Spider-Man: Homecoming offers a lot of good stuff for fans of Peter Parker, the MCU and superheroes in general, but perhaps its biggest achievement is pulling off one of the greatest villain twists in the history of the genre. The primary bad guy in the film is the Vulture, a character we’ve been waiting a long time for – Sony first tried to adapt him in Sam Raimi’s canceled Spider-Man 4 and he was going to be a part of the now-cancelled Sinister Six – although it’s fair to say they probably couldn’t have done him any better than the version we got here.

For starters, Michael Keaton is fully committed to the role and makes for an understandable (if still fully deplorable) villain, although it’s the conception that’s so brilliant. Like Peter Parker, the Adrian Toomes we get in Homecoming is an ideologically faithful take on the source, just with a twist to make him more integrated into the MCU. Here that means instead of being a business owner driven to crime after being swindled out of his company by a devious partner, in the movie his clean-up crew is made obsolete by Damage Control, a subsidiary of Stark Industries. This technically makes him initially more of an Iron Man adversary, but through the involvement of a plucky teen he becomes directly involved in the affairs of high school-focused Peter Parker.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Shortly before the movie came out, Jon Watts said there was a lot of the film that isn’t in the trailers, and it turns out he wasn’t just saving face. There’s certainly a lot of elements in general not in the trailers, especially in regards to the inner-workings of Midtown High School, but perhaps the real genius of the marketing is how it hid the biggest twist – a moment so shocking that it’s been met with hushed gasps and subsequent rounds of applause in screenings.

The Vulture Is Liz’s Father

Michael Keaton as Adiran Toomes aka Vulture in Spider Man Homecoming Spider Man: Homecoming Pulls A Perfect Villain Twist

Let’s have a quick refresher, just to bask in the brilliance of it if nothing else. It’s the night of the Homecoming dance and Peter’s got a date with ultimate cool girl Liz; he’s been forced out of vigilantism but as a result is finally getting his normal life together. After a pep talk from Aunt May, he knocks on the door and is greeted by Liz’s father – none other than Adrian Toomes. There’s a short moment where you may question if we’re heading into the “villain has captured the love interest” narrative, but as Peter steps in he and us both learn something much more disturbing; the secret side of the Vulture’s life is a domestic bliss.

This leads to one of the most awkward “meet the parents” cases ever committed to film and a painfully drawn out villain discovery scene that plunges us right into the third act. Now, we’ll get into how layered and truly genius this is in a moment, but it’s fair to say the pure shock value is immense, and Tom Holland sells it brilliantly; he’s awkward in an inherently natural way that feels terrifying with the use of dramatic irony. How did Sony pull it off?

Next Page: How Was This Kept A Secret?

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