Once upon a time in the far away land of 1996, Marvel Entertainment was facing bankruptcy. One step of staying afloat was selling the movie rights to their most popular characters–Sony got Spider-Man, 20th Century Fox got the X-Men, and so on. Marvel kept the rights to the B-tier team the Avengers and against all odds successfully managed them into the most successful franchise ever. Over time film rights expired and went back to Marvel, or companies were just bought out. But Sony kept making Spider-Man movies so they kept the rights. Which is to say that Spider-Man: Homecoming is a weird and somewhat unique movie in terms of licensing the character. MCU March continues with the first film in the trilogy of the third incarnation of the live action Spider-Man!
Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, we focus on the life of Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man. He lives with his Aunt May (Ms. Marisa Tomei), his best friend is Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), and the girl he has a crush on is Liz
Allen (Laura Harrier). Peter really wants to be an Avenger, but Tony Stark and Happy Hogan are not returning his calls about potential missions. While trying to balance school and being a superhero, Peter stumbles upon Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton, AKA Batman from Batman) and his organization. See, he used to clean up disaster areas but after the Battle of New York in The Avengers, he and his crew were replaced, so they started turning stolen alien tech into sellable super weapons. After several disastrous attempts to stop Toomes and his flying suit, AKA the Vulture, Iron Man swoops in and takes Peter’s spider-costume away. Peter tries to adjust to a life of not being a hero but that gets thrown out the window when he finds out Liz’s dad is Toomes, and that he absolutely knows who Peter really is. Donning his homemade costume, Spider-Man stops the Vulture from stealing a plane full of Avengers tech, even saving the villain from an explosion. We then find out that Michelle (Zendaya), a girl at Peter’s school who always seemed to be near him, prefers to go by MJ, revealing herself to be this universe’s incarnation of Mary Jane Watson, Peter’s longtime love. The film ends with Peter equipping his newly returned Stark suit and getting caught in the act by Aunt May.
Despite not technically being a Marvel Studios film, this still has extra scenes. The mid-credits scene shows Toomes in prison, not giving up Spider-Man’s identity, possibly because the hero saved his life so that he could still see his family. The post-credits scene shows a clip of an educational video Captain America filmed, a recurring gag in the film.
The fact that this movie and Spider-Man: Far From Home are not on Disney+ shows that the character’s film rights are… complicated. As long as Sony makes a Spider-Man movie every 5 or 6 years, they maintain the rights, keeping the character, his friends, and his enemies out of Disney’s complete grasp. But agreements can be made–in 2015, Sony and Disney came to an agreement that would share the character, hence Tom Holland’s debut in Captain America: Civil War. Talks broke down in 2019–over money, of course–but things are back on track (as of writing) for Peter Parker to continue to be a part of the MCU. Hints of the shared universe in this movie include the obvious appearances of Tony Stark, Happy Hogan, and Pepper Potts, as well as more subtle things like the principal at Peter’s school being played by Kenneth Choi, AKA Jim Morita of Captain America’s Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger. Apparently Jim’s grandson is practically a clone of him, a thing that definitely happens in real life.
I gotta say, it is nice to have a Spider-Man movie that doesn’t open with the death of Uncle Ben. I have a joke that I’m only ever turned on when I watch Thomas and Martha Wayne die in a new way, because holy crap does just about every Batman movie have to reminds us of that tragic night in a new way (usually with slow motion). But this movie realizes that nearly everybody seeing this film knows about Spider-Man’s origin, so we can leave that part unsaid. I mean, the name “Uncle Ben” doesn’t get mentioned once, but there are allusions to his death. Also, while I’m on the subject of Peter Parker’s origins, does this Spider-Man not have a spider sense? Huh.
COMIC BOOK FUN FACT! I want you all to know that I did research on the comic book version of the Vulture and came to the conclusion that there was nothing interesting about him. At all. Ned Leeds, however, has one weird story! A white guy with blond hair debuting way back in The Amazing Spider-Man #18 (1964) and named the following issue, he was a reporter for the Daily Bugle who dated and eventually married Betty Brant–yeah, their relationship in Spider-Man: Far From Home had parallels to the comics. Ned was killed in the Spider-Man Versus Wolverine one-shot (1987) while investigating Russian spies, and was revealed after said death to have been the villainous Hobgoblin in The Amazing Spider-Man #289 (1987). For Hobgoblin, think Green Goblin, but make it Halloween (but not too Halloween because that’s Jack O’ Lantern). But that was a lie, because the real Hobgoblin had brainwashed Ned into thinking he was the supervillain as part of a plan to… uh, fuck with people, I guess? This was revealed in the Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives 3-part limited series (1997), which was written by Roger Stern, the original author who created the villain but left writing Spider-Man before he could make the reveal he originally planned on. If this sounds convoluted, trust me, these are the CliffsNotes.
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