WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Spider-Man: Homecoming
The time for Spider-Man: Homecoming has arrived, and it wouldn't be a Marvel movie without Easter Eggs, comic book connections, and secrets for the future that only eagle-eyed fans will catch. With Spider-Man's promotion from Civil War backup to Tony Stark's newest protege, the Marvel attention is running higher than ever before. So it's a good thing that Homecoming recreates famous Spider-Man comics, more cameos from the extended Marvel Universe than could ever be caught in one viewing, and, of course, hints at which Spider-Man villains will return in sequels.
The exact deal and fictional links between Sony's Spider-Man and the MCU is still complicated, but it's a good sign to see Marvel history opened wide for filmmakers to pay tribute to famous comic creators, give over the top fan service details, and call on some of the most beloved villains (and heroes) in Homecoming's post-credits scenes. So let's get to breaking them all down.
Needless to say, there will be SPOILERS in our list of Spider-Man: Homecoming Easter Eggs & Marvel References.
36 Familiar Tune
No time is wasted in reminding audiences what unique thrills and nostalgia are synonymous with Spider-Man, as the Marvel Studios logo is met with the classic theme song from the 1960s animated series. This time around it's composer Michael Giacchino who has crafted the unforgettable tune into a full-blown orchestral theme. And by now, movie fans have gotten their fill of it in the many Spider-Man relaunches and reboots.
Sam Raimi gets credit for being the first to adapt the tune to a live-action film, with buskers on New York's streets (and subways) belting out acoustic versions of their "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. Spider-Man 3 played the music as a tribute to Spidey by a live band, and the theme is adapted to a cellphone ring in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. While no longer hard to miss, it's the kind of nostalgic jingle any superhero would kill for (figuratively).
35 Department of "Damage Control"
The story of the new Spidey begins with some amateur footage of Civil War captured by Peter Parker as he traveled to, fought in, and returned home from the events of the Iron Man/Cap battle. But before that, the fans are transported back in time to the fallout from the very first Avengers. It's here where Adrian Toomes's beef with big government truly begins, as his city contract to repair the damage from the Chitauri "incident" (and salvage their technology) is swooped out from under him. The culprit isn't a competitor, but the newly-formed United States Department of Damage Control.
Those words should sound familiar to those MCU fans following the reports of a proposed Damage Control TV show for ABC that has yet to move beyond the concept stage. Pitched as a comedy in keeping with the Marvel Comics version of Damage Control, it's unclear when, if ever, the show will be made. But thanks to Homecoming it's now officially shown to be a part of the MCU... with actress Tyne Daly even playing the group's infamous leader, Anne Marie Hoag.
34 The Peter Fan Theory Confirmed
It was easy to see why people spun some wild theories about the little boy whose admiration of Iron Man gave him the strength to stand against a Whiplash drone in Tony Stark's second solo movie. The fact the boy's face was covered, and the mystery of his meeting with Tony begged questions. Who was he if anyone at all? And could this be the most well known, webslinging New Yorker in the Marvel Universe?
No need to wonder anymore, since Tom Holland confirmed that's Peter Parker in Iron Man 2, was was confirmed to him by the studio authorities themselves. While that isn't technically an Easter Egg for THIS movie, the fact that the massive globe from the Stark Expo is focused on in the distance for a full second in Peter's amateur documentary most definitely is.
33 Tony's Wounds
The fact that Spider-Man had officially been made a branch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was driven home in marketing flush with Iron Man and Tony Stark appearances. As has been noted, not all of those Iron Man/Spidey team-ups actually appear in the movie, but the scene of Tony giving Peter some (lacking) words of advice before booting him out of his limousine did. It turns out to be a tragic scene once Peter drops from the heights of Avengers combat to being apparently forgotten, but fans shouldn't be as charmed by Stark as Peter - if they are, they might miss a great detail.
While it's true that Spider-Man has screwed up the MCU timeline in more than one way - through its use of specific dates and years that simply don't add up - that doesn't mean the makeup crew didn't get the message. Since the limousine scene follows hot on the heels of Spidey's debut in Civil War, Tony still hasn't had time to heal the shiner given to him by Bucky "The Winter Soldier" Barnes. The bruise has grown a bit more subdued, meaning fans should tip their hats to those responsible. It's a continuity detail few would have noticed were it missing, making the efforts even more admirable.
32 Howard Stark 'Cameo'
Once the action shifts from Civil War and Avengers fallout to the here and now of Peter Parker's daily life, the opportunity for more Easter Eggs skyrockets. Unfortunately, they'll be difficult for most audiences to spot, as director Jon Watts gives little encouragement for fans to focus on anything but the story. So it may be the second viewing where the Easter Eggs can really be discovered - starting with Peter's first steps into Midtown High.
Specifically, the large mural painted over the front stair case, filling most of the frame as Peter and Ned discuss their plans to construct a massive LEGO Death Star. It's Albert Einstein whose face dominates the right half of the mural, but look to the left, and you'll see the unmistakable likeness of Howard Stark. Given the school's designation and student body, having such a titan of scientific discovery on their wall makes sense (while doubling down on the themes of father figures). For those looking, the image depicts Howard after he transformed from actor Dominic Cooper to John Slattery.
31 Dr. Abraham Erskine Returns
When searching for the elder Stark, let your eyes drift down and to the right ever so slightly (before students obscure the view altogether), and you'll also spot the face of Dr. Abraham Erskine, played by actor Stanley Tucci. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe's World War II history, it was Dr. Erskine who cracked the secret of the Super Soldier Serum Adolf Hitler hoped to use to create a race of superior men. After being forced to improve Red Skull (with horrifying side effects), Erskine was recruited by Agent Peggy Carter to continue his work for the Allies under SSR leadership.
Enter Steve Rogers, the most promising subject of Project Rebirth. Both Erskine and Stark prove invaluable to the war effort in Captain America: The First Avenger, so there's no question Erskine's work earns him accolades alongside his more... indulgent colleague. Add in the fact that Erskine gave Steve something of his own "with great power comes great responsibility" speech, and seeing Erskine's face on Peter Parker's high school wall makes us miss Uncle Ben just a little bit less.
30 Peter's Locker Number
When Peter actually arrives at his locker in the school hallway, fans are on high alert for some numerical shout-outs. Unfortunately the lock combination isn't shown in full, and any hopes of getting a Star Wars/George Lucas Easter Egg for the serious fans are dashed by the locker being number 1184, not 1138. But if you take that number as a date, then November 1984 actually was a key one in Spider-Man comics. Not necessarily for what it revealed about Peter Parker... but what it introduced about the VENOM symbiote soon to get its own movie.
The storyline preceding the issue (with #252) is probably known by many fans, since it bears the name "HOMECOMING" and features Peter returning to Earth with his strange, apparently alien fabric suit. But in Issue #258 a few months later, Peter decided to head to the Fantastic Four's headquarters and discover the truth. Reed Richards revealed that the Black Suit was really an alien symbiote, and helped Peter separate from it.
It was then that Peter made his famous debut in an extra Fantastic Four uniform and paper bag over his head to hide his identity. And the Venom suit was shown to be plotting something wicked in its containment tube...
29 Liz Allan
As much as Spider-Man fans might expect Pete Parker to spend his solo movie gaga over Mary Jane Watson, or even Gwen Stacy, it's Liz Allan (Laura Harrier) who has his attention this time around. That might seem like a transparent attempt to put some distance between this version of the hero and the others still fresh in the fans' minds, but Liz Allan's place in Spider-Man history goes back to the very beginning. As in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962), when Spider-Man made his comic book debut. She wasn't actually named until Amazing Spider-Man#4 a year later, but she made up for it in the years to come.
In the comics, Liz played a similar role as the film's version, pinballing between the affection of Peter Parker, Flash Thompson, and Spider-Man. In the end it was Harry Osborn who caught her eye, with the two marrying and having a son, Normie Osborn. Throw in Liz's stepbrother battling Spidey as the Molten Man, and her later romance with Daredevil's legal partner Foggy Nelson, and being the daughter of a supervillain is actually small potatoes (and totally original for the film).
28 Cindy Moon
It isn't just the starring characters and teenagers who owe their origins to the pages of Marvel Comics - and fans will be shocked to learn just how many of Peter's peers have superheroics, or supervillainy in their future (or families). With that in mind, we've got a bombshell for Spider-Man fans who haven't kept up on the modern lore. As it turns out, that radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker - blessing him with all his superhuman abilities - also bit one of his classmates attending the same demonstration. The girl's name is Cindy Moon, imbued with her spider powers as a boost to her own genius, eidetic memory.
Some incredible mystic threats would soon give her a story of her own, ultimately ending with her return to the world to find Peter a full-blown superhero, willing to help her find her parents (and master her abilities). She would eventually take the name "Silk" for her heroic identity. And even if that tale isn't destined for the MCU, Liz's friend Cindy (Tiffany Espensen) is a clear nod from the filmmakers. And hey, who knows? Few would have predicted Sony would make a Black Cat/Silver Sable movie, either.
27 Midtown High, Since 1962
The mural of great scientific minds shows that Midtown Science High School has been a place of specialized learning through much of the Atomic Age, but fans don't need to do detective work to find out exactly when it was founded. Visible on the school crest on students' t-shirts and coats is the confirmation that Midtown was "Established in 1962." Which, for fans of Marvel Comics history, sounds just right.
That's the same year that Spider-Man made his debut in Amazing Fantasy #15, a debut that defied the odds from the very start. To that point, the comic had been released with the title of Amazing Adult Fantasy, aiming at older readers with its tagline describing it as "the magazine that respects your intelligence." Since the comic was failing and due for cancelation, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (with a cover by Jack Kirby) gave Spider-Man a shot. He proved worthy of his own title, and carrying part of the title over to his own book, the Amazing Spider-Man was born.
Through most of the movie, it's hard to imagine that Michelle (Zendaya) actually has any interest in Peter at all... or interest in anything, really. But her taste in books shows that Michelle's investigation of Peter's reality is deeper than it seems, or that director Jon Watts is getting downright cheeky about the themes in his film. We're referring to the scene in gym class, where Michelle is far more interested in the book she's reading: Somerset Maugham's 1915 novel On Human Bondage.
The novel tells the semi-autobiographical tale of Philip Carey, an orphaned boy sent to live with his aunt and uncle, and soon takes an interest in books and higher education - sound familiar? If you draw out the parallel, the story concludes with Philip having his great ambitions laid out in front of him... but finds himself drawn to a lover, marriage, and children instead. One interpretation is that Philip spent his life searching for happiness, but found it in front of him. Since that's where Peter's own story goes by the movie's final scene, it's a nice touch for those who catch it.
26 Bruce Banner 'Cameo'
It's a little unfortunate that out of all the Avengers on hand to welcome Peter Parker into the superhero community, perhaps his most kindred spirit was noticeably absent. Sure, having noted super genius Tony Stark as a (distant) mentor is great and all, but for a mind like Peter Parker's, it really seems like Dr. Bruce Banner would have been able to give some insight. Thankfully, Bruce Banner does make a cameo in Homecoming... sort of.
In Peter's chemistry class (the one he spends much of watching his own heroic exploits on YouTube) a long line of scientific giants can be seen above the whiteboard. Beginning with Charles Darwin, the line includes famed thinkers like Sir Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie. But the latest in the line is none other than a photo of actor Mark Ruffalo, showing his Marvel hero is still treasured for his contributions to the non-superheroic world.
25 Betty Brant 2.0
Some of the most unexpected laughs of the movie come courtesy of Midtown's own student news team, featuring actress Angourie Rice as 'Betty Brant.' If that name rings a bell among Spider-Man fans, it definitely should. Most will still recall hearing Betty's name-- excuse us, 'Miss Brant' shouted by the Daily Bugle's editor J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's trilogy of films. Then played by Elizabeth Banks, it was the original version of Betty being brought to life as a Daily Bugle secretary.
In Homecoming, it seems that the more modern version of Betty Brant is being suggested, since "Brand New Day" saw Betty become an accomplished investigative journalist in her own rite. We can't say fans should expect to see that journey take place in real time, but it's a safer route than the original comic book version. You know, the one that saw her fall in love with Peter, then suspect he liked Liz, and eventually wind up marrying Peter's friend Ned.
24 From Computer Nerd to Teacher
If a comedy set in the halls of high school with mathletes and science geeks as the stars gives you flashbacks to Freaks and Geeks, then seeing actor Martin Starr may knock you off your feet. Appearing here as Mr. Harrington, the coach of Peter's academic decathlon team, Starr actually makes a bit of a wrinkle in the complicated, interwoven fabric of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why? Because he already appeared opposite Dr. Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk (2008).
Banner - who was played by Edward Norton, not Mark Ruffalo at the time - negotiated his way past Starr's 'Computer Nerd' to use the Culver University computers in the film, giving Starr a memorable grin from ear to ear in appreciation. Technically his role was unnamed, meaning fans can tell themselves he simply graduated from a University nerd to a High School teacher... even though the novelization of the movie revealed his character to be Amadeus Cho, Marvel's Totally Awesome Hulk.
23 Abraham Brown
The academic decathlon team may be filled with smart students, one rises above the others for his sense of humor. That's "Abe" played by actor Abraham Attah, a Ghanaian actor best known for his role in Beasts of No Nation (2015). He's mainly used to drop some humor at Flash Thompson's expense (playing the usual kind of bully he does in the comics), but his character has a rich history of his own. His full name, for the record, is Abraham Brown. As in Marvel's Black Tiger, one of the Sons of the Tiger.
It's for the best that most of Abe's backstory seems to exist mainly as fan service, but his history goes all the way back to Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1 (1974), where the martial artist from Harlem teamed up with Lin Sum to become the aforementioned "Sons." When uniting his amulet with two others, he and his allies increased their strength... but if it's all the same, Attah's version of 'Abe' seems to be firing just fine without superpowers.
22 Stan Lee Cameo
It just wouldn't be a Marvel films without an appearance from Stan Lee, and this time around he's actually treated as an everyday citizen of New York. There were some who wondered if Lee's cameos would undergo a change of form after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revealed his appearances next to major happenings was no coincidence. Stan Lee is an informant for The Watchers, the extraterrestrial cosmic beings who stand apart from sentient civilization and... well, watch.
If that's truly his task in the MCU, as the studio has now explicitly confirmed, then it seems he's also living a normal life in Queens, New York. This time around, he responds to the ruckus caused by Peter foiling a false alarm car theft, as the rightful owner apparently tries to get into his locked car without keys. Officially credited as 'Gary,' it would seem conspiracy theorists now know the name Lee operates under when not reporting in to his cosmic superiors.
21 The New Church of Asgard
The arrival of the Avengers on the global stage changed things for adults and teens - a point perfectly demonstrated by Peter and Ned overhearing their classmates playing a game of "F***, Marry, Kill" with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. But not every Avengers is treated as such a celebrity by all segments of society. Apparently, as was spotted and shared on Reddit, some of Earth's residents have taken the nature of Thor to be that of a literal god. When Peter and his Aunt May head out to enjoy some Thai food, a quick glance at the window next door confirms the existence of the "Korean Church of Asgard" in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It's clearly intended as a one-note joke for those fast enough to catch it, but it's not hard to see why some would view Thor, Loki, and any other Asgardian to have set foot on Earth as a type of deity or 'angelic' visitor (whether in the Thor films, The Avengers, or even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Unfortunately, we don't expect the masses to find out exactly what a service in the Church of Asgard looks like any time soon.
20 Avengers Hold-Up
One of Peter's first chances to show off his superhero alter ego comes when he stumbles across a group of men robbing a bank after hours. He takes a moment to craft his perfect one-liners in response to their Avengers-themes masks, but this joke was actually in development for longer than fans would know. Homecoming isn't the first time that men wearing the masks of Captain America or Iron Man have teamed up to fill their pockets in Queens. That honor goes to Ultimate Spider-Man #42 (2003).
In the story by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley (remember that name), Peter Parker comes a cross a similar group committing an armed robbery. As an added bonus, the comic featured one of the men in a Batman mask, which the movie didn't emulate for... obvious reasons.
19 Thor Gets His Payback
Once Peter actually makes his presence known to the thieves, the fight gets out of hand fast, thanks to some alien weaponry. It's worth noticing that the colors of the bank brochures - red, blue, yellow and green - are cleverly encompassing each of the Avengers' paint schemes, but it's what happens when Peter actually starts to fight that's the real treat for Marvel fans. After using Iron Man's shotgun to knock him out, it leaves the other three to be dealt with.
Thor tries his best to elbow Peter in the face - which quickly goes wrong. Peter is fast enough to grab that elbow himself, and slam the thief's fist directly into Hulk's face, sending the latter reeling. In the process, delivering the payback that's been coming ever since Hulk knocked Thor completely out of frame after the pair took down a Chitauri Leviathan in The Avengers. It should be fresh in the mind of every viewer, since that very same creature returns in Homecoming's opening scene.
18 Thor's Magic Belt
When Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) finally decides to actually accept a call from Peter, he's got bigger things on his mind. Mainly, the move of the Avengers operation from downtown Manhattan to the the upstate New York facility seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Civil War and Ant-Man. And that really does include moving absolutely everything, from suits of Tony's leftover in storage to "Meg--... Meg--... Thor's magic belt."
For those completely unfamiliar with either Marvel lore or Norse mythology, the line may sound like Thor actually forgot a piece of clothing in his room at Avengers Tower. But the word Happy was searching for is Megingjörð, the name given to, well, Thor's magic belt. In both versions of Thor's mythology, the belt is a gift from Odin imbued with the power to double the strength of the god of thunder in times of great peril. Will he use it to battle Thanos in Infinity War as he did in the comics? Only time will tell.
17 The Shocker(s)
We have to tip our hats to the filmmakers in regards to use of the villain known as The Shocker, since they managed to actually include nods to two different versions of the same villain. When the movie begins, it's Jackson Brice (Logan Marshall-Green) who calls himself the Shocker, getting far too theatrical with his weapons demonstrations as part of Toomes's crew. With the padded, stitched, yellow sleeves of his jacket a nod to the original comic book costume, even that kind of nostalgia can't save him from being reduced to ash by Toomes (accidentally).
The absence leaves Herman Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine) to take up the moniker of The Shocker. It's here where the comic fans will be pleased, since Herman Schultz was the real Shocker in the Marvel Universe. Originally, Jackson "Montana" Brice was a villainous member of The Enforcers. Apparently, those making the movie decided to include a little tribute to the Spectacular Spider-Man TV series, in which it was Brice, not Schultz who took up the Shocker identity. Two birds with one shock.
16 The Gauntlet Connection
Speaking of the movie's versions of The Shocker, it didn't take fans long to deduce that the signature weapon held by both Jackson and Herman seemed to be based off of the impact gauntlets used by Crossbones in his opening fight in Civil War. It's confirmed in the film with a reference to the tech being salvaged from "Lagos," where the opening Crossbones attack actually took place. But that also answers one question many viewers may have found themselves asking: why doesn't The Shocker use TWO of the gauntlets?
The answer is given in Captain America: Civil War. When one of Crossbones's punches misses Cap and smashes into a concrete wall, Steve reacts quickly, wrenching the villain's arm and stripping it of the gauntlet. Taking one look at it and tossing it to the ground, there it sat until Toomes's men showed up to retrieve it (or buy it from the person who did). Since that fight ultimately ends with Crossbones wearing the other gauntlet when he explodes (in a bubble created by Scarlet Witch), only one would remain.
15 The Tinkerer
The team led by the Vulture (Michael Keaton) is a far cry from the evil gathering of villainous souls of the normal comic books, changed into an opportunistic demolition and salvage operation. Sure, they may turn recovered alien technology into tools of less than legal trades, but it's clear from the output that someone in their group is a certified genius with tech. That genius is none other than Phineas Mason, played by actor Michael Chernus. Or as he's better known to comic fans: The Tinkerer.
It's a fitting name for his character in the film, since tinkering is all he really does. Mainly a tribute to the comic book villain and less of a literal adaptation, the Tinkerer also made his debut in just the second standalone issue of the Amazing Spider-Man. He doesn't have an army of paid actors pretending to launch an alien invasion... but there's always the sequel!
14 The Prowler
After his own campaign to play the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man in a big screen reboot, the news that actor Donald Glover was joining the MCU got fan hopes sky high. Unfortunately, a surprise cameo as Miles wasn't in the cards - and wouldn't really make sense, since Miles being a younger kid than Peter has played a significant role in recent storylines. But it's not a total bust, as Glover makes his appearance as a seemingly random criminal in New York City... who is much, much more to those who recognize his name: Aaron Davis.
An outwardly unremarkable name, sure, but his criminal alter ego of The Prowler carries a bit more weight. And we're not talking about his signature style for costumed thievery - hinted at in the film when the mention of alien "grappling gear" suddenly gets his attention over weaponry. The Prowler will be most interesting to the audience thanks to his extended family... one member in particular, who's also our next Easter Egg.
13 A Nod To Miles Morales
No, you don't need to worry about looking in the background of Homecoming's New York or Midtown scenes, just pay attention to Aaron and Peter's exchange in a parking garage to catch this one. Despite his criminal tendencies, Aaron gives up the information Peter is looking for, knowing the the kind of weapons being dealt by Toomes's men make the neighborhood more dangerous for everyone. That's a concern for him, because he has "a nephew" who lives in the area. And just like that, Miles Morales was confirmed in the MCU.
It's still a long way away from seeing Miles appear, let alone be bitten by a radioactive spider of his own, but Aaron has always been Miles's uncle in the "Ultimate" Marvel Universe. We can't say just yet what plans Marvel has for Miles Morales, or whether they're more concerned with getting one Spider-Man franchise off the ground. But for the fans eager to see the younger hero of color given some respect, it's definitely a sign that the producers aren't ignoring the demand.
12 "UCSM01" License Plate
Speaking of Miles Morales and Aaron Davies, be sure to take a close look at Aaron's car during his "interrogation" scene with Peter. When a director flat-out promises some Easter Eggs for fans to spot, you can bet that every sequence of numbers and letters will be examined. In Aaron's case, the license plate on his car reads "UCS-M01." That almost certainly stands for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, the first issue of the Marvel Comic to feature Miles in the starring role.
The line of Ultimate comics was relaunched as Ultimate Comics in 2011, and it's in that very issue that both the new Spider-Man (whom Glover once campaigned to play) and Aaron Davies (the role he wound up playing) make their first appearance in the Marvel Universe. You'll get a clear look at the plate after Aaron's hand is secured by Peter, but before he loads his bags into the trunk.
11 Howling Commando Grandson
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has prided itself since the beginning on the interconnections and long form storytelling. So when it was announced that actor Kenneth Choi had joined Spider-Man: Homecoming, many assumed that it was a lapse in continuity along the same lines as Alfre Woodard being cast in both Luke Cage and Civil War, playing two different characters. Choi had already made a memorable appearance as an impromptu teammate of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger... but Homecoming reveals his return is no mistake.
For those who may not remember, Choi was broken out of Hydra custody as 'Jim Morita' alongside the rest of the men who would become Cap's 'Howling Commandos' (a role he would reprise on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). The first hint is that Choi is credited in Homecoming as 'Principal Morita.' The bigger one comes when Peter returns to regular classes in the second half of the movie, and hears that Principal Morita is happy to have him back... with a black and white photo of his grandfather in full military uniform on the shelf behind his desk.
10 "SM2-0563" License Plate
Another license plate is featured prominently during Spider-Man's showdown on the Staten Island Ferry, both before and after Spidey is forced into action. The "SM2-0563" should catch every viewer's attention based on the "SM" for Spider-Man, and the full comic being referenced is Amazing Spider-Man #2 (May 1963). As further evidence of just how close to the hero's origins Homecoming adheres, that's the issue in which both Vulture and Tinkerer are introduced.
Sure, their origin stories, morality, and modus operandi may be a far cry from the versions fans get to see in the rest of the movie, but it's one of the slicker Easter Eggs that the filmmakers have for fans in search of them.
9 Bagley's Graffiti
With much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe taking its design cues and tone from Marvel's "Ultimate" Universe, the films owe a debt of gratitude to Brian Michael Bendis's "Ultimate Spider-Man" - the first reboot that proved modern, young, updated versions of the Avengers held promise. But if you're giving credit to Bendis, then just as much is owed to artist Mark Bagley, whose energetic designs for the young Peter Parker are the go-to aesthetic for an entire generation of comic fans. And in Homecoming, he gets a direct nod.
We're not referring to the design of the new Spider-Man suit, or even the improved Iron Spider-esque armor Tony Stark offers in the end of the movie. No, keep your eyes peeled on the background when Peter removes his mask to sit quietly on a brick wall after an exhausting dose of superheroics. The word "BAGLEY" is plainly visible spraypainted on a massive wall in the distance behind him.
8 Meet Peter's A.I., "Karen"
It caught most fans and entertainment pundits off-guard when the first screenings of the movie suggested that actress Jennifer Connelly was in Spider-Man: Homecoming, since no word of her ever joining the cast, filming scenes, or what MCU character she claimed had ever surfaced. To add such a recognizable name so late in the process wasn't unheard of, but still seemed a bit of a mystery. Thankfully, the truth of Connelly's role is likely the film's best Easter Egg - perhaps the best in the Marvel Universe to date.
Fans won't be looking for her to appear though, since Connelly voices Spider-Man's suit A.I. - a character later given the name 'Karen.' Connelly is a perfect choice for the role, earning more than one laugh with most viewers. But what makes the connection so perfect? We have to imagine that Connelly's real-world husband helped her appear on Marvel's radar. Her husband, Paul Bettany served many years as the voice of Jarvis, Tony Stark's own artificial intelligence.
7 "Kiss Her, Peter"
Speaking of moments that Karen gets to shine (at least when her voice is heard by Peter and the viewer), there may be no bigger cheerleader for the young Spider-Man than Karen. Encouraging him to just tell Liz how he feels about her rather than keeping his feelings bottled up, she even states that if she were in Liz's shoes, she'd love to hear such a confession. The movie slides ride past the potential for a Her-esque romance of its own, sending Peter into action to save the lives of his entire academic decathlon team - with Liz saved for the very last.
Once Peter plants her back on solid ground, they're left face-to-face... well, with one of them suspended upside down. When Karen suggests that this is actually the perfect moment for romance, and that he should kiss her that second, upside down, we're willing to guess most fans got flashbacks to Peter and Mary Jane's first kiss in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. He passes on the moment, clearly deciding to leave that scene in the past. Maybe he saw how it turned out with Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3...
6 The Branzino Was Not Fresh
Watching Homecoming on its surface, fans could be fooled into thinking that Sony and Marvel are keen to let the memory of the most recent versions of Spider-Man fade. But there were still elements of the first Andrew Garfield-led Amazing Spider-Man, with the on-screen chemistry between Garfield and Emma Stone the most praised. Unless you ask Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), in which case he only has a subtle shot to take at the previous incarnation.
Once Peter finally arrives at the Homecoming dance, he's barely given a moment to take in the surrounding before running off to save the day. But there's enough time to overhear Flash arriving, claiming that the dinner he just came from was underwhelming at best since "that branzino wasn't fresh." And he knows branzino. Which means he wouldn't have missed the sea bass being served at the Stacy family's dinner in Amazing Spider-Man. Whether Flash is implying that the fish was past its prime, or the film in which it appeared... fans can decide for themselves.
5 The Spider-Man Half Face
Since this is the first movie in a Spider-Man series, Peter Parker must face a moment of doubt or defeat before he can realize the truth of being a hero. It's not all glamorous fighting and news coverage - sometimes it means fighting for the sake of fighting, no matter the odds. So when Peter finds himself pinned beneath rubble in Vulture's wake, he tears his mask off before losing his resolve. Until he sees half of the mask submerged in the water in front of him, with his own face making up the other half.
The thematic meaning is clear: it's Peter who's the hero, just as much as the Spider-Man. But in a literal sense, it's an unforgettable shot from the first appearances of Spider-Man brought to life. From the very start, the artistic convention of showing one half of Peter's face revealed beneath his mask, as if it had been cut away through imagination has been used for two purposes. One, to signal Peter's Spider-Sense (promised in sequels). And in the other case, to break the fourth wall between what the reader and Peter knew, and other characters didn't. No Spidey-Sense just yet, but seeing the image re-imagined in real life is more than worth it.
4 Amazing Spider-Man #33
For the older comic book fans in the crowd, that scene of Peter pinned beneath the wreckage is one years in the making. Director Jon Watts explained just how much of an honor it was to recreate the scene from Amazing Spider-Man #33 (1966), turning Steve Ditko's artwork into film while trying to keep the details as accurate as possible. It's for that reason that the water begins to flow a matter of moments before Peter realizes there's nobody but himself to turn to.
Giving it everything he's got, and uncovering the true extent of his superhuman strength, he succeeds in standing. The sequence from Amazing Spider-Man #33 is worth checking out for those who have yet to see it for themselves. If anything, it would only make the movie's version that much more enjoyable.
3 Pepper's T-shirt?
For some movie fans, the actors' performances, visual effects, or dialogue is what holds their attention. For others, it's an undeniable fact that if characters are wearing clothing with phrases printed across them, reading each word takes priority over the words their characters are actually speaking. Homecoming doesn't disappoint, with one Peter Parker shirt advertising theoretical physics, but "real fun." And of course, the cherry on the sundae come the film's final scene, boasting a t-shirt with a molecule complaining it has "lost an electron" - and a friend asking if they're "positive."
It's a good joke for every science geek in the crowd... but it's not the first time we've seen it. In fact, Peter Parker's t-shirt and its Pepper Potts connection was spotted in the Homecoming trailer. How or why it ended up in Peter's closet is anyone's guess, but with Pepper Potts making a cameo appearance having patched things over with Tony, we'll hopefully get an explanation some day.
2 The Scorpion
There is a very good chance that when Vulture's buyer aboard the Staten Island Ferry is revealed, fans in the audience felt their breath catch. If not for the fact that the unnamed man was played by Michael Mando (Better Call Saul), then for the tattoo on the side of his neck. In the world of Spider-Man, a character showing up with a scorpion on their body sends a message. And in Homecoming's mid-credits scene, the truth is revealed. As the man crosses paths with Adrian Toomes in prison - sporting plenty of pins in his right arm from the battle aboard the ferry - his name is revealed to be 'Mac Gargan' - a.k.a. The Scorpion.
Given that Scorpion was already planned to be a part of Sony's Spider-Man universe prior to their latest reboot, the evidence of Spider-Man: Homecoming leading into the Sinister Six is hard to dismiss. Especially with Vulture and Scorpion established to have serious grudges against Spider-Man, and Gargan's mention of "friends on the outside" looking to back them up. We may know who those friends are, but whether they'll all appear in the sequel is anyone's guess.
1 Captain America Gets Meta
Since audiences have been taught to sit through the entire run of credits to any Marvel (and now, any superhero) movie for a tease of what comes next, or a pivotal plot point that's actually necessary, Homecoming did something different. The bonus of a Captain America PSA video to Peter Parker promoting fitness doesn't need any elaboration, but according to director Jon Watts, there are plenty more Captain America awareness clips on the way to the film's Blu-ray. And one of them comes after the credits... but it's not the lesson that some viewers will be hoping to hear.
Captain America promoting the virtue of patience, even if there's no real reward for it is as meta as it gets, and as we now know, the Captain America post-credits scene was actually a last minute addition. The line from idea to execution is a straight one, so we'll leave viewers to decide if it's Marvel's most brilliant coda yet... or its most disappointing.
There you have it Marvel fans: every Easter Egg, Marvel Comics reference, subtle detail, or bit of obscure comic book trivia to be found in Spider-Man: Homecoming. We're sure that others have slipped past us, so if you've got some to add to our list, let us know in the comments.
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