The Vulture Profile

Literally, he's a flying octogenarian

spider man the vulture
Marvel Comics

As a teen superhero trying to live the normal life of a high schooler whilst doubling as a masked vigilante, Spider-Man often stands at odds with the older, more mature characters in a lot of mainstream comic books. He also stands in direct opposition to the much older, not necessarily more mature, criminal mastermind Adrian Toomes – better known as the bewinged supervillain, The Vulture!

Adrian Toomes

In fairness to Toomes, he was fairly straight and flew right for most of his life.

Despite losing his parents at an early age, his older brother Marcus did a good job of raising him – at least until he got into a motorcycle crash, which resulted in Adrian having to tend to his now-paraplegic sibling and guardian. He didn't let a little thing like indentured servitude and being an orphan get him down, though, consistently getting good grades throughout school, with a particular aptitude for engineering.

He parlayed that skill into a career, co-founding the small business Bestman and Toomes Electronics. Toomes used his skills as an electrical engineer to invent various wonderful contraptions, with business partner Gregory Bestman handling the money side of things. Whilst he had many great ideas, the one Toomes was most focused on was his most fanciful: a pair of wings attached to an electromagnetic harness, which would allow its wearer to fly like a bird (I don't know where my soul is, I don't know where my home is...

). Only problem was, during this whole time, Bestman was “handling” the money in a most immoral manner.

Which is to say he was embezzling, big time, and completely screwing over his business partner in the process. Once Toomes discovered, too late, that Bestman had forced their little operation into bankruptcy with his dips into the company's assets, he became enraged.

And he happened to be wearing his prototype flying harness at the time, discovering in the process of trashing their shared office and giving Bestman a good telling off that the invention appeared to increases his strength, too.

His business in ruins, his debts running through the roof, and with a newly-found cynicism about a world that never seemed to give him a break, Adrian Toomes turned his hand to the next natural way of making a living: supervillainy.

The Vulture

Initially, Toomes only intended his new guise as a way to break into Bestman's offices and acquire proof of his dodgy dealings, allowing him personal revenge if not financial. Despite his advanced years, the life experience and intelligence of Toomes proved to be a winning combination as he took on the identity of The Vulture. He went on to use his wings as a novel way to getaway after a jewel heist or bank robbery – with the enhanced strength afforded by the harness also allowing him to make quick work of security guards and police officers on the scene – embarking on a crime spree across New York City which quickly attracted the attention of a certain superhero...

The problem was that Toomes got cocky, announcing the location of his next heist in advance.

Only a month into his role as masked protector of the Big Apple, Spider-Man was easily bested by The Vulture during this first encounter – only the bad guy didn't count on the hero's web-swinging allowing him to give chase, nor the innovation of an anti-magnetic inverter created by the young Peter Parker which rendered his harness useless.

In the years since the pair have fought often, with The Vulture quickly learning to upgrade his equipment so that it could not so easily be disrupted. He was part of the original Sinister Six, a group of defeated Spider-Man villains who banded together to take down their common enemy (unfortunately egos and idiocy got in the way). He's been in and out of prison on numerous occasions, even bequeathing The Vulture name and gadgets to cell mate Blackie Drago for a short period.

After being released himself, Toomes took back the name and sought to establish himself as a mob boss, rather than simply a petty criminal.

Ill-health has blighted Toomes for a large portion of his career as a bad guy, owing to his age and apparently cancerous microwaves emitted by his flying harness. Drago's taking over of the role came during one such scare; following another, The Vulture was struck with guilt over his part in the death of Aunt May's boyfriend Nathan Lubensky who, like Toomes's older brother, had been paraplegic. All of which went out the window for a little while when, with a little help from science genius shape-shifting supervillain The Chameleon, The Vulture found his body returned to the state of a much younger man, his hair growing back and his cancer being cured.

That obviously didn't last either. Recently Toomes has upgraded his harness further, simultaneously recruiting a gang of Vulture acolytes to assist him in his criminal activities. During a battle with the Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus's brain in Spidey's body; it's a long story), those acolytes were revealed to be brainwashed children, which lead to the Superior Spidey beating Toomes so much that he was blinded.