The performance of Academy Award winning actress Marisa Tomei in the role of Aunt May is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Spider-Man: Homecoming, so it’s no surprise to see that her promotion of the movie is dominated by requests for confirmation of her continued involvement in future instalments.
“As many as they want. There will be a lot of surprises because the end of the film is a new twist. That leaves a creative door wide open. It leads to some really exciting possibilities.”
And this is really the essence of the response to her portrayal of the beloved comic book character – curiosity, and a need for more. It’s something that has radiated from the film in a very organic way, due to the fact that it’s pointedly not an origin story for Spider-Man. The film catches up with him as he’s trying to carve out a place for himself in a superhero-dominated world – as opposed to showing us his transformation resulting from a spider bite. This holds true for the supporting characters, too – including, most significantly, Aunt May.
There are hints, sprinkled throughout the movie, about what she’s “been through,” but the traumatic loss of her husband – Uncle Ben – is never mentioned. We’re given, essentially, a tantalizing glimpse of an accomplished, self-sufficient woman, and her relationship with her nephew – and it’s just enough to grab our interest and build a desire to get to know her better. This is surely what has given rise to wishful speculation about an Aunt May solo movie, and endless questions about how often we’ll get to spend time with this particular character.
Marisa Tomei expanded on this point for Variety, in response to being asked whether she would have an action scene in a future film.
“Why are you just limiting me to one? We did talk a lot, [the director] Jon Watts and I, about Spider-Man being a community hero. Maybe May was a community organizer or invested in the neighborhood, getting his values from that. At one point, we talked about her rescuing a kid. It never made it to filming, but it’s all there in the soup.
First, we thought maybe she’d be a lawyer for the public interest, but ultimately we stopped on publishing. We questioned how much of the parenting did Ben do and how much did May do. It kind of seemed maybe Ben was someone she met in school. Maybe he was her professor in grad school. And she had a bit of a sisterly relationship with Peter, and took the reins when she had to, when Ben was killed. That was kind of our backstory.”
This, combined with the brilliantly executed, Aunt May-centric cliff-hanger ending of Spider-Man: Homecoming certainly suggests that she’ll play a very large part in the future big screen outings for Spider-Man – and rightly so. This version of May is unarguably the best to have been adapted to the big screen, and her portrayal as being younger than she’s traditionally been depicted as in both the comics and past movies means that the possibilities really are endless.