Editor's Redaction: Since this article was published, we have learned that our source's information was inaccurate. We can confirm that the name of the character in question is not Michelle Toomes.
Probably the most mysterious character in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Zendaya's "Michelle" has been the subject of countless fan theories every since the teen sensation was first cast. Early rumors insisted that the name Michelle was actually a misdirect, and Zendaya would actually be playing a race-swapped Mary-Jane Watson. With those rumors debunked, most old-school #SpiderMan fans have insisted that she's playing a young version of Michelle Rodriguez, a police officer who an older Spider-Man dated over in the comics.
Now, it's possible that the truth has finally been revealed. Some fans have managed to get hold of copies of the junior novelization of the film, which reveals the true identity of Zendaya's character. One such fan has reached out to me with a fascinating revelation; what may well be the truth about the mysterious Michelle. But before you read on, be warned; if they're right, then these spoilers are pretty major. Read on at your own risk.
The Mysterious Michelle
You may not have noticed, but there's one big difference between Michelle and every other one of Peter Parker's Homecoming schoolfriends. So far, #Marvel's been very careful not to give us her surname. That's because this surname is key to the character's entire arc, and sets Zendaya up to play a major role in the film.
Her surname, you see, is Toomes. Her father is Adrian Toomes, the character played by Michael Keaton himself, who becomes the Vulture.
This fits with everything we'd heard so far. We'd already been told that Keaton's Vulture was a down-on-his-luck, blue-collar worker who was desperately trying to make ends meet for his family. We'd even been told that we'd meet the family in Homecoming. But, significantly, whenever Michael Keaton has been asked about that family in interviews, he's become evasive.
We'd also already suspected that Peter had personal ties to the Vulture somehow. After all, from the trailers, we know Vulture tears Peter's mask off — and threatens everyone he loves. That suggested he knew just who Peter loves; that he somehow knew who Peter Parker was. No doubt the truth is that he recognizes Michelle's schoolfriend, and knows he can track the Parkers down with ease.
The Personal Touch
This is a classic Spider-Man concept. The very best Spider-Man stories are inspired by the collision between Peter Parker's two identities. In fact, in the comics, this same idea was used with the Osborn family. Norman Osborn, the father of Peter's best friend Harry, became the first Green Goblin. When Harry learned of his father's villainy, he actually followed him down that road, threatening everything Peter loved.
That idea was heavily adapted as a core plot element in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. While Marvel's chosen not to repeat the character of the Green Goblin, it's clear they decided to lift that much-loved concept. If that's the case, though, it's entirely possible that Adrian Toomes could just be the first Vulture; in fact, his daughter could ultimately become a Vulture too...
So there you have it, Spider-fans. It seems that the mystery of Zendaya's identity has finally been revealed. She's not Mary-Jane. She's not Michelle Rodriguez. She's Michelle Toomes, and she's surely set to play a major role in the story of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
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