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[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming]
If there is one thing to be said about Marvel Studios and Sony’s new Spider-Man: Homecoming, it is that it is a fresh new take on the character, overflowing with new ideas, set pieces and interesting characters. For more than a decade, Marvel Studios has had to sit on the sidelines while Sony produced Spider-Man film after Spider-Man film, while the company continued to release its Spider-Man comics. Now, the two finally meet.
With their first opportunity to exercise creative control over the character, it should come as no surprise that they pumped the film full of references, callbacks and Easter eggs for fans, new and old, to enjoy. The result is a sort of Spider-Man film via remix, with various elements from all of Spider-Man’s history mixed together in a way that fans have never seen before.
Compiled below is a list of these references (heavy SPOILERS). How many do you recognize? And let us know what we missed by tweeting @HeatVisionBlog (bonus points for sharing a comic book panel and issue number).
Amazing Spider-Man No. 2
The Comics: Phineas Mason was one of Spider-Man’s earliest villains, an engineering genius that went by the name The Terrible Tinkerer. Mason could invent powerful weapons and gadgets from just about anything and outfitted a large number of Spidey’s villains. Strangely enough, he was initially revealed to be an alien in disguise, as Stan Lee slowly figured out what kind of villains would work for Spider-Man. A later writer would reveal that he was actually a human pretending to be an alien. Comics are weird.
The Movie: Mason (Michael Chernus) is Adrian Toomes‘ (Michael Keaton) right-hand man, building all the tech he uses as The Vulture. He’s constantly encouraging Toomes to continue escalating his scores through the use of more sophisticated technology.
Ultimate Spider-Man No. 153
The Comics: In the alternate Ultimate universe, a younger Peter Parker was always told he would be forced to join S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ultimate team (its version of the Avengers) when he turned 18 years old. After a number of instances where Spider-Man and his villains were involved in either saving or nearly ending the world, both Tony Stark and Captain America were tasked with training Peter as Spider-Man.
The Movie: Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) has taken Peter under his wing, both keeping him at a distance and constantly watching him to be sure he doesn’t step out of line or cause too much trouble. It’s a reluctant mentorship, just like in the comics.
Ultimate Spider-Man No. 155
The Comics: On Ultimate Peter Parker’s birthday (after their training), Tony Stark has Mary Jane pass a gift on to Peter. This gift is a pair of powered-up webshooters capable of firing all kinds of different webbing.
The Movie: Tony doesn’t stop at redesigning Peter’s webshooters but builds him a customized suit, with a very similar pair of new webshooters to the ones in the comics. The whole thing is wrapped up as a gift in a shiny suitcase.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2) No.2
The Comics: After Miles Morales replaced Peter Parker as Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe, readers were introduced to a new cast of characters, more specifically they were introduced to Ganke Lee. Ganke is Miles’ right-hand man or “guy in the chair” if you will. He loves Legos, is a bit too loose with Miles’ secret, and can’t resist nerding out that he knows a superhero. Meanwhile, Ned Leeds was a pretty bland character, introduced in the regular universe, who mainly operated as competition for Peter in regards to his love life and photography career. He was eventually falsely outted as the Hobgoblin and subsequently murdered.
The Movie: For some reason, Spider-Man: Homecoming makes Ganke Lee into Peter’s new best friend, giving him the name Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) for no real apparent reason. Who can say why they felt the need to change the names while maintaining everything that makes Ganke special, I’m just glad he’s in the film … because he’s awesome.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 3
The Comics: In the earliest days of Spider-Man, comics writer Stan Lee was still trying to figure out what was going to make Spider-Man special as a character. Before seizing on the emotional core of “With Great Power Must Also Come Great Responsibility” line, Lee emphasized Spider-Man’s teenage loner status. This saw him breaking into the Fantastic Four’s headquarters and fighting the team all in a vain attempt to join them and make a solid paycheck. The same was true with the Avengers. When they reach out to him to potentially join the team, he ends up fighting them, further solidifying his reputation as an untrustworthy loner.
The Movie: The same is essentially true here, Spider-Man’s introduction to the Avengers in “Captain America: Civil War” couldn’t have gone worse for his reputation, to the point that even Iron Man doesn’t really trust him to be responsible. He’s a liability, not an asset, and is basically being held back from joining the team because of it.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man No. 2
The Comics: Jason Ionello (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) is a part of Flash Thompson’s gang of “popular” kids who constantly bully Peter Parker. Yet, in an ironic twist of fate, he’s also one of the leaders of the Spider-Man Fan Club.
The Movie: Jason appears on a television screen in Midtown High School as one of the anchors of the school’s hastily produced morning news. He awkwardly tries to ask out his co-anchor, Betty Brant (Angourie Rice), on the air.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 7
The Comics: Betty Brant is one of Peter Parker’s best friends and his first love in high school. She works as J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary and often flirts with Peter when he turns in pictures. Their relationship was cut short when she realized she couldn’t handle Peter’s secret and the violence he seemed to be involved in. So, she ran off into the arms of Ned Leeds, then Flash Thompson, then Peter again, and on and on and on. She’s kind of notorious for having a rather frustrated love life.
The Movie: Betty appears alongside Jason Ionello as the co-anchor of the Midtown High School news program. She’s also one of Liz’s good friends and sees her off at the end of the film before Liz moves to Oregon. I think, in an intentional nod to Gwen Stacy and the remix mentality of this film, she’s wearing Gwen’s signature hair band.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 2
The Comics: The Vulture is one of Spider-Man’s first villains, but is notoriously the first to engage him in spectacular aerial combat. He’s an octogenarian inventor who devises his own anti-gravity harness and robs banks and helicopters around the city. Most notable about him is the green color scheme and vulture-like collar he wears. This would be updated to a more modern suit in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics (see bottom picture).
The Movie: The Vulture’s entire backstory is changed for the movie, but the types of crimes he commits remain largely the same. His color scheme is largely maintained, with most of the green coming through his nightvision goggles. He retains claws like the Ultimate version and even sports a featured collar of sorts with his sporty bomber jacket.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 17
The Comics: In the early Spider-Man comics, there was no power-couple more influential than the popular Flash Thompson and Liz Allan. However, the two take a notably unpopular stance by starting up their own Spider-Man Fan Club – Forest Hills Chapter. Peter learns that Liz is throwing a big party and that they are expecting Spider-Man to show up. Peter loves the dramatic irony that he could show up as Spider-Man and humiliate Flash, but at the same time knows that his lack of presence as Peter will go noticed by a number of people, namely Liz and his girlfriend Betty. Too bad his decision is made for him when the Green Goblin shows up to wreck the party, landing Peter in hot water for ducking out so quickly.
The Movie: Liz throws a party, where Flash (Tony Revolori) is the DJ, and Peter is equally divided on how he’s going to attend. He learns Liz has a crush on Spider-Man and knows he could score points confirming that Peter is buddies with Spidey … except that he’s both Peter and Spider-Man. Too bad his decision is made for him when the Vulture’s goons start toying with their devastating weaponry, landing Peter in hot water for ducking out so quickly.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 46
The Comics: The Shocker is one of Spider-Man’s early villains and eventually became one of his favorites. He wears two gauntlets that vibrate to shoot beams, land devastating punches, and allow him to shake off blows. He’s also constantly mocked for his name and strange outfit, which resembles weird bed/couch lining. In fact, it’s been pretty much confirmed that’s what it is.
The Movie: There are two Shockers in Spider-Man: Homecoming, after one (played by Logan Marshall-Green) meets an untimely end. Their weaponry is essentially identical to that of the comics, although he has only one outfit. Even better, Adrian Toomes makes fun of him for his name and dorky costume. (The second Shocker is played by Bokeem Woodbine.)
Amazing Spider-Man No. 267
The Comics: In “The Commuter Cometh,” one of the funniest Spider-Man stories of all time, Peter chases a burglar into the suburbs of New York City and quickly learns how ineffective his powers are without the urban towers of the city. One of the best moments is when he fires a web into the sky only to realize that there aren’t any buildings to latch on to.
The Movie: The same exact thing happens. Except this time my jaw hit the floor at the obscurity of the reference finding a way onto the silver screen.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 63
The Comics: Adrian Toomes can’t stand people who double-cross him. This is especially true of Blackie Drago, a fellow inmate who learns about the Vulture suit and subsequently steals it and claims the role for himself. Toomes eventually turns the tables on Blackie and reclaims the mantle of Vulture.
The Movie: This isn’t really a reference to the comics, but I couldn’t help but think of this moment when Adrian Toomes murders the original Shocker, for threatening to betray him, and passes the mantle of Shocker on to his partner (“Now you’re the Shocker”). I returned to this moment of the comics in the mid-credits sequence where Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) asks Adrian about Spider-Man’s identity. Who is to say that Mac won’t do the exact same thing as Blackie in future Spider-Man movies?
Amazing Spider-Man No. 11
The Comics: Spider-Man invents a mechanized spider-tracer that sends him signals via his spider-sense and allows him to track his enemies if they come in close contact with him. Typically, Spider-Man would fling the tracer at his enemies, trying to attach it to their clothing without them noticing.
The Movie: Peter does the same thing in the movie, just with a far more advanced system, and a robotic spider that can crawl on its own. He uses this to track down the Vulture gang to Maryland.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows (Vol. 2) No. 1
The Comics: Peter Parker has been operating a con for almost his entire adult life wherein he takes selfies and sells them to his publisher J. Jonah Jameson as if they were pictures he’s taken of Spider-Man. Taking selfies is difficult when you’re swinging through town and fighting villains, so he builds Buzzbee, his very own spider-drone, to do the dirty work for him.
The Movie: Peter discovers that the spider on his chest is also a drone. This drone has more capabilities than just taking pictures and operates as a fun comic foil for him during several scenes, especially when his Advanced Interrogation Mode is activated.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 231
The Comics: When Spider-Man burst onto the scene in 1962, his costume came complete with web-pits of dubious practical functionality, but clear stylistic functionality. Who doesn’t love web-pits? They would be retired years later, but they resurface every now and then depending on the artist.
The Movie: Peter eventually discovers that his suit has built in web-pits that can be retracted at will. They allow him to essentially wing-suit glide through the sky like some sort of flying squirrel. I’m just thankful that in this iteration he wasn’t bitten by a radioactive flying squirrel … or was he? What are you hiding from us Peter?
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 4) No. 1
The Comics: Over the years, Spider-Man has experimented with changing up his webbing a lot. Sometimes he’ll mix cement in it to defeat Hydro-Man or mix it with a rubber substance to beat Electro. Recently, he’s been adding a lot of new tech into his repertoire, specifically taser webbing. The effect is devastating.
The Movie: When Peter and Ned disable Tony Stark’s control over the spider-suit, it allows Peter to activate his AI, Karen (Jennifer Connelly), and turn on Combat Mode. This unlocks hundreds of new weapons for him to utilize, including taser webbing. The comics haven’t played around with Instant Kill Mode, and I’m thankful for it.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 20) No. 1
The Comics: When the Ultimate version of Peter Parker is murdered stopping the Green Goblin from harming his family, the young Miles Morales takes up the mantle of Spider-Man, inspired by Peter’s sacrifice. Unfortunately, Miles doesn’t have an inspiring uncle like Peter; his uncle is Aaron Davis, a criminal that goes by the name “The Prowler.” It is Aaron’s actions that cause Miles to be bitten by a genetically engineered spider. Aaron cares for his nephew but is eventually accidentally killed during a moment between him and Miles, as he’s trying to teach Miles to use his powers for personal gain instead of heroism.
The Movie: Aaron Davis is portrayed by Donald Glover, who publicly advocated his desire to portray Spider-Man for years. In the movie, Aaron Davis tries to buy weaponry from the Shockers, before escaping when Spider-Man interrupts the deal. Spider-Man later interrogates Aaron, whose criminal records identify him as “The Prowler” and one of his aliases as “Brian Pichelli,” after the names of his comic book creators Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. Most notable is that Aaron helps Spider-Man out because of his concern for his “nephew.” This has hugely excited fans of Miles, as it lays the groundwork for his eventual introduction into the MCU.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2) No. 6, Amazing Spider-Man No. 20
The Comics: Mac Gargan was a private investigator who was hired by J. Jonah Jameson to follow Peter and figure out how he could take the pictures he took. Jameson then hired Gargan to be subjected to tests that would turn him into the Scorpion. As a result, the Scorpion grew to hate both Spider-Man and Jameson. In the Ultimate universe, there are two different Scorpions, but the important one is an invulnerable gang leader with a giant scorpion tattoo.
The Movie: Mac Gargan is introduced on the Staten Island Ferry as one of Toomes‘ gang members, with a noticeable scorpion tattoo. After getting knocked off the ferry and hurt in the subsequent destruction, he’s captured and sent to jail, where he reappears in the mid-credits sequence to proclaim his hatred for Spider-Man.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 10
The Comics: Jackson Brice is one of the founding members of The Enforcers, a hit-squad consisting of a number of gangsters with weirdly specific talents. Brice works under the villain name Montana, and is notable for his incredible skills with a lasso. He and his team of Enforcers would show up from time to time to make trouble for Spider-Man, mostly on behalf the Kingpin. And in the Spectuacular Spider-Man cartoon series, Jackson Brice/Montana also became the Shocker.
The Movie: Remember the guy who was the Shocker, right before he got obliterated by the not-the-gravity-gun? Well, his name was Jackson Brice. So he was the Shocker and Montana … apparently. RIP.
Damage Control (Vol. 2) No. 1
The Comics: Damage Control is a construction company specializing in fixing damage that’s caused by fights between Marvel’s heroes and villains. If you’ve ever wondered why anyone would live in Marvel’s fictional New York City, it’s because these guys do a great job of clean-up.
The Movie: Damage Control is a government agency operating under Tony Stark to help clean up after the events of 2012’s The Avengers. They take the clean-up job away from Adrian Toomes and his company, essentially sparking his working-class rage. They also operate several large containment facilities that house all this junk.
2012’s Amazing Spider-Man
The Movie: Remember when Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker had dinner with the Stacys and they offered him a branzino fish dinner, eventually sparking an internet blogging joke about the weird specificity of that moment?
The New Movie: Apparently, the new writers remembered it, because when Flash picks up his date, he mentions that he had to send back his dinner because he knows what real Mediterranean branzino looks like. Talk about a really obscure reference.
Ultimate Spider-Man No. 37
The Comic: In the Ultimate Spider-Man series, Peter is often fighting in and out of his school, home, shopping mall, etc. The peak of these kinds of battles happens when Peter, out of costume, has to fight Venom on the football field behind his school, all while classes continue nearby.
The Movie: This isn’t an intentional reference, but again I couldn’t help but think of this moment when Peter fights the powered-up Shocker in the bus parking lot during the homecoming dance. There’s definite magic to be had when Peter’s life directly interacts with the fantastical world of Spider-Man.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 33
The Comic: Perhaps the most iconic moment from any Spider-Man comics, outside of his origin story, is a moment from what’s known as the “Master Planner Saga.” In it, Spider-Man is buried under tons of steel, just out of reach from a vial of medicine that would cure his dying aunt, and the room is flooding with water. It’s a hopeless moment, but Spider-Man convinces himself that he can persevere and slowly lifts the steel over his head. The way it is drawn by Steve Ditko is a master class in comic book storytelling.
The Movie: The Vulture buries Peter under a similar pile of rubble, pinning him with little option for survival. It’s visually nearly identical to the comic book sequence. In sync with the themes of the film, Peter convinces himself that he is Spider-Man, with or without the suit, repeatedly referring to himself as “Spider-Man” as he lifts the rubble from overhead. It’s a moment Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige championed for the film.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 2
The Comic: When Peter’s spider-sense is triggered or the artist wants to signify that he’s responding to something related to his Spider-Man persona, they might use the visual motif of a split-faced Peter/Spider-Man. Comic readers were initially confused by this visual, thinking perhaps that half of Peter’s body was suddenly covered in a costume, but it was quickly adopted as the perfect visual representation of his dueling identities.
The Movie: When Peter is pinned under the rubble, that visual representation is reflected back to him in a puddle of water, where his mask is floating.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 1
The Comic: Spider-Man’s first heroic adventure involved him saving J. Jonah Jameson’s son, John Jameson, from a failed launch of his space shuttle. Spider-Man had to find a way to get airborne and attach himself to the shuttle, saving the occupants and drawing the attention of the cigar-chewing media mogul.
The Movie: The comparison between this sequence and the Stark invisible jet sequence at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming is apparent, with several panels looking nearly identical to the final film. Either way, it’s fun to see Spider-Man put in an extreme-height scenario with no way of landing safely if he were to fall.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 12
The Comic: In a famous moment, Doctor Octopus kidnaps Peter’s girlfriend Betty Brant and takes her to Coney Island, dangling her from the top of the Ferris wheel. When Peter confronts him as Spider-Man, Otto tears off Peter’s mask, revealing his identity to the public. Fortunately, Peter is able to spin that he dressed up as Spider-Man in hopes of rescuing his girlfriend.
The Movie: The film comes to a conclusion at Coney Island, utilizing all the elements that Peter famously fought on in the comic. While it might not be a direct reference to the original comics, the location is famous in Spider-Man lore, so it is nice to see it finally featured onscreen.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 529
The Comic: Right before the events of Civil War, Tony built Spider-Man a new suit, dubbed the Iron Spider suit. It allowed him to fly and generally do all the things Iron Man could. When Spider-Man decided to turn against Iron Man in the midst of Civil War, Tony attempted to control Spider-Man through the suit, but he wasn’t counting on Peter’s intellect to allow him to rewire it against him.
The Movie: Not only does Iron Man create the classic, but enhanced, version of Peter’s iconic suit, he presents him with his own cinematic version of the Iron Spider suit at the end of the film, in a moment that directly mimics the comics. It’s the thematic climax of the film and Peter’s denial of Tony’s offer signifies his maturation.
Civil War No. 2
The Comic: In order to get superheroes to sign up for the Superhuman Registration Act in Civil War, Tony Stark asked Peter Parker to reveal his secret identity to a crowd of reporters. Peter agreed, throwing his life into chaos and putting his family in danger.
The Movie: Tony seems to be asking Peter to do a similar thing at the end of Homecoming. He’s assembled a press briefing to at least announce Spider-Man’s role on the Avengers team. The visuals mirror those from the Civil War comic, and who could say how far Tony would have asked him to go?
The Comic: Megingjord is Thor’s enchanted Belt of Strength. When he wears it his strength is amplified considerably. He’s lost it several times in the books, eventually recovering it in a heroic moment.
The Movie: Happy Hogan mentions that they are shipping this item in his invisible jet, but he has trouble pronouncing the word … which makes total sense.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 3
The Comic: When the Avengers test Spider-Man to see if he can join the team, they give him an impossible task that he is meant to fail. He’s supposed to go and wrangle the Hulk and bring him back to them. Instead, Peter discovers Hulk’s true identity and his tragic story and decides that it’d be against his morals to complete the quest. He returns to the Avengers and tells them to take a long walk off a short pier.
The Movie: Peter spends the entire runtime of Spider-Man: Homecoming trying to prove himself to Tony Stark so that he might join the Avengers team. Yet, through his time as Spider-Man he learns a valuable lesson about himself, so that when he is offered the position on the Avengers team he turns it down to continue his friendly neighborhood lifestyle. Was I the only one fist-pumping in the theater?
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) No. 35
The Comic: After Spider-Man’s epic battle with Morlun in the “Coming Home” story, one of the best Spider-Man tales ever told, he’s beaten, bloodied and in a bad need of a long nap. He passes out on his bed, oblivious to the world, when Aunt May returns home to find him on the edge of death in his bed, his costume in tatters. It is at this moment that May discovers that Peter is Spider-Man.
The Movie: Peter returns home from Tony’s offer to join the Avengers to find a bag with his new costume in it. He dresses up, after presuming his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) isn’t home. That’s exactly when she walks in and ends the movie with a, “What the f—!”
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man No. 1
The Comic: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man No. 1 marked the introduction of Aaron Davis and his nephew Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Spider-Man.
The Movie: Aaron Davis’ car’s license plate reads “UCSM01”. (Thanks to @DonEsQue for the tip)
The Comic: Mark Bagley is one of the most beloved comic artists working today, with a history that includes famous runs on Amazing Spider-Man and most importantly the introductory and record-breaking run on Ultimate Spider-Man.
The Movie: When Peter is eating a churro and talking to Happy’s voicemail you can clearly see graffiti on the building behind him that reads “Bagley.” It’s a cool shout-out to one of the most inspirations voices in comics on this film.
Amazing Fantasy No. 15
The Comic: Midtown High is Peter Parker’s fictional, public high school, first appearing in the first Spider-Man story, Amazing Fantasy No. 15 from 1962.
The Movie: You can see on the students’ t-shirts that Midtown High was established in 1962. Get it? 😉
Ultimate Spider-Man No. 42
The Comic: After learning about a new mutant named Geldoff who can blow up things with his mind, Spider-Man tries to teach him a lesson about the responsible use of his powers. During that encounter a nearby store gets robbed by a gang of guys in hero masks, including a Batman mask!
The Movie: The Vulture gang uses the Chituari weaponry to rob a series of ATMs but are sure to wear their Avengers masks to mask their identities.
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 3) No. 4
The Comic: When a villain forces the heroes of the Marvel Universe to remember specific memories they had been made to forget, Spider-Man remembers that another person was bitten by the same spider as him. He quickly learns that that person was none other than Cindy Moon, a young woman, with spider-powers like his, who took on the hero name of Silk.
The Movie: On the Midtown High academic decathlon team is a young, Asian woman named Cindy. Could she be a reference to Cindy Moon?
Deadly Hands of Kung Fu No. 30
The Comic: Abe Brown is the brother to Hobie Brown, the original Prowler. Abe would joined a group called the Sons of the Tiger and would fight crime by utilizing three jade tiger amulets. Abe and the other sons would frequently work with Spider-Man, until Abe decided to set out on his own as the Black Tiger, utilizing one of the amulets by itself.
The Movie: Nearly every member of the academic decathlon team seems to be a reference to a character from the comics. One of the young members of the team is Abe, he’s the one who gets a few good digs in on Flash. With all the other references this seems a likely reference to Abe Brown.
OK web-heads. What did we miss? Tweet the comic book panel (and issue number) to @HeatVisionBlog and we will update this post with the best tweets.
Here’s a bonus one we’ve gotten. Patrick McCullough on Twitter points out something that sounds right: “Was Karen’s (failed) attempt to get Pete to kiss Liz while hanging upside-down a reference to Rami’s film? Or am I reading too much into it?”
Dan Gvozden, a life-long Spider-Man fan, is a Heat Vision contributor and co-host of Amazing Spider-Talk podcast.
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