Peter Parker’s Aunt May is a legendary character, being the maternal figure in the life of Spider-Man. Comic books and adaptations of those stories have had years of fun with the elderly woman and her extended period of obliviousness regarding her nephew’s crime-fighting antics. But it seems that the latest onscreen iteration of the character – Spider-Man: Homecoming – is heralding a significant change for her portrayal, with the Aunt May of the Marvel Cinematic Universe being considerably younger, and played by the Academy Award winning Marisa Tomei.
Aunt May was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. While May has been adapted most consistently in animation, Marisa Tomei is the fifth actress to play her in live-action. Jeff Donnell was the first, in the 1977 made-for-TV film, Spider-Man – which received a theatrical release overseas. The television series of the same name which followed that movie featured actress Irene Tedrow playing May in 1978. Most famously, the character was played by Rosemary Harris in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, in 2002, 2004 and 2007 – and then Academy Award winner Sally Field took up the mantle for 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, and its sequel in 2014.
But then, Spider-Man made his move to be included in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and directors Joe and Anthony Russo drafted in Marisa Tomei for the role of May in Captain America: Civil War – a part she’ll reprise in Spider-Man: Homecoming. So, amid this drastic change of pace for the Aunt May character, speculation has begun to swirl about just what the MCU might have in store for Spider-Man’s closest living relative. This gave rise to a Screen Rant interview, in which Tomei was asked about a possible solo movie.
“SR: A while ago it was reported that Sony was interested in doing an Aunt May spy movie. Is that something you’re interested in, or something you think would fit in with this franchise?”
“MT: What? You guys know way more than I do. First of all, it took her forever to find out about Peter, so I don’t know what level of spy she would be, but I would like the idea of a big magnifying glass. Did they really, did you really hear that?”
“SR: I did, really.”
“MT: I’m all for it.”
Now, as we know, those contracted to the MCU are sworn to secrecy, so if Tomei is involved in solo movie discussions at any level, it’s not necessarily something she would confirm in an interview. However, the fact that she refers to May’s lengthy obliviousness does suggest that the studio is intent on maintaining that which is perhaps her most defining trait outside of her relationship with the web-slinger.
In reality, however, the likelihood of an Aunt May solo movie being added to the MCU slate is arguably non-existent – given the fact that it’s taken the studio almost a decade to commission the female-led Captain Marvel, and to even include a woman in a movie title – as in Ant-Man And The Wasp. If Marvel is still not inclined to deliver a Black Widow movie – with the volumes of her source material to draw upon – it seems doubtful that Aunt May would take precedence. However, with this incredibly talented, award-winning actress in the role, a solo outing for her would be a fascinating change of pace.
Aunt May is a hero of a different kind. She does not wear spandex, and nor does she have an arsenal of weaponry at her disposal – but she’s raised Peter for many years as a widow, following the murder of her husband, Ben Parker. She occupies an important space in comic book history – along with the character of DC’s Martha Kent – in that she contradicts the well-worn trope of a dead woman being the motivation for a male character.
Although in her story she’s often subject to kidnap and menace from villains, as a means of manipulating her nephew, it’s her late husband that serves as the motivating factor for Peter’s move into crime-fighting. With Marisa Tomei in the role, it would be a marvellous thing to see the story of a younger, more vital Aunt May – and see the Spider-Verse through her eyes for a change. And it seems that Marisa Tomei is on board with the idea.
Whether that ever comes to fruition or not, Aunt May can be seen next in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which hits theatres on July 7th.
Source: Screen Rant