There were more than a few major surprises as part of the Spider-Man: Homecoming portion of Marvel Studios' Hall H panel in San Diego on Saturday night. Tom Holland and director Jon Watts brought their whole cast to the stage, then shocked fans with a well-cut trailer (which I have described in greater detail here). The clip ended with our first look at the new movie's villain, The Vulture, who we believe will be played by Michael Keaton -- though that was NOT confirmed at Comic-Con. Interesting.

After the panel, I was lucky enough to interview Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland (The Impossible), about his first solo Spider-Man movie, and our conversation started with the villain. I asked him, with the full Rogue's Gallery at his disposal, why they went with The Vulture for this villain. Holland told me:

Because we haven't seen him yet. We get a little glimpse of him in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, that little glimpse in the Oscorp vault. Which would have been super dope. But the fact that we are doing it first in this movie is going to be really exciting because we can take him to new places that we haven't taken a Marvel villain to before. And it's going to be really cool.

Shout out to Tom Holland for having the courage to name drop the Amazing Spider-Man movies! They aren't canon anymore, but there's no reason we can't acknowledge what they attempted, and yes, there was a moment when we thought Vulture was going to be a significant member of the Sinister Six movie that Sony wanted to do. It never came to pass, beyond this cool image, and so the villain is back on the table and ready to fly in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Tom Holland wasn't the only person to weigh in. I also posed the question about The Vulture to Jon Watts, and he had a different reason for wanting to include The Vulture.

Choosing a villain is almost as important, in the realm of superhero movies, as casting your hero. Because there were five Spider-Man villains before Jon Watts got the chance to make Spider-Man: Homecoming, his pickings were a little slim. Choose Doc Ock and you are going to get compared to Alfred Molina's brilliant portrayal. And do you REALLY want to see another Green Goblin? Not yet.

So, Spider-Man: Homecoming is using The Vulture (though we don't know yet if it's Adrian Toomes). And after the Hall H panel, I was able to interview Jon Watts and ask him why. He told me:

The Vulture is one of the very first people, first super villain, that Spider-Man fights, in the second issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. After he defeats The Chameleon. So, just in terms of getting back to the basics again, the beginnings of what it means to be Spider-Man and Peter Parker. It felt great to go back to that.

The Vulture was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #2. But he'll get a serious upgrade in Homecoming. When I asked Watts about the difficulties of tackling an airborn villain as a foe, he also talked about bringing the Vulture into the modern age.

The challenge was, in the comics, he's an old man with like a green, feathery suit with like a boa. [Ours is] slightly different from that. [Laughs] The challenge lies in taking something that makes sense on the page and making it scary in real life.

The concept art shared after the panel makes The Vulture look like a real menace. We can't wait to see more from him. Spider-Man: Homecoming opens in theaters on July 7, 2017.

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