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Monday, August 29, 2016

Panel Vision - is Tony Revolori Playing Nova?

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Edited by Robert Beach

As the various Spider-Man: Homecoming casting news continues to trickle in, one particular bit of casting has been niggling at me: Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson, Spider-Man’s best frenemy. It’ a relatively minor supporting role in the great scheme of Marvel casting. It's why you’ve most likely never registered Flash’s presence in the previous Spider-Man films even though he was on hand. He’s just not a dynamic character in the initial Spider-Man mythos as his primary role was wish fulfillment, acting as the bully jock to pick on Peter, but he worships Spider-Man. 

However, I don’t think that Tony Revolori fits anyone’s idea of a jock given he’s the same size and build as Tom Holland. At the same time, Flash Thompson isn’t that important to the Spider-Man mythos proper. Flash went on to be integral on a cosmic scale. All of which has led me to the following wild speculation: Tony Revolori is set-up to play Nova.

There’s going to be a lot of explaining in this article, so strap in. First off, let's tackle Flash Thompson. While Flash never amounted to much in the Spider-verse, he did stick around, eventually becoming one of Peter’s closest friends. That friendship saw him eventually migrate into the world of actual super heroics when Thompson became involved with the US Government. The government had come into possession of the Venom symbiote, the black goop that possessed Spider-Man and Eddie Brock for its alien purposes. 

Flash was conscripted to become the suit’s new host with new means to exert greater control over its alien influence. Thusly, Flash became Agent Venom, a super-powered black ops agent of the US government. That wasn’t the end of the story. Flash joined the Guardians of the Galaxy and learned the Venom symbiote was a space-based warrior hero. Armed with this knowledge, Flash and the symbiote were transformed into Venom, Space Knight, a traveling hero of the cosmos. 

While all of that is cool, none of it can currently happen within the Marvel Cinematic Universe owing to rights issues.  See, Marvel doesn’t technically have the Spider-Man rights back; Sony is just renting the rights out to Marvel because they’re tired of blowing their own hard work and cash on Spidey films. 

However, Sony does retain the rights to the various other elements of the Spider-Man mythos, and one of those rights they’ve retained is for Venom, who’s allegedly getting his own R-rated solo movie in the vein of Deadpool. With Venom off limits, Marvel would need some other character to attach to Flash to shoot him into space. 

Enter the Nova Corp. Created in 1976, the Nova Corp were, for the longest time, just a low-rent rip-off of the Green Lantern Corp that no one cared about. However, the character of Nova, Richard Ryder, managed to stick around the margins of the Marvel universe for decades, sold as a blend of Spider-Man and Green Lantern (clearly not as popular as either). 

When Marvel was re-inventing itself for the new decade in 2006, Ryder got up-jumped to the head of the cosmic pack in an event called Annihilation. In the event, the Nova Corp was destroyed. All of Nova Corp's power was forced into Ryder, making him Nova Prime and earning him a successful solo comic book. That success alone has kept the Nova concept pumping through the 2000s and into the 2010s, though it’s taken some major turns recently. 

Ryder got killed off in 2011 and was replaced by Sam Alexander, a 15-year-old Latin kid from Arizona. This version of the Nova has proved very popular and has been promoted heavily by Marvel, even appearing in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series as a major supporting character.  

He’s served on several incarnations of the Avengers and stands as one of the better recent examples of Marvel’s push for greater on panel diversity. All that success is also the reason why the Nova Corp got featured in Guardians of the Galaxy, especially given the roster you see in the film spun out of the Annihilation event comic.  

Given what a hot property Nova is for Marvel and the fact that they can’t use the Venom symbiote for Flash Thompson, I submit Marvel plans to have Tony Revolori’s Flash act as the MCU’s Nova, combining elements of the Nova Prime story and the Sam Alexander story. Tony is playing a high school student, so he would fit the identity of kid superhero that goes along with Sam Alexander and plays well into Nova’s core definition as “Spider-Man meets Green Lantern.” It even doubles down on that by directly forming out of the Spider-Man mythos. 

From the Richard Ryder elements, my suspicion is that the Nova Corp will be destroyed following the Avengers inevitable confrontation with Thanos. Thanos’ quest for the Infinity Stones has become the backbone of the MCU, and if he is to obtain them all, he’ll need to neutralize the Nova Corp as they currently possess the power stone. 

Thanos’ attack on the Corp could act as the catalyst that bestows their powers onto Flash Thompson as the Last Nova while also giving Marvel a new major space hero to take into Phase 4. What’s more, making Flash Nova would save Marvel from having to introduce a whole new character, actor, and origin story. It also provides a neat way to fit Nova’s powers and history into the MCU even though their version of the Corp is markedly different from that of the comics. 

While I doubt we’ll get much of a firm answer from Spider-Man: Homecoming, I still feel like this level of set-up would be right in Marvel’s wheelhouse. At the very least, it’d be a better use of Tony Revolori’s skills than leaving him in the role of friend/bully that Flash Thompson played in the comics for so long. Marvel is clearly going to want more heroes to pick up the slack in Phase 4, and I wouldn’t be surprised if getting a Hispanic hero like Nova onscreen wasn’t a top priority; this would just be a bit of a short cut. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming is scheduled for release on July 7, 2017

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