Jackson W. Brice (Montana)

Another character’s name has been confirmed for the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, and it’s nobody anyone was expecting. We knew already that Logan Marshall-Green would have portrayed a subordinate of the Vulture, but now we learn that his character will be called Jackson Brice, quite a familiar name for the comics’ readers, as this is the real name of Montana, one of the Enforcers, among the very first enemies Spider-Man ever faced. In the show, Brice will be one of the scavangers who reverse-engineer several high-tech components to level up in his criminal activities, but in the comics he’s a renowned mercenary and a master of the lasso. It’s possible that this version of Brice will look to the animated The Spectacular Spider-Man‘s version, where he doesn’t get the Montana identity, but he becomes Shocker instead of Herman Schultz (who’ll be present in the movie)…but waiting for a confirmation, let’s take a look at the original one.

Not much is known about Jackson Brice’s early life: he was born in BozemanMontana, from an unknown family, and since he was very young he practiced with the lariat, until he became a master of it. Under unknown circumstances, he met Daniel Brito, an infallible marksman who went by the name Fancy Dan, and Raymond Bloch, called the Ox for his incredible strenght; the three of them had unique talents to put on the market and, wanting to capitalize them, they decided to enter business together as mercenaries, in a team of three they called the Enforcers. As a codename, Brice chose the name of his birth State, Montana. The trio earned quite a fame as goons for hire, offering their services to some of the most influent crime bosses of their time. At a certain point, they moved to New York City to enter the service of Frederick Foswell, aka Big Man, who wanted to take control of New York’s criminality. It was during this time that the Enforcers met the one hero who would have become their nemesis for a while: Spider-Man. At first, Montana managed to take him by surprise with his lasso, capturing him and restraining his movements, but eventually the hero overpowered them all, forcing them to retreat. Foswell, at the time a reporter for the Daily Bugle, was exposed as the Big Man and arrested, so the Enforcers became unemployed…but not for long, as they were soon hired by another kingpin-wannabe, the Green Goblin, who employed them in a desert battle against Spider-Man. Montana and his teammates nearly obtained a victory against Spider-Man, who was out of his usual environment, but the battle was abruptly interrupted by The Hulk, who was hiding in that same area, forcing the trio to retreat once again. When the Enforcers resurfaced, they had formed an alliance with Sandman to kidnap the Human Torch, and they nearly succeeded if it wasn’t, again, for Spider-Man, who intervened to save his friend. For the umpteenth time the Enforcers tried to defeat Spider-Man, this time working for Lightmaster, but things ended the same way as the previous ones.

Montana and the others didn’t want to start any particular private war with Spider-Man, especially considering how bad for business this was, so they soon tried to change their target, accepting a job from former industrialist Techmaster; this time, however, they were confronted and defeated by the mutant singer/vigilante Dazzler. Things didn’t go any better the moment they crossed paths with She-Hulk, who had them all arrested (luckily enough, in one piece). The trio came soon out of jail, but they suffered a loss as Ox fell victim to Karl Stragg, a scientist who apparently killed him in an effort to swap bodies with him; Montana and Fancy Dan recruited Raymond’s brother, Ronald Bloch, as the new Ox, and they resumed their business, entering Mr. Fear‘s services in his war to conquer Hell’s Kitchen. Obviously, Daredevil confronted the trio almost immediately, but he wasn’t a target, as the Enforcers primarily destroyed the activities of Fear’s rivals…who, however, had mercenaries on their own, as Montana discovered as he was faced by The Wrecker, a goon empowered by an enchanted weapon: as he soon found out, criminals were not so careful about his integrity as heroes were, and Montana barely made it out alive. In hospital he rejoined Fancy Dan, who had met the Wrecker after him, and the two escaped together, only to discover that Mr. Fear had lost the war. This, however, was not such a big problem, as the winner, The Hood, required their services instead. Montana didn’t like to work for the demonic crimeboss the least, and he often complained about how creepy he was, and how he always appeared out of thin air when someone was speaking about him. Plus, serving The Hood exposed them all to unusual supernatural threats, as they found out when Satana mind-controlled them to do her bidding, luckily enough releasing them all alive and well when they did what they had been ordered to. When The Hood lost his empire, the Enforcers came back to New York, just as Spider-Man was on a rampage, looking for the killer of Lily Hollister‘s baby: maybe it wasn’t exactly the best time to be back on business…

Jackson Brice is a man of no principle nor honor, a mercenary who only aims to profit and who sells his skills to the best bidder in order to achieve it. As Montana, he’s a skilled martial artist with total mastership over lariat, and he can use his lasso in a variety of unexpected and effective ways during battle. Usually overpowered when facing some masked hero, Montana is nevertheless one of the first names people like Big Man, Kingpin or The Hood call when they need some old-fashioned street thug, a “job” he still excels at.

Abraham Erskine

abrahamerskinefilmThe last character appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming is an old acquaintance…and he’s been dead for decades. In one of the main corridors of Midtown School of Science and Technology, we see a mural with portraits of some of the greatest scientists in history…even Marvel history, as we can clearly see Howard Stark, and even Abraham Erskine. The latter was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in Captain America: The First Avenger, he’s the inventor of the Super-Soldier Serum, and the man who choses scrawny Steve Rogers as a test subject (he’s also the one who created the Red Skull in the first place, but he doesn’t seem so proud of that). Killed at the beginning of the movie by a Nazi spy, Erskine’s name has been dropped in a number of Marvel movies and tv series, but this is the first time since The First Avenger that he’s seen (albeit in photo) rather than just mentioned. Now, let’s take a look at this heroic scientist who changed the (comics’) world with his work.

Abraham Erskine was born in Germany from a Jewish family. In the years of his youth he met a girl, Anita, and fell in love with her: the two got married, and they had a daughter, Esme. Studying biochemistry and physics, Erskine became one of the most renowned and brilliant scientists in all Europe, and he even met and befriended another famous German physicist, Albert Einstein, whom he shared ideas and debates with. His life-long project was to create a superior breed of humans, able to defeat any illness and to excell both physically, mentally and morally over the lost generation that had given birth to a horror such as World War I: to do so, he devised a program that included a peculiar diet, a serum of his own invention (later known as the Super-Soldier Serum) and the Vita-Rays, radiations of his own discovery that allowed the Serum to work correctly within the body of test subjects. Still far from the final achievement, Erskine kept working even when Adolf Hitler rose to power, and despite he was a Jew he was left alone, since his work could have been useful to the Nazis as well. The only way abrahamerskinecomics1Erskine had to continue his research was working for the new regime, and he accepted to do so…thus losing his daughter’s esteem, as the two became estranged. Of course, working for Hitler meant a lot of uncomfortable compromises, and Erskine watched in horror as, against his will and opinion, the dictator and Baron Zemo tested a new weapon, the Death-Ray, on a living human subject. Remarking that bettering human beings was more a noble purpose than ending lives, Erskine tested Hitler’s patience, but he was nevertheless allowed to examine John Steele, an American super-soldier with powers of unknown origins, without being able to learn much from him. His discovery, however, would have been used to enslave humanity rather than freeing it, that much he knew: it was finally time to listen to his daughter and to abandon Germany, like his friend Einstein had done years before.

Thanks to an old friend of his, Hans Bruder, another German scientist who had defected to the United States of America, Erskine contacted the enemy, and he was granted safe passage to the US along with his family: during a lecture in Luxembourg, Erskine’s escort was attacked by special operatives Nick Fury and Red Hargrove, and the scientist was brought to their commanding officers, Lt. Sawyer and Colonel Ellis. Brought to the United States, Erskine faked his own death and started a new life under the alias of Joseph Reinstein, offering his services and expertise to the US Government. Made the head of Project: Rebirth, aimed to the creation of a functioning super-soldier to be used against the Nazis, Erskine/Reinstein developed a program that worked faster than his diet-based one, and he made several experiments on volunteer test subjects, such as Duvid Fortonuv, later dismissed, and Clinton McIntyre, who was unstable and died as a result of the exposure to the Vita-Rays. Finally, a perfect candidate was presented to Erskine: Steve Rogers, a scrawny kid who accepted to volunteer for the abrahamerskinecomics2experiment even with full knowledge of his possible death. While the candidates trained, Erskine observed them and selected them, and at the end of the day Rogers proved to be the best choice: if lacking under any physical point of view, his spirit was strong, and his morality even stronger, exactly the characteristics the scientist wanted for his “perfected human”. In 1941, near the end of the preparation program, Erskine felt something was amiss, and feared the Nazis had found out he was alive and working for the US: just in case, he entrusted the formula for his Serum to James Fletcher, an Army colonel who was among the few people he totally trusted, then continued with the experiment. Erskine was succesful, and Steve Rogers became the super-soldier he was meant to be…but two members of Project: Rebirth, Professor Hamilton and Special Agent Frederick Clemson, were actually Nazi spies Albrecht Kerfoot and Heinz Kruger: they killed Erskine and stole his formula, trying to escape with it, only to be stopped by the now empowered Rogers. All of Erskine’s knowledge died with him, and Rogers remained the only succesful super-soldier for a long, long time.

Abraham Erskine is an extremely intelligent man, who dedicated his life to making humanity reach its full potential, reather than surrendering to the evidence of war-mongering and hate-spreading individuals. A proficient physicist and biochemist, he is one of the most accomplished scientists of his time, but he always sees science as a tool at man’s service, never the opposite. An idealistic man for uncivilized time, forced to watch helplessly as even his beloved science is perverted to serve the purpose of annihilating men and women, Abraham Erskine keeps fighting for his dream of a better humanity, super-humans who could embody all the best the human body, mind and soul have to offer.

Herman Schultz (Shocker)

shockerfilmThe Vulture won’t be alone in his task of giving Spider-Man a headache in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, and in the trailer we spotted a member of his gang: Herman Schultz, portrayed by Bokeem Woodbine. Starting as a simple crook, Schultz will receive an upgrade as well (possibly thanks to the Tinkerer, set to appear in the movie), and he’ll become the villainous Shocker. This secondary supervillain was mentioned in the viral campaign for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with an article from the Daily Bugle claiming he had been captured by Spider-Man right before the events of the film, but he never actually appeared on the big screen, this movie marking his debut. Now, let’s take a look at the original guy, one of the few non-psychopathic villains Spidey is used to face.

Herman Schultz was born in New York City from a low-income family. He excelled in studies, especially in scientific subjects, but when he was in high school both his parents died, and he was the only one who could take care of his younger brother, Marty Schultz. Needing fast money to make a living for both himself and Marty, Herman became a thief, and used his impressive intellect to become the (self-proclaimed) best safe-cracker in the city. With time, Marty learnt to take care of himself and moved away, but Herman didn’t stop his criminal career, since it was by now the only thing he was actually able to do. He wasn’t exactly satisfied with his life, but it paid the bills. Eventually, however, he was caught, and sent to prison for robbery: Herman quickly realised that in a world full of superheroes normal thieves like him had no chance in the world to continue with their “job”…but instead of shockercomics1changing life starting from this realisation, he decided to raise the biddings for himself, and he spent his first years in jail studying mechanical engineering, becoming quite an accomplished professionist. Instead of using his newfound knowledge to find a regular job, of course, he built for himself a pair of experimental gauntlets, able to vibrate air at an intense frequence and to blast it against a determined target, with a highly destructive power. The vibration, however, was so powerful that Schultz would have broken all his bones, or even killed himself, if he had used the gauntlets without protection: he tailored a special costume made of yellow quilt patches designed to absorb the shock and protect him from the lethal side effects. With his new equipment, he created the masked identity of Shocker, a new supervillain who could stand on par with the empowered law enforcers around…well, at least theoretically.

Using his gauntlets to open safes even quicker than before, Shocker made his debut robbing a bank…and running into Spider-Man, who tried to stop him. Surprisingly enough, Shocker managed to defeat the hero, leaving him half-dead on the streets (actually, Spidey was severely wounded due to a previous fight with The Lizard). Growing cocky over his first victory, Shocker attacked another bank soon after, confronting Spider-Man yet another time…but this time the hero didn’t have a broken arm, and he easily knocked him down after blocking his thumbs so that he could not activate his gauntlets. He easily escaped, and after a brief mission on Silvermane‘s account, he decided to blackmail the entire New York City, using his abilities to black out several blocks (so that the remaining illuminated ones spelled “Shocker”…) and asking a million dollars for restoring the power. When this odd plan failed, he actually obtained the million he was looking for in a much simpler way, by threatening a broker. Finally obtaining some fame, he was recruited by Eggman in his new version of the Masters of Evil, and they managed to incriminate Hank Pym for treason…but the remaining Avengers exposed them and defeated them in battle. Despite the defeat, Shocker found out that working for others was much more rewarding shockercomics2and less stressful than going solo, so he presented himself as a mercenary and, if necessary, a killer for hire. He was hired by Baron Von Lundt to kill the adventurer Dominic Fortune, and he received an upgrade to complete the task…a task that he failed nevertheless. He ended up in prison once again when Spider-Man caught him trying to steal charity money from a celebrity fund raiser, and while he was in prison he developed some serious problems of lack of confidence and paranoia: during the time he had spent in jail, some brutal vigilantes such as the Scourge of the Underworld or The Punisher had started killing criminals like him, and he was terrified by them. His cellmate Fred “Boomerang” Myers convinced him not to abandon the activity, and Shocker came back on the scene…but now he surely got things in perspective.

Herman Schultz is a smart man who tries to make a living with the only job he knows: robbery. Sometimes a coward, sometimes frustrated with how his life turned out to be, he’s a professional criminal who truly sees his activity only like a (crappy) job he has to do to make ends meet. As the Shocker, he has designed a pair of gauntlets that allow him to shoot powerful blasts of air, as well as make solid objects (people included) vibrate to the breaking point, to create a “vibrational shield” protecting him from arm, and even to perform giant leaps by directing the blast to the ground and letting the vibrated air sustain him; his suit is designed to protect him from the deadly recoil of the gauntlets, and without it he wouldn’t be able to use his weapons without killing himself. Essentially an “office worker of crime”, Shocker doesn’t care about vengeance, idealistic crusades, personal vendettas or world domination plans: he’s not in league with most of the other superpowered beings, and he knows it, so he keeps a low profile to earn as much money as he can from his job.

Adrian Toomes (Vulture)

vulturefilmFinally, it’s time for the Vulture, who’ll be the big bad in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming. Portrayed by none other than the former Batman (and Birdman) Michael Keaton, the Vulture will be a professional criminal who, along with his gang, will make quite a quality leap in his activity obtaining an Exo-Suit that allows him to fly…and possibly some other things. He was supposed to be portrayed by Ben Kingsley in Spider-Man 3, but he was replaced by Venom, and again by John Malkovich in the cancelled Spider-Man 4; the villain’s wings had been spotted in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, thus indicating his presence in the planned but never realised spin-off The Sinister Six, but this is the first actual live action appearance of one of the most iconic villains in Spider-Man‘s rogue gallery. Often mocked for being essentially and old man dressed like a bird, the Vulture in reality is one of the cruelest and creepiest enemies of Spidey’s, a true monster that, depending on the storylines, managed to add a horror taste to the hero’s stories. Let’s see together.

Adrian Toomes was born in New York City, and his parents died when he was still a kid. He was raised by his older brother, Marcus, but when the boy became paraplegic after a motorbike accident, it was Adrian’s time to take care of him. His obligations towards Marcus didn’t prevent Adrian from excelling in studies, and in school he always impressed teachers and professors with his results; he became an electrical engineer, and together with a friend of his, Gregory Bestman, he founded a small firm, Toomes & Bestman Electronics: Bestman took care of finances and administration, while Toomes worked as an inventor. Adrian dedicated most of his life to his company, and at a certain point Marcus disappeared from his life (he probably died): his remarkable intellect allowed him to invent a number of devices and machines that Bestman patented and sold to other companies. Adrian’s most ambitious project was an electromagnetic harness aimed to allow individual flight: it took years of his life, as Toomes was incredibly careful to details, but one day, finally, his life-long project was complete. Rejoicing, he told Bestman of his vulturecomics1success…just in time to discover that his “friend” had acquired his share of the company, and was kicking him out of it, leaving to Toomes nothing to do from a legal point of view. Humiliated and defeated Adrian Toomes, now an old man, retired to a farm in Staten Island, his only remaining property along with his flying harness: there, he kept working on it, planning his revenge on Bestman…and he even found out that the electromagnetic waves had an unexpected side effect, giving him superhuman strength. Using his device, Adrian Toomes created the masked identity of the Vulture, and came back to New York, breaking into his ex partner’s office looking for crime evidence…but he found none. Enraged, he destroyed the place, vandalizing both the office and the labs, hoping to damage Bestman. If a man like Gregory Bestman had used the law to ruin him, law itself didn’t mean anything for Toomes anymore: it was time he took what he wanted, without asking.

Turning his harness into a flashy costume, the Vulture became a super-thief, starting a series of robberies that put New York on its knees; the old man became renowned also for the brutality of his attacks: while trying to steal a suitcase containing jewels from a man who had it handcuffed to his wrist, he flew away carrying the man attached to the suitcase, and crashed him against several buildings until his wrist’s bones were broken enough to let his hand slip through the cuff. One of the city’s newest superheroes, Spider-Man, tried to stop him, but Vulture defeated him, and locked him in a watertank whose sides were too slippery to be climbed. Growing arrogant over his successes, Toomes announced his next target publicly: Park Avenue Diamond Exchange; he surprised everybody coming not from above, but from the underground, through a manhole, and then escaping with the diamonds through the sewers. Here, he met Spider-Man again, and the two resumed their duel: while in mid-air, Spider-Man activated a device of his own invention, an Anti-Magnetic Inverter, that disabled Vulture’s wings and made him crush on a roof. When he woke up, Toomes found out he had been arrested. This was but a minor nuisance, as he easily escaped from vulturecomics2prison and modified his wings, so that the Inverter didn’t affect them anymore; following that, he tried to rob the Daily Bugle‘s payroll, but Spider-Man stopped him once again, this time pinning his wings to a wall with his webs. Frustrated over his inability to crush Spider-Man like the bug he was, Toomes accepted the offer of one of his jailmates, Otto Octavius, better known as Doctor Octopus: the genius criminal wanted to recruit Vulture, along with other four supervillains (Kraven the HunterMysterioSandman and Electro) to form a team, the Sinister Six, whose aim was solely to kill the superhero. Each member of the Six was extremely proud, however, and refused to work together: they decided to face the hero one per time, each one of them holding the key to finding the following opponent in a sick game, with Spidey forced to defeat them all if he wanted to save Betty Brant, whom the villains had kidnapped. The Vulture was the last foe he had to face before Octopus himself: all he had to do was to wait for his prey to come to him, and then to make him play according to his rules. Time for revenge had come at last…

Adrian Toomes started his criminal activity as a way to get revenge against his business partner and against society as a whole, but he found in it an unprecedente freedom, that unlocked everything he had kept repressed until that moment: he now enjoys robbing, killing and torturing, he murders people without the slightest remorse, and he has no problems even in exploiting children for his personal gain. As the Vulture, he’s a genius scientist who invented a harness that allows him to fly and increases his strength to superhuman levels (apparently, it also increases his life span); after years of exposure to his own invention’s electromagnetic waves, Toomes retains some of his strength and the ability to levitate even without it. Just as intelligent as he is cruel, the Vulture is a man with no pity, no remorse, no empathy, a mean killing machine who’s just as menacing as the bird he named himself after.

Edward Leeds (Hobgoblin)

nedleedsfilmAnother character appearing in the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming is the hero’s best friend, Ned Leeds, portrayed by Jacob Bacalon. In the movie, Ned is another loser just like Peter Parker, a nerd and a science geek who lacks of popularity in school, and the two always hang out together. From the trailer we see that he eventually finds out that Peter is Spider-Man, when the boy comes back to his room without realising Ned is there playing with a LEGO Death Star…but apparently Leeds supports him (it’s cool to have a superhero best friend), although he reminds him he’s “just a kid” when big trouble arrives. In the comics, Ned’s character is very different, both in looks and in the role he has in Peter Parker’s life. And no, his story doesn’t end well, at all. Let’s see together.

Edward “Ned” Leeds was born and raised in New York City, but nearly nothing is known about his early life. He studied to become a journalist, and as an adult he was hired as a reporter by one of the city’s most important newspapers, the Daily Bugle. While working at the Bugle, Ned met the editor J. Jonah Jameson‘s secretary, Betty Brant, and he developed a crush on the girl; Betty, however, was already dating a photographer, Peter Parker, so Ned limited to flirting with her without getting serious. When Betty’s brother Bennett was killed for some debts he had with a gangster, it was Ned who comforted her, since Peter was always busy somewhere else. Eventually, Betty decided to dump Parker, since he was clearly incapable of living a relationship, while Leeds was a reliable companion. Ironically, immediately after the beginning of their relationship Jameson sent Ned in Europe for an assignment, but the two kept in touch, and Ned proved he wanted to be with Betty despite the distance. When he came back to New York, a promotion was waiting for him at the Daily Bugle, and he became City Editor; plus, things with Betty were simply great, and he eventually nedleedscomics1proposed to her. Betty agreed to become his wife, and after a dangerous misadventure (The Jackal had kidnapped him, and his life was threatened until Spider-Man arrived on the scene and battled his own clone to free him), the two finally got married. Ned chose Peter Parker as his best man, and prepared to make the big step…but even the ceremony itself was pretty eventful, as the criminal Mirage crushed in with his gang to rob the attendees: he was promptly stopped by Spider-Man, and the wedding could continue, with Ned Leeds and Betty Brant being finally pronounced man and wife. Now, Leeds had everything he could possibly want: a beautiful and loving wife, a promotion at work, a comfortable life…but he still missed something.

The new job was surely a rewarding one, but it had Ned spend most of his time behind the desk rather than in the streets being a reporter: this part of his life was something he missed, and he asked Jameson to be assigned to an actual on-field investigation. There was a new supercriminal in town, Hobgoblin, who shared M.O. and equipment with the original Green Goblin, and Jameson gave Leeds the task to investigate on him. The best way to do that for Ned was to follow Spider-Man, and that eventually paid off, as the hero inevitably came to clash with the villain. When the battle ended, Hobgoblin escaped, but Ned managed to follow him to his lair…where he found out the man behind the mask was the famous fashion designer Roderick Kingsley. Ready for the scoop, Leeds was however spotted by the villain, who captured him…but instead of killing him, he decided to use him as a double to protect himself. Using Gerhard Winkler‘s device, Kingsley erased from Ned’s memory their encoutner, and he convinced him that he was the actual Hobgoblin, bringing him to act in his stead and for his own interest. Wanting to become the top boss in New York, for example, Kingsley needed to get rid of The Kingpin, so he brought Ned Leeds to forge an alliance with Kingpin’s son, Richard Fisk, designing for him the identity of the criminal boss The Rose and starting a gang war/family nedleedscomics2feud that would have hopefully put an end to Kingpin’s dominion over the city. Of course, the brainwashing caused Ned to become increasingly unstable, often aggressive even with his friends and his wife, so that Betty looked for comfort somewhere else, and started an affair with Flash Thompson. This cracked Ned’s sanity even more, and after staging things so that Flash was accused to be Hobgoblin, he lost control, and he revealed to Kingpin that his rival Rose was actually his son. Feeling he had lost control over a deranged Leeds, with the war for the Kingpin’s territory reaching an unwanted apex, Kingsley decided to leave New York for a while, and to erase traces of his passage: he released some anonymous information about Ned Leeds being Hobgoblin in the underworld, and waited the inevitable consequences to come…

Ned Leeds used to be a brave and gentle man, a loving husband, a brilliant reporter, a loyal friend: now, he’s a deranged psychopath, with his mind slowly but relentlessly slipping in folly, losing grasp over reality and control over himself. As the “official Hobgoblin double”, he has access to Roderick Kingsley’s equipment, such as his Goblin Glider, his Goblin Armor, and the arsenal of lethal weapons ranging from Pumpkin Bombs to gauntlet-mounted blasters. Not being the true Hobgoblin, however, Ned lacks the superpowers and the combat skills of the original, and he only is a pawn in Kingsley’s hands, unable to realise that the decisions he makes are actually orders he receives. Reduced to a twisted parody of the man he was, Ned Leeds is a puppet in the hands of a man he doesn’t even remember to know, a shadow of his former self destroying everything and everyone he holds dear.

Elizabeth Allan

lizallanfilmFinally, the first trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming has been released, and it looks pretty awesome. Many of the main characters are introduced in the trailer, and we’ll see each one of them right before Christmas! Let’s start with the beautiful girl both Peter Parker and his friend Ned Leeds drool after: Liz Allan, who’ll be portrayed by Laura Harrier. In the movie, she’s a student of Midtown School of Science and Technology, and she’s obviously the girl Peter has a crush on, but we don’t know anything else. Surprise surprise, this is not Liz’s first appearance, as she already made a small cameo in the 2002 Spider-Man film: do you remember the Ugly Betty-like girl on the school bus portrayed by Sally Livingstone, the one who doesn’t want Peter to sit besides her? That’s Liz Allan. Pretty disappointing indeed, and miles away from the new portrayal of the character, who’s somewhat closer to the source material. Let’s see together.

Elizabeth “Liz” Allan was born in New York City, the daughter of club owner Wilson Allan. Her mother died when she was little, and she grew up with her father, her step-mother Doris and her step-brother Mark Raxton. Wealthy and popular, Liz attended Midtown High School, where she played the part of the thoughtless blondie who only cared for fun and beauty (and, of course, competition with other girls). She dated Flash Thompson, the most popular and handsome athlete in the school, and she enjoyed joining him in bullying the “losers” such as Peter Parker or Jessica Jones. She eventually broke up with Flash when she developed a crush on the new hero in town, Spider-Man, following the delusion that he would have noticed her, and she even started liking Parker after he “impersonated” the hero to divert Doctor Octopus‘ attention from Betty Brant (at that point, however, Peter had lost interest in her, and was dating Betty, who became some sort of rival for Liz). She was a very well-liked member lizallancomics1of her group of friends, especially considering that they usually hanged out at her father’s club, the Avenue Dinner Club, but after graduation Liz realised that the person she had been during high school wasn’t the one she truly wanted to be: she gave up on the superficial, thoughtless and mean personality she had always had, and decided to act more mature, first of all by dumping her usual friends, who now she didn’t like anymore. She even confessed her feelings to Peter, but also told him that they couldn’t possibly be together, accepting the fact that they were too different. This newfound maturity would have been pretty useful in a very short time, considering the upcoming emergency.

Soon after graduation, Liz’s step-brother Mark was involved in a lab accident that turned his skin into liquid metal, transforming him into the Molten Man: Liz did her best to help him, but the accident had influenced also Mark’s mind, and he was furious and violent; only an intervention from Spider-Man saved the day, and Liz as well. Following her brother’s transformation, Liz left New York for a while, and she studied to become a nurse. Back to the city after a few years, she stumbled on Peter Parker in the streets, and the two started a friendship much more “normal” than the previous one, and Liz joined Peter’s group of friends. At the wedding between Betty Brant and Ned Leeds, Liz met Peter’s best friend, Harry Osborn, and the two found out they liked each other: they fell in love, and soon after they got married. Liz had a son from Harry, Norman Harold Osborn, “Normie” for everybody, and she supported her husband in the struggle to accept his father’s death…but there was more to the name “Osborn” than she knew, and it all turned out to tragedy the moment the curse of the family hit Harry as well. Depressed and drug-addicted, Harry used his father’s formula to become the new Green Goblin, and he even attempted to make Normie follow his footsteps: asking for help, Liz saved her son thanks to the intervention of her brother Mark, of Spider-Man and of reporter Ben Urich. Kidnapped by her own husband along with Normie, Liz was obviously deeply traumatized by the event, and when the Goblin Formula exacted its toll and eventually killed Harry, she lizallancomics2decided to leave everything behind her back, and she cut ties even with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, dear friends who nevertheless reminded her of Harry. She moved to another part of the city, she started running Osborn Industries while raising Normie on her own, and she started dating a good man and skilled lawyer, Foggy Nelson. Maybe a new life was truly starting for her…but darkness was always ready to follow her wherever she went.

Liz Allan is a woman strenghtened by adversities, who went from having no concern in the world to being a single mother with a multi-billionaire company to run, a psychopathic ex-husband and a totally evil ex-father-in-law obsessed with his grandchild. Intelligent and determined, she succeeds in every aspect of her life despite the many and recurring difficulties, but one can’t be so close to darkness all her life without being tainted by it…

Mary Jane Watson

maryjanewatsonfilmAnd here’s another iconic character from Brick89‘s list: Mary Jane Watson, the friend, girlfriend, wife, and later “ex” wife of Spider-ManMJ first appeared in the Spider-Man trilogy, portrayed by Kirsten Dunst. She debuts in the first movie as Peter Parker‘s neighbor and everlasting crush, girlfriend of school bully Flash Thompson. She evolves throughout the movie, and first she stays with Harry Osborn, then she become interested in his best friend Peter. In the following movie she’s about to marry John Jameson, but she eventually realizes her feelings and she finally gets engaged with Peter, but in the third movie something goes terribly wrong and the two cancel the wedding, only to eventually come back together. Shailene Woodley (sigh) portrays MJ in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but almost all her scenes got cut off the movie: we can spot her in the final sequence with Rhino, she’s the waitress trying to hold the kid inside the restaurant. She will appear again in Spider-Man: Homecoming, portrayed by Zendaya…and we don’t know anything of the new incarnation of MJ, yet, so let’s just take a look at the original one.

Mary Jane Watson was born from Philip and Madeleine Watson. Because of Philip’s job, the Watsons had to move frequently all around the country, but unlike her older sister Gayle, MJ could count on a cheerful and carefree personality that helped her a lot to make new friends everywhere she went. The girl paid attention never to let anyone from outside her house see what really happened inside: Philip, frustrated for his poor academic career, vented his rage at home, and was always verbally abusive with her family. The moment he hit Gayle in a fit of rage, Madeleine finally left him, and she started staying with relatives who made turns hosting her along with her two girls. MJ’s favourite one was Aunt Anna, who lived in Forest HillsQueensNew York City: MJ had grown into a beautiful teenager, and Anna wanted to introduce her to her best friend May‘s nephew, hoping that the two maryjanewatsoncomics1youngsters would have gotten along. MJ wasn’t interested in the nerdy Peter Parker, but she enjoyed that little game she played with Anna. Finally, the Watson girls settled in Pittsburgh, but here MJ grew quite distant from her mother and sister: her (fake) party-girl personality alienated Madeleine, while Gayle became pregnant of her high school boyfriend and got married at 19, replicating the exact some mistakes of her mother (with a guy who was exactly like Philip). Sick and tired of her family, MJ gladly spent time with Aunt Anna, and went to her place during holidays. One night, while MJ was in Forest Hills for Thanksgiving, she abruptly changed her opinion on the boy next door, as she saw him rushing into his house…and Spider-Man emerging immediately after. She decided to keep what she saw secret, and she followed with interest the new hero’s first steps. Back home, however, a bad news was waiting for her: Madeleine had fallen ill, and she died shortly after. Gayle believed her sister would have stayed with her and helped her with her two kids (especially since her husband had left her after the second pregnancy), but MJ reacted the same way she had done with all the serious problems in her life: she ran away, moving to Aunt Anna and leaving her sister alone, thus definitely deteriorating their relationship.

Back to New York, Mary Jane could finally start to seriously pursue her dream of becoming an actress: she attended acting classes and she starred in many school plays, becoming even more popular. She even started working as both a waitress and a dancer at a restaurant, so that she earned money enough to buy her own apartment…always trying to avoid the blind date Anna and May tried to organize between her and Peter (a blind date that Peter as well was finding any excuse to refuse). Finally, the two ended up meeting, for the one that Peter believed to be the first and last date…but when he finally saw MJ in person, he was simply stunned in seeing how beautiful she was; the girl introduced herself saying “Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot“, a line that became the basis of a long relationship. Their first date, however, was quite lively, as Peter and MJ ended up finding Rhino maryjanewatsoncomics2on a rampage just near where they were; knowing Peter’s secret, MJ pretended to be curious, thus giving him a good excuse to get near the criminal and to get away “to take pictures for the Daily Bugle“; a moment after, Spider-Man arrived and solved the situation. Despite MJ’s obvious feelings for Peter, he disliked her (apparent) superficiality, and he started dating Gwen Stacy, another friend of his. MJ started dating another boy from their group, Harry Osborn, but their story didn’t last long, mostly because she was still attached to Peter. Everything changed for both her and her relationship with Peter when Gwen got killed in a battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin: knowing that Peter was Spider-Man, she understood better than anyone else how much his girlfriend’s death must have hurt him, and the event shocked her as well. She became more serious and sensitive, abandoning for once in her life her mask of carefree party-girl: she grew closer to Peter, and she became the friend he needed in the blackest moment of his life. At first, Peter rejected her quite violently, not believing her change of attitude, but then they finally started to understand each other. When Harry, now the second Green Goblin, wounded MJ with a Pumpkin Bomb, Peter never left her a moment in the hospital. When she woke up, the relationship of her life was about to begin.

Mary Jane Watson is a young woman full of life, with no worries in the world, whose only concern is partying all night and having as much fun as possible…or at least, this is what she wants others to see: behind the facade of a carefree and shallow girl, she hides far too many scars, and she defends herself from all the pain past and present with a fake smile and attitude. Sensitive and caring, she pretends not to care about people, so that she doesn’t get involved in relations that, she knows for experience, can hurt her. With Peter Parker, her best friend, her boyfriend and eventually her husband, MJ learnt to open herself to others again, and she can now fully express her character, her strength, her selflessness, her unshakable determination. Model, actress, dancer, wife of a superhero, she’s the rock Spider-Man can always count on, a woman who finally defeated her inner demons and bloomed to her full potentialities.