A wisecracking likeable lead. Shenanigans with the ever-returning Avenger Iron Man. Those Cap’ America cameos. Yes, Spider-Man: Homecoming is packed with perhaps more fun than arguably all Marvel films to date. And it’s also stuffed with a web of Easter eggs, comic-book references and nods to other stars in the cinematic universe.
Spotting them all would be enough to get your underoos in a twist, but fortunately, we’ve rounded up the best buried treasures below. Because with a great movie comes great responsibility for an extensive breakdown.
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The Scorpion strikes
Vulture-eyed fans might have spotted a hidden villain in Homecoming: The Scorpion. Well, The Scorpion before he actually became The Scorpion. Mac Gargan – one of The Vulture’s cronies played by Michael Mando – popped up in the film’s epic ferry battle, as well as in the first post-credit scene to Michael Keaton’s The Vulture.
And in case you didn’t clog his massive scorpion neck tattoo, Mando himself confirmed he had his pincers firmly in the role.
You can find out more about Mando’s after-credits scene.
A look back to the classic comic
Remember when The Vulture buried our Web-head under a pile of rubble? The moment Peter Parker embraced his Spidey strength and set himself free? Well, that scene draws major parallels to ‘If This Be My Destiny…!’ comic book arc from the 1960s.
In that story, Spider-Man battles the mysterious Master Planner (later revealed as Doc Ock), a fight that leaves the wall-crawler trapped under a pile of heavy machinery. Just as Spidey seems ready to give up, the superhero smashes his way out with a shout of “I must prove equal to the task! I must be worthy of that strength!”
Overall, it’s superb reference reminding us the character harbours a conflict between Peter Parker’s growing mental maturity alongside his adolescent web-slinging around New York.
The two sides of Spider-Man
Also in the scene where Spidey raises himself out the rubble, we see a reflection of Parker’s face in a puddle with his homemade mask floating on top. Brilliantly, this creates an effect where half of the image is Parker’s face, half webbed-mask.
As well as demonstrating the two sides of the superhero, it’s also a reference to a favourite story-telling device of Marvel artist Steve Ditko. The Parker/Spider-Man split-face look was used in the comics when the character had ‘Spidey thoughts’ i.e. the times Parker is frustrated he can’t use his Spidey powers.
And bearing in mind the context of the Homecoming scene – Parker’s struggle between teen-ish terror and Spider-man heroic bravery – it’s an Easter egg hatched at the perfect moment.
Betty Brant begins
Although normally read out during stuffy morning assemblies in the UK, the morning announcements in some American schools are broadcast via a student-made TV segment. And in Spider-Man: Homecoming one of these infotainment memos features a student called Betty Brant, a character from the comics and Sam Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy.
However, she was a fair bit older than high school age in Rami’s movies. Played by Elizabeth Banks in Spidey 1-3, Brant is personal secretary to Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson and a side-love interest for Peter Parker. Yup, she was fond of him even during his emo-haired symbiote stage in Spider-Man 3 (if you dare to remind yourself, skip to the minute mark below…)
Stan Lee pulled out another classic cameo
Well, it wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without an appearance from the grandfather of comics and Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. His 38th Marvel cameo comes when the titular wall-crawler accidentally sets off a car alarm, leading to a less-than-friendly-neighbourhood resident played by Lee shouting: “Don’t make me come down there, you punk!”
Although packed with new gadgets, the suit Spidey sports at the start of Homecoming mirrors the webbed red and blue design from the hero’s first comic appearance. What about Peter Parker’s homemade hoodie and balaclava combo? It too pays homage to the Spider-Man source material.
Firstly, there’s the so-called ‘Scarlet Spider’ costume. Worn in the comics by Spider-Man clone Ben Reilly, the outfit’s ripped jumper certainly shares a likeliness with the Homecoming getup, albeit with an inverted colour scheme.
And secondly, the expressive eyepieces in the low-tech suit: they look extremely similar to Spider-Man Noir’s aviator goggles…
I am Iron (Spider) Man
While we’re on the subject of suits, the high-tech costume Stark offers Parker at the film’s close is a version of the Iron Spider armour from the comics. In the source material, this is also a costume constructed by Iron Man, stuffed with Stark tech and three mechanical arms (yup, three not four #ComicBookLogic).
As well as a distinctly futuristic look, the armour came with a diamond nitrile overcoat, a mask for underwater adventures, an in-built glider, infrared lenses and much much more. But Parker was certainly right to turn all that down because of, erm, we can’t seem to remember right now.
It had a glider, Peter! A glider!
Karen 4 JARVIS
One final wardrobe-related reference for you: the voice of Spidey’s suit – the one Parker christens Karen – is the voice of Jennifer Connelly, the Oscar-winning actress who starred as Betty Ross in 2003’s Hulk. But her previous Marvel role isn’t the only reason she’s on this list. Connelly is married to Paul Bettany, the actor who lends his voice to Iron Man’s JARVIS.
The Avengers assemble
Although the Thor: Ragnarok trailer showed us the real Hulk is busy battling in an alien gladiatorial arena, Bruce Banner can be seen on Earth in Homecoming. Well, sort of. A portrait of the scientists can be seen alongside Einstein, Newton and Telsa in Peter Parker’s Math(s) class.
And did you catch Howard Stark too? Iron Man’s dad can be spotted in a mural that decorates one of the school’s hallways…