Two words in particular might have struck longtime Marvel fans during the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, and they weren't even spoken aloud. At the 0:40 mark in the new trailer, a news report on a television includes the words "Damage Control" onscreen … which just so happens to be the title of a fan-favorite Marvel property from the 1980s and '90s.
"For me, in thinking about this movie, it just fit in with our overall philosophy with the kind of story we wanted to tell," director Jon Watts told Fandango about the inclusion of the company in the new movie.
"In the same way that Peter gives us the ground level view of what it's like to be a 15-year-old kid in a New York City that was almost destroyed by aliens before the Avengers showed up, you also wonder after all those huge messes are made, who's sent in to clean up?" he continued. "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."
The answer to that question, at least in Marvel comic book lore, is Damage Control. The concept, which was created by animation legend Dwayne McDuffie and artist Ernie Colon and first appeared in 1988's Marvel Age Magazine Annual No. 4, was a simple one: Damage Control was a privately owned company that was available to clean up the aftermath of superhero fights.
(It should be pointed out that Item 47, a Marvel Studios short that appeared on the home release of The Avengers in 2012, had SHIELD take responsibility for this in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; given that SHIELD technically fell apart after 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it only makes sense that something else would have to fulfill the function.)
The comic book version of the company was co-owned by Tony Stark and Wilson Fisk, who might have been enemies in their alter egos (Iron Man and the Kingpin, respectively), but shared a certain sense of civic pride when it came to keeping New York City relatively free of debris and unexploded death traps. That would eventually change - the company would fall under the control of a supervillain as part of the comic book Civil War storyline, before falling back into the straight and narrow in its aftermath - but the movie version of the company will, it seems, also be under the control of Tony Stark.
Damage Control's comic book prime was undoubtedly the three original miniseries that ran from 1989 through 1991; since then, the concept has occasionally re-emerged, traditionally around a larger event storyline. The hook of "regular guys cleaning up after superheroes," though, has gained popularity outside of comics in recent years - Ben Karlin was signed to develop a Damage Control sitcom for ABC in 2015, and NBC's current Powerless centers on a similar concept for the DC universe.
Could Spider-Man: Homecoming be the start of something for the little man of the Marvel Universe, then? It depends on what happens to Damage Control in the movie, perhaps - and on how eager audiences are to root for heroes who don't have superpowers or costumes to help them keep the city safe.