'Spider-Man: Homecoming': What Does That Title Mean, Anyway?

If Spider-Man is coming home, where is that — and where has he been all this time?
John Romita Snr/Marvel Entertainment
If Spider-Man is coming home, where is that — and where has he been all this time?

After a week of speculation, it's now official: the first Spider-Man movie from the partnership between Sony and Marvel will be titled Spider-Man: Homecoming. It's an evocative title, pointing in a metatextual manner towards the fact that Spider-Man is, finally, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But does it have some other explanation as well?

It's Probably Not an Adaptation of the Comic Book of the Same Name

There is an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man — 1984's No. 252, by Tom DeFalco, Roger Stern and Ron Frenz — titled "Homecoming!" It's likely best remembered amongst comic fans as the issue that introduced Spider-Man's black costume, which was later retconned into being an alien parasite who would go on to become Venom; the actual plot of the issue centered around Spider-Man returning to Earth from the original Secret Wars comic book miniseries set in outer space, and trying to settle back into his life once again. Lacking a villain, or even any true conflict, it's unlikely to be the source material for the new movie.

…or Is It?
Amazing Spider-Man No. 252 isn't the only Spider-Man related comic book with "Homecoming" in the title, however; there's also a 2005 spinoff miniseries Mary Jane: Homecoming, which notably takes place in the period where Peter Parker was still in high school, just as he'll be in his new Tom Holland incarnation. However, this series really centers around Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker's occasional love interest, with Spider-Man really little more than a background presence who occasionally fights crime. While it would be a different approach from Sony's last two attempts to build a Spider-Man movie franchise, it seems as if this series might be too unlikely a foundation to build the new series from.

(The Mary Jane series has that subtitle for a simple reason; the story centers around the Homecoming Dance at Mary Jane's school; it's not impossible — or, to be honest, even unlikely — that the movie won't follow similar logic to justify the metatextual meaning of its own title.)

Where Does Spider-Man Call Home?
Assuming that the "homecoming" of the title refers to something inside the narrative of the film, it's worth considering the places that Peter Parker, or Spider-Man, would consider "home." Three locations suggest themselves:

  • The Queens, N.Y., residence of his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), who raised Peter after the disappearance of his parents and the death of his Uncle Ben
  • Midtown High, the school that Peter attends alongside fellow students Harry Osborn, Flash Thompson and others
  • The Daily Bugle, where Peter has — depending on the comic book mythology you follow — a part-time job working on the paper's website, or a freelance relationship with it as a photographer.

More broadly, Spider-Man's home is New York City; he's as connected to that city as Superman is to Metropolis or Batman is to Gotham. Will something major happen to one of these locations in Homecoming?

So, Where Has Spider-Man Been All This Time?
More to the point, if Spider-Man has a homecoming, where is he returning from? The Amazing Spider-Man story offers a possible clue, in that the character came back after the Secret Wars. While the cinematic Spider-Man won't be jumping into Battleworld anytime soon — unless one of the upcoming Marvel movies before Homecoming's July 2017 release goes in a very different direction from what anyone was expecting — the movie is likely to be the first appearance of Spider-Man after the events of next month's Captain America: Civil War. Is it possible that something will happen to Peter during that movie that's so dramatic as to make his subsequent return home an experience worth recording in its own right …?

An answer to that final question will be forthcoming when Civil War is released May 6, giving audiences their first chance to meet the new Spider-Man. And who knows …? Perhaps during that film, he'll reveal that having some kind of special homecoming has always been his most desired dream during the movie, just to help everyone understand what's up with his new movie title. Isn't that kind of assistance what we should expect from a friendly neighborhood wall-crawler?