COVID-19 changed the most emotional scene in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’

By Keane Eacobellis

COVID-19 still presents a thorny problem for the film and TV industry. Not only do we continue to see productions delayed as cast and crew go into isolation, but physically traveling to locations remains either expensive, slow, or occasionally outright banned.

One other impact is the restrictions impacting real-life locations in which you can shoot, which affected one of the key moments in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers opened up about the writing process in an interview with Gold Derby, including a reveal that the original plan for Aunt May’s death saw her make it to an ambulance before biting the dust:

“It was tricky [to write]. It was also tricky production-wise because we had different ideas for where the scene could take place, but because of COVID [it had to change]. We had one idea that maybe it was going to be inside an ambulance, and we had a whole version that was constructed around that, but that was not practical for shooting during COVID.

That’s the kind of thing that happens. So then we had to move the scene, physically, to another place while trying to keep all the other elements working. We had to make adjustments, and that’s the kind of thing that happens in production. So it was [tricky], but I’m glad that it turned out the way it did, and that it affected people the way we wanted — that it resonated — because it’s so important to Peter’s story and to his journey.”

This feels like a bit of a head-scratcher. Unless I’m reading this wrong, I think he’s saying that COVID-19 made it impractical to shoot inside a real ambulance for hygiene reasons. But surely they could have simply built an ambulance set or hired a stage ambulance for the scene?

Perhaps putting Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei in an enclosed space with extras playing paramedics was a non-starter as it would have broken their bubble?

Whatever the case, what they finally settled on was a genuine tearjerker. Few expected the movie to have the stones to kill off May, especially as they appeared to be pushing her on-again/off-again relationship with Happy Hogan.

But, her death provided the movie’s emotional core, giving all three Spideys something to bond over, as well as an opportunity for Holland to overcome his desire for vengeance in the finale.