An Obsessive's Look at All the Hidden 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Easter Eggs
It's been 15 years since director Sam Raimi sent a radioactive spider to bite Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker, turning him into the big screen's first friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. A mere five years ago, Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man rebooted the series with Andrew Garfield, retelling the origin story while adding a mysterious backstory for Peter's biological parents. The proposed trilogy never panned out... which is how we wound up with the third and newest version of Spider-Man. After debuting in Captain America: Civil War, and fully formed -- he already had powers -- Tom Holland's Peter swings (mostly) solo in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Holland's take is about as distinct as Marvel Studios and Sony could make him without fundamentally changing what makes the character recognizably Spider-Man. Instead of a series of origin-story touchstones, Homecomingre-contextualizes references and characters from multiple points in Spider-Man lore to deliver a teenage Peter Parker unlike the other two we've seen before. Here's everything Homecoming lifts from the comics, and the previous movies, to spin a brand new web that feels familiar yet refreshing:
Raimi's Spider-Man movies and Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel had Peter Parker palling around with Harry Osborn, son of Norman Osborn a.k.a. The Green Goblin. Not in Homecoming. The best friend replacement is Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), who doesn't resemble Ned Leeds from the comic books in any way. Ned from the comics was a field reporter for The Daily Bugle that eventually became the "Hobgoblin." Ned from the movies is a supportive and geeky fellow sophomore, who resembles a different comic character: the Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales' friend Ganke.
Similarly, Liz Allan, played by Laura Harrier in Homecoming, is a distant, comic side character (it's widely believed that the blonde, un-named high school student appears in Amazing Fantasy #15, our first introduction to Spider-Man) recast as woman of color and aged up to be older than the sophomore Peter Parker. Also there's the issue of her family… which we'll get to.
Betty Brant, first named in Amazing Spider-Man #4 along with Liz Allan, also appears in the movie in a small role as an anchor for Midtown High's school video announcements.
Flash Thompson, Peter Parker's high school nemesis in the comics, who also appears in the other origin movies, returns in Homecoming, this time played by Tony Revolori (Grand Budapest Hotel). The Flash of the comic books was a white football player who was given the nickname "Flash" because he was fast on the sports field. Movie version of Flash got his nickname because he's often the first person to answer a question in school and seems to have a good side gig as a house party DJ.
The U.S. Department of Damage Control is created by Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming to clean up the mess left by the Avengers during the Battle of New York. Damage Control does exist in the comics as well. Although Damage Control comics have only appeared in limited series runs, they're often in the background of large Marvel crossover events dealing with the fallout. Damage Control co-creator Dwayne McDuffie initially viewed the group as a way to do sitcom stories within the Marvel Universe, which almost came to pass when ABC started developing Damage Control as a MCU comedy series in 2015. Quietly, after Spider-Man: Homecoming started development, the project disappeared and seemed to no longer be in development. Now we know why - it's in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Considering the only Marvel Cinematic Universe cross-over characters that have been confirmed for Homecoming are the Stark-associated characters, it's unclear if Sony managed to sneak-in a rights claim to Damage Control by including it in Homecoming. Only future MCU installments can answer that.
Stark and Parker Industries
The Peter Parker and Tony Stark mentor-mentee relationship isn't exactly a new thing in the Spider-Man lore. In the comics, especially around the 2006/2007 Civil War comics event, Parker and Stark have had a relationship based on the meeting of great scientific minds. During that crossover, Spider-Man started on the Tony Stark side of things and even unmasked himself as Peter Parker before the big Civil War got started. To keep the Parker's safe, Peter and Mary Jane temporarily moved into a Stark building and were watched over by Jarvis. In the current Marvel Comics continuity, after the Secret Wars crossover of 2015, Parker and Stark are presented almost as equals with both men owning massive global conglomerates. In the lead up to Marvel's second Civil War crossover, the two even get into a fight when Tony makes a disparaging remark about Parker Industries.
Mentor and Mentee
Tony Stark's approval substitutes as the father-figure approval in Homecoming, which didn't happen when the two comic book characters first met in the pages of Marvel's Team-Up (in a very confusing and bicker-heavy three-issue arc called Tomorrow War). The relationship in Homecoming is more modeled after Ultimate Peter Parker's relationship with Ultimate Captain America, who attempts to train the teenage Peter to become a superhero. Sadly, that didn't end well for Ultimate Parker, who died after taking a bullet for Cap and defending Aunt May from the Green Goblin.
High-tech Spider Suits
There are three Spider-Man suits that appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but only two get worn. The first is the Captain America: Civil War suit, which Tony Stark has programmed to be more and more powerful as young Peter learns to wield his skills. The levees don't last long; when Ned is able to hack the suit open, we learn that Stark's upgrades make the Spider-suit more like a skin tight Iron Man outfit than any of the character's previous cinematic costuming. There's an A.I. named Karen/Suit Lady (voiced by Jennifer Connelly, wife of Paul Bettany who voiced Jarvis until he became Vision - keeping the suit voice over in the family), as well as different "modes" to the suit like a twice-referenced Kill Mode. The Homecoming webshooters are also capable of different types of web attacks and consistencies.
Spidey suits with Iron-Man-like features are a late addition to the Spider-Man comic book canon. Teenage Peter Parker was just enough of a genius to mix his own web fluid, but it wasn't until the character aged into adulthood that the alternate Spider-Man suits started getting tech upgrades. In the 2010s, adult Peter Parker started ramping up his technical tweaks like different types of webbing and suits designed for stealth or to cancel out sonic attacks (like a Hobgoblin laugh). The web wings used for gliding in the film are the one exception, derived from Spider-Man's original design, but the use of them as a tech feature plants them firmly in the modern age.
The third Spider-Man suit glimpsed in the movie comes after Peter has foiled The Vulture's plans. When Peter is offered a spot on The Avengers by Tony Stark, he unveils a new version of the Spider-Man suit, this one laced with gold accents and a muted blue color to further resemble and Iron Man armor -- undoubtedly a Stark design. This is, for all intents and purposes, is the "Iron Spider" suit from the comics, even though it's designed differently and doesn't prominently feature the golden spider arms that make the red and gold comic book design so striking. This suit was given to Peter by Tony Stark as a gift during the lead up to the first Marvel Civil War crossover, and later was given to Mary Jane Watson during last year's Civil War II crossover.
The Prowler -- the original comic book character -- was a guy named Hobie Brown, an ex-window washer who devised a plan to steal valuable items in disguise as "The Prowler," then return them as Hobie, reaping any rewards. Eventually Hobie softened to become a light superhero, but that's not the version that appears in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Instead we have Donald Glover as Aaron Davis, the name of the "Ultimate" comics universe Prowler, who also happens to be the uncle of Miles Morales (also also name-cheked in the movie), the second Ultimate Spider-Man. Glover's character even seems interested in buying some "climbers" from The Shocker in Homecoming, hinting that we might get to see the character suit up in the future.Hobie gives his nephew a shoutout in Homecoming, but if we'll ever see him in the new Spider-Man universe.. we'll first we'll have to see how Sony's announced animated Miles Morales movie fits into the live-action timelines.
The Vulture's tech-savvy underling has a past in the comics, too. Both The Vulture and the Tinkerer were introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #2, though they weren't initially a team. The MCU version of the TInkerer has figured out how to use Chitauri technology and scraps from Asgardian and Ultron-based technology to make new weapons, which could be a slight reference to the first Tinkerer appearance, where he was helping what seemed to be an alien invasion force.
The Montana Shocker
Curiously, Logan-Marshall Green's character in Homecoming is credited as Jackson Brice/Shocker #1. Jackson Brice isn't the name of a Shocker from the comics at all, it's the comic book name of the henchman Montana, often seen with his fellow Enforcers Fancy Dan and Ox (as they all appeared together for the first time in Amazing Spider-Man #10). Usually Montana is the guy with the whip, his low-tech weapon of choice.
Bokeem Woodbine plays Herman Schultz, the second person in Homecoming to use the Shocker gauntlets (specifically to the punch Spider-Man into a bus). Herman Schultz is also the name of the villain from the comic books, but instead of using alien-powered super-punch gauntlets, he invented gauntlets that sent out shock waves of weaponized sound.
Ultimate Spider Masks
Spider-Man: Homecoming's ATM robbery scene ends up being one of Spider-Man's first tests as a real hero against the powered up tech The Vulture peddles to street gangs. The robbers wearing Avengers masks seem to be inspired by a similar scene early in Ultimate Spider-Man's run... but the comic book version was cooler because it had a Batman mask.
We're introduced to Mac Gargan on the Staten Island Ferry in the middle of an arms deal with The Vulture's crew. Spider-Man manages to foil his plan just enough to see him end up in jail for the mid-credits scene, seeking Spider-Man's identity. The comic book Gargan was a private investigator hired by J. Jonah Jameson to find out how young photographer Peter Parker got such good pictures of Spider-Man. When he failed to do so, Jameson turned him over to a scientist named Dr. Farley Stillwell who was doing experiments with animals. Since the scorpion is the spider's natural predator, Gargan was fitted with a club tail and was given a mutagenic treatment that drove him insane.
M.J. and the Tigers
The specter of Mary Jane Watson hangs over this film much more than either the spider-bite or Uncle Ben. In the comic books, Peter didn't get tied up in a M.J./Gwen Stacy love triangle until college (and that was after both Betty Brant and Liz Allen dated him and/or expressed total disinterest in ever dating him). The Sam Raimi movies brought M.J. into Peter's life from beginning, and the Marc Webb movies killed off Gwen before she could even get to college (plus Mary Jane was played by Shailene Woodley, but all of her scenes wound up on the cutting room floor).
Homecoming doesn't reveal it's M.J. until the very end of the film, but is hinting at her presence the whole way through. The mascot of Midtown high happens to be a tiger, and we finally see a kid dressed as the costume character as the shot leading into the movie's big M.J. reveal, both a play on Mary Jane of the comics calling Peter "tiger." Here, it's revealed that Michelle, played by Zendaya, likes her friends to call her "M.J." This likely means that for the first time in Spider-Man history, M.J. won't be "Mary Jane" but Michelle….whatever her last name ends up being. What if it's Jamison? That'd be a hoot.
Amazing Spider-Man #33
Considering it's one of the most iconic Spider-Man images of all time, it's surprising that the Spider-Man movies realized Venom and the "Death of Gwen Stacy" before we saw the moments immortalized on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #33 brought to the big screen. The cover declares it's the "Final Chapter," but really it's just a moment where Peter has to psych himself up and lift some heavy debris. In the comics, Peter is still torn up about letting Uncle Ben down and needing to save Aunt May, so that's the motivation he uses to bring about the physical strength to raise the iron pinning him down in a flooding room. Homecoming side-steps Uncle Ben and Peter psyches himself up for the big lift by reminding himself he's not just Peter Parker, he is "The Spider-Man."
The "MCU" Connections
Even though this is a Sony movie produced by Marvel Studios, not a Disney/Marvel movie like Guardians of the Galaxy or the Avengers movies, there are many linking references to the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" peppered throughout Homecoming:
- The opening scene with the Vulture’s crew takes place after the Battle of New York with one of the Chitauri leviathan in the background.
- The Vulture goes on to steal equipment from other Marvel conflicts like part of an Ultron robot (Avengers: Age of Ultron) and bits of Tony Stark’s leftover armors.
- We get to see the Mark 42 and hear the Hulkbuster mentioned by name.
- Both of the Shockers use a modified version of the gauntlets Crossbones wore in the opening battle of Captain America: Civil War.
- When Happy mentions moving artifacts out of Avengers Tower, he mentions “Thor’s belt,” which is a reference to Megingjord, and Asgardian enchanted artifact that gives the wearer strength.
- At Midtown High, teachers can be overhead teaching about Sokovia, the city destroyed at the end of Age of Ultron, and gym teacher Hannibal Buress make a reference to Captain America being a “war criminal” these day, referencing the conclusion of Civil War.
- One of Peter Parker’s test questions for his decathlon includes a reference to vibranium, the substance Captain America’s shield is made from and one of the secret exports of Wakanda, home of the Black Panther.