After many twists and turns, Peter Parker is back in the Marvel Universe in his own film, following his appearance in Captain America: Civil War. And Tom Holland’s first star turn isn’t shy about tying the wall-crawler into the broader Marvel pantheon. What follows is a brief run-down of the connections between Spider-Man: Homecoming and the Marvel universe, including some possible hints about upcoming projects. If you’re worried about spoilers for the film, go no further! Just go see the film instead; it’s good.
Present throughout the film is superhero reconstruction agency Damage Control. Although Damage Control characters — including Tyne Daly as Anne Marie Hoag — don’t appear in the film directly, the organisation’s presence is felt in the main plot, with creators Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colon getting an acknowledgement in the credits. There have been persistent rumours of a Damage Control spin-off series. A 2015 ABC pilot is said to have gone nowhere, and we’ve recently seen the DC equivalent, Powerless, sink without a bubble. But Marvel has a record of spinning off unlikely properties, so who knows?
Who’s Donald Glover?
Donald Glover has a history with Spider-Man. Back in 2015, the announcement of the upcoming film sparked a wave of online advocacy for Glover to play the hero himself. Although he doesn’t get to play Spidey, Glover’s character in the film points toward a connection with another aspect of the Spidey saga. Aaron Davis, the hoodlum Glover plays, is a character not from the main Marvel universe but from its Ultimate counterpart. In the Ultimate universe, Aaron Davis is the small-time supervillain known as the Prowler — an identity acknowledge by Davis’ interest in superpowered climbing gear — as well as the uncle of Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales. And Davis does mention he has a nephew living in Queens…
Villains on the loose
The main antagonist of Homecoming is the Vulture, played as a working-class supervillain to match Spider-Man’s everyman hero. Like all good villains, the Vulture ends the film behind bars, alongside another classic Spidey villain, Scorpion. But the villains of the piece aren’t just these two or Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker. We also see Michael Chernus as the Tinkerer, a villain who could play an important role in future films; after all, his ability to produce high-tech gadgets basically makes him a villain factory; all you really need to be a Spidey villain is a high-tech gimmick and a codename, usually some kind of animal.
A heroic legacy
If Peter’s high school principal looked familiar, he ought to: Kenneth Choi played Howling Commando Jim Morita in Captain America: the principal is a descendant of the WWII hero. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Howling Commando legacy character — Antoine Triplett on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was a descendant of Commando Gabriel Jones — but it’s nice to see an actor return, especially as it doesn’t seem like we’re going to be seeing Jim Morita himself again soon.
So what does this all mean for Spider-Man’s relationship to the Marvel universe? In just one film, we’re seeing an enormous amount of world-building to develop a particular corner of the setting. It’s like a more upbeat version of the grimy pocket of New York occupied by the Netflix characters. No matter where it goes in the long run, it’s an interesting and promising development.