The Vulture is coming to theaters. That’s right, Spider-Man’s second oldest villain is finally going to be shown on-screen. But who is the Vulture? Why is he cool? Is he cool? Wait, The Vulture is a pretty bad name, and in the comics he looks pretty awful. Is Spider-Man: Homecoming going to suck? Oh god… Okay, it probably won’t suck, but it’s true, the Vulture is a bit of an odd bird in Spider-Man’s rogue gallery. Adrian Toomes, creator of the flight harness, has been a fixture in the Marvel Universe for a long time. A burglar, member of the Sinister Six, and professional Very Old Person, he’s a somewhat controversial character, by which we mean it’s controversial whether or not he’s the worst or not.
We could spend days arguing about whether or not he’s actually a truly worthy villain but since we don’t have time for that, we’re going to make a pros and cons list. Here are the reasons the Vulture is one of Spider-Man’s worst villains and such a sucky character, as well as all the reasons he’s actually one of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes. There’s a bunch for each side, but it’s up to you to decide whether or not you think the Vulture is a lame duck or a bird of prey. Either way, we know one thing: Michael Keaton’s gonna kill it.
15. SUCKS: FRAIL
The Vulture is very old, and most old people shouldn’t become supervillains… no offense to the elderly! When he first appeared back in 1963, he was already ancient. Not only does he just look frail, he’s also had many on the job issues before. One notable plot line dealt with the Vulture having cancer, and another dealt with him having a stroke. When Doc Ock takes over as Spider-Man, he even notes that Peter Parker has always had to take it easy on the Vulture because he’s worried about breaking his frail, old man body. When your true nemesis has more pity for you than animosity, it might be time to retire. Oh, and the Vulture actually does retire a bunch, deciding he’s too old and then leaving… only to come back for more. Does… does he keep forgetting?
14. SUCKS: HORRID PLANS
The Vulture has had a long and sordid history in the Marvel Universe, but unlike a lot of Spider-Man’s other villains, he’s never really threatened the world. That’s because his entire goal is to become rich. It’s not a bad plan, but he does it mainly by robbing people. Worse than that, he goes in, robs someone, and then attempts to fly away. He’s entirely conspicuous and everyone knows who stole from them.
His plan is the same as a fourth grader’s — grab money and then run. No wonder he always gets caught. Plus, he could just sell the Vulture-tech to make money; he doesn’t need to rob banks at all! Except he decided in his first appearance that no one was allowed to get his tech (right after he, himself, got swindled). Maybe if he attempted to hide who was robbing them, it might work, but as it is, he’s nothing but a dim-witted repeat offender.
13. SUCKS: LAME POWER
The superheroes of the Marvel Universe are, to put it bluntly, not quite as awesome as the heroes of the DC Universe. The heroes of the Marvel Universe almost all have some “realistic” powers — with a few alien and Hulky exceptions. Despite that, though, the one thing almost all of the heroes have in common is that they can fly — or do a facsimile of it. Yet, despite flight being one of the most common superpowers around, the Vulture decided that he could become a premiere villain by having nothing other than the power of flight. Okay, his suit does increase his strength a bit, but his natural strength is pretty limited from the start. Seriously, how is anyone supposed to be scared of you when your power is that you can be old… while flying above them?
12. SUCKS: LOSER FIGHTER
The Vulture’s never been able to match Spider-Man — despite Spider-Man admittedly pulling his punches. He’s attempted to beat Black Cat during Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, only to get his butt handed to him, because even a lingerie model can defeat a geriatric cosplayer. Even police — the people who can’t seem to catch Stilt Man — manage to apprehend Vulture and keep him in jail. At one point, during Amazing Spider-Man #339, Aunt May’s fiance, Nathan, managed to beat the Vulture, grabbing onto his back, and foiling his plan.
If you’re a superpowered old man, and you can still be defeated by an old man with no powers, maybe it’s time to admit you need to find another profession. He’s so used to losing that all he does is complain when people actually hurt him during their fights, complaining that Captain America was a lunatic for breaking his nose during the original Civil War.
11. SUCKS: WHINY
When Nathan, Aunt May’s fiance, grabbed onto The Vulture’s back, he not only defeated the Vulture at that moment, but broke his heart forever. See, The Vulture and Nathan had become friends before, in ASM #224, while the Vulture was fighting cancer. Nathan didn’t know the Vulture’s true identity but inspired him to seize life while he could. However, during his “seizing,” Nathan seized him and then, seeing how far they were from the ground, a heart attack seized Nathan and death seized him forever.
After that, in Spectacular Spider-Man #187, The Vulture instead of apologizing or turning himself in for killing his friend, went to Aunt May and begged for her forgiveness, proving that not only is the Vulture inept, pathetic, and old — he’s also a whiny loser who can’t actually apologize. Spider-Man got there and beat him half to death so that’s apology enough though.
10. SUCKS: SILLY LOOKIN’
The Vulture’s entire persona is based on a naked, ugly bird. Why did he choose that? Because he’s a lame, lame villain. So, unsurprisingly, he also looks like a naked ugly bird. Sometimes he upgrades his suit to red and black, with razor wings, but none of that sticks around for too long. Normally he wears a skin-tight green suit, accentuating his Old Man Bod, with a bit of fur around the neck (because he’s a Vulture) and his Big Bald Head.
Even among Spider-Man’s admittedly weird looking rogues gallery, the Vulture is pushing it. He looks less like a supervillain and more like a patient being taken to an MRI. Even when he turned young (which he did because… of course he did) in ASM #224, he still looked like a ridiculous bird, because that’s all he was and all he’ll ever be.
9. SUCKS: KIDS KIDS KIDS
The Vulture is so weak and so old that at one time he created a gang to go out and do his bidding for him. All of the members had miniature versions of his suits, but after being chased to their headquarters by Doc Ock in Spider-Man’s body (during Superior Spider-Man #3), they revealed themselves as literal children. The Vulture is so pathetic and weak a villain that his most fearsome entourage are literally children.
That also makes Ock incredibly mad as it is basically child abuse to be using these kids as his lackeys (or, at very least, breaking quite a lot of child labor laws), so Doc Ock almost kills the Vulture, and all the Vulture does is cry and whine because he literally needed to recruit children to do his dirty work.
8. SINISTER: CHILD SOLDIERS
Then again… having children working in your gang isn’t just a sign of how pathetic you are, it’s also a sign of how cruel you are. The Vulture realized that when he went alone, he was too quickly caught and followed, so he sent out a whole squadron — or, perhaps more accurately, a flock — of mini-Vultures to do his dirty work for him. Making children go out and steal, while living in squalor, to feed your own greed and ego is pretty high up on the list of “worst things you can do.”
So, while The Vulture might not seem like he’s formidable, he actually is one of the darker and more sinister villains out there. And perhaps nothing indicates it better than his careless and callous use of children in his crimes. After all, whose going to attack them? Not Spider-Man, that’s for sure.
7. SINISTER: STAYING POWER
Spider-Man has had a long list of foes and while most of them have gone on to threaten the world, the Vulture has stayed in the shadows. But stayed he has. He’s one of Spider-Man’s longest running villains. He first appeared in Spider-Man’s third comic — Amazing Spider-Man #2, appearing only after Ben’s killer and The Chameleon. No matter what Spider-Man does, no matter what nature throws at him, almost nothing seems able to stop The Vulture.
His secondary power seems to be the ability to take any beating and rise up — defeated by Spider-Man, ravaged by old age and cancer, he still wins. Being one of the longest lasting villains in a team that includes the former Head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the only man to ever actually kill Spider-Man is quite an accomplishment for someone who looks like a stuffed turkey in a Grinch costume.
6. SINISTER: UNDERESTIMATED
We’ve been ragging on The Vulture a lot, because he looks ridiculous, but that actually works in his favor a lot of the time. See, everyone underestimates him, which allows him to get away with so much. Even Spider-Man, who has fought him again and again, ceaselessly underestimates him. Spider-Man always tries the same old tricks, but every time The Vulture is beaten he learns from it, and learns how to come back better.
He’s constantly improving. His old man appearance and weird costume even allowed him to throw Spider-Man off in their first battle, enabling him to get away. While he doesn’t have a lot of powers or skills, The Vulture constantly downplays them in order to lure his enemies into a false sense of security… which is right where he wants them.
5. SINISTER: GENIUS (SERIOUSLY)
The reason the Vulture can constantly reinvent himself is because Adrian Toomes, the original Vulture, is a full-on genius. Whenever Spider-Man came up with a way to beat him, The Vulture would find a way around it. That’s ignoring the fact that he invented a flight suit that was more lightweight than Tony Stark’s. Despite the fact that he’s been around forever, he never stops improving his suit, recently (in Spectacular Spider-Man’s FCBD) creating a new one that can respond to his thoughts, with razor sharp talons, and made out of nanotubes (which, you know, are sciency because they have the word “nano” in them). He managed to create a small flight harness that he can wear on his body while other Marvel characters fly around on gliders or with propulsions on their wrists.
4. SINISTER: ADVANCED SUIT
Despite his suit looking like a booger, The Vulture actually has a pretty good costume. Not only does it allow him to fly, it increases his durability and strength. But more than that, those powers stay with him for awhile after taking it off. Yes, like a corset that trains your body to maintain that shape, The Vulture’s flight harness has trained his body to keep the powers even when taken off.
Despite not wearing the flight harness, the Vulture has managed to float and shown that he has superhuman strength. Now, the powers do wear off eventually, if he doesn’t put it back on, but the fact that the suit can do that is pretty amazing. And that’s just the original one — he keeps making it better, sharper, stronger, faster, and able to read his thoughts. The Vulture is basically an older, eviler Tony Stark.
3. SINISTER: YOUTH
The Vulture has had the ability to steal people’s youth in a couple of different universes, but the one in which he had the coolest powers was the Spider-Man animated show from the nineties. There, the Vulture could use his talons to absorb people’s youth, gaining their strengths and powers (a riff from the comics around the same time). One time he got Spider-Man and absorbed all of his powers as well, becoming a Spider-Vulture Monster Thing.
Early on in his crime career, the Vulture decided that the reason Spider-Man kept one-upping him was because he was younger, so the Vulture created something that would switch their ages, allowing him to be young while Spider-Man was old (check out ASM #388). Stealing youth is one step above being an actual vampire, making the Vulture one of the most dangerous (and creepiest) villains around.
2. SINISTER: NO SUBSTITUTES
Adrian Toomes is the original and main Vulture but he’s not the only one who has worn the costume. A whole host of younger and more fit villains have come and went under the mask, including one who was an actual mutant with real Vulture powers, but Adrian Toomes is the only one who stays… because he defeats every and all challengers to his throne. Blackie Drago was the first one who took up the Vulture mantle, tricking Toomes into believing he’d die soon. Toomes later tricked him into helping him, and then defeated him (in ASM #63) because Toomes is THE Vulture.
Heck, even the supervillain vulture who had acid and could fly of his own volition was taken down by Toomes (and then that Vulture was later killed by The Punisher, something that has never happened to Toomes). In the end, Toomes is the number one Vulture, and anyone who tries, never quite measures up.
1. SINISTER: SIX
The Sinister Six is a collection of Spider-Man’s ultimate villains — it has had a host of different people in it, all of them world threats. It’s had Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus and the Lizard and Scorpion, and… The Vulture. Yes, despite him seeming to be nothing more than a bank robber, the Vulture has been a key member of almost every single Sinister Six team-up — both in the main Marvel universe and beyond. Since the beginning, in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, he’s been there.
Heck, in the the Death of Spider-Man story, in the Ultimate Universe, he was one of the members who helped the Goblin during Spider-Man’s last battle. If a job gets too big for the Vulture, he’s not afraid to call for help, and he has some of the most vile villains and most dastardly friends around who can help him destroy anyone who gets in his way. He’s so cool he even appeared in the rare Sinister Twelve (making their first appearance over in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man).
What do you think of the Vulture? Are you looking forward to his landing or do you just wish he would buzz off? Let us know in the comments!