The Plot Hole Is The Emotional Core Of The Twist
The Liz Toomes twist is, by Kevin Feige's own admission, Homecoming's defining moment, shifting the thrust and threat of the film. What makes it so effective is that it's not gratingly foreshadowed yet still fits completely within the world. As with Bucky being The Winter Soldier, there's just enough nudging to make sure audiences are subconsciously aware of the possibility and no attempts to seriously mislead. Of course, anybody with Google could have got the bottom of Captain America 2's reveal from the title announcement - here Marvel and Sony also used contextual knowledge of Liz Allan to dupe fans. All of this puts a lot of weight on that Avengers drawing - it's the biggest pre-twist allusion and proves essential to ground Adrian as an empathetic villain. That's not to say the movie wouldn't work without this opening shot, but it really ties all the disparate threads together - it establishes Peter's connection to Liz from the start.
It's also pretty key in the film's meta-commentary. Homecoming is the first film to look at the street level impact of living in a world of heroes. We get most of this though Peter's primary arc, but it's against a backdrop of a generation weaned on superheroes; the cool girls play "F*ck, marry, kill" with the Avengers and Tony Stark is regarded with the celebrity his ego always painted. The drawing is an immediate lead-in to all that and conjures up direct real life parallels.
So the drawing is essential to Homecoming's story and its themes - it's a major, insular concern that justifies the plot change. It's the sort of beneficial idea where a continuity flub can actually strengthen the story at hand - and is likely of a similar motivation to whatever break James Gunn is planning for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
We're not saying this is the explicit solution - Iron Man 2 or keeping Parker in school could also play a part - but from a creative standpoint it's the one with the most genuine importance.
The Timeline Is Broken Either Way
As we're following up the original plot hole discussion, it's also worth taking a moment to comment on the timeline itself and the question of if it's really broken. Answer: yes.
In the wake of the "eight years later" flub there's been a string of alternative solutions that suggest a different, more extended timeline to the "release date unless otherwise stated" logic. At first glance these make some sense, in particular accounting for Civil War and Homecoming saying they're eight years on from Iron Man and The Avengers respectively, despite both films taking place in the same year - the popular explanation is that Iron Man is set in 2008, with Tony revealing his identity in early 2009, and The Avengers in late 2009, putting Civil War in 2017.
However, to do so requires ignoring several other dating concerns. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and WHIH news videos both put things in release year and not having The Avengers in 2012 directly contradicts a lot of what Kevin Feige's said about continuity, but, more importantly, most solutions focus just on the four films in question and in doing so lead to fresh issues in connected The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3 in particular.
At this point there's no getting around the timeline being broken - all we can do is figure out why. The debate is between it representing some bigger MCU shift or being a for-the-movie solo concern. We're tempted to say the latter, and if that's the case then Liz's drawing is likely the center of it.
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018