There have been rumblings about Damage Control making its Marvel Cinematic Universe debut for several years now, with ABC ordering a put pilot for a potential TV series back in October, 2015. Things have gone dormant since then, but there’s new hope for Damage Control’s MCU prospects thanks to Spider-Man: Homecoming and it’s looking like the organization will be appearing in the upcoming Tom Holland-starring film.
With that in mind, now is the perfect time for a refresher on what Damage Control is and how it might fit into the increasingly complex tapestry that is the MCU.
Some Spider-Man: Homecoming spoilers and speculation follow.
Damage Control was conceived in the late 1980s by writer Dwayne McDuffie and artist Ernie Colón as “a sitcom within the Marvel Universe.” Basically, the various Damage Control comics take a more comedic, ground-level approach to the Marvel Universe, focusing on the collateral damage caused by massive battles between heroes and villains. Damage Control are usually the ones tasked with cleaning up after each disaster and keeping New York City in tiptop shape. Needless to say, it’s a full-time job.
The various Damage Control books feature a large and fairly fluid cast, but usually they tend to revolve around founder/owner Ann-Marie Hoag, an elderly, no-nonsense woman who maintains a close working relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. Other major players include traffic manager Robin Chapel, comptroller Albert Cleary and account executive John Porter. The organization frequently enlists the aid of Greek demigod/occasional Avenger Hercules, and they even team up with Trull the Unhuman, an alien consciousness who now dwells inside a steam shovel.
As near as we can tell based on what’s been teased in the Homecoming trailer and various interviews, it appears that Tony Stark is the one responsible for creating Damage Control in the MCU. It seems unlikely that S.H.I.E.L.D. is bankrolling the group, as they’ve never quite been the same since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Tony certainly has the resources to fund such a venture, and more importantly, he has the motivation.
These days, Tony’s MCU character arc mainly revolves around guilt. He regrets the mistakes he made as a headstrong, hedonistic young industrialist. He regrets the destruction caused in the Chitauri Invasion and the battle with Ultron in Sokovia. And even though he tried to start making amends for those mistakes by supporting the Superhuman Registration Act, Tony wound up fracturing the Avengers and destroying his relationship with Steve Rogers. At this point he may be questioning how much good he’s actually done in his superhero career.
Damage Control is probably Tony’s latest attempt to atone for his mistakes. He knows that stopping new superhuman disasters from unfolding is impossible, and the best he can do is try to help ordinary people rebuild their lives in the wake of those disasters. But as he’ll learn in Homecoming, even benevolent actions have unforeseen consequences.
New details have been emerging about Michael Keaton’s Vulture and the role he’ll be playing in Homecoming. It sounds like Adrian Toomes has a very specific bone to pick with Tony Stark in this movie. He runs a salvage company that also cleans up in the aftermath of superhero-related disasters. With the advent of Tony’s swanky, big-budget recovery project, Toomes’ company will find itself pushed right out of the market. Toomes fancies himself a hard-working, blue collar guy who had his livelihood destroyed by a rich guy who lives in a penthouse tower.
Not that Toomes and his buddies have exactly been on the straight-and-narrow. Toomes and his partners Herman Schultz and Phineas Mason have been busy looting disaster sites for valuable technology and spare parts that the technologically inclined Mason can use to build weapons to sell on the black market. We’re guessing that’s where Schultz acquires his Shocker gauntlets and Toomes gets his Vulture wings. That would also explain the notable similarities between the Vulture’s gear and Falcon’s signature flight harness.
It may well be that Mason, not Toomes, is the most significant villain introduced in Homecoming in terms of lasting impact on the MCU. Known as The Tinkerer in the comics, Mason is pretty much the go-to guy for any enterprising criminal who wants to purchase weaponry powerful enough to allow them to tussle with the likes of Spider-Man or Daredevil.
Assuming Damage Control is introduced in Homecoming, we have to assume Marvel does indeed have big plans for these characters in the years ahead. Homecoming director Jon Watts recently told Fandango that the group opens up lots of possibilities in the MCU. “You also wonder after all those huge messes are made [in superhero battles], who’s sent in to clean up?” he said. “Is it the normal people who would be hired to do something like that? Does it become a government operation? Is it dangerous? What do you do with all the alien body parts that you find? I really like asking those practical questions about this world, and then using that to drive the story.”
At the very least, look for Damage Control to become recurring players in the Homecoming sequels, Avengers: Infinity War and any other future films that involve massive property damage. And even if Tony Stark himself remains the face of the company, we’re hoping to see characters like Ann-Marie Hoag and Robin Chapel pop up in these films. Also, Trull. Especially Trull.
But we also wonder if Homecoming will be used to finally get the ball rolling on the Damage Control TV series again. Homecoming could wind up being a very expensive backdoor pilot for the series in the same way the original Avengers laid the groundwork for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And much as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a habit of dancing between MCU movies and exploring their aftermath, Damage Control could focus on how each new MCU movie impacts the ordinary man on the street in the MCU.
Some have speculated that the Damage Control TV series might go the meta route and present itself as a sitcom that exists within the MCU itself. That would allow the show to take a goofier approach and not necessarily be bound by the continuity of the MCU. But if the organization is debuting in Homecoming, we think it’s more likely that any potential TV series could build directly from that foundation.