When Marvel Studios announced that it would collaborate for the first time with another studio, Sony, on Spider-Man: Homecoming, fans speculated that perhaps Spider-Man would exist in a separate world from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, he would show up in Captain America: Civil War, but his spinoff movie would ignore the events of the Avengers films and focus solely on Peter Parker and his high school classmates.
But Homecoming just might be the most Marvel movie that ever Marveled: It's jam-packed with references and winks to other Marvel movies and comic books. Peter Parker, played this time around by Tom Holland, is lectured by his history teacher about events that happen in the recent Captain America movies. The villain devises his dastardly plan while standing among the rubble left by a fight that happened in The Avengers. And, of course, Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) plays father figure to Spider-Man.
Here is every easter egg, callback, cameo and clue of what's to come that you may have missed.
Spoilers for all the Marvel movies ahead
Marvel Cinematic Universe Easter Eggs
References to the Avengers are everywhere
Avengers Tower (also known as Stark Tower) plays a central role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is where Loki (Tom Hiddleston) opened his portal in the first Avengers movie. It later became the headquarters of the Avengers when S.H.I.E.L.D. was disbanded at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier. It was the site of Ultron's first attack on the superhero team in Avengers: Age of Ultron. And after deeming Avengers Tower unsafe, Stark begins his move to the Avengers' new headquarters in upstate New York in Captain America: Civil War.
Spider-Man: Homecoming begins after the events of the first Avengers movie. Adrien Toomes (Michael Keaton's Vulture) heads up a salvage company that makes its money cleaning up alien rubble from the destruction of New York in Avengers. But a Stark Industries team swoops in and takes over the project, claiming they're better equipped to deal with the dangerous material. Toomes, bitter that Stark is getting even richer by cleaning up his own mess, decides to collect alien weapons to sell on the black market and does so for years until confronted by Spider-Man.
We get another perspective on the Captain America: Civil War tarmac fight
In Captain America: Civil War, Iron Man and Captain America (Chris Evans) butt heads over whether they should abide by the rules of a UN-type organization. Iron Man believes that reckless decision-making by the Avengers has led to unnecessary civilian deaths, while Captain America believes the superhero squad can exercise better judgment than the world's governments as to who the bad guys actually are. Each superhero recruits fighters to his side, and Tony Stark tracks down Spider-Man for the first time.
The two teams face off in an airport, and it turns out that Peter Parker was recording the whole fight on his phone. We see him arrive in Berlin and re-watch bits of the fight as filmed on a smartphone with Peter's enthusiastic commentary.
A teacher lectures about the Sokovia Accords
In the background of a scene, a teacher tells his class about the conflict over the Sokovia Accords, the documents designed to regulate the actions of superheroes that caused so much conflict between Cap and Iron Man in Civil War.
N.B. Spider-Man offers no hint as to what happened to the Avengers who refused to sign the accords, like Captain America, Falcon, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch. Captain America broke them out of a super-prison at the end of Civil War, but we don't know where they went. More puzzling, we never find out whether Spider-Man signed the accords. Maybe he's too young to sign, but he's certainly not too young to need regulation. It's odd that Spider-Man fought for the accords (albeit perhaps unwittingly) in Civil War but functions outside the law to stop Vulture — or at least doesn't report his intentions to the police or often even Stark himself.
Captain America's PSAs
Peter's gym teacher (Hannibal Buress) shows a PSA featuring Captain America, in class, and the gag is repeated throughout the film and in the end credits. The best one: "So your body's changed. I know how that feels."
The teacher jokes after the PSA, "I'm pretty sure this guy's a war criminal now," referring to Cap's harboring of a suspected terrorist (Bucky) in Civil War.
Pepper Potts is back
After hearing that Tony and Pepper were on a break at the end of Civil War, many fans figured that Gwyneth Paltrow had departed the Marvel Machine. But Tony and Pepper are apparently still going strong.
Tony even jokes about proposing to her, and his old chauffeur Happy says he's been carrying the ring Tony bought for Pepper around since 2008. (Though all of Tony's comments about how attractive Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is in light of his renewed relationship with Pepper are concerning to say the least.)
There's even Avengers trivia
Peter is the star of a Quiz Bowl-like team at his school. Among the answers to the many questions in competitions is Vibranium, the fictional metal that's part of Captain America's shield and Black Panther's suit.
Stan Lee makes a cameo
Spidey incurs the wrath of several neighbors when he accidentally sets off an alarm trying to stop what he thinks is a criminal breaking into a car. Stan Lee, Spidey's original creator, is among those who yell at him: "Don't make me come down there, you punk!"
There's an ongoing fan theory that Stan Lee is a Watcher, an alien species that bears witness to important events in the universe. Basically, they show up whenever something momentous is happening in a movie — just like the comics writer. Spider-Man doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly important in this scene, but maybe we're to believe that his growth from super-boy to super-man is significant in itself.
Get ready to have the Spider-Man theme stuck in your head
Instead of Marvel's usual introduction, director Jon Watts opted to open the film with the classic Spider-Man theme song from the 1967 cartoon.
"A film by Peter Parker"
Normally, the opening credits would feature the name of the director. Instead the movie begins with "a film by Peter Parker" and shows young Spidey's homemade movie of his early exploits with the Avengers.
Shocker shows up
Vulture mocks (and then kills) one of his henchmen for going around calling himself "Shocker." (Another henchman adopts Shocker's weapons and moniker soon after.) Turns out that's the real name of a Spidey villain in the comics.
Peter only alludes to Uncle Ben's death
This audience is thankfully spared from watching Uncle Ben die for the third time in 15 years. But Peter does say he hides his alter-ego from Aunt May because of "everything that's happened with her."
"Can't you just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man?"
Iron Man nods at one of Spider-Man's favorite quips in the comic books. Peter Parker often ironically calls himself "your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man" since some wrongly believe he's a dangerous vigilante.
"This is your chance to kiss her"
After Spider-Man saves Liz (Laura Harrier) in the Washington Monument, the Siri-like voice in his high-tech suit — dubbed Karen — encourages him to reveal his feelings. "This is your chance to kiss her," the suit says while Peter is hanging upside down looking at Karen.
This is, of course, a nod to the famous Spider-Man kiss between an upside-down Tobey Maguire and standing Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man. (A kiss so good it has many imitators.) Sadly, this Peter loses his chance when he accidentally falls down an elevator shaft.
When Spider-Man (sans high-tech suit) convinces Tony Stark that he is worthy of his uniform, Stark offers Peter a place on the Avengers team—and a newer, even cooler suit. That upgraded outfit is lined with gold, suggesting that it is the gold-and-red Iron Spider suit from the comic books.
In the comics, Tony constructed the Iron Spider suit as a gift to Spider-Man. It has all the advanced technology of the Iron Man suit, plus retractable gold spider legs. But in the movie, Peter Parker nobly rejects the spot and the suit in favor of remaining a street-level hero and high schooler a bit longer.
Setting up a sequel
Donald Glover drops a big hint about the future of the Spider-Man universe
If you are not a big comic book fan, you might have missed major clues about the future of the Spidey universe in Homecoming. Spider-Man first meets Aaron Davis (Donald Glover) when Davis is trying to buy weapons from Vulture's crew. He later confronts him, and Davis admits that he doesn't want dangerous weapons in the neighborhood because he has a nephew that lives nearby. That nephew is likely Miles Morales, another popular Spider-Man character.
In the comics, Davis is a burglar and criminal who goes by the name of Prowler. At one point he breaks into Osborn Industries, and a radioactive spider sneaks into his bag — as can happen. That spider eventually bites his nephew Miles Morales, giving him Spidey senses. (Also of note: Glover voices Miles Morales in the animated Spider-Man.)
This could mean that Marvel is planting the seeds for Morales to play a larger role in future Spider-Man films. He could show up as the new Spider-Man when Tom Holland outgrows high school, or he could appear sooner as a second Spider-Man. It's almost certain that we haven't seen the last of Glover's Prowler.
Michelle is Mary Jane after all
Zendaya gets far too little screen time in Homecoming, but her final lines suggest she'll play a bigger role in Spider-Man 2. In her last scene she says, "My friends call me MJ," setting her up as Peter's love interest. In the comic books and Sam Raimi movies, Mary Jane or MJ becomes Peter's girlfriend.
Vulture may come back
Vulture lives to see another day at the end of Homecoming. In prison, he meets Mac Gargan (who becomes a villain called Scorpion in the comic books). Gargan tells Vulture he heard a rumor that Vulture knows Spider-Man's true identity and proposes they squash the Spider-Man together.
Vulture shoots back, "If I knew he'd already be dead." It's unclear why Vulture would keep this information to himself. Perhaps he's grateful that Peter saved his life. Or perhaps he's plotting his revenge.
Spider-Man will return
In the final post credits scene Captain America lectures the audience on patience: "You wonder why you waited so long for something so disappointing." he says to an audience who sat through a long credits sequence only to get a joke rather than a hint about upcoming Marvel flicks like Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther or Infinity War.
But then we do get a hint of what's to come: The text reads (as it did at the end of Civil War): "Spider-Man will return." A sequel is already in the works and before that, Spider-Man will show up in Avengers: Infinity War. But there's a chance Spider-Man could also appear in other upcoming standalone films, the same way Captain America and Iron Man cameoed in this film.
Just for fun
That Ferris Bueller's Day Off scene
Director Jon Watts has said he wanted to pay homage to John Hughes movies with Spider-Man. That includes a scene where Spider-Man runs through suburban backyards, disrupting families and their barbecues, as Ferris Bueller does in a famous scene from Hughes' beloved Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Indeed, if the parallel wasn't clear enough, that particular scene is playing on a TV in one of the houses Spider-Man passes by.
The guy in the chair
Peter's best friend Ned desperately wants to be Peter's "guy in the chair." You know, the guy who's good with computers and acts as the hero's eyes and ears, tracking bad guys and instructing the hero where to run. Sidekick hackers include Oracle for Batman in the comic books, Chloe for Jack Bauer in 24, and Simon Pegg's computer nerd for Tom Cruise's spy in the Mission Impossible movies.