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The Vulture Almost Had A Totally Different Story In Spider-Man: Homecoming

The Vulture from Marvel Comics

The following story contains a spoiler for Spider-Man: Homecoming. For real, stop reading now if you haven't yet seen the latest superhero adventure.

A mandate of the first MCU Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, was to stay clear of plotlines and villains that audiences had seen in the previous five Sony Spidey movies. This immediately took Doctor Octopus, Sandman, the various Goblins, the Lizard and Electro off the board, allowing Jon Watts and his team to eventually settle on The Vulture (played by Michael Keaton). But as it turns out, in constructing the villain for the new movie, the screenwriters originally had a much different backstory in mind, and an alternate way to forge a connection between Adrian Toomes and Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Co-writer John Francis Daley explains:

He was still stealing from Damage Control, but we had a different way into it. [Toomes] was going to be [Peter's] teacher, and then we were like, 'No, let's separate him fully from the school --- or at least so it seems.' And that's I think when we decided to make it the love interest's dad.

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein were opening up to Yahoo Movies about the process of building a sympathetic villain out of Adrian Toomes, which hit its first home run when it cast the versatile Michael Keaton. The actor formerly known as Mr. Mom can play the hero or the villain, and also has a blue-collar quality to his performances that's essential to Toomes. In the MCU, the villain is painted as a family man who is converting alien tech into weaponry to provide for his wife and kid. Goldstein knew, immediately, that the vision of the Vulture in the comic wouldn't work on the big screen (pictured above), as he explained:

Once we started talking about Vulture, it was clear that the version in the comics wouldn't do, where he was this bald old man. It just never felt terribly scary on film to us. So we thought, 'All right, let's make him more of a middle-aged guy.'

And making him the father of Peter's love interest leads to one of biggest rug pulls in Spider-Man: Homecoming, with a fantastic scene between Tom Holland and Michael Keaton where one knows the other's secrets, and the balance of power shifts repeatedly. It's a fantastic scene because neither actor is in their respective comic-book costume, and yet, the tension and danger of the situation is palpable.

Michael Keaton is Adrian Toomes

I tend to agree with the critique that, in a borough of hundreds of thousands of residents, it's a MASSIVE coincidence that Adrian Toomes ends up being the father of Spider-Man's girlfriend. However, hearing that Goldstein and Daly considered making Toomes one of Peter's teachers would have been worse, and I'm glad they edited the villain's backstory in the way that they did. Spider-Man: Homecoming is in theaters right now. Head over here to learn even more about the Marvel movies that will follow in its path.

Sean O'Connell

Managing Director at CinemaBlend. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.