Written By: Nick Poulimenakos
Marvel’s villain problem seems to have been cracked… for now at least. Michael Keaton’s Vulture has been praised for being a very grounded, relatable villain in the giant Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the film showed him as a down-on-his-luck salvage company owner, he was originally intended to have a very different backstory but would still have a connection to Spider-Man. Screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein spoke to Yahoo! Movies about creating the cinematic version of the Vulture and forging a connection to the web-slinger:
“He was still stealing from Damage Control, but we had a different way into it. [Toomes] was going to be [Peter’s] teacher, and then we were like, ‘No, let’s separate him fully from the school — or at least so it seems.’ And that’s I think when we decided to make it the love interest’s dad.”
Adrian Toomes was always meant to be a sympathetic villain. The challenge was what kind of man would he be that leads him to becoming the feared Vulture. In the MCU, Toomes is a working-class family man who becomes The Vulture in a effort to provide for his loved ones. What is even more interesting is that the writers also spoke about how the comic book counterpart wouldn’t work on the silver screen:
“Once we started talking about Vulture, it was clear that the version in the comics wouldn’t do, where he was this bald old man. It just never felt terribly scary on film to us. So we thought, ‘All right, let’s make him more of a middle-aged guy.'”
While every Spider-Man villain in film has had some kind of connection to Peter Parker, Adrian Toomes’ familial relationship to Peter’s love interest made for some of the best scenes in the entire film. Watching Toomes slowly but surely deduce Peter’s secret identity while driving him and Liz to the homecoming dance was among the most tense moments in Homecoming.
I’m glad that this change was made. Watching Michael Keaton teach high school could have been a nice sight but making Toomes a man who values family above all else was the right call. It allows for the character to be complex, morally grey and gives him a legitimate reason for taking part in these criminal activities.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is in theatres everywhere.