Movie Maniac

Spotting the hidden gems in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

It’s very clear going into “Spider-Man: Homecoming” that there will be numerous crossovers and references to other characters and elements in the gargantuan Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film certainly drops a big ol’ spider sack of Easter eggs – hidden things for fans to catch – throughout.

Here are 10 of them (needless to say, there are some spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you’re one of the two people on the planet who hasn’t seen the flick yet).

1. The retro theme song. As the Marvel Studios logo lights up the screen, we hear the old theme song from the 1960s animated “Spider-Man” series, thanks to composer Michael Giacchino. Even though there is no singing, I can still hear the lyrics: “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.”

2. Principal Morita. The principal at Peter’s school is played by Kenneth Choi, who previously played Jim Morita, who was a member of the Howling Commandos in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” So Choi basically plays his own grandson in “Homecoming.” There’s even a picture of Jim Morita with the Commandos on Principal Morita’s desk.

3. The weaponry. Michael Keaton’s Vulture uses alien Chitauri weaponry to shape into his own weapons. This stems from the events in the first “Avengers,” where the Chitauri army descended on Earth, led by Loki.

4. The license plate and Aaron Davis. Spidey interrogates Aaron Davis (Donald Glover) and gets the answers he needs. In the comics, Davis eventually becomes a villain known as the Prowler. And when Davis tells Spidey that he has a nephew that lives in the area, he’s referring to Miles Morales, who in the comics will become the Ultimate Spider-Man and take over for Peter Parker.

Also check out Aaron’s license plate on his car; it reads “UCS-M01.” The new Spider-Man and Aaron Davis first appeared in “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1.”

5. Bruce Banner cameo. In Peter’s chemistry class, pictures of scientific giants can be seen above the whiteboard, starting with Charles Darwin on down to Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Marie Curie. But the very last picture shows Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, a nod to the Incredible Hulk.

6. Karen. Peter names the artificial intelligence inside his suit Karen, which is voiced by Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly. In real life, she is married to Paul Bettany, who not only played Vision in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” but was also the voice of Jarvis, the A.I. in Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. A nice artificial intelligence couple if ever there was one. I’m sure their love is real, though.

7. That other license plate. There’s a car on the Staten Island ferry that Spidey tries to save that has a license plate that reads “SM2-0563,” which probably stands for the “Amazing Spider-Man #2” comic that came out in May 1963. That’s the issue in which Vulture and his henchman, the Tinkerer (Michael Chernus), are introduced.

8. The pinned-under-rubble scene. Near the end of the film, Peter gets buried under rubble and uses his superhuman strength to get free. That’s a direct homage to a sequence taken from “The Amazing Spider-Man-Vol. 1 Issue 33,” released in February 1966.

Director Jon Watts said in an interview with Fandango that that’s “one of the best, most iconic images ever – one of the best Steve Ditko illustrations. That’s Spider-Man. To be able to re-create that in this movie was an honor.”

9. Nod to that kiss. After Peter rescues his classmates from disaster at the Washington monument, he’s hanging upside-down staring into the face of his crush, Liz (Laura Harrier). It’s at this moment that Karen tells Peter that he should kiss her, an homage to the iconic kissing scene in the first “Spider-Man” movie between Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and Spidey (Tobey Maguire), who was hanging upside-down.

10. M.J. Michelle (Zendaya) sticks to the background for most of the film until one of the last scenes, when she is named as the new captain of Midtown High’s academic decathalon team. It’s then that she says, “My friends call me M.J.” In the comics, M.J. is the nickname of Mary Jane Watson – a love interest of Spider-Man’s.

Rod Pocowatchit: 316-268-6638, @rawd

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