Monday, July 25, 2016

Real Name: Adrian Toomes
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-man #2 (May, 1963)
Fight Club Ranking: #500

Featured Fights:
- vs THE AVENGERS: Marvel Knights; Spider-man #11 (Apr 2005)
- vs SILVER SURFER: Marvel Zombies #3 (Apr 2006)

To say there were a lot of contenders fighting for this week's Hero of the Week is to make a massive under statement! San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC) launched a steady stream of major daily headlines. Trailers for movies and TV overwhelmed. On Day One, I thought a certain unbreakable Hero for Hire was going to be called upon early - but we're saving him for later in the year. Compelling cases for Dr. Strange, Iron Fist and Wonder Woman could all ruled out by previous features. The less said about the cinematic Justice League - the better!

There were some other outliers we may yet visit before the end of 2016, but when all was said and done, one character got me significantly more excited than any of the others: Vulture!

The thought that an old man in green long-johns would beat out some of the biggest icons in comics is good for a laugh, but that's only because the days for Spidey have been long and dark.

Vulture is a classic villain, one of Spidey's earliest. He was almost brought to life by Ben Kingsley, who was cast for the ill fated third installment of Sam Raimi's beloved trilogy. (The character was cut from the script). The hot rumor now is that former big screen Batman and resurrected Hollywood darling Michael Keaton will turn villain for the role. A little on the nose, considering the feathers he sprouted for 2014 Best Picture Oscar winner Birdman, but an intriguing prospect, never the less.

For me, it's the mere thought that a cantankerous old man with wings might be the villain for next year's Spider-man: Homecoming that has my enthusiasm restored! It's such an unconventional, anti-commercial concept that the mind boggles. Of course, by casting Michael Keaton, the character is already undergoing a metamorphosis to make it more palatable to the movie-going public.

Concept art [via Comic Book Resources] pretty quickly tells us Homecoming will try to play with the pseudo-reality popular in most comic book movies, right now. Circular fans aren't a staple of the comics. Talons, a newer addition once more associated with The Owl -- another green garbed wingman of the Marvel Universe. In keeping with this, Keaton's Vulture will probably look a little younger, a little more dynamic, and have a clearer sense of motivation. That's fine. Inoffensive tweaks, by Hollywood standards. Expected concessions in modern fantasy, for better or worse.

Convention goers were shown brief footage that didn't quite clear up the mystery of whether or not Keaton is playing Vulture, but had plenty of people talking. I'm eager to get a better look!

Of course, as much as I'm simply looking forward to seeing Vulture, there are also the many other questions that surround him! Like - will he be working alone? He would've been beside Sandman in Sam Raimi's Spider-man 3. He would've been part of the Sinister Six, if Sony's last series went ahead. A second villain could certainly spice things up. The list of candidates, too long right now.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the fact that this is the first Spider-man created by Sony Pictures in collaboration with Marvel Entertainment! This unprecedented creative partnership facilitated Spidey's appearance in Captain America: Civil War [see; HOTW 03/14/2016], and has many commentators and fans buying into rumors of a strong Tony Stark presence in Homecoming.

It's undeniably hilarious to imagine that "Birdman" Michael Keaton might actually go toe-to-toe with Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man -- the actor/character combo he deliciously dissed early on as superhero movie pioneer turned Hollywood burnout, Riggan Thomson. Keaton and Inarritu joke in DVD supplemental material that it'd be funny to do a superhero blockbuster sequel to Birdman. This scenario is just as good. Of course, it's not the only crossover I'm thinking about, though...

There's a definite sense that Marvel isn't completely in control, here. They've got the mojo to steer things to everyone's benefit, but Sony's still calling the shots. So exactly how much cross-pollination will exist between the Spider-man franchise as Marvel's larger cinematic universe is up for debate. If this is a complete working relationship, then the thought occurs that Spider-man characters could find their way into other films. Which might not be a huge priority for a Vulture, say, but what about a Norman Osborn? His Green Goblin was well mined with Willem Dafoe, and the last Sony reboot did just retread aspects of the Goblin mythology. If Osborn is able to attack the larger Marvel Universe -- as he did in Dark Reign, when he deposed SHIELD, and became Avengers leader as the original Iron Patriot -- then we have some very interesting prospects for much more than just Homecoming.

I'm looking forward to getting back to Spidey. Everyone needs good Spider-man in their life!

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