We finally got around to seeing Spiderman: Homecoming, and absolutely loved it. So unsurprisingly, I’m gonna talk about the Vulture, and will include spoilers.
We liked the entire movie pretty well; I’m sure there’s room for criticism, but it’s a good addition to Marvel’s movies. They did a lot of aspects well, and I liked Peter’s character arc. I also liked the Vulture’s character arc.
He is a villain that’s all about family – that’s his motivation, you do what you have to do to support your family, and he’s been spurned and burned one time too many to care about keeping that source of support totally clean. You don’t get to see a whole lot of his interactions with his independent family members, but he does seem to be a good dad to Liz, just a little protective, but not so much that he gets to be Stereotypical Overbearing Dad. He doesn’t threaten Peter over taking his daughter out on a date, the way Overbearing Dad does – he threatens Peter over their villain-hero relationship. And every time it looked like his empire would fall, the first thing he jumped to was “how will I support my family?” which didn’t seem to be a facade for power, but a legitimate concern.
I also like that the first time we see him kill someone, he hadn’t meant to. He grabbed one of their weird alien guns and shot a minion who was turning on him, only to realize it turned the guy to ashes instead of just turning off gravity for him. I appreciate this because while he does seem like the kind of guy who would kill for his family, taking that first step of murder is a big one for a guy who is originally a decent person. The fact that he already killed someone and knows he can and can move past it as “eh, just business” makes it much more believable to me that when Spiderman keeps screwing up his plans, his reaction is to want to kill him. I would have had a harder time believing he’d really want to kill someone, murder them dead, if he hadn’t already killed someone. I mean, when someone constantly screws me up, I wouldn’t ever really kill them even if I’d mutter it under my breath. For someone whose motivation is family, they’re probably not already a cold-blooded killer, but a decent person. He needed that first blood.
And then he still has solid standards and morals when it comes to this arena.
Going back to threatening Parker on homecoming night, he just learned in that car ride that Peter is Spiderman, and now is his chance to kill him as he wanted. He even pulls out a gun from his glove compartment. But instead, he turns around and makes it clear he’s clear on who Peter really is, brings up events of an earlier scene when Spiderman saved Liz’s life, and says that because Peter saved his daughter’s life, he will now save Peter’s life by choosing not to kill him in a situation where he absolutely would otherwise, adding that if Peter follows him instead of enjoying homecoming with Liz, he will kill Peter and everyone he loves.
Peter chooses to put on his mask and follow him.
After establishing this life for a life moral, the Vulture tries to pull off a huge heist robbing none other than Stark, a desperate gambit to restore his empire after Spiderman has crushed so much of it, and Spiderman comes and disrupts that last-ditch attempt to get up and going again. In the fight, the Vulture nearly still makes off with some of Stark’s energy cores, but doesn’t because his wings are broken and explode. Spiderman tries to stop him flying off, noticing the wings will explode, and then after they do, he jumps into the flames of the explosion, looking for the Vulture, and drags him out from his machinery to safety, saving his life.
So when we get the final Vulture scene in prison, another guy approaches him and says he knows some guys on the outside that would like to kill Spiderman, and the word is the Vulture knows his identity. The Vulture insinuates that if he knew, Spiderman would already be dead. This is for me a yaaaaas moment because he had morals and he stuck to them. It’s possible that the Vulture could have been prodded to breaking those morals, but there wasn’t any good setup for that – and the fact that he stuck to what he knew, who he was, made him a solid and consistent character. His telling the other guy that Spiderman is Peter Parker would have certainly left an ominous cliffhanger, but instead they worried about his character and not drama, just the way it should be.
There are a lot of good elements of the Vulture worth examining when writing your own villain.