Sniff the air. Go on, do it. Do you smell that? That’s the gentle, tempting scent of a new superhero-movie trailer. Can you detect the aromatic notes of comic-book references? The intoxicating dashes of callbacks to previous movies? The refreshing spritz of a barely disguised English accent? All these charms and more are to be found in the first promotional clip for next year’s hotly anticipated Spider-Man re-reboot, Spider-Man: Homecoming, starring diminutive Brit Tom Holland as the titular tussler and noted Hot Dad Michael Keaton as his nemesis, the Vulture. Let’s take a sip of this heady brew, shall we?
We begin, oddly enough, in Brooklyn, which is not the New York City borough that Peter Parker lives in. Hey, any chance to see the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at sunset is worth a little geographic inconsistency.*
Some dudes are robbing an ATM in the neighboring borough of Queens, using a handheld device that looks like a cross between a crystal ball and the gun from Portal. I’m willing to bet my near-mint copy of Secret Wars No. 8 that this sucker shares some of its guts with the Infinity Stone–powered weaponry used by Loki’s minions in The Avengers. Items from that botched invasion have popped up throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so there’s precedent.
The thugs have gone full Point Break, albeit with Avengers instead of former U.S. presidents. I love Spidey’s pose here, which is a fantastic riff on the limber way his co-creator, Steve Ditko, used to draw him.
Sony owns the film rights to the Spider-Man intellectual property, and they put out all the previous Spidey flicks, none of which were related to the MCU. But after 2014’s dismal The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the humiliation of the Sony WikiLeaks emails, the studio agreed to partner up with …
… Disney-owned Marvel Studios, custodians of the MCU. In an unprecedented turn of events, the former rivals made up early last year, pooled their efforts, and put a rebooted Peter Parker in the same universe as Tony Stark. Mommy and Daddy aren’t fighting anymore, guys!
This here’s Liz Allan, a longtime minor Spider-Man supporting character, as played by newcomer Laura Harrier. Traditionally, Liz has been something of a dull milquetoast, little more than a pretty face at Peter’s high school. In Homecoming, she’ll be Peter’s initial love interest, as well as, apparently, someone involved in setting up the titular homecoming.
These lovesick puppies are Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) and Peter Parker, taking a break from their tater tots to stare longingly at the aforementioned Liz. They’re best buds, and although a character named Ned Leeds has been a Spider-Man D-lister since the hero’s earliest days, he’s never been portrayed as a pal of Peter’s. This version of Ned seems to be heavily influenced by the wholly separate comics character of Ganke Lee, the zaftig BFF of alternate-universe Spider-Man Miles Morales. I’m not sure why they didn’t just use Ganke, but there’s probably some weird legal reason.
Ah, now we’re getting to the good stuff. This is Michelle, a bookish and blunt fellow high-schooler. She’s played by Zendaya, but don’t let her character’s name fool you — there’s more to her than meets the stinkfaced eye. We can lay it all out for you, but be prepared for spoilers.
Elevated trains actually are a thing in Queens, but they are not actually a thing in Midtown Manhattan.
Robert Downey Jr.’s ungracefully aging Tony Stark is the main connection this film will have to the rest of the MCU, which is unsurprising, given that Tony’s the one who recruited Peter in this year’s Captain America: Civil War. Boy, that facial hair is really something, ain’t it? I hope I have the guts to do something that stupid when I’m 51!
It would appear that this is supposed to be Peter’s high school, but man, if that exterior was actually shot in the five boroughs, then you can wrap my high heels in webbing and call me Gwen Stacy. Hm? What’s that? You say it’s actually Franklin K. Lane High School, a real New York City building that has resided on the Brooklyn/Queens border since 1923? Sigh. Fine, let me put this blonde wig and headband on and we’ll get it over with.
Peter is watching footage of his participation in that big airport fight from Captain America: Civil War, during which he went all snowspeeders-on-Hoth on Paul Rudd’s giant-ified Ant-Man.
Oh, snap, it’s Orange Is the New Black’s Selenis Leyva! Get that superhero-movie money, girl!
During some kind of confrontation in Washington, D.C., Spidey scales the side of the Washington Monument, which is just about the only way you can get up there, these days.
Well, well, well, who do we have here? Why, it’s vulture.com’s official mascot, the Vulture! This classic Spider-Man villain has been around since the very second issue of the webslinger’s solo series, and is usually portrayed as a vengeful scientist who constructs a flight suit for himself. He’s being played in this movie by Michael Keaton, but that is not Michael Keaton in this photo; it is a computer-generated image.
Jesus, that is some really good costume design.
As is typical, Spider-Man is an innocent victim of police persecution. Just one of the many reasons why Walter Mosley thinks Spidey was the first black superhero.
The Vulture without his costume, unless you count Keaton’s inimitable eyebrows as a costume. In his alter ego, he’s a dude named Adrian Toomes, and given that he threatens to murder someone’s entire family (presumably Peter’s, but we don’t know), he’s creepy as shit in the suit or out of it.
Spidey and Vulture do battle on Brooklyn’s Coney Island. Crossing my fingers that fsociety headquarters is safe.
Peter’s doting Aunt May, as portrayed by Marisa Tomei. Fun fact: She’s almost exactly the same age as Robert Downey Jr. — but because she’s a woman, she has to play the hero’s mother figure! Ha, ha, ha, oh, man. That’s great.
The Vulture attacks the Staten Island Ferry, which is one of this city’s greatest underappreciated treasures. Sir, you have gone too far.
Remember how the end of Iron Man 3 was Tony Stark deciding to never be Iron Man again? Great follow-through on that, Tony.
*This post has been updated to correctly identify the geographic location of the opening shot.