[WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS FOR SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING!]
Spider-Man: Homecoming is amazing! With perfect casting in the form of Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Michael Keaton giving us arguably the best on-screen Spidey villain thus far (don’t worry, Alfred Molina, I said “arguably), and just an incredible sense of pure, fun heroics, it really is the Spider-Man movie fans have been asking for for years.
It also seamlessly slots into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thanks to the inclusion of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man, Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan and references to events from previous Avengers films. Those are just the overt nods and gags though, as director Jon Watts and co also stuffed the film full of blink-and-you-miss-it Easter eggs for both longtime Spider-Man fans and those audience members eagle-eyed enough to spot them. Here are the ones we spotted, in no particular order:
- I Know That Jingle!
Yes, your ears didn’t deceive you! Instead of the traditional Marvel logo theme song, Spider-Man: Homecoming did in fact open with composer Michael Giacchino’s full orchestra rendition of the catchy theme song from the classic 1960s Spider-Man cartoon. We featured this version of the song before, and I totally love it. Just a pity it wasn’t used again.
— Michael Giacchino (@m_giacchino) May 19, 2017
- Howling Principal
Keeping it classic and retro, if the principal of Peter Parker’s high school looks familiar, it’s because he’s totally supposed to. Actor Kenneth Choi plays Principal Morita here, but he also played Jim Morita, one of the Howling Commandos who fought alongside Captain America and Peggy Carter during WWII in Captain America: The First Avenger. No, there’s no time travel or frozen naps involved here. Choi is simply playing his own grandson! This is confirmed when a quick shot of Principal Morita’s office shows a framed picture of his grandfather Jim Morita on his desk.
- Amazing High School
Staying within the high school, students at Midtown Science High School wear t-shirts and blazers that show the school to have been in “Established in 1962”. That is of course the very year that Spider-Man made his comic book debut in Amazing Fantasy #15. The school also contains banners and portraits showing the great scientific leaders who inspired its founding, and included among the likes of Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton and Nikola Tesla are also portraits of John Slattery as Howard Stark (Tony’s father), Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine, the inventor of the super-soldier serum.
- Betty Brant, journalist
Some of the most hilarious parts of the high school scenes are the cringingly bad student news broadcasts. One of the presenters here is none other than a young Betty Brant, a character who began her life as J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary at the Daily Bugle, the local newspaper that adult Peter Parker eventually works at. More recently in the comics though, Betty Brant has become a journalist of her own, and it appears that Homecoming shows homage to that by letting her get a taste for it early. Even if it is hilariously bad.
- The Ultimate Influence
When it comes to the visual aesthetic of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it actually owes less to the traditional Marvel comic book universe than it does the Ultimate Marvel Universe, the comic-book imprint which debuted in 2000. This more modern alternate universe reboot of the Marvel line was of course kicked off by Ultimate Spider-Man, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley, and Homecoming pays tribute to this in two ways. The first is extremely brief, as Bagley’s name can seen graffitied on a wall behind Peter as he takes a rooftop break. The second is actually the ATM robbery by a group of crooks wearing Avengers mask which Spider-Man tries to foil. This is pulled almost straight from Ultimate Spider-Man #42 – I say “almost” because the comic actually included a robber in a Batman mask, which Marvel obviously couldn’t include here.
- Tinkering Away
Michael Keaton’s Adrian “The Vulture” Toomes initially gets his idea to start scavenging alien tech all because of one man, arguably the brains behind the operation – at least when it comes to adapting and designing the alien tech they utilise in their heists. That man is Phineas Mason, played by Michael Chernus. Although he is never referred to as such in the movie, Phineas Mason is actually the identity of comic book villain The Tinkerer. Besides for the obvious tinkering with all this tech, the movie and comic book version don’t share too much else in common though.
- A Couple of Shocking Characters
While Phineas Mason offered the brains, a couple of henchmen on Vulture’s crew offered the muscle. Unfortunately (for them), Vulture didn’t see eye to eye with all of them. One of these is the trigger-happy Jackson Brice (Logan Marshall-Green) who uses an electric gauntlet and calls himself the “Shocker”. The Shocker is of course a classic Spidey villain, and the yellow quilted sleeves on Brice’s jacket is even a throwback to Shocker’s comic book costume. In the comics though, Jackson “Montana” Brice is actually one of The Kingpin’s henchmen, whereas the Shocker’s real identity is actually Herman Schulz, who in the movie is played by Bokeem Woodbine.
However, Schulz gets to take on the role of the Shocker when Vulture kills Brice after an argument and hands the gauntlet to him. So why include Brice in the first place? Because in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon, the creators there decided to make Brice the Shocker for some reason. Director Jon Watts was cleverly paying tribute to both versions of the character here.
Bonus Easter Egg: Wonder why Shocker only has one gauntlet? That’s because this is the single gauntlet Captain America ripped off Crossbones in the opening scene of Captain America: Civil War.
- A Stinging Appearance
This one is not a very well hidden Easter egg as the movie does everything besides shouting it out on screen. I am of course referring to Better Call Saul actor Michael Mando playing hoodlum Mac Gargan. WHO HAS A MASSIVE SCORPION TATTOO ON HIS NECK. Yes, Mac Gargan is the civilian identity of classic Spider-Man villain the Scorpion, who we are yet to see in any of the movies. Homecoming’s first mid-credits scene has Gargan running into Vulture in prison and talking about some friends on the outside who want to help get even with Spider-Man for putting them there. This could be the first seed being planted for the eventual debut of the villainous Sinister Six group!
- Donald Glover’s Famous Nephew
The argument that sparks Vulture killing Brice comes after the latter exposes their operation by trying to sell alien tech weaponry to very laid back hoodlum played by Donald Glover. He seems to have an interest in climbing gear and we see on his rap sheet that his name is Aaron Davis. Later when Spider-Man confronts him for details of the stolen tech, he reveals that he wants to help Spidey as he has a nephew who lives in the neighbourhood that he doesn’t want exposed to such danger. It’s at this point that the hardcore fans all lose their minds.
See Aaron Davis is the name of The Prowler, a small-time burglar who specialises in getting into hard to reach places, and uncle to none other than Miles Morales, the Ultimate universe’s Spider-Man! Miles gains spider-powers after he gets bitten by a radioactive spider – one of the same experimental batch that gave Peter Parker his powers – which hitches a ride in the bag of the Prowler after he breaks into OsCorp. When the Ultimate version of Peter Parker is killed in a battle with Norman Osborn aka Green Goblin, Miles took over the role as Spider-Man and went on to become one of the most beloved characters around.
So beloved that when the Ultimate Universe was eventually folded a while back during the Secret Wars event, Marvel brought Miles Morales over into their normal Marvel Comics universe. Miles has his own cartoon already – in which he is voiced by none other than Donald Glover! – but fans have been begging Marvel to introduce him into the live-action world and this is basically the first, very, very small step to doing so.
- A Familiar AI
When it was revealed that Jennifer Connelly had joined the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming right at the tail-end of the production, fans were a bit confused as to who she could be playing to be added so late in the game. Now though, fans can see that… well, actually fans can’t see her at all, and that’s because Connelly just voices Karen, the AI installed in Spider-Man’s high-tech Tony Stark-designed suit.
This is not Connelly’s first superhero rodeo though, as she played Betty Ross in Ang Lee’s non-MCU Hulk movie. There’s another, much more meta connection for Connelly here though: In real life, she is married to Paul Bettany who for many years voiced JARVIS, the AI in Tony Stark’s armour (he has since evolved into the synthetic hero Vision).
- Upside Down Smooches
One of Karen’s most hilarious contributions is when Spider-Man has just saved his classmates from destroyed elevator in the Washinton Monument. As he is hanging upside down in the elevator shaft, his high-school crush Liz is standing right in front of him in awe of Spider-Man, prompting Karen to tell him that “This is your chance to kiss her”. He never gets the chance to as the beam he is suspended from gives way, causing him to comically fall down the shaft, but this is clearly a reference to the iconic upside-down kiss between Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man and Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson in director Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man movie.
- Ned who?
In Spider-Man: Homecoming Ned Leeds, played by Jacob Batalon, is Peter Parker’s best friend – a chubby Asian boy with a love of LEGO and all things geeky… which is actually the exact description of Ganke, the best friend and classmate of Miles Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics. Huh? But wait, in the traditional Marvel Universe, there is a Ned Leeds and he is a reporter who worked with Peter at the Daily Bugle and is married to Betty Brant, and who eventually got brainwashed into becoming the villain Hobgoblin. Okay, so clearly there’s no relation there. However, there is one to Ned Lee though (Note: Lee not Leeds), who in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon is an Asian reporter who works at the Daily Bugle. Double huh? It looks like Homecoming’s Ned Leeds is essentially a mash-up of all these – minus the whole being a married supervillain thing, of course.
- Iron Spider MKIII
Right at the end of the film, Tony Stark offer’s Peter Parker a slot on the Avengers, and to facilitate his step up to the big leagues, he unveils a brand new high-tech Spider-Man suit. This is clearly a nod to the “Iron Spider” armour that Tony designed for Peter when he convinced him to support his side in the comic book version of Civil War. This movie suit doesn’t quite match the red and gold aesthetic of the Iron Spider though, instead drawing its visual inspiration from the Spider-Armor MKIII, a high-tech costume designed and used by Spider-Man as a last ditch effort to fight a team of his foes during the “Ends of the Earth” comic book storyline.
- Peter Parker’s Day Off
From early on in the production, both director Jon Watts and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said that they didn’t want to just make Spider-Man: Homecoming into a regular superhero movie. Instead, they were also drawing heavily from some classic movies from legendary filmmaker John Hughes to give it that vintage 1980s high school comedy/drama vibe. They succeed in doing just that through a number of cool little touches (notice that the theme of the homecoming dance is actually 1980s?), but none more noticeable than in a particular action beat in which Spider-Man, in pursuit of a van filled with dangerous alien technology, is forced to give chase on foot through a suburb as there are no tall buildings to swing from. What proceeds is a crazy sequence as Spider-Man has to run through (often literally) and over the backyards of neighbouring houses in funny ways.
This is a direct homage to Hughes’ 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which sees Mathew Broderick as the titular Ferris having to jump fences, weave between sunbathing girls and avoid dogs as he runs from backyard to backyard to make it home before his parents. To drive home the homage even further, when Spider-Man runs through one of the backyards, a TV in the house can be glimpsed briefly actually playing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
- The Amazing Spider-Man #33
Since he was debuted in 1962 by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Spider-Man has enjoyed many iconic comic book moments that have been paid homage to and sometimes even outright copied. Out of all them, possibly the one most referenced is undoubtedly a famous sequence from “The Final Chapter” a classic story in 1966’s The Amazing Spider-Man #33.
The story is the culmination of an arc which sees Spider-Man fighting Doctor Octopus for a serum which can cure his Aunt May, who is suffering from radiation poisoning after receiving a transfusion of Spider-Man’s radioactive blood. During the battle with Doc Ock in his underwater lair though, Spider-Man found himself trapped under steel and concrete as Doc Ock’s lab collapsed on top of him. Pinned down and unable to move as water started pouring in around him, Spidey thought he would surely die, until he thinks of his loving family and friends and summons up the strength inside himself to stand up under the heavy rubble and free himself.
It’s a moment so iconic that numerous creative teams who have worked on a Spider-Man comic since have done their own rendition of the scene, paying tribute to Lee and Ditko’s work. It’s also a scene that Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige has been wanting to put in a Marvel movie for years already. And in Homecoming he finally gets the opportunity, as Vulture collapses his lair on Spider-Man, leaving him pinned and desperate with the fear of his seemingly impending death. But just like in the comic, as water starts to cascade down on him, Spider-Man digs deep to find a strength he never knew he had to free himself from the crushing weight. It’s a fantastic scene, not only because of the tribute it pays, but because it’s the emotional peak of the movie as Tom Holland gets to act his butt off with nothing more than his face and voice.
And those are all the Easter eggs we spotted in Spider-Man: Homecoming. If you saw anything else, then please feel free to sound off in the comments below!
Last Updated: July 10, 2017