Spider-Man has taken on a number of villains in his rogues’ gallery. The sheer number and uniqueness of the hero’s villains can rival that of the DC comic-book character Batman. However, there is one villain in the Spidey saga that has stood out as more human and devilishly villainous among the others. That villain is Adrian Toomes’ Vulture, played amazingly by Michael Keaton. Of course, Keaton has portrayed a variety of winged roles like Batman and Birdman, but there’s only a few exceptions where we see him become a truly grounded villain (another exception being VA Vandevere in Dumbo).
When people think of Spider-Man, the first villain who comes to mind may not necessarily be Vulture. Most would think of Green Goblin, Venom, or Doctor Octopus, and those villains are compelling in their own right, but with some elaboration and evaluation, it’s possible to see that the Vulture remains the greatest Spidey villain and deserves a strong fanbase. His fans will be even more pleased, considering that the character will be returning in a prominent role for the film Morbius.
Let’s take a look at why Vulture is a true stand-out in Spider-Man‘s variety of villains.
He’s more relatable
Toomes is a villain in the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who is much more grounded and relatable than most other villains in the MCU. Unlike Spider-Man villains who live more reclusive or mysterious lives, Vulture, better known by his professional name Adrian Toomes, has a wife and a child. He is a homeowner. He probably has a mortgage and is more of a family man than a ruler or a conqueror, as many villains are often portrayed.
Toomes is the average hard-working American. He lives his daily life going to work, which may be illegal activity that involves smuggling and refurbishing Chitauri equipment, and spends time with his wife and daughter who, in this iteration, happens to be Liz Allen, a love interest of Peter Parker. He is not an alien from outer space like Thanos. He is not a Norse God like Loki, and he does not have a long-winded history of existing before time was created like the Celestials from Eternals. He uses his near-anonymity to work in stealth, thus not arousing any suspicion of his crimes by the likes of the police or other superheroes.
He has a plausible motivation
Since Vulture is such a down-to-Earth villain, his motivations have to be well-intentioned to make for an interesting baddie, and they are simpler than people realize. After the battle of New York, as depicted in The Avengers, Toomes and his crew are fired after their operation is usurped by Damage Control, largely thanks to Tony Stark. Toomes and his crew members keep some scrapped Chitauri equipment and remodel it to create their own unique technology, albeit through illegal means.
Toomes had his hands tied in this situation and could not skate by getting fired, as he had his own responsibilities. He’s a parent with a wife and daughter, and he wants to do right by them. This makes him less nefarious in his nature but more sympathetic in the eyes of the audience. He does not do the things that he does for power or for taking over the universe. He does it for his family’s sake and well-being, which adds to his relatability; have almost seems redeemable, and in certain debatable ways, he may not even be doing anything wrong ..
He can think for himself
In many cases for Spider-Man villains, they are often driven mad by some freak accident which turns them into evil monsters. The always much-hyped villain Green Goblin was driven mad with his goblin serum, Doctor Octopus had his octopus-like arms fuse into him which caused him to lose his mind, and Dr. Curt Connors injected himself with a serum to help regrow his missing arm but then turned into the Lizard, slowly descending into madness as a result.
The point is, Vulture is a villain who does not inject himself with any serum or fuel himself with any chemicals to get his power. He maintains a level-headed disposition while perusing his villainous career. His brain is perfectly balanced, and he does not mindlessly recede into his animal instincts via a failed experiment or develop a split personality akin to a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s relationship.
He does not advertise his villainy
In addition to thinking for himself, Toomes maintains a low-profile as a villain and does not need to show that he’s in charge by creating havoc across New York. He tactfully and calmly thinks about the next step in his plan while working his unethical hustle.
Villains like Lizard, Electro, and Doctor Octopus ran through New York creating chaos for civilians and using their powers to strike fear into anyone who opposes them. However, that’s often worked to their detriment, as those villains have already shown their hand and exposed themselves as evil-doers. It makes one wonder why they were not taken down by the police or the government and why it took Spider-Man alone to finish the baddies off.
Nevertheless, Toomes takes pride in being cautious and tip-toeing through any predicaments that may attract unwanted attention. He is careful and clever but strong and meticulous and, with the help of Michael Keaton‘s magnetic performance, is the most three-dimensional and interesting villain to appear in Spider-Man.
We look at eight secondary film villains from that were much more imposing that the main antagonist.
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