michael keaton as the vulture in spiderman homecoming

The Vulture

Michael Keaton plays a character named Adrian Toomes. He is like the evil version of Stark, a black market arms dealer. Explained producer Eric Hauserman Carroll:

“He is a businessman with a family. He wants to look out for his kids. He’s got sort of a Tony Soprano mentality. He doesn’t have these big delusions of grandeur where he wants to take over the world, or replace the government, or even defeat the Avengers or anything. He just wants his shot at the good life, and he thinks it’s not fair that someone like Tony Stark can make a fortune selling weapons and find the light, turn away from that, and be looked upon as a hero and then even worse, help found – as you’ll see – he gets paid to clean up the mess. … So he’s one of those guys. ‘I’m doing some shady stuff, but I’m not really hurting anyone,’ you know?”

Toomes is also sort of a mirror image of Peter. He’s a really smart guy trying to make it in the world. He runs a salvage company and he thinks he’s landed this giant contract to help clean up after the Battle of New York. He’s leveraged himself to the hilt, hired extra men, and bought extra trucks so he’s all in. A day into his work cleaning up after the events of the Battle of New York, this new organization no one’s ever heard of called the Department of Damage Control shows up and says “We got this. You guys go home. Qualified personal are taking over.” Damage Control wants to make sure the remnants of Chitauri technology are safe. This sends him over the edge a little bit and since he had scavenged a bit of this high-tech alien stuff, and along with some of the guys on his team, who are also very smart, he builds this wing suit. Amy Pascal says that Michael Keaton was the first and only person they wanted for this role.

Watts liked the idea that someone can become a villain and still be a regular person. He loves rooting the character in a believable background to keep it grounded. The Vulture has real motivations. Watts says no one wakes up wanting to be a villain. Keaton himself describes his character as “somewhat of a victim”:

“He takes things in that he feels like a victim, and some of it is justified actually. He believes that there’s an upper echelon of society of people who are getting away with a lot and have everything. And there’s a whole lot of folks who are working hard, and don’t have much. Does that sound familiar? To anybody, given the political climate? Which I think is an interesting way to go about this. […] He runs salvage. He’s a working guy. He’s built this business, this company. He works hard.  And they took it from him.”

One of the men on the Vulture’s team is Herman Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine), who is known as “Shocker.” Vulture makes fun of his pro wrestling-style nickname. Shocker has isolated yellow arms and a modified version of Crossbones’ punch gauntlet.

Parker gets involved in Toomes’ business operations when he attempts to stop a few men trying to rob an ATM with large high-tech guns. Tony tells him to stay out of it, and that he’ll have a chance to become an Avenger once he has graduated from college. Walking home, he encounters a piece of technology that fell out of the van. Instead of calling Tony Stark he decides to investigate it himself. This leads him to Washington, DC, which we’ve seen in the trailers. Peter rejoins the track team so he can go on a trip to the country’s capital. Parker’s investigation causes problems for Toomes, who is not happy about it.

While Peter Parker’s primary script and story arc has remained the same since Tom Holland was hired, he says that the arc for Toomes and the Vulture has changed quite drastically from the first draft, and for the better.

Keaton described Toomes crew:

“I think it’s an assembly of people he’s needed, just hired ’em on, and others that have loyalty. They’re his boys, and they are like-minded. They are just his boys, you know? I really like the relationship with the Tinkerer – with [Michael Chernus]’s character – it’s great. He’s real funny, so we goof around a lot and make up very, very funny backstories. But they’re funny, but then you think, ‘Well, that’s probably their relationship. They probably get on each other’s nerves sometimes.’ I have a lot of the ideas, and then I just say, “Go make that. Go make that for me. I want to have a thing that does all this stuff. Just go make that stuff for me.” And he’s great. I’m having a lot of fun in that relationship.”

the vulture in spider-man: homecoming

The Vulture’s Suit

Toomes builds his wingsuit out of the alien tech he has scavenged and uses the suit to infiltrate sites locked down by Damage Control to steal more Chitauri leftovers.

The Vulture suit has a 34-foot wingspan – it’s more like a vehicle than a costume. He has to step into the suit held on a gantry to get into it. The arms are mechanically controlled (i.e. he doesn’t have to flap the wings to use it). The suit has a cocoon pod extraction which allows him to evacuate and get into more close quarters. He has a sleek fighter pilot-like helmet and mech boots that extend out into claws.

spider-man zendaya

Zendaya as Michelle

Zendaya plays a classmate named Michelle, who is one of Peter’s best friends. They come from similar backgrounds. She is described by Tom Holland as being very quiet, and “she’s always reading these crazy books, like how to murder someone without no one knowing.”

Before production began, there were rumors that Zendaya was secretly playing Peter’s love interest Mary Jane, but on set everyone denied it: “I promise you when the movie comes out her name is Michelle.”

Amy Pascal admits that when she and Kevin Feige looked at her screen test, they didn’t even know who she was:

“There was this girl, she was the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen and we were like looking at it and she was so fine and so smart and savvy and poised and she had no make-up on…and we just looked at it after we shot it and we were like, ‘She’s really fine.’ And they were like, ‘She’s really famous.’ But she’s been blowing us away every day.”

Jon Watts says he envisioned Michelle as being a version of Ally Sheedy’s character in The Breakfast Club or what Linda Cardellini was like in Freaks and Geeks: “She has a really cool wardrobe, really funny, lots of literary nods. I like the idea that she’s a real reader and bookish. She always has a big pile of books she’s carrying around, which I picked and obsessed over.”

spider-man homecoming trailer 13

Other Characters

Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, a mentor who would rather Parker enjoy his high school years and stop playing the superhero. We learned that Stark has founded Damage Control. It is not just a cameo role – Downey appears in five or six scenes. The Tony Parker relationship is the beginning of a big brother-younger brother dynamic. Tony Stark wasn’t originally supposed to appear in the film, but after they saw his interaction with Peter Parker in Civil War, they decided to make him a part of the story.

Jon Favreau returns as Happy Hogan, the head of Stark Industries security. He acts as a go-between for Parker and Stark, with Peter always trying to get ahold of his friend, Tony. Peter is always calling Tony and leaving messages, wanting to be involved.

Jacob Batalon plays Parker’s friend Ned Leeds, who loves science and is trusted with Parker’s big secret.

Logan Marshall-Green plays one of Toomes’ crew. Marvel and Disney have still not revealed his character’s name, which has led to speculation that he may play a bigger role than anticipated. When we asked director Jon Watts about the character, he refused to give any information because “there’s a lot of surprises and I don’t want to spoil them.”

Laura Harrier plays Liz Allan, a classmate that Peter has a crush on. Described as a “type-A” personality, Liz is in charge of planning the Homecoming dance. Parker begins to hatch a plan to talk to her at Flash’s party with the idea that he will convince her to talk to him under the guise that he knows Spider-Man.

Marisa Tomei returns as Aunt May, whose relationship with Peter is more like an older sister than a parent. May is described as more rock ‘n roll, while Peter is more robotics club.  Aunt May cooks a lot, but she’s not good at it, so they often end up eating takeout from the Thai food restaurant downstairs.

Donald Glover appears in the film, and no details have been revealed about his character. On set, no one would talk about who he was playing. At first, I assumed he signed on to appear in the movie in a small role as he was already working in Atlanta on Atlanta, but it seems like there may be more to it or at very least, they want to keep it a surprise.

Tony Revolori plays Flash Thompson, another one of Parker’s high school classmates.

jon watts behind the scenes of Spider-man: Homecoming

The Director

Jon Watts was hired as the director after the producers watched his film Cop Car and were attracted to its almost Amblin-esque vibe. Producer Amy Pascal loves that Watts was able to tell a story through action with very little money: “He did a lot of things with $8,000 that some directors can’t do with $80,000.”

Watts was excited about being involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and getting to see Spider-Man interacting with the other people in that universe. But he also wanted to explore a different side of this world:

“I was really excited about that, because the other movies have shown what I described as the Penthouse level of the Marvel world, what it’s like to be Thor, Iron Man, you know, a billionaire playboy and all of that stuff. But what’s great about Spider-Man is that he’s a regular kid and so by showing his story you also get to show what the ground level is like in a world where the Avengers exist, which is already, I think, a great premise for a movie. So that was very exciting, but also just Tom. By having Peter Parker be a kid that also opens up, I think, a lot of possibilities that are only really explored at the beginning of the other two versions of the films. In the Raimi one he’s only in high school for like ten minutes, but I wanted to make a high school movie already so the opportunity to do it with Spider-Man was pretty exciting.”

Watts is friends with The Amazing Spider-Man series director Marc Webb from his days directing music video days. He met with Webb who he claims gave him “the best advice”:

He was like ‘Just make sure to get lunch with Stan Lee. Definitely enjoy yourself.

Continue Reading Our Spider-Man: Homecoming Set Visit Report >>

Cool Posts From Around the Web: