with the Punisher occurred at the wake of supervillain “Stilt Man,” a rather goofy bad guy who also got killed by the Punisher. The wake was attended by many supervillains, both active and retired, so Punisher decided it was a good time to set off a bomb and murder all of them in one go. Luckily, Spider-Man helped get Hobie out before he could get killed.
7. Aaron Davis is the Uncle of Miles Morales
Finally, this brings us to the Aaron Davis incarnation of the Prowler, which is the version of the character that appears in Spider-Man: Homecoming. As viewers of the new movie are aware, Davis appears in a few scenes, in pre-Prowler form, but he is definitely interested in purchasing some of the high-tech weaponry that he’ll one day be wielding. In one important bit, Aaron gives Spidey some key info as to the location of the bad guys, his reason being that he has a “nephew in that neighborhood.”
Well get ready, Spider-Fans, because Aaron’s nephew is Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man that’s been making waves over the last few years. While Miles isn’t mentioned by name, this one line confirms that Miles exists in the MCU, which could be a big, big deal going forward.
6. Prowler is the Reason that Miles Morales Gets His Spider-Powers
Aaron Davis is the archenemy of the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man, but it wasn’t always that way. Back when he was just “Uncle Aaron,” Miles had no idea that his uncle was actually the Prowler: he just knew that his dad and his uncle had fallen out when they were younger, and that he wasn’t supposed to visit his uncle. In fact, Uncle Aaron and Miles’ father had once been partners in crime. When Miles’ dad decided to reform, he left Aaron behind, and his brother plunged deeper into a life of crime.
Later on, Prowler was hired to steal some expensive technology from Osborn Industries, and one of the same genetically modified spiders that bit Peter Parker crawled into his bag. When his nephew Miles came by on a forbidden visit, this same spider crawled out of Aaron’s bag and bit the teenager, giving him his spider-powers.
5. He Has a Bad Relationship with the Scorpion
Another major Easter Egg featured in Spider-Man: Homecoming is the inclusion of Mac Gargan, played by Michael Mando, who will likely go on to become the superpowered anti-Spider-Man known as the Scorpion. So far, Mando’s depiction of Gargan, as a tattooed professional criminal, also has a lot in common with the Ultimate depiction of the character — and this Scorpion has something of a less-than-warm relationship with the Prowler.
Basically, when Scorpion is down in Mexico, the Prowler steals money from him. Gargan isn’t too happy about this, and tracks Prowler down to New York City. In order to take down his enemy, Prowler then blackmails his nephew, Spider-Man, into teaming up with him to take down the Scorpion, which they do successfully.
4. The Prowler has Appeared in the Cartoons
Though Spider-Man: Homecoming marks the first time that the Prowler has been portrayed in live-action, it’s certainly not the first time that the character has appeared in a media adaptation. That honor goes to the fan-favorite 1990s cartoon Spider-Man: The Animated Series, which debuted the character in an episode titled, fittingly enough, “The Prowler.” The character was voiced by Tim Russ.
Since then, Hobie Brown also appeared as a minor character in The Spectacular Spider-Man, and Hobie also had a cameo in Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six. None of these appearances were huge roles, with the ’90s cartoon being the only one to feature a whole episode on him. However, in 2018, the Prowler will be gearing up for his biggest role to date…
3. He’ll be played by Mahershala Ali in the Upcoming Animated Spider-Man Movie
One of the more intriguing feature films in the works is Sony’s Untitled Animated Spider-Man Movie, a feature film set for release in December of 2018. At this time, not too much is known about the movie. It was written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, will be co-directed by Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, and is supposedly set to adapt the Miles Morales Spider-Man origin, rather than the more familiar Peter Parker incarnation.
Of course, when it comes to Miles Morales getting his own movie, we all know that means that Uncle Aaron can’t be far behind. The Prowler will reportedly be voiced by Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali, an actor whom comic book fans will recognize as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes from the Netflix Luke Cage series. We can likely expect Prowler to play a big role in the movie.
2. Expect to See a Lot More of Him in the MCU
Though the Aaron Davis we meet in Spider-Man: Homecoming already has a criminal record, and even is glimpsed as already having attained the nickname “Prowler,” it’s pretty obvious that he’s no supervillain yet. However, he’s definitely on his way, considering that he was already getting ready to purchase some Chitauri-based supervillain tech from Adrian Toomes’ men. He also had a number of interesting character moments, and he definitely has a moral code that he follows, so the film clearly makes a point to demonstrate that he’s more than just an everyday criminal.
Aaron’s mention of his nephew, Miles Morales, is definitely setting the stage for Miles to pop up later on down the line. We wouldn’t expect it to happen as soon as Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s inevitable sequel, since Miles is probably just in elementary school at this point, but after that? Keep your eyes peeled.
1. Donald Glover is Partly the Reason Miles Morales Exists
The fact that Donald Glover plays Aaron Davis in the MCU is insanely cool, and deeply satisfying for a number of fans, because part of the reason that the character of Miles Morales even exists — and thus, the reason that Aaron Davis exists — is because of Glover.
Basically, back when the 2012 reboot The Amazing Spider-Man was in production, Donald Glover tried to scoop up the role of Peter Parker, and there was actually a big fan campaign to cast him as the web-slinger. This ended when Andrew Garfield was cast, and Glover then went on to settle for wearing a Spidey costume on an episode of Community. The image of Glover wearing a Spider-Man costume, combined with the then-recent election of Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States, convinced the higher-ups at Marvel to recreate their most iconic character as Miles Morales, a young half-black, half-Latino teenager.
Today, Miles has become an icon in his own right. And in many ways, we have Donald Glover to thank for it. So while the actor might never get to actually play Spider-Man, he did get to play a hugely important role in the wall-crawler’s history.
Any other important Prowler facts or trivia that we missed? What role do you think he’ll play in the Spider-Man franchise going forward? Let us know in the comments!
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