Updated June 27, 2017: Just under a year ago, Marvel unveiled the first look at Spider-Man: Homecoming concept art, and it got our imaginations running. Combined with the casting of Donald Glover - one of the original inspirations for Miles Morales - we pieced together a theory about who Donald Glover could be playing, and what that role could mean for the film.
We're confident enough in our reputation as comic book prognosticators to say we missed the mark on at least part of our theory. While Glover is indeed playing the role of Aaron Davis - Miles Morales' comic book uncle, and the villainous Prowler in the now defunct Ultimate Universe - it seems safe to say our prediction that he'd be the film's secret villain was flying a little to too close to the sun.
Still, the inclusion of Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming - a direct reference to Miles Morales and the Ultimate Marvel Universe continuity - could be a signal about Marvel's willingness to include aspects of Miles' story in Peter Parker's MCU adventures.
So just for a little pre-Homecoming fun, here is a look at our original story - hits and misses and all - for the record.
Original story published July 26, 2016: Over the weekend, Marvel Studios took the stage at Comic-Con International: San Diego’s massive Hall H to deliver a typically bang-up presentation about their upcoming films, including cast reveals for Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Captain Marvel, as well as the first footage and concept art from Spider-Man: Homecoming. The footage, though compelling, didn’t reveal much about Homecoming that we didn’t already know, least of all which characters most of the as yet unassigned cast would be playing. However, the concept art revealed that the Vulture is the film’s villain – or at least one of them.
But it may have also revealed more than Marvel intended. If our theory is right, the Vulture’s souped-up look (and mask) in that concept art may provide the true identity of the film’s villain – and it ain’t Adrian Toomes. To get you up to speed, we’ve got to look closely at the Vulture’s costume and gear in that art.
The art showed a much more tech-focused version of the Vulture, with cybernetic wings and talon-like boots strapped over a green jumpsuit with a full facemask. It makes sense that the Vulture’s big screen look would evolve this way – an old man in green pajamas probably isn’t a particularly appealing visual for Michael Keaton who has been rumored to be cast as Adrian Toomes. Likewise, the aforementioned cybernetic wings bear a striking resemblance to a version of Vulture’s wings seen in the Ultimate Universe, right down to the circular turbines.
What’s interesting about all that isn’t that Marvel Studios is looking to the Ultimate Universe for visual inspiration – that goes all the way back to casting Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t Vulture who wore that version of the wings in Ultimate Spider-Man.
Though they were built for the Vulture, he never got to wear them. In the story where they appeared, they were stolen and used by none other than the Ultimate version of the Prowler, a character who traditionally wears – that’s right – a green jumpsuit with a full facemask.
Now here’s where things get interesting. In the Ultimate Universe, the Prowler isn’t Hobie Brown, a gifted engineer and cat-burglar as he is in the mainstream Marvel Universe. He’s Aaron Davis – the uncle of none other than Miles Morales, the former Ultimate Spider-Man, and a current Spider-Man of the mainstream Marvel Universe alongside Peter Parker.
Why is that interesting? Because Donald Glover, whose “Donald for Spider-Man” Twitter campaign led to him being one of the inspirations for Miles Morales is part of the cast of Homecoming – though, like many of the castmembers, his character has not been named.
The 32-year-old Glover is a little old to be playing Miles Morales, especially as a contemporary to the film’s teenage Peter Parker. But what if he’s playing Miles’s uncle, Aaron Davis? And what if Davis is one of the film’s villains as the Prowler, going so far as to steal the Vulture’s wings? That could be a way to nod to fans of Morales while also tying multiple villains into a single narrative.
If all of that isn’t enough to convince you, keep in mind two things: first, the person Prowler stole those wings from also wasn’t the Vulture, but the man who constructed them for him – the Tinkerer. Again, like most of the cast, there’s no official word on this, but the same reports that long ago identified the Vulture as one of the film’s villains also claimed that Tinkerer would appear in the film, helping Adrian Toomes build his cybernetic flying harness.
Second, and this may be most suggestive of all, Prowler has been a major character in the most recent volume of Amazing Spider-Man as one of Peter Parker’s employees and allies and, according to Marvel, will play a major role in the upcoming Clone Conspiracy. And, coincidentally, the traditionally C-List character is due to get his own ongoing series for the first time ever starting later this year.
Marvel Comics isn’t particularly beholden to Marvel Studios’ plans for their characters (see the current comic book status quo of the film Avengers for proof), but featuring Prowler more on the comic book side might have an added undercurrent of preparing audiences for his inclusion in their vaunted Spider-Man: Homecoming film. Launching a Prowler title at the end of 2016 would put a nice trade paperback with Prowler’s name on it on bookstore shelves right around the time of Homecoming’s July 2017 release – something non-readers and moviegoers are sure to look for if Prowler suddenly becomes a household name.
Oh, and might we add, those wings in Ultimate Spider-Man designed by none other than David Marquez, Marvel’s top artist right now with Civil War II.
Don’t be surprised if you see the name “Aaron Davis” next to Donald Glover when the full casting notices for Spider-Man: Homecoming finally go out. And don’t be surprised if the guy in that concept art winds up being someone other than original Vulture Adrian Toomes under that Prowler-esque facemask.