Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Spider-Man: Homecoming

A Reel Leadership Article

We first saw Tom Holland as Spider-Man in the film Captain America: Civil War. His role was brief but fun.

Now we are treated to Tom Holland’s first full outing as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming. And it is an amazing blast.

leadership lessons and quotes from Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming continues Spider-Man’s story following the events of Captain America: Civil War. Peter Parker dons the same suit he had in Civil War to become the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in his own neighborhood.

Except for he begins to face challenges he can’t handle with his inexperience.

Peter Parker encounters Adrian Toomes/The Vulture (Played by Michael Keaton who once played Batman). He and his team are equipped with weapons fashioned from alien technology. That weaponry is dangerous. More dangerous than our friendly Spider-Man should be facing on his own.

When he challenges The Vulture and his men, Iron Man has to intervene and save the day. Peter Parker’s behavior causes Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to reclaim the Spider-Man suit he had gifted Peter.

That’s just the beginning on Spider-Man: Homecoming.

With all of the action, humor, and adventure of Spider-Man: Homecoming, you might think there aren’t leadership lessons in Spider-Man: Homecoming. You’d be wrong. Let’s dive into the leadership lessons from Spider-Man: Homecoming and what we can learn from this latest adventure into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

CAUTION: Spider-Man: Homecoming spoilers below.

Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Spider-Man: Homecoming

1. Adrian Toomes:

Things are never going to be the same again.

When we first meet Adrian Toomes, he’s running a salvage crew cleaning up the mess left by the Avengers. There’s alien tech all around him. He knows this is game-changing.

The game changes for leaders all of the time. You never know when the next advancement will come. But you can be ready for when it does.

Be ready for change. It’s coming. And you’ve got to be ready.

2. You can quickly lose your advantage:

Toomes had a good thing going. He was cleaning up the damage left after the super-hero battles. He was able to claim what he wanted and throw out the rest.

But then something happened. A new group called Damage Control came into the picture.

They were brought in swiftly and replaced Toomes’ salvage team. All without warning.

Toomes lost his advantage. He no longer was the one called to clean up the mess. He was out of business.

Leaders can lose their advantage just as quickly as Toomes did. If you’re not paying attention to what’s coming, you’re going to be left behind.

Someone else will swoop in and take over your leadership position.

Never stop learning. Never stop growing.

3. Junk can be useful:

Many people saw the debris left over from the Avengers battle as junk. There was no use for it.

Toomes salvage crew saw things differently. They saw a wealth of new technology that could be used to benefit themselves. And that’s exactly what they did.

They took the technology, studied the technology, and used the technology to their own end. What was one man’s junk became their treasure.

You may see something (or someone) as junk. You may say there’s no value in what is in front of you.

Be careful with this line of thinking. All manner of “junk” can be useful. It’s up to you to find out how to use what you’re given.

4. Change is good:

Every Marvel movie I’ve seen has started with a flurry of comic book images. Illustrated superheroes flashed before the eyes of the audience.

Something was different during the Marvel Studios intro. Instead of the animated sequence we’re accustomed to seeing, we are treated to live-action images of Marvel characters.

This slightly different take on the Marvel Studios intro was fresh and interesting. The new intro caught the attention of moviegoers.

Many leaders are afraid of change. There’s a thought that tweaking anything can damage their organization. Get over that line of thinking.

Change is good. Change creates progress. And every leader should desire progress.

Bring change into your organization.

5. Ms. Warren:

Being the fastest isn’t the best if you’re always wrong.

Ms. Warren (played by Selenis Leyva) is one of Peter Parker’s teachers. In one scene, she asks a question of the class. Flash Thompson attempts to be the first to answer the question and gets it wrong. Peter Parker then answers correctly.

Their teacher then slips out this epic quote from Spider-Man: Homecoming. Ms. Warren knows there’s a difference between being fast and being right. Often times being fast will preclude you from being right.

Are you chasing after the NEXT big thing with such ferocity that you’re missing the RIGHT thing? Leaders fall from trying to be too fast to the ball.

Be wary of speed. Speed can lead you to the wrong places or answers.

6. The beginning of your leadership journey may be ungraceful:

The first time we see Peter Parker put on the Spider-Man suit, we see he lacks grace. He’s clumsy and stumbles around trying to put on the suit.

He eventually wears the suit. But not until we see him in awkward poses.

Have you been there? Most leaders start out awkwardly.

Beginning leaders are trying to get their bearings. They stumble and fall. They may even look goofy.

That’s because they’re starting out.

Here’s my encouragement to young leaders:

If you’re not feeling comfortable in your role as a leader, that’s okay! You’re just beginning to lead.

The more you practice leadership, the more comfortable you’ll feel. You’ll also find slipping into the leadership role gets easier and easier.

Keep going, young leader!

7. Leaders make mistakes too:

Peter, as Spider-Man, was trying to stop petty crimes and help old ladies cross the street. Spider-Man came across a young man with a slim-jim trying to unlock a vehicle. He shoots out a blast of webbing and stops him.

Except he learns he made a mistake. The young man wasn’t breaking into the vehicle. The vehicle belonged to him.

His locks didn’t work and he needed to unlock them in an unconventional way. Spider-Man made a mistake.

You will too. Leadership isn’t about being perfect. Leadership is about growing and helping others grow.

Be willing to make a mistake here or there. Don’t hide from them!

8. Great leaders desire to do more:

Spider-Man was stopping bike thieves, giving old women directions, and other things that felt small. Peter wanted to do more. He wanted to be with the big boys fighting intergalactic threats.

Every great leader desires to do more. They want to have an impact that lasts in the world.

What are you desiring?

9. Great leaders do the small things:

While great leaders desire to do more, they are still willing to do the small things. Peter Parker never stopped helping the little person. He kept at it.

Great leaders do the same. They continue to make sure the little things are getting done. When the little things are ignored, the big things begin to fail.

Keep taking care of the small things. Small things matter.

10. Great leaders ask questions:

Ned Leeds (played by Jacob Batalan) is Peter’s best friend. He’s also one of the only people who know Spider-Man’s true identity.

When he discovers Peter Parker is Spider-Man, he begins with a barrage of questions. He wants to know everything. He’s hungry to find out more.

Great leaders ask questions. They want to know what’s coming and what’s happening.

By asking questions, great leaders are able to dig deep.

11. Aunt May Parker:

Peter, have fun.

The Aunt May Parker we know and love is gone. She’s no longer an elderly woman. Instead, she’s replaced by a younger actress. Marissa Tomei plays Aunt May in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

But that’s beside the point.

Aunt May tells Peter to go, have some fun. She knows he can’t grow up without having a little bit of fun.

Neither can leaders. Leaders don’t need to hustle all the time. Great leaders know they have to take the time to get away and have fun as well.

Don’t neglect your responsibility to have fun. You need it. Your team needs it.

12. Peter Parker:

Spider-Man is not a party trick.

Ned wanted Peter to swing into Liz Allen’s (played by Laura Harrier) party and introduce himself as a friend of Peter Parker and Ned’s. Peter protests and says his responsibility as Spider-Man isn’t to do party tricks.

There are leaders out there who use their role as a leader to do party tricks. They spend money they or their organization don’t have to impress people they don’t care about. Or maybe they use their position as a leader to flout their power.

Great leaders know better. They know leadership is a responsibility they must take seriously.

Be careful how you use your role as a leader.

13. Leaders need friends:

The first time Spider-Man fights the Vulture, he’s ripped away from the Vulture by his parachute. The parachute wraps around his body and drops him into the water.

There, Peter almosts drowns. Then his friend Iron Man shows up to save him (though we quickly learn this Iron Man is an android controlled by Tony Stark).

Peter needed his friend. Without Stark’s intervention, he would have been fish food.

Don’t be a leader who thinks they need to be a lone ranger. Leadership isn’t a solo journey.

Being a great leader requires the help of friends. Find people to surround yourself with and lead with them.

14. Value the right things:

Peter and his classmates traveled to Washington D.C. to compete in an academic decathlon. Peter’s team won the decathlon without his presence. They then went to the Washington Monument for a tour.

While there, the Vulture attacked the Washington Monument with Peter’s classmates in the elevator. Flash Thompson was in the elevator, holding the trophy from their decathlon win.

Flash was able to escape but then asked for their trophy to be passed up to him. He HAD to have the trophy. He valued the trophy more than his friends and teachers. Flash was valuing the wrong things.

Bad leaders get caught up in the wrong things. They begin to value the prestige and honor that comes with leadership. They forget what things they should value.

Great leaders, on the other hand, value the right things. They value friendships and good business partnerships. They value hard workers and their customers.

Don’t get wrapped up in the wrong things. Value the right things.

15. Ned Landers:

What is it like to be famous and no one knows it’s you?

Peter Parker and Spider-Man are two separate identities. The world doesn’t know Peter is Spider-Man and Peter doesn’t get the glory for what he does when he’s in costume.

Ned wonders what this is like. How do you feel when you don’t get the accolades for what you do?

That’s a situation leaders need to be okay with. Yes, you’re the leader. But you don’t need to get the credit for what happens.

You’re there to guide others, move the organization forward, and get things done. If you get the credit, great. If not, keep going.

16. Steve Rogers/Captain America:

How are you going to make things right?

The school system in Spider-Man: Homecoming used pre-recorded videos of Captain America to inspire the kids. When Peter Parker had to go to detention, he had to watch one of the Captain America propaganda videos.

Captain America asks the students what they’re going to do to make things right. And it’s a good question to ask ourselves as leaders.

When things go wrong, what are you going to do to make things right? What actions are you going to take to correct the problem?

Great leaders are always willing to make things right.

17. Doing the right thing gains respect:

Earlier in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man tried to apprehend the Vulture’s henchmen during a weapons deal. The henchmen were trying to sell the weapons to a low-level street thug.

They believed the thug had alerted the authorities and were ready to kill the man. Spider-Man stepped up and told them to shoot him instead.

Later in Spider-Man: Homecoming, we learn Spider-Man’s actions gained the respect of the thug. The thug respected the fact Spider-Man was willing to take a shot meant for someone else.

When you do the right things, you earn respect. You may not see the respect returned right away but you gain respect in the bank account of life.

Be willing to do the right thing.

18. Bad leaders have no regard for their people:

Because of the respect Spider-Man had gained with the street thug, the thug gave up the location of the Vulture and his men’s next deal. This led Spider-Man to the Statton Island Ferry.

There, a major battle ensued. The Shocker was knocked over the side of the ferry and holding on for dear life. The Vulture then knocks him off trying to kill Spider-Man.

He had no regards for the safety or lives of the men working for him.

Bad leaders don’t care about those they lead. They only see dollar signs and what’s in it for them.

Great leaders, on the other hand, put their people first. They care for them and their families.

Be a great leader and care for your people.

19. Tony Stark/Iron Man:

I was the only one who believed in you…

Tony Stark wanted to bring Spider-Man in on the big fight of Captain America: Civil War. He petitioned for Spider-Man’s place on the team in the fight. And he won him that spot.

But he was the only one believing in Peter Parker/Spider-Man. No one else had faith in him.

How does this relate to your leadership? There are people out there who will surprise you when you put your faith in them. You can be the ONE person who believes in them and gives them a chance.

Be a leader who’s willing to give people their first chance.

20. Peter Parker:

I wanted to be like you.

Tony Stark:

I wanted you to be better.

Tony Stark was a mentor to Peter Parker. He believed in him and championed his rise.

Peter wanted to be like Tony. He saw a wealthy, successful man and wanted to emulate him.

Yet Tony knew he had faults. He wasn’t a perfect man. He wanted Peter to be BETTER than him.

Great leaders want to see others be greater than themselves. They want to create great leaders who create even greater leaders.

21. Liz Allen:

Last week the decathlon was the most important thing. Then I almost died.

Liz had her focus on winning the academic decathlon. That was her goal. To win…

Then she almost died. And she realized her focus was on the wrong thing.

You may think winning at business is the most important thing. I’d like to challenge you that there are more important things than winning at business.

Your health. Your family. And your ethics will be more important than any business you ever lead.

22. Bad leaders rationalize their bad actions:

Adrian Toomes had a chat with Peter Parker after he dropped his daughter Liz (Peter’s homecoming date) off at the school. He gave Peter reasons for his actions.

The rich are getting richer. The little guy can’t make it. And other rationalizations.

That’s what bad leaders do. They rationalize their bad actions. They blame others and deflect their own responsibilities.

If you find yourself rationalizing your actions, look long and hard at whether or not you’re doing the right thing.

23. You’re more than your role:

Tony Stark took back the advanced Spider-Man costume. Peter Parker had to fight the Vulture in his homemade, pajama Spider-Man suit. Peter wasn’t sure if he could win the battle.

The Vulture brings down a building on Spider-Man. It looks like he’s finished. Then Spider-Man realizes he’s more than the suit. That’s when he lifts the debris off of him and continues his pursuit of the Vulture.

I want to encourage you, leaders, that you’re more than the role you’re filling or the title you’ve been given. Leadership is about more than titles and roles.

You are more than that and you can lead without the title.

24. Tony Stark:

Boundaries are good.

A lot of leaders fear boundaries. They feel boundaries will stifle their ability to lead well.

Yet boundaries for leaders are so important. Boundaries can actually help you do what only you can do and for others to do what they can do.

25. Peter Parker:

Somebody’s gotta look after the little guy.

At the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming, we see Peter Parker’s growth. He begins to realize being a superhero isn’t about doing big things. Being a hero is about helping the little guy.

Leadership is the same thing. Leadership isn’t about defeating competitors or taking on more business.

When you lead well, you’re looking after everyone. Even the little guy.

26. You don’t have to accept a promotion:

Peter longed to be an official member of the Avengers. It was his dream. When Tony Stark finally offers him a place on the Avengers, Peter does something no one expected him to do. Peter Parker turned down a membership to the Avengers.

You may think the next promotion is exactly what you need as a leader. It’s going to move you forward and make you look good.

But think long and hard about the next promotion or transition you’re offered. Consider the ramifications.

Do you want to move your family across the country? What happens to the team you’ve built? Are you willing to give up your friends?

Your decision to take a promotion or not is up to you. Make a wise choice.

27. You don’t have to tell the same story:

Sony Pictures has created three different Spider-Man universes. The first was Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. Then came Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man.

We’d already been given Spider-Man’s origin story with Tobey. Sony felt the need to rehash Spider-Man’s origins when Andrew Garfield took over.

The Spider-Man movies began to feel repetitive and stale. Part of this had to do with the retelling of the same story.

With Spider-Man: Homecoming, Sony gave us something new. There was no rehashing the origin story of how Peter Parker became Spider-Man. Instead, they jumped right into the story. Sony moved on from the origins. And it worked well.

We all have stories to tell. And we need to tell those stories.

Yet we can’t continue to tell the same story over and over again. We have to give people something new.

Find new stories to tell. If you don’t have new stories, go make a new story.

Question: Have you seen Spider-Man: Homecoming? If you have, did you take away any leadership lessons from Spider-Man: Homecoming? If you haven’t seen Spider-Man: Homecoming, share your favorite leadership lesson from Spider-Man: Homecoming that I shared. Let me know yours in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I did see the movie, and you did an excellent job (as always) capturing leadership lessons from the movie. I especially liked the part of the movie where Peter made the decision to go back home after being offered a position at the Avengers headquarters. It’s important to know where you are supposed to be.

    • I loved that scene Jon. Seeing him turn down the “promotion” to the Avengers because he knew where he belonged was powerful.

  • Jeffrey P. Rush

    And, to know who you are.

    Here’s another: If you’re nothing without the suit, then you don’t need the suit. Again, know who are first then everything else flows from that.