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10 Things You need to know before seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming

Refresh some basics before heading out to watch the latest Spider-Man movie

After a long wait, the next Spider-Man movie is out in theaters worldwide. Titled Spider-Man: Homecoming, it eschews the past Spidey flicks and heralds the start of a new series of Spider-Man films. While a lot of you folks may have already seen the movie, there are some that might be planning on catching it in the next few days (this writer included).

Before the movie made it to the big screen though, a lot of stuff happened behind-the-scenes. For the general audience though, these developments can get a bit complicated. Whatever happened to The Amazing Spider-Man and Andrew Garfield? Wasn’t a Sinister Six movie about to come out starring The Green Goblin, The Rhino and others? Why is The Vulture suddenly the main focus? How come Spider-Man is such a kid? And what on earth is Robert Downey Jr. doing in a Spider-Man movie?

The hardcore Marvel fans may already have most of these answers. But for those who don’t, we list down the 10 things you need to know before you head for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Sit back, relax and start scrolling:

Spider-Man Rests
Relax like Spider-Man and read on 

A new reboot, A new Spider-Man

After Tobey Maguire’s three Spider-Man movies, Sony rebooted the franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. The first movie in this series was well received but the second movie wasn’t. While the sequel wasn’t a flop (it made $710 million globally at the box office), it didn’t make enough money for Sony to justify moving ahead with the franchise. Sony had laid out a plan in place to build its own Marvel-like universe but after the disappointing results of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, those plans were scrapped.

At around December 2014, Sony was hacked severely with over 100 TB of data stolen. Among these data were emails that revealed Sony was planning to make a deal with Marvel to include Spidey into their universe. While Sony initially played coy about it, a consensus was arrived at in a meeting held internally on February 2015 where Sony thought this is the best route to take with the character. Accordingly, a partnership was forged which would allow Spider-Man to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, capable of sharing screen space with the other superheroes. What was once thought of as impossible, finally happened.

The Sony-Marvel deal explained

So how does this deal work? How do two studios collaborate on making a movie together? According to Marvel President Kevin Fiege, the deal gave creative control of Spider-Man to Marvel while keeping the rights and financial aspects with Sony. What that basically meant was Marvel would write the story & script, choose the directors and actors and get the film shot and ready for release. Sony would handle the film’s marketing & promotion (all those Trailers and TV Spots that you see) and distribution (releasing the film in theaters). Sony would also keep the profits from the film.
Spider-Man Actors
From Left to Right: Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield & Tom Holland

The one stringent condition for the deal to happen was that Spidey would first make his debut in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in a cameo appearance and only then, would go on to star in his solo film. This film turned out to be Captain America: Civil War. Audiences responded positively to both the movie and Spidey’s characterization and the deal has so far turned out to be a win-win for both studios. The movie Spider-Man: Homecoming can thus be thought of as being a Sony Production of a Marvel Movie, if that makes sense.

A High-School Spidey

While most fans were happy, there were also some concerns over rebooting Spider-Man for a third time. After all, with the amount of screen exposure it has received, Spider-Man’s origin story has become a well known fable of sorts. What then, could Marvel possibly do to differentiate its Spider-Man from the two that came before it? Turns out Marvel did what they always do – they went back to their roots.

When Spider-Man debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15, he was a high-school kid and remained that way for several issues that followed. The earlier Spider-Men either graduated from high-school rather fast or limited the time Parker spent at the school dealing with teenage issues (save for Spider-Man 2). Marvel decided that its version of the character would be a 15-year old, motor-mouth kid who simply can’t contain his excitement at having being bestowed his Spider-Man powers.

The result? They cast a 19-year old Tom Holland to play him and hired director Jon Watts to make the movie more High-School centric. Tom, besides being incredibly young and full-of-energy, also brings another very useful skill to the table: his incredible athletic skills. The outcome is a Spider-Man movie that, despite being the sixth movie based on the superhero feels fresh and new.

Other MCU Heroes

Because this movie is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why not utilize the novelty of Spider-Man interacting with other superheroes, something that wasn’t possible in prior Spider-Man movies. Enter Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man a.k.a. Robert Downey Jr. The first MCU hero will act as a mentor and guide to Spider-Man to the extent that he even gives him a hi-tech suit with, as director Jon Watts put it, “plenty of bells and whistles”. While the extent of his role is unclear, the trailers suggest he’ll play a very important role in the movie, occasionally getting Spidey out of sticky situations as well.
Iron Man with Spider-Man
Iron Man accompanies Spider-Man in his new solo outing

Getting Robert Downey Jr. to agree for this role was again not easy and something that fell in place thanks to the Marvel mastermind Kevin Fiege. This was also something Sony was adamant about – that MCU heroes appear alongside Spidey in his solo movies. Fiege negotiated to have Downey’s contract extended for this movie and Downey cooperated as well seeing how it would benefit the shared universe dynamic. Steve Rogers could also make an appearance as Captain America via a TV commercial as hinted in some of the trailers. Whether or not there are more cameos sprinkled around the movie is unclear at this stage (read: would be a spoiler to write that down)

Other recurring characters

A lot of other Spider-Man characters are present in the movie as well. Tony Revolori plays Flash Thompson, the bully who made Parker’s life hell in Midtown High School while Laura Harrier plays Liz, another high-school love interest of Parker from the earliest comic issues. But perhaps the most important of all is Marisa Tomei who plays Aunt May who, really doesn’t need an introduction. Keeping in mind the age differences though, this will be the youngest version of Aunt May to date.

Then there’s Zendaya who’s supposedly playing someone named Michelle, a dry often-direct sharp character seemingly not in the comics (although there were rumors she is actually playing Mary Jane). There’s also Donald Glover who we have no idea what he’s playing although there’s strong speculation that he plays Miles Morales, Parker’s high-school friend who, in the comics, ends up assuming the mantle of Spider-Man. There’s no J Jonah Jameson or The Daily Bugle (kid’s still studying) or Harry Osborn or even Oscorp itself, the reasoning being Marvel wanted to distance itself from previously covered plot points as much as possible. And then there are the villains.

The Villains

What good is a superhero movie without a bad-ass villain? And if the villain has some real identifiable issues, all the more better. Enter Adrian Toomes a.k.a. The Vulture, a villain who was literally the second baddie Spider-Man encountered in the comics in the May 1963 issue Amazing Spider-Man #2 (yes, the web-slinger got his own comic after his debut issue). In the movie version, Adrian along with his associates collects scraps that the Avengers leave behind in their fights and sell it off for a living. However, Stark ties up with the government to launch a firm Department of Damage Control to do precisely that. This leaves Adrian’s work in ruins and naturally he goes after Stark and his new protege, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
The Vulture
Michael Keaton plays The Vulture, Spider-Man’s nemesis

In classic Sony fashion now, Adrian is not alone. Accompanying him is The Tinkerer, who plays around with what the crew salvages with and who we believe also comes up with The Vulture’s suit built out of salvaged parts. And there are also murmurs that The Shocker is in the movie (he was spotted in costume on set) although in what capacity remains to be seen.

The Plot

With all the pieces in place, what is the movie about? While we won’t divulge any spoilers, you can skip this section if you’re planning to go in without knowing any plot details whatsoever.

The plot picks off 6 months after the events of Civil War (which we also get to experience from Peter’s perspective). After assisting the Avengers in a fight, Parker returns back to his underwhelming, monotonous school life. Excited at the prospect to fight bigger battles, he contacts Stark who, while allowing him to keep his suit, persuades him to stay low for now and help solve petty crimes in Queens. Parker concedes, fighting bicycle thieves and small-time robbers while still itching for more.

Simultaneously, Stark’s launch of the D.O.D.C. interferes with Adrian’s work who now swears vengeance upon Stark and Parker. How exactly he comes face to face with Parker is unclear but he ends up putting Peter in a tough spot when a fight causes a cruise full of people to split in half. While Iron Man arrives to save the day, he is furious at Parker’s irresponsible behavior and takes the suit away from him. Peter now has to stop The Vulture and prove that he’s much more than the abilities that the suit provides.

Spidey Suit

Speaking of the suit, this is undoubtedly the most hi-tech Spidey-suit to ever grace the movies. It includes a Jarvis-like AI, an Iron Man like first-person AR centric view with lots of onscreen metrics, 576 combinations of web-shooters, grenades, a recon drone system that launches a spider-like drone and a Spidey-signal. It’s also a single inflatable piece that can be easily carried in a briefcase. Some of the suit’s more advanced capabilities can be unlocked only after completing a training mode built-in by Stark.
Spider-Man's Hi-Tech Suit
Spider-Man gets a new hi-tech suit in the movie thanks to Tony Stark

The suit provides enhanced hearing and also has retractable eyes that grant Spidey enhanced vision. And in keeping with the tradition of introducing more comic-friendly elements, the suit has underarm webbings that allow Spidey to attain limited flight. Finally, there are strong rumors that the suit could morph into the well-known Iron-Spider suit from the comics with multiple tentacles branching out from the back (think Doc Ock in a Spider-Man costume).

Prequel Comic

We got a rather brief intro to Spider-Man in Civil War but those scenes clearly implied that he had been active as the wall-crawler for quite some time. The details of what he was up to lie in a two-issue prequel comic that attempts to fill in some gaps. Just like all other preludes that have been released by Marvel to tie in with the movies, the Spider-Man: Homecoming Prelude has been drafted to add some background to the movie’s goings-on. While it’s not really essential reading, die-hard fans could nonetheless check it out for some added context.

What Next?

So where does Spider-Man go from here? While his next official appearance will be in the much hyped Avengers: Infinity War, there are whispers that he might get a post-credit scene in Thor: Ragnarok. Then of course, there’s the sequel Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 set for a July 2019 release. What happens after these movies is up in the air for now.
Spider-Man in Civil War
After Civil War and Homecoming, expect to see Spider-Man in Avengers: Infinity War

Hope you enjoyed reading this refresher of a post for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The movie is out now in theaters worldwide. Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts on the post or the movie (if you’ve seen it already).