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So, needless to say, if you haven’t watched Spider-Man: Homecoming yet, you should not continue reading this post. Consider this your official spoiler warning. (And hey, if you haven’t yet seen it, might we recommend you go right now? You will not be sorry! Go on, we’ll wait!)
At the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) faces the Vulture (Michael Keaton) in an epic showdown. But Peter Parker/Spidey, being Peter/Spidey, makes sure to rescue Adrian Toomes from what surely would be a grisly fate, instead making sure he’s wrapped up and ready for the authorities. It sets off a chain of events that sends Toomes to prison and his daughter/Peter’s crush, Liz (Laura Harrier), out of town. (This, of course, opens up another door for Peter in the form of MJ, but that’s clearly another tale for Spidey’s sequel).
But, if you stayed through the credits, you learn that Peter’s good deed does not go unrewarded. Toomes is approached in jail by another prisoner and is asked, menacingly, for Spider-Man’s true identity. And Toomes covers for our boy hero, walking off with a twinkle in his eye. What are we to make of this?
“That’s what is cool — he gets a moment of redemption and he gets to protect Peter, even though Peter would never know,” says director Jon Watts. “It’s his way of saying thank you.”
It’s all in keeping with the complicated and sympathetic character of Toomes/Vulture, whose motivations are perhaps the most understandable of all Marvel villains. “It was a really interesting thing in the development of the story,” says Watts. “You couldn’t just rely on the tropes of the villain being a murderer and killing a bunch of people. He had to be redeemable in some capacity in the end and that he believes everything he said, especially about his family. So it was a really fine walk to create a villain that still has that moment of redemption in the end.”
Watts says that Keaton, who doesn’t even like to refer to Toomes as a villain, had a good time trying to make the character more complex. “Those scenes with [Toomes] and Peter in the house, where he’s driving Peter to the dance — that right there is the reason for doing the movie,” says Watts. “That, more than anything else, is what I was looking forward to, and I got to have a lot of fun shooting that stuff.”
And, perhaps most importantly? “Toomes definitely could come back,” says Watts.
That wasn’t the only scene after the movie to stick around for, though. Captain America (Chris Evans) returns to deliver another educational PSA, like the ones Peter and his classmates watched at school. This time, he talks about the value of patience, and how sometimes it pays off, and sometimes — like, say, if you sat through all those credits in hopes of getting another Marvel teaser — it just doesn’t.