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Update: Michael Keaton will take flight in Spider-Man: Homecoming

It’s been a long road following Michael Keaton’s supposed involvement in the all new Spider-Man movie. The will he/won’t he back and forth made for some real drama (and a lot of headline updating). However, after performing the requisite dance of hard to get, Michael Keaton is officially on board to play the villain in Spidey’s latest reboot, Spider-Man: Homecoming. What’s more, it appears IMDB has confirmed that Keaton will be playing the role of Vulture, a former electronics engineer who employs a flying harness for evil purposes.

The joint production, which will see Sony and Marvel teaming up to bring Spider-Man back into the Marvel fold in full force, has lured Keaton away from his DC roots to take on Spider-Man as Vulture, first reported by Deadline. Also on board are Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr, who respectively played Aunt May and Spidey’s recruiter/unofficial mentor, Iron Man, in Captain America: Civil War.

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One of Spider-Man’s first supervillain counterparts, Vulture first appeared in 1963’s Spider-Man #2 as a deranged creator of a supernatural flying harness that extended his life and gave him super-strength. Vulture is also the reason Parker got his job as a photographer, charged with getting a picture of the villain. It could be an interesting role for Keaton on several levels, not the least of which is his recent meta role as a former flying bird in Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of  Ignorance).

The news has (of course) spawned no shortage of quick quips about Keaton’s origins as the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s 1989 classic, Batman, and the sequel Batman Returns; most notably, the phrase Batman v Spider-Man has been bandied about. This will be Keaton’s first role in a superhero film since the second of Burton’s genre-bending flicks hit theaters in 1992. It has been reported that Keaton turned down the first offer and the studio, after looking around for a similar fit, came back to Keaton with a bigger check.

The film will be directed by Jon Watts, who effectively confirmed Keaton’s involvement in the film in a May 23 tweet. The script is written by Francis Daley with production from Amy Pascal, Jonathan Goldstein, and Kevin Feige.

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We don’t know much about the plot just yet, though the use of “Homecoming” in the title seems to be the production team’s attempt at having some fun with Spider-Man’s return to Marvel’s domain. Sony has held exclusive rights to the character for decades, and has pushed out two franchises, including three films with Toby Maguire in the lead role, and a dual-film reboot starring Andrew Garfield.

After falling off Hollywood’s A-list radar for years, Keaton’s career got a major boost in 2014 due to his brilliant performance in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s aforementioned Birdman. If everything goes to plan, Keaton will have come full circle — from the former protagonist in one of DC’s most iconic storylines to the bad guy in one of Marvel’s.

We’ll be following this and any other Spidey updates as they develop, so stay with us.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is slated for release July 7, 2017.

Updated 6-21-2016: This piece was updated to confirm that Michael Keaton is in the film with all-but official confirmation that he will play the villain Vulture.