Who is The Vulture, Spider-Man’s Aerial Adversary?

Osborn: “Toomes!?”

Vulture: “Not Toomes, now! I’m what you called me. I’m the Vulture!”

Osborn: “I called you a buzzard.”

Vulture: “What?”

Osborn: “You can’t even get the name right.”

Spectacular Spider-Man: “Survival of the Fittest”

A group of CEOs is having a rooftop party. An enormous green bird swoops down and grabs one of the businessmen. The bird soars into the air, dragging its hostage with it. The CEO realizes it’s not a bird, but an old man with wings. The man snarls an ultimatum, “You’ll give me your money, or I’ll take your life!” The CEO frantically agrees, begging not to be killed. The Vulture smirks.

The Vulture is one of Spider-Man’s oldest foes, in both senses. You wouldn’t think much of a flying geriatric supervillain, but he’s no joke. So who is he? Where’d he get his wings? How can an old man battle a Spider-Man? Let’s find out.

Aerial Avarice: The Vulture’s Backstory

Vulture : “What’s the matter, Spider-Man? Too fast for you?”

Spider-Man : “Hey! Come back! The food at the old folks home wasn’t that bad, was it?”

Spider-Man (Video Game)

The Vulture debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #2 in 1963. He was the very first supervillain Spider-Man ever fought.

Adrian Toomes was an engineer and businessman who discovered his partner had been embezzling funds. His business was ruined, but Toomes had an ace up his sleeve. He had created an electromagnetic harness with wings that gave him super strength and allowed him to fly. Inspired by his new wings, Adrian Toomes began a crime spree as The Vulture.

The Vulture was unstoppable, able to easily elude the authorities. He soon encountered Spider-Man and easily dispatched the young whippersnapper. The Vulture then attempted a diamond heist, but was defeated when Spider-Man sabotaged his flight harness. Vulture was the first supervillain to swear revenge on Spider-Man, but he wouldn’t be the last.

The Sinister Six: The Vulture’s History

Kraven the Hunter: “Each of us almost beat him, all alone! Working together, how can we fail?”

–  Spider-Man Annual #1

The Vulture repeatedly tried to kill Spider-Man, but always failed and was sent to jail. During one incarceration, he met other supervillains who had been foiled by Spider-Man. They decided to team up, hoping to finally squash that annoying do-gooder. They ran Spider-Man ragged, but he managed to beat the whole group.

Vulture remained a criminal until he learned he had cancer. He became depressed, realizing his days were numbered. He befriended a handicapped man who convinced him not to waste time wallowing in misery. And, of all things, the man was dating Spidey’s Aunt May at the time.  Vulture returned to villainy, and somehow accidentally killed his new friend during a fight with Spider-Man.

The Vulture recently attempted to use children as thieves, much like Fagin in Oliver Twist . This brought him into conflict with the Superior Spider-Man, who blinded Toomes and beat him to within an inch of his life. Don’t mess with kids around Superior Spider-Man.

Bird of Prey: The Vulture’s Powers and Personality

Vulture: You walk through those doors, and you forget any of this happened. And don’t you ever, ever interfere with my business again, because if you do, I will kill you, and everyone that you love. I’ll kill you dead. That’s what I’ll do to protect my family. Pete, you understand?

–  Spider-Man Homecoming

The Vulture’s powers come from his electromagnetic flight harness. He can fly silently, survive hits from Spider-Man despite his age, and he has super strength. At one point he had the power to drain other people’s life force, but this ability is rarely used anymore.

The Vulture is a brilliant engineer who lacks focus because of his hatred of Spider-Man. He is a remorseless killer, but has a soft spot for his family. He’s willing to kill and steal if it means helping his family, though he’d do it anyway so it’s just a benefit.

The Actors who played The Vulture

While celebrities are playing superheroes and villains these day, The Vulture has been played by award-winning actors for decades. Both Eddie Albert (yes, from Green Acres) and Don Messick have voiced The Vulture. If you don’t know Don Messick’s name, he was the voice behind Scooby-Doo, Boo-Boo Bear, Bam-Bam, and dozens more iconic characters.

The Vulture was also voiced by Freddy Kreuger himself (Robert Englund) and would have been played by Sir Ben Kingsley in Spider-Man 3 until the movie’s plot changed.

The  Vulture will finally appear in a movie in Spider-Man: Homecoming, played by Michael Keaton just three years after Keaton’s Oscar-nominated role in Birdman. That can’t be a coincidence. Once Keaton finishes the film, The Vulture’s actors will have been nominated for seven Oscars. And one of the actors is Scooby-Doo, so how can that be a bad choice?

So who was best? Let us know your favorite Vulture performer in the comments!

Didya get all that?

This guy may have wings, but he’s no angel.

* Spider-Man had just come up with the idea of selling selfies to the Daily Bugle and was fumbling with his camera during the fight.

** The other villains were Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, Electro, Sandman, and Kraven the Hunter.

*** Long and dumb story short: Doctor Octopus managed to swap bodies with Spider-Man and attempted to become a hero while Spider-Man died in his old body. It was a really dumb story.

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  • George Bounacos

    December 15, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    The others are great actors. I loved Eddie Albert and his environmental help. He helped create Earth Day. But Don Messick was a great voice talent--the Mel Blanc of Hanna-Barbera. I can't wait to see what Michael Keaton does with […] Read MoreThe others are great actors. I loved Eddie Albert and his environmental help. He helped create Earth Day. But Don Messick was a great voice talent--the Mel Blanc of Hanna-Barbera. I can't wait to see what Michael Keaton does with the role. The trailer looks amazing, and Keaton looks great again playing a villain! Read Less

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