‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ writers talk us through May Parker’s arc

by Keane Eacobellis

This article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home

There were a ton of predictions from fans about the plot of Spider-Man: No Way Home, with teases the story would be darker than expected fuelling a lot of speculation about potential deaths. But, even throughout all that, there were few who genuinely thought the movie would kill off Marisa Tomei’s May Parker.

Her death came at the hands of Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, though Holland’s reluctance to send the villains back to their own dimensions meant he felt intensely guilty that his decisions resulted in her death. However, in May’s final moment, she uttered the immortal words: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

This effectively makes May the MCU’s equivalent of Uncle Ben, and overturns a lot of what we’d assumed about the MCU Peter Parker’s origins. Now, in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, No Way Home writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have gone into depth about May’s arc:

Sommers explained that:

“I don’t think there was much impetus to put it into the other two movies. This iteration of Spider-Man didn’t start by telling the story of losing Uncle Ben. We started at a different place with Peter. Those words are so tied to Uncle Ben, there didn’t seem to be a natural place for it. We weren’t even thinking necessarily, ‘Oh, we have to do it in this one.’

As the story started to develop, and as we got to the scene with May, we realized, ‘This is going to be Peter’s Uncle Ben,’ and the words are going to come out. For the scene on the rooftop, where the three Peters meet, we felt pretty strongly that we need something to really, finally crystalize it for these three guys that they are the same, that they are brothers. And that they are bound in a cosmic way by something and having them share those words in common seemed like the thing to do.”

McKenna continued:

“[Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely and the Russos were so smart with Civil War to side step rehashing the origin story. You just leap over it, but it leaves so many questions and gaps. Some people [ask], ‘Oh, did Uncle Ben die? Was he guilty [of Ben’s death]? Are we losing that gravitas as part of that character?’ I think that’s something we’ve always discussed. ‘What is the deal with his Uncle Ben? Is it a total parity — is it one to one? Is it absolutely the same way?’

We started thinking, ‘Well maybe it’s not. Maybe his mentor is May and she’s instilled this thing in him.’ He doesn’t say, ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ but he says something to that effect in Civil War, which is, ‘When you can do the things that I can do and you don’t do anything, then you are responsible.’ It’s that same sentiment that I think has been instilled in him from May, but you start realizing that May really is the moral guide of his life and he’s had a father-figure.”

McKenna also underlined that personal tragedy ties the three together and that May’s death will help Peter realize he’s not just Iron Man’s protégée and should embrace his own superhero identity:

“Hopefully, you start seeing this is a different Peter Parker. They are all different. They have had different origins. They have had different contexts and this Peter is the only one of these three who has had a Tony Stark in his life. So he chases the fame. He chases this father figure and approval from this billionaire, philanthropist playboy. Then he realizes, ‘I don’t want to be an Avenger. I’m chasing the wrong thing.’ And the next movie was, ‘I can’t be Iron Man. I can only be Spider-Man.’

In this one, there is a whole new way he has to get tested about what these other two guys have been tested by. By the death of a loved one at the hands of a villain. What are you going to do about that? They help him get there. I think people can draw from it what they want, but these were the things we were working with as we were moving towards the creation of this story for him and really taking him down a dark path. I think it’s the darkest place he’s ever gone.”

Where MCU Spidey’s story goes from here is anyone’s guess. Tom Holland has indicated he wants to take a break from acting and think about starting a family, meaning that it could be a while before he swings back onto the big screen.

Whether he returns or not, No Way Home‘s ending is a blank page, so I suspect a new team of writers will pick up the baton at some point. I’m hoping Holland can truly round off his character arc by mentoring a new generation of MCU heroes – potentially helping guide the Young Avengers.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is now in theaters.