Spider-Man: Homecoming marks the return of everyone’s favorite Web-Head to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With a mixed but generally impressive Spider-Man film legacy at stake, Jon Watts' first entry into the MCU has so far managed to pack in a lot characters as well as some big name actors. If Tom Holland’s Peter Parker needs a little help fending off one of several reported villains, including Michael Keaton’s Vulture, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has his back. In his personal life, though, he’ll have a few other shoulders to lean on, including possible love interest “Michelle” (Zendaya), clueless gym teacher Hannibal Burress, and of course, his doting Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).
The Oscar-winning Tomei is now the third actress to portray Spider-Man’s kindly aunt. Her take on the role is highly anticipated, and fans will be excited to learn of her arrival on set today.
Our first look at Aunt May comes from Just Jared (via Heroic Hollywood). The set photos show the actress looking more motherly than many fans are used to seeing her, walking with Holland to and from a diner or restaurant. Clothed in comfortable garb, the pair could be relaxing between takes or shooting some early morning scenes in their apartment. It also looks as though following their hug, Holland walks off along a green screen-laced street.
In the past, Peter’s beloved aunt has been played by Sally Field and Rosemary Harris. The Aunt May role in the films, as in the comics, has typically been as a caregiver and moral compass for her teenage ward. In addition, the pair comes together over the loss her husband, Spidey’s Uncle Ben, after his death at the hands of criminal elements. His murder is a life-changing event for the young man, providing the emotional charge which pushes Peter to become a superhero. In fact, Spider-Man’s famous “with great power comes great responsibility” mantra is first uttered by his uncle.
Fortunately, for fans who've been beaten over the head with Spidey's backstory, Watts has stated that Spider-Man: Homecoming won't be another origin story. At the same time, it's extremely important for the MCU to develop Peter's relationship with his aunt, since her influence is so vital to his development as a heroic character. Also, as one of the first truly teenage versions of the character, Peter will need somewhere to crash when he's not beating up villains, taking part in superhero tiffs, and figuring out life as an adult who happens to have super powers is all about. Peter Parker's time with Aunt May will help him face the challenges of growing up and, especially forging healthy relationships with women.
Hopefully, with an amazing actress like Marisa Tomei as Peter Parker's aunt, Marvel will put her talents to good use. It would be a shame to relegate a talent like Tomei to a one-note character or piece of the scenery – especially because if Spider-Man: Homecoming becomes another blockbuster for Marvel, we could be seeing a lot more Aunt May in future.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet-untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.