The villain of the upcoming 2017 Marvel film Spider-Man: Homecoming has finally been revealed! Which iconic antagonist will be showing up to take on the web-slinger? None other than…the Vulture? I probably should be a little more excited than I actually am. However, I do have a few reservations. Allow me to explain why I’m a little nervous, but also why there’s plenty of reasons to remain hopeful.
Spider-Man is my favorite Marvel character, always has been. He’s funny, powerful, and still somehow easy to relate to. But a hero is only as good as his villains, and Spider-Man doesn’t fall short in that category, either. Villains like Dr. Octopus, Green Goblin, Venom, and Carnage are all some of the most iconic bad guys in comics. However, Spidey’s enemies represented on the big screen come off seeming, for lack of a better word, kind of goofy. Take Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, for example:
Sure, he was scary to eight year-olds, but after the audiences’s transition into adulthood, he’s definitely a little sillier. Even Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man reboot, we still got some pretty poor interpretations of the Web-Head’s villains. Need I remind you of Jaimie Fox’s Electro? I cringe at the thought.
This is why I’m nervous. The villains in the previous movies actually had potential to be legitimately intimidating characters, but they rubbed off more like cartoon bad guys. The Vulture, on the other hand, has always struck me as goofy. A skinny bald old guy who looks kind of like a bird in the face flying around in a green jumpsuit is just ridiculous. It really wouldn’t take a lot of effort to make this character into a villain for first graders. However, there is hope.
The MCU has proven on multiple occasions that they can do undo-able characters. Remember Thor? He’s easily the most laughable hero in mainstream comics. Yet somehow, Marvel was able to make him cool. His first movie was actually good. In a way, it recognized how goofy Thor was and was able to laugh at itself. The new Spider-Man movie should allow a little bit of tonal room for self-aware moments.
Furthermore, Tom Holland is a stand-out Spidey. He feels more like the Spider-Man from the comics than both Maguire and Garfield did. Part of that probably has to do with him being around the right age to actually play Spider-Man. His jokes are a little corny, but Spider-Man’s sense of humor develops in the comics as he gets older. Think of him as sort of a PG-13 Deadpool by the time he’s fully matured. Tom Holland himself is probably my favorite Spider-Man so far, and he’s only had about twenty minutes of screen-time.
I suppose our only hope is that Marvel has learned from Sony’s mistakes. Casting Michael Keaton as Vulture was definitely a good sign, as he’s sort of a master of self-aware humor (Beetlejuice, Birdman). I think our best bet is to remain cautiously optimistic. We know that Marvel has a track record for creating good products, and we know from what we’ve seen so far that they have a good idea of how to handle Spidey’s character. So even though there’s also a lot of room for danger, I think we’re going to have to place our faith in the skill of the people at Marvel Studios.