Tony Stark’s always been something of a lovable rogue, and he’s accomplished many heroic things in other films. Here, however, his actions seem more sinister when he’s dealing with children — and as it turns out, when he’s running Stark Industries, which, in Homecoming, seems to operate on the shady end of the spectrum. In the beginning of the film, we learn that the business of cleaning up the wreckage from the Avengers’ New York battles has been given over to the Department of Damage Control, which, as Darren Franich pointed out in EW, is co-financed by Tony Stark and seems like a fairly malevolent force, despite the fact that national treasure Tyne Daly is its main spokesperson. DDC forces out local contractors like Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes, giving it the monopoly on superhero clean-ups. This might be designed to prevent dangerous alien tech from slipping into the hands of the unready (even though Toomes and his pals manage to steal it anyway), but it also ensures that Tony Stark has a vertical monopoly on superhuman activity: The battles use Stark technology; the clean-up crews are Stark branded; the PR is managed through Pepper Potts. Stark’s superpower, after all, is that he’s smart and rich. He lives in a world with few consequences. Money solves most of his problems; his monopolies prevent him from directly answering to the public. Who is he to teach a 15-year-old personal responsibility?
It’s unclear whether or how Stark Industries turns a profit, but its actions, as Homecoming reveals, have forced Americans out of their jobs. Case in point: Adrian Toomes, who offers the most compelling critique of Stark before he decides to become the evil Vulture. Toomes starts out in salvaging, gets forced out of his job by the Department of Damage Control, and then turns to a life of crime. As he faces off against Spider-Man, Keaton also gives the film a rare jolt of class consciousness as he tells Peter, “The rich and the powerful, like Stark, they don’t care about us.” The movie’s quick to supply examples of Toomes’s hypocrisy; as Vulture’s own Abe Riesman pointed out, he’s something akin to a monstrous vision of a Trump voter, furious at the elites of the world but unable to acknowledge his own relative privilege, as exemplified by a modernist home with way too many windows. [emphasis added]
The Vulture wears a bird suit, and goes from murder-curious to murderous after accidentally killing Logan Marshall-Green, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore his ideas. In the long term, Tony Stark’s actions do hurt the little guy. He’s like a Silicon Valley CEO who, after disrupting the economy with one good product, doesn’t acknowledge the evil he’s produced as a consequence. Tony Stark and his compatriots have seized control of a significant portion of the world’s power apparatus, and they are forcing out the ordinary man. Does this make Iron Man the villain? Marvel movies tend to have villains who intend to do harm, while people who cause damage unintentionally are more redeemable. (See Bucky Barnes in Winter Soldier or Civil War.) Surely, there’s enough evidence in Homecoming to see Toomes as at least a complicated figure, operating in something of a moral gray area.
The thing about the stereotypical Trump voter/alt right voter is white nationalistic ideas. Yet ... for anyone who has actually seen Spiderman: Homecoming, the interracial marriage that led to the existence of Peter's crush Liz is really obvious by act 3. Perhaps journalists wanting to describe the latest Spiderman villain in political terms want to find some other reference point for a white guy married to a black woman who's committing all his crimes to provide for his family in terms that don't deviate from the mainstream script in the press about Trump.
The problem with Toomes isn't that he's a hypocrite. No Marvel antagonist so far seems more committed to doing everything under the radar and as quietly as possible. Toomes ends up killing Shocker 1 after an incident where Shocker 1 insists on showing off high-powered weaponry in a suburb without regard for collateral damage. Underground arms dealer though he is, this is still an Adrian Toomes he can regard Mac Gargan with contempt as someone he wouldn't even deal with if Spiderman hadn't messed up other business deals. If people want to cast Toomes in some kind of political sense the idea that this Adrian Toomes is a Trump voter seems a bit much. Maybe he could be likened to a Reagan Democrat ...
But his criticism of Stark and the Department of Damage Control (subtle name, as always) is that what Stark and company benefit from is the kind of crony monopolistic capitalism in which the haves get to have more and those who don't get completely sidelined. How do we know that Adrian Toomes, if he were magically a real person, wouldn't have voted for Sanders? He might even have voted for Clinton, whose record as a hawk doesn't seem in any contradiction to the Vulture's family-driven pragmatism. Had Trump not won would journalists even think to interpret the Vulture's activities and motives in Trump-voter terms? Not ... very ... likely. Last year some tried to describe the antagonist of the Magnificent Seven remake of a remake in Trumpian terms even though the production was under way (i.e. already scripted) before Trump's candidacy was solidified. But there seems to be this penchant in the entertainment industry for a kind of political punditry recency bias; X or Y is imputed to a pop culture event that may have taken years to come together as though it were somehow consciously anticipating or responding to current events. That makes sense if we're talking about a show like South Park where Parker and Stone are obviously reacting within a few weeks to current events.
When Parker confronts Toomes at the end Toomes' objection is that he is, in fact, pretty much doing the same thing that got the Starks their empire of wealth, selling weapons to killers. Toomes' problem isn't hypocrisy so much as that he refuses to concede that the difference between what Starks Tony or Howard did and what he's been doing is the difference between the formal relationship granted by the state. The state, in the form of the Department of Damage Control, deprived him of his job and contract to clean up the post-Avengers 1 damage. He, in turn, steals from Damage Control to refurbish alien tech into weapons and tools that he sells on the black market. he's still a criminal but with an understandable motive.
If the studios want to even bother with a Sinister Six film they can bring back Keaton as the Vulture and maybe bring back Molina as Doc Ock. One of the fun things about the classic Spiderman villains is that since they're older guys older actors could step into the roles. Odds are pretty decent that the Osborn stuff has been too badly played out to be worth continuing.