Spider-Man: Homecoming post-credit scenes explained

Most people who show up to watch Spider-Man: Homecoming are well aware by now of Marvel's penchant for scenes after the credits which serve as one-off jokes, grace notes, or most excitedly, teasers for future adventures. The 16th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is no different, and in the run-up to the film's release, its post-credits scenes were particularly hyped

The number of scenes Marvel adds after the credits tends to vary (2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 bumped the record number up to five), and while Homecoming has two, the first is the most significant for fans wanting to know what might be in store for future movies. Spoilers ahead, so only read on if you want to find out everything there is to know about who Queens' friendly neighborhood Spider-Man may face next.

The Vulture meets Mac Gargan

In the first and most significant post-credits scene, the audience catches up with the defeated Vulture, Adrian Toomes, walking through the halls of prison after being captured by the authorities following his showdown with Spider-Man. While making his way to a family visit, Toomes is approached by a damaged and scarred prisoner, a notorious criminal who was also on the Staten Island Ferry as part of the Vulture's botched weapons deal. 

Identified by Spider-Man's cybernetic ally Karen the Suit Lady as Mac Gargan, he was noted as having an extensive criminal background, including homicide—but once the Staten Island Ferry splits in half, he disappears, not to turn up again until the credits roll. It's then that the audience gets a good look at his neck tattoo—a scorpion, as well as his messed-up mug, a result of the ferry battle. 

Gargan approaches Toomes chasing a rumor that the junker knows Spider-Man's real identity, and after his last encounter with Spider-Man ended painfully, he's got vengeance on his mind, telling Toomes that he's "got some boys on the outside who would love to meet" their mutual enemy. But Toomes, having gained a new appreciation for Spider-Man after being saved from death at the conclusion of their battle, declines to reveal the high schooler's identity, leaving Gargan to himself, for now. So who is Mac Gargan, and who are these villainous-sounding "boys on the outside" he could be talking about?

He made his first appearance in 1964

Mac Gargan's introduction to the Spider-verse began in issue #19 of the Amazing Spider-Man, released in 1964. A thuggish private investigator, he was originally hired by Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson as part of a scheme to find and defeat Spider-Man. As part of the deal, Gargan submitted himself to an artificial mutation process, combining his DNA with that of a scorpion in an attempt to create a villain stronger than Peter Parker could handle. The process imbued him with super-strength, and the scientist that conducted it also outfitted him in a bulky green costume with a powerful synthetic tail. The only trade-off for Gargan was the deterioration of his mind, growing more aggressive and evil as his strength increased.

Taking on the moniker of Scorpion, Gargan became one of Spider-Man's first opponents ever. A relatively insignificant foe, he was easily bested by the webslinger in combat during their first encounter, and largely relegated to the deep bench of Marvel's villains after that. But Scorpion isn't the only name Mac Gargan has taken, and his second villainous identity is far more famous—and stronger—than his first.

He's had encounters with the symbiote

The symbiote, a malevolent alien life force that fell to Earth to ruin countless lives (and also the third Spider-Man movie), is a staple of the Spider-Man comic books that was introduced by Marvel across several series in 1984. Usually manifesting in the form of a black goo that latches onto hosts to create new and powerful codependent life forms, the symbiote is most commonly associated with the character of Venom and his human host Eddie Brock. But as tends to happen in comic books, the mantle of Venom has shifted over the years. 

When Brock auctions off the symbiote for five million dollars in the seventh issue of the series Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, it eventually finds its way to a new, all-too-willing host: Mac Gargan. Eager to prove his chops after years of failure as the Scorpion, he announces himself as the new Venom in the 11th issue of the series as part of Norman Osborn's newly-formed Sinister Twelve. Gargan uses the suit as his ticket off the B-list—and as Venom, he was finally strong enough to pose a challenge to the webslinger.

Could it be the Sinister Six?

In Spider-Man: Homecoming's first credits scene, Mac Gargan mentioning "some boys on the outside" seems like a deliberate turn of phrase. Spider-Man has a lot of villains on the whole, but it sounds like Gargan might be referring to a specific group. If that's the case, could this scene be setting up for the sequel by alluding to the Sinister Six? 

It wouldn't be too big of a stretch or a surprise. It's well known that Sony intended to make a spinoff Sinister Six movie following what they'd hoped would be the success of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. When that film underperformed, failing in no small part due to its being overstuffed with characters in an attempt to introduce potential members of the villainous sextet, plans for the movie were shelved and Sony worked out a deal with Marvel to produce the 2017 reboot. It wouldn't be that shocking if these plans were in some way revived—especially since with the right kind of execution, the idea sounds pretty cool. 

But who are the members of this team, the Sinister Six? It really depends which comics you're reading. A rather large portion of Spider-Man's villain roster has appeared in the ranks of the Sinister Six at one time or another—including Scorpion, who appeared in a far-future version of the team in the limited series Spider-Man: Reign.

It could also be another Marvel team

As Venom, Gargan joined a team called the Thunderbolts, a league of villains who were utilized to hunt down unregistered superheroes during Marvel's Civil War event. Far from the gleeful maniac he was portrayed as in his earlier appearances, this iteration of the character was haunted by the powers the symbiote brought him, vocalizing the give-and-take nature of the awful, awesome alien. 

"Sometimes I can't believe I ever got myself into this," he says in a moment of repose in Thunderbolts issue 112. "And sometimes I can't believe I've lived this long without it." As of the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, there are no known plans for a Thunderbolts movie—and with the events of Marvel's Civil War having been covered by the Captain America movie that shared the event's name, it's hard to imagine how the Thunderbolts could come into being in Marvel's cinematic universe without their origin and purpose being changed. 

But Marvel has played fast and loose with their adaptations before, even in Homecoming, changing the character of Liz Allan into the Vulture's daughter for the benefit of the plot—and keeping the core concept of the Thunderbolts as a team of villains who get paid to hunt heroes could make for a compelling story. If they do ever get around to adapting the team—and Mac Gargan remains alive in the movies to see it—it wouldn't be surprising to see him in the roster.

We may not have seen the last of Vulture

Mac Gargan and the Vulture have both appeared as members of the Sinister Six independently of each other over the course of the comics' many storylines. As Scorpion, Gargan appeared as a member of the six in Spider-Man: Reign alongside Electro, Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, and Hydro-Man, where they were known as the Sinner Six, with their function as a team of mega-baddies remaining pretty much the same. 

Meanwhile, the Vulture was one of the original Sinister Six, as well as a member of the Superior Six alongside the Otto Octavius incarnation of Spider-Man. But the two villains have also teamed up before—in the Marvel Knights series that saw Gargan fuse with the symbiote as a member of Norman Osborn's Sinister Twelve, Vulture was also a member of the team, at one point attacking a bedridden Spider-Man in one of the most savage encounters they've ever had. Long story short, there's more than enough material in the comic books to support these two teaming up in future movies.

He's probably not Carnage

Many in the lead-up to the film's release were speculating that the actor who plays Mac Gargan, Michael Mando, may secretly be playing the symbiotic villain Carnage in the movie or its sequels, and honestly, the end credits teaser he appears in doesn't give a lot away on that front. It's a possibility, for sure—but there's more than a few reasons to believe he's not. 

For one, though Gargan did fuse with the symbiote to become the second Venom, he never took on the moniker of Carnage—a ferocious offspring of the Venom symbiote who has only ever grafted onto psychotic killer Cletus Kasady. Secondly, Mando himself has called his character the Scorpion in an Instagram post, and the scorpion tattoo on his neck during his Homecoming appearance is, well, rather suggestive. 

While this doesn't discount the possibility of Mando assuming a new identity in future films, It's more likely Mando will be suiting up as some form of the Scorpion before he ever encounters the symbiote—and that's assuming the symbiote ever even makes it to the MCU. With Sony moving forward on their Tom Hardy-starring Venom standalone feature, having announced Carnage will have a place in its story, it looks like any plans for Gargan to meet up with a symbiote in the Marvel Cinematic Universe won't go into motion for a good while—that is, unless Marvel and the burgeoning Sony cinematic universe decide to collide.

He's also taken the name of Spider-Man

Following his first encounters with Peter Parker as the newly-anointed Venom, Gargan stayed under the command of Norman Osborn as a gleeful and chaotic villain, enjoying his new powers and attention. Coming into his own as a particularly savage iteration of the symbiote, far more unhinged than Eddie Brock, he gained a reputation for eating people whole in combat. Most curiously, in the limited series Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man, Gargan actually posed as Spidey, clad in a black suit, living for the thrill that comes with being an antiheroic crimefighter. We can't imagine the movies jumping into a plot that outlandish quite yet, but the MCU is getting stranger every day.

He once killed Spider-Man... sort of

In one amusing comic book encounter in the first issue of the limited series Beyond!, as one of many heroes and villains transported to the pugilistic Marvel realm known as Battleworld, Gargan as Venom actually succeeded in killing Peter Parker, violently tearing him to shreds as a part of a sinister experiment conducted by a cosmic entity named the Stranger. Of course, this victory only lasted for a couple of issues before "Spider-Man" resurrected himself to reveal his true identity as the Space Phantom, using Peter Parker's face as a disguise to trick Gargan into killing him—a ruse the Stranger hoped would have him take down every other hero stuck in Battleworld as well. Gargan didn't succeed in his murderous ambitions, much to his disappointment—and the annoyance of the other heroes whom he tried to kill.

Oh, that Captain America thing

There's more going on in the credits of Spider-Man: Homecoming than the arrival of Mac Gargan—but not a whole lot. In the second credits scene, taking place at the very end of the reel, Captain America appears against a white backdrop, reprising his long-standing duty to make patriotic PSAs. Calling this particular public service announcement a reminder of the virtue of patience, the scene is basically a gag on the audience left in the theater after an interminable credits crawl. 

"Sometimes patience is the key to victory," he says. "Sometimes it leads to very little, and seems like it's not worth it. And you wonder why you waited so long for something so disappointing." The joke hearkens back to the "you're still here?" credits gag from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which was seen playing during Homecoming's suburban chase scene.

Does it have any relevance to the further Marvel mythos? Well, no. It might be the most pointless post-credits scene in series history, considering that even Guardians of the Galaxy's Howard the Duck cameo technically featured the introduction of a new character. It's nice to see the Captain again before it really goes down in his next appearance in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, but you wouldn't be missing out on much if you left the theater too early. Anybody else feel like these scenes are sometimes a little overhyped?