Fan anticipation has been rewarded. Living up to expectation, Spider-Man has made his first official Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance, however briefly, in the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War.
Spidey's debut is preceded, of course, by so much more. In the 2 1/2-minute trailer, we get our first extensive look at the battle between friends-turned-enemies and fellow Avengers. The action is intense as Captain America tells Iron Man (as they trade punches): "I can do this all day" (a nice wink to the audience who knows that those were Steve Rogers' words back when he was a victim of bullying - before he had super-soldier serum running through his veins in the first Captain America flick).
Plus, the Black Panther takes down Bucky Barnes (aka The Winter Soldier), who is trying to escape by motorcycle. Even possible lovers (we don't know yet, but there have been hints) the Scarlet Witch and the Vision are battling it out.
And how about Ant-Man riding on one of Hawkeye's shot arrows? Its a classic image pulled straight from the comic books.
Despite all that, the trailer's big moment comes when Spider-Man finally arrives. Marvel Studios knows how special this moment is, especially because many fans anticipate that Spider-Man will have a more authentic feel under Marvel's direction.
Spidey's debut is saved for the trailer's final seconds. Before all superhero heck breaks loose and the warring sides are split between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America, Iron Man calls out for "Underoos!" Then comes a quick shot of webbing that steals Captain America's shield and ties his hands together in one swift move. Then - boom! - Spidey sticks the classic superhero landing.
And it's not simply any Spider-Man. It's classic Spider-Man.
Yes, you can look at Spidey's arms and boots - taking in the new tweaks - and say, "That's some new-age, 21st-century-movie Spidey." But look at the mask. There are two major things to notice here.
First: The eyes are smaller, in a nod to the visual look of Spider-Man from the 1960s, '70s and '80s. All five Spider-Man movies featured masks with the large white lenses on the mask, channeling the Spider-Man look that took over in the '90s with such artists as Todd McFarlane and Mark Bagley. These new Spider-Man eyes aren't only classically smaller - they also move. They're animated! It's a brilliant play by Marvel Studios to take small steps to declare: "This is our Spider-Man, and this is how it is supposed to be."
Another key visual to note is our very first glimpse of Spidey (already highly GIF'd around the interwebs), in which the wallcrawler is holding Captain America's shield. This is telling, because with every Spider-Man movie produced solely by Sony, we knew we wouldn't get to see other Marvel characters outside of the Spider-Man universe (thanks to previous contractual rights between Marvel and Sony). But with the suits at Sony having thrown up a white flag - realising that if they are going to keep the Spider-Man movie franchise alive, they need Marvel Studios's magic touch with these characters - we finally see Spider-Man on film with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And Spider-Man's grab of Cap's shield isn't just a quick, funny moment - it also represents the fixing of something that felt broken. (I'm sure many fans look at Cap's shield in Spider-Man's hands and get a few geek goosebumps. Well-played Marvel.)
And then there's the true teen factor to appreciate. The actor in the Spidey suit, Tom Holland, is just 19. When Captain America: Civil War hits theaters in May, Holland will still be a month from 20. Such youth is something we haven't seen in Spider-Man movies (no matter how many times they tried to 90210 us and have us believe a 20-something was a high-schooler). This is another example of Marvel's taking cues from the company's recently deceased Ultimate comic-book universe; they plucked the Samuel L. Jackson-inspired Nick Fury from there, and this Spider-Man feels like the young hero crafted by Brian Michael Bendis in the 2000s.
This moment, though, does bring one negative twinge. This film marks the end of the hilarity that was J.K. Simmons memes, featuring pictures of the Oscar-winning actor as editor J. Jonah Jameson demanding pictures of Spider-Man. The days of fresh-cut JJJ memes are over, alas, now that we've been given our first official look at Marvel Studios wall-crawler.
But Spider-Man is home. And he's never looked better.