WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming, which opens Friday nationwide.
Longtime Marvel Comics readers may be a bit surprised when they watch Spider-Man: Homecoming at just how much the characters in the film have in common with Spidey's comic books. Pretty much all of Peter Parker's high school classmates are based on characters from the comics, even some really obscure characters (although, in one case, the connection is a bit of a stretch). Read on to see who's who in Spider-Man's high school class!
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD OF SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
THE BIG ONES
Tony Revolori plays Peter Parker's high school rival, Flash Thompson. Flash was a thorn in Peter Parker's side since Amazing Fantasy #15, but while in the comic books, Flash is a star athlete and a bully who uses physical threats against Peter, the Flash in Homecoming is more of a social bully, perfect for the era of social media bullying. One of the early interesting things about Flash Thompson was that while he hated Peter Parker, he was Spider-Man's #1 fan. Eventually, Peter and Flash became begrudging friends. Flash served in the military and lost his legs in a battle. He was later given the Venom symbiote and he became a superhero himself as Agent Venom!
Jacob Batalon plays Peter's best friend, Ned, who Peter lets in on his secret. This is a weird one, since is clearly, clearly based on Ganke Lee, Miles Morales' best friend from Ultimate Spider-Man who Miles told his secret to in a sequence practically identical to the sequence where Peter tells Ganke. However, his name is Ned, so he is apparently also based on Ned Leeds, the Daily Bugle reporter who ultimately married Betty Brant before he was murdered (and framed as the Hobgoblin). I guess it would be kind of funny if they dropped the "ds" and he became Ned Lee.
Laura Harrier plays Peter's love interest in the film, Liz. Liz is based on an interesting character in the original Amazing Spider-Man stories called Liz Allan, in that she played a major role in the early issues (heck, we actually sort of meet Liz in Amazing Fantasy #15 before we meet Peter! She's on the left side of the first panel of the issue, with Peter on the right side), as Flash Thompson's girlfriend who clearly had a thing for Peter, but then when Peter graduated high school, Liz was gone for over a hundred issues before getting worked back into the series. She ultimately married Peter's college friend, Harry Osborn. Liz is currently a supporting cast member in Spider-Man 2099.
In a weird twist (SPOILERS HERE, PEOPLE!), Zendaya plays, in effect, Mary Jane Watson...but not Mary Jane Watson. She plays Michelle Jones, one of Peter's classmates, but at the end of the film, she explains that he can call her "MJ," hinting at a much larger role in the second Spider-Man: Homecoming film. This, of course, would fit the tracking path of Mary Jane Watson, who did not show up until Amazing Spider-Man #25, but did not make an actual appearance until Amazing Spider-Man #42, when she greeted Peter (they were set up on a blind date by their aunts) with the famous, "Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot!"
THE LESS BIG ONES
Angourie Rice plays Peter's classmate, Betty Brant. In the comics, Betty Brant was the secretary for J. Jonah Jameson and Peter's first girlfriend (Betty dropped out of high school, so she was roughly Peter's age when he met her). Like what would happen to Peter a lot over the years, Betty liked Peter but was not a fan of Spider-Man. When Peter graduated high school, Steve Ditko seemed to sour on Betty and introduced Ned Leeds to basically write her out of the series (at least as far as a love interest for Peter goes). She remained a supporting character for years, ultimately becoming a respected reporter.
Tiffany Espensen plays Peter's classmate, Cindy. In the comics, Cindy Moon was another student who was at the famous science experiment who was also bitten by the radioactive spider that bit Peter. She was trained by Ezekiel, the same fellow who later came to Spider-Man telling him about Spider-Totems. Ezekiel, though, then locked Cindy up in a facility to protect her. She was there for years before Peter found out about her and broke her out. She decided to become a superhero, as well, taking on the name Silk. It is possible that Cindy's inclusion will lead to something in the future with Silk, but it would have to involve a rather different origin story.
Isabella Amara played Peter's classmate, Sally Avril. One of the longest-running classmates of Peter's, Sally debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15, but then Stan Lee and Steve Ditko didn't do anything else with her in the series. When he launched Untold Tales of Spider-Man with Pat Olliffe, Kurt Busiek decided to address Sally'a absence. First, he made her a regular cast member and then he had her be a thrill-seeker who wanted to become a photographer like Peter. She also decided to become a superhero. Calling herself Bluebird, her gymnastics skills didn't do her much good in battle. Tragically (and, I suppose, the explanation for why she didn't show up in the comics back in the day), she died in a car accident while trying to take photographs of a Spider-Man battle.
Acclaimed young actor Abraham Attah plays Peter's classmate, Abraham. Since all of the other people are established characters, people think that he must be an established character, as well, in which case the best bet is Abe Brown, brother of Hobie Brown (the superhero known as the Prowler) who was one of the Sons of the Dragon (the martial arts superheroes). That's certainly possible, but it's also possible that Abraham is just called that because he is played by Abraham Attah.
THE NOT VERY BIG AT ALL ONES
Jorge Lendeborg Jr. plays Jason Ionello, who was a classmate of Peter's introduced in Untold Tales of Spider-Man. He was a real jerk to Peter, going much further than Flash Thompson ever did. He had a crush on Sally Avril, and he was driving the car when they ran a red light while Sally was trying to take pictures of Spider-Man and the car crashed. She died and he only suffered minor head trauma. He was distraught over her death and ultimately tried to kill himself. The Vulture, of all people, talked him out of it (his advice was to blame someone else for his problems, like Spider-Man!).
Ethan Dizon played Tiny, who was a classmate of Peter's in introduced in Untold Tales of Spider-Man. He was a clever twist on the whole "secret identity" angle. A football player, Tiny was a jerk to Peter just like Flash, but when he steals Peter's math notes, Peter steals them back and then spies Tiny and realizes that Tiny's father was an abusive jerk. So Peter volunteered to tutor Tiny, and the two became friends. He recently popped up working as a security guard for Empire State University.
Michael Barbieri plays Charles, who is presumably Charlie Murphy, one of Flash Thompson's gang of kids who always hung out with Flash. Clearly, Lee and Ditko were not putting a lot of thought into the background students, so Charlie rarely showed up. However, he got a name in Amazing Spider-Man #17, which is more than most could say! He hasn't been seen since high school graduation.
J. J. Totah plays Seymour, who is likely Seymour O'Reilly, another one Flash's gang of kids. Seymour was a wisecracking suck-up who actually also appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15. He was the type of guy who would always goad Flash on in his fights with Peter. Years later, at their high school reunion, he clearly had not changed. He showed up again in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, and was still a jerk to Peter, but then he was murdered by Venom!
How much the characters in the film really have anything to do with their namesakes is anyone's guess (it could just be a case of "give us some names of former classmates of Peter Parker), but when they've shown this much care already, it's certainly possible that they have more planned in the future! J. Jonah Jameson sure could use a secretary in the second film...