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Easter eggs are traditionally a major part of every Marvel Studios film. After all, the movies are based on/heavily inspired by decades-worth of material that deserves endearing reference, and the strength of the continuity allows for a bit of fun to be had. Jon Watts' Spider-Man: Homecoming is the latest to join this custom, and boy does it have a lot of great Marvel Easter eggs.
From beginning to end, the latest web-slinging adventure is filled with nods to the comics and past Marvel Cinematic Universe projects -- and it's in this feature that we will examine and dissect each one of them. But before we go any further...
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming. If you have not yet seen the film, and don't wish to have any specific details ruined, please bookmark this page and come back after your screening!
Principal Morita And The Howling Commandos
Watching Spider-Man: Homecoming, die-hard Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will quickly recognize Kenneth Choi from his role in another one of the franchise's films. While he plays Midtown High's principal in the new movie, in Captain America: The First Avenger he was cast as Pvt. James Morita -- a soldier who wound up fighting alongside the titular star-spangled hero as a Howling Commando in World War II. Because of the strength of the Marvel continuity, it's weird to see Choi playing two different characters, but there's actually a very clear connection between them: Principal Morita is the grandson of Pvt. James Morita.
How do we know this? Well, the last name is a pretty obvious starting place, but Spider-Man: Homecoming actually goes out of its way to drive home the familial link. If you look in the background of the scene where Peter Parker is called to Principal Morita's office, you can clearly see a World War II photograph of his father with the Howling Commandos. It's yet another great example of the close attention paid to continuity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Aaron Davis & Miles Morales
Donald Glover's first connection to Spider-Man came when fans campaigned for him to get the lead role in the Amazing Spider-Man franchise, and he's since voiced Miles Morales in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man... but Spider-Man: Homecoming provides him a whole new connection to the webslinger. When he is introduced in the 2016 blockbuster, he seems like an ordinary criminal who is trying to make a weapons deal -- but when you find out his name is Aaron Davis and that he has a kid nephew, he becomes a very different person in the eyes of Marvel fans.
In the Ultimate run of Marvel Comics, Aaron Davis is not only the burglar known as the Prowler, but also the uncle of Miles Morales -- the young kid who becomes Spider-Man following the death of Peter Parker. While we don't know if we'll ever get to actually see this incarnation of the wall-crawler in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the reference in Spider-Man: Homecoming essentially confirms that he is around, and potentially poised for great things in a city made safer by costumed heroes.
The Shocker And His Gauntlet
There are a lot of comic book characters who don't have their notable monikers regularly identified in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Spider-Man: Homecoming is no exception (you'll notice that nobody ever actually calls Adrian Toomes the "Vulture", nor Phineas Mason the "Tinkerer"). One name that does get used, however, is Shocker -- and it's actually held by two different characters from the comics. The man who winds up wearing the gauntlet is the classic and most recognizable Shocker, a.k.a. Herman Shultz (Bokeem Woodbine), but the movie also pays tribute to legacy titles with Jackson Brice (Logan Marshall-Green), the Shocker featured on the animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man.
Speaking of Shocker's gauntlet, its design should be familiar to Marvel Cinematic Universe fans as well -- specifically those who watched Captain America: Civil War. The powerful wrist-worn device has the exact same design as one of the two worn by Crossbones during the Avengers battle in Lagos, and it must have been taken in by Damage Control, stolen by Adrian Toomes, and upgraded by the Tinkerer. The reason Shocker only has one gauntlet can also be explained by the fact that the other one was destroyed when Crossbones blew himself up.
Vulture & The Tinkerer
While we saw five Spider-Man movies released prior to Spider-Man: Homecoming, the new film is still the first to introduce live action versions of two of the titular hero's earliest villains: Adrian Toomes a.k.a. The Vulture, and Phineas Mason a.k.a. The Tinkerer. The Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of the characters are partners, with the former running business operations, and the latter manipulating alien technologies -- but what makes their connection in the movie special is the fact that they were actually introduced at the same time back in 1963.
Amazing Fantasy #15 didn't feature a supervillain, and Amazing Spider-Man #1 was about an encounter with the Fantastic Four and The Chameleon, but The Vulture and The Tinkerer both got the chance to take center stage in Amazing Spider-Man #2. For the nit-picking nerds, it should be noted that the two villains didn't actually appear together, but instead in separate stories within the same issue -- but that doesn't lessen the fact that it's a great callback to the wall-crawler's origins in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Iron Spider And The Press Conference
Spider-Man is famous for keeping his real identity a secret in the name of safety for the people he cares about -- but that all changed during the Marvel Comics event series Civil War in 2006. As a show of support for superhero registration laws, Tony Stark successfully convinced the young hero to call a press conference and reveal himself as Peter Parker to the world -- and also equipped him with a technologically-enhanced Spider suit. If this sounds familiar, it's because it's basically what happens at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming -- with the exception being that Peter decides not to go through with it.
The new Spider suit designed by Tony Stark doesn't really look anything like the Iron Spider costume in the comics, but the scenario is almost identical otherwise, and clearly a direct reference. It's worth noting that Spider-Man: Homecoming also makes a smart choice in the way in which it decides to end its story -- not only because how much the public reveal would have pissed off fans, but also because of the way it mirrors the end of the first Iron Man (which concluded with Tony Stark telling reporters about his specialized armor.
As discussed here, Spider-Man: Homecoming features a surprising number of classic Spidey foes directly from the comics, but it also does us the favor of promising more in the future. It does this specifically with the introduction of Michael Mando's character, Mac Gargan (first identified by "Karen" when Spider-Man is scanning the area while on the Staten Island Ferry). That name should mean a lot to Marvel Comics fans, as he is the villain also known as the Scorpion.
The mid-credits scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming suggests that we may not be seeing Mac Gargan teaming up in any Sinister Six-type groups any time soon, but it is directly hinted that we could see his own transformation. Not only does he have to go through some serious surgeries following his first tussle with Spider-Man, but you can also clearly see a tattoo of a scorpion on his neck, and he was making some kind of deal with Adrian Toomes for specialized technology before his incarceration. Could we see the sharp-tailed menace get an upgrade in the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel? Only time will tell.
The Final Chapter
The history of Amazing Spider-Man comics is filled with iconic moments, and one of the earliest came in Amazing Spider-Man #33 - titled The Final Chapter. At the end of the last issue, Aunt May had become deathly ill in a hospital and in need of a life-saving serum that Spidey possessed - but the hero couldn't get to her because he found himself trapped under a pile of rubble and iron. While he at first believes that things are hopeless and that he very well may die, his thoughts focus on his desire to help his beloved Aunt, and that motivation is everything he needs to free himself. Obviously the context changes quite a bit in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the movie features what is basically a direct adaptation of this comic.
In the movie version, it's The Vulture who has trapped Spider-Man instead of Doctor Octopus, and it's Spider-Man's desire to stop the heist of Avengers equipment that gives him the strength he needs, but everything else in the scene has some very clear inspiration. It should also be recognized that the same _Spider-Man: Homecoming _ sequence also finds a way to include one of the most notable visuals from the comics: Peter Parker's face half covered by his Spider-Man mask.
Back in 2010, Dr. Bruce Banner snuck into Culver University with the hopes of recovering the research of Dr. Betty Ross and curing himself of his gamma-irradiated blood. It was a ruse that he was able to pull off thanks to an effective "pizza delivery guy" disguise, complete with some actual pizzas - and after getting to a computer terminal and starting his work, he decided to share the wealth by giving a slice to a nearby studying student. Funny enough, this wouldn't be the last time this student would come close to a legitimate superhero, as he is featured as one of Peter Parker's teachers in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
For those who haven't figured it out yet, I'm referring to the fact that both the credited "Computer Nerd" in The Incredible Hulk and Mr. Harrington in Spider-Man: Homecoming are played by Freaks and Geeks/Silicon Valley actor Martin Starr. Unlike the aforementioned case with Pvt. Morita and Principal Morita, it should be noted that the new movie doesn't offer any specific hint that the two characters are the same person, but it's also not hard to believe that they are. While the timeline is a bit complicated now, it's entirely believable that Harrington could go from student to high school teacher in the span of six to 10 years.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first big screen movie about the character to feature Peter Parker's true first love in the comics, Liz Allen (Laura Harrier), but always lurking in the background is the mysterious loner Michelle. She's there eavesdropping while Peter and Ned are talking at lunch; she's on the Academic Decathlon team, she's paying attention to the clubs he's leaving; and she's even showing up at detention when she's not required to. In normal circumstances this would be seen as rather odd behavior, but we can excuse her in this case. After all, she's destined to be the true love of Peter Parker's life.
While Zendaya's character in Spider-Man: Homecoming is indeed Michelle, she reveals at the end of the movie that she prefers to go by M.J. - the same initials as Mary Jane Watson (it's noteworthy that we still don't know what Michelle's middle or last name is). Mary Jane in the comics wasn't actually revealed in Marvel Comics until after Peter was finished with high school - after a long period of teasing - but she has been a crucial part of the history since then. It's only fitting that she be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Betty Brandt & Jason Ionello
Working as J. Jonah Jameson's assistant at the Daily Bugle, Betty Brandt was arguably introduced as Peter Parker's second love - and while she's made to be a few years younger than typically portayed in Spider-Man: Homecoming, she's still recognizably the character that fans know. Specifically, the movie does a fun job connecting Betty (Angourie Rice) to the world of "journalism," having her featured as one of the two co-anchors of Midtown School of Science And Technology's morning announcements.
Betty Brandt is definitely the more recognizable of the two characters on the "show," but it's worth pointing out that co-anchor Jason Ionello originates from the comics as well. Introduced in the 1990s as part of Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales of Spider-Man, he was primarily portrayed as a friend of Flash Thompson's who takes particular pleasure in pranking Peter Parker and generally making him miserable. We don't really get to see any of that in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but presumably he's Peter's age and only a sophomore, so there's still possibility that we could see more of him in the future.