Much as we applaud the act of watching the end credits of movies — a lot of people worked hard to make them, show them some respect! — we dread Marvel bumpers. These are the scenes that pop up after the movie proper is over, peppered over the end credits. Usually it’s one or two. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” had five. That’s OK, though, because the “GotGV2” ones were funny. Usually they’re not. Usually they’re tiresome allusions to future Cinematic Universe installments, often with characters we, not comic book nerds, rarely recognize. That being said, the two bumpers in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” might be the best bumpers yet.
One reason: They’re built organically out of the film we’ve just watched. The first is more like a coda, though after some snooping we’re sad to say it also sets up future comic book movies. (From here on out there be spoilers, if you haven’t seen “Homecoming” yet.) Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes/Vulture is in jail, foiled by Tom Holland’s Spidey. Up rolls a fellow con, name of Mac Gargan (Michael Mando). Mac says he’s heard things, namely that Adrian knows the real identity of Spider-Man, on whom he’d like to sic his minions on the outside. Adrian lies, says something like, “If I knew, he’d be dead by now.” Then he walks away, smiling.
Adrian is a more sinister villain than we’re used to in the MCU, but he’s really more ambivalent. He turned evil for a good reason: Tony Stark legitimately screwed him out of a job and potentially his entire middle class wealth. He was merciless, not above murder, and the scene in the car where he cleverly susses out Peter’s identity is an actor’s masterclass in menace. But this scene confirms Adrian’s not easily locked-down. He’s capable of surprises, and that allows Keaton to give a performance we think is better than his Oscar-nominated turn in “Birdman.”
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Then again, this bumper is also, on top of that, yet another tease for future installments. Mac Gargan is also known as the Spidey villain Scorpion, and Scorpion is a member of the Marvel villain team The Sinister Six. Vulture is also one of the Six. Start your speculation over whether the Six will make their MCU debut in the next film and if Vulture will have one of his (apparently) characteristic changes of heart and soon rat on Peter.
The second isn’t setting up anything. It’s merely following up on a very good gag from earlier in the movie. It’s Chris Evan’s Captain America delivering a cheesy PSA against a white screen. In the film’s first act, Peter gets detention, at which point the detention monitor (Hannibal Buress) dutifully throws on a Cap PSA singing the glories of staying after school as punishment. After the final credit has rolled, he’s back, rattling off a tongue-in-cheek ode toa patience. It’s there to squeeze another Avenger into this solo intro, but it’s also funny. And we’d like to think of it as a sly eff-you to “Deadpool,” which also threw a bumper at the very, very end of the movie: a way too cute homage to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” This is better. There are jokes, not mere nostalgia pandering.