Spider-Man: Homecoming is a delight for longtime fans because of its many Easter eggs and homages to classic scenes and favorite moments. Practically every character in the film — including almost all of Peter's classmates — has roots in Marvel comics. There's one, though, who could be headlining a movie of her own in the future: Cindy Moon, aka Silk, played in Homecoming by Tiffany Espensen.
Ever since the casting of Espensen as "Cindy," Spider-fans have speculated whether she might be that Cindy. With Homecoming now in theaters, we finally have an answer: Maybe? While Cindy has a few lines in the film, she's decidedly a background character, whose name is never spoken. Fans looking for Cindy Moon can spot her, but for most of the audience she appears to be just another Academic Decathlon team member.
Who Is Cindy Moon?
Cindy Moon first appeared in a cameo in 2014's Amazing Spider-Man #1, where it was revealed she had been bitten by the same radioactive spider as Peter Parker. Shortly after the incident, Cindy was approached by Spider-Man's one-time ally/mentor Ezekiel Sims, who told Cindy she was in grave danger unless she agreed to hide inside a specially-designed bunker. So, in she went, and in that bunker Cindy remained for a decade, until Peter learned of her existence during the Original Sin crossover. And, just as Sims predicted, Peter releasing her from the bunker did lead to disaster, in the form of Morlun and his family of Inheritors trying to hunt down and devour every last spider-person in the Spider-Verse.
Once Spider-Verse was over, Silk made the leap to her own self-titled series, which quickly became one of Marvel's best ongoing series due in large part to its willingness to dive into Cindy's trauma from spending a decade alone in a bunker. While the series was canceled earlier this year after 26 issues (plus a four-issue digital-first miniseries co-starring Spider-Man), Silk remains a major figure in the spider-family.
But Is the Cindy in Homecoming Actually Silk?
Because of her fairly limited screen time, it's not entirely clear whether the Cindy in Homecoming is meant to be Cindy Moon. In case you missed her in the movie, Cindy is one of the members of Peter's Academic Decathlon team. She appears in a number of scenes in both New York and Washington, D.C., but has only a few lines. Were it not for the potential comic connection, her role in the film is not especially noteworthy.
That said, there is a definite feeling she is intended to be Cindy Moon. When practically everyone else in the film is pulled from the comics, it would be especially odd if a Cindy played by an Asian-American actor, who would have had ample opportunity to be with Peter on the day of the spider bite, was not Cindy Moon. And, while Marvel hasn't overtly acknowledged that Cindy is Cindy Moon, the studio also has done nothing to deny it.
But the case isn't closed yet. Cindy might be Cindy Moon, but that doesn't mean she's Silk. She could simply be an Easter egg put in for eagle-eyed fans, with no real intention to develop later. We've seen that before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Howard the Duck and Cosmo in Guardians of the Galaxy come to mind — so it wouldn't be unprecedented to reference her once, and then never again.
If there's one major argument against Cindy being Silk, it's the film's extended Washington Monument sequence, in which she's trapped in an elevator, about to plummet to her death, and yet does nothing. If Cindy had superpowers from a certain spider bite, she presumably would have acted to save herself and her classmates from near-certain doom, even if it meant exposing herself. And yet, she didn't. That would seem a potentially strong argument against Cindy being Silk.
There are, however, a number of potential explanations for why Cindy didn't act. First, it's possible that Silk will have a different origin onscreen, and that Cindy doesn't have her spider powers yet. But while this is compelling in the context of Homecoming, it loses much of the elegance of her origin. It made a certain sense that a character whose powers overlapped so much with Spider-Man's would be the result of a bite from the same spider at the same moment in time. (Alas, the lack of even a flashback to the bite makes it impossible to say whether MCU Cindy was even there.)
Alternatively, Cindy was bitten, but she has avoided using her powers so much that she wasn't prepared to do so when disaster struck in the Washington Monument. It's even possible that Cindy might have been outright warned not to use her powers by the MCU version of Ezekiel Sims, causing her to worry that helping her classmates might somehow bring a fate worse than death.
There's some support for this in the comics. Although Marvel comics often avoid providing express time frames for when events occurred in the past, there's an overt caption in Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2014) — Cindy's first cameo appearance — stating that the spider bite happened 13 years ago. And yet, in her own series, we are told repeatedly that Cindy spent 10 years living in a bunker, and we are also shown a number of scenes with her family post-spider bite, trying to find a cure, before finally warily agreeing to enter Sims' bunker. Though three years definitely seems too long, it could easily have been a year or so of Sims running tests on Cindy and telling her to avoid using her powers at all costs, lest the extra-dimensional Morlun be summoned.
That works out pretty well with the timeline in the MCU. In Captain America: Civil War, Peter tells Tony Stark he has been fighting crime as Spider-Man for about six months. Homecoming takes place a few months later, making the spider bite likely less than a year before, meaning the film might have taken place during the time before Cindy went into her bunker.
There are, of course, any number of directions that Marvel Studios, or Sony Pictures, could go with Cindy, and her appearance in Homecoming doesn't guarantee we will ever see her again. She may simply have been a one-time Easter egg. And, there;s no particular reason to think filmmakers would necessarily stick with her comics origin story. But the fact that her origin can be reconciled with the events in Homecoming, and that the timing fits almost perfectly with Cindy's post-bite life, makes me cautiously optimistic we might see her suiting up as Silk in a future installment.
So, paradoxically, I'm going to be rooting for Cindy to conspicuously absent from the inevitable sequel to Homecoming. A single comment by Michelle/M.J. saying, "Hey, does anyone know what happened to Cindy?" would pretty much clench the deal.
In theaters now, Spider-Man: Homecoming stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.