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The New Spider-Man Will Finally Have An Age-Appropriate Aunt May, But Why Is She Usually So Much Older Than Him?

As George Costanza would say, the new Aunt May is reportedly going to have a bit of a Marisa Tomei thing going on.  According to THR, Tomei is in final negotiations to play Aunt May in the Spider-Man reboot starring Tom Holland as a younger-than-we-we’re-used-to version of Peter Parker.  Furthermore, while others have speculated Tomei wouldn’t make her first appearance until the solo Spider-Man due in 2017 “THR hears that Tomei’s Aunt May may be making her first appearance in Marvel and Disney’s Captain America: Civil War.”

There are so many ways to go with this.  I’ve already made the obligatory Seinfeld reference since George became partially obsessed with her in the later seasons and then blew his shot when Tomei actually guest-starred as herself.  I could make a My Cousin Vinny joke, like what if Aunt May is an expert on cars for some reason.  I could also go the pervy Seth MacFarlane route, as several others have, and point out how Marisa Tomei is rather naked (and spectacular looking) in The Wrestler, thus making for a confusingly attractive version of Aunt May.  Or I could rail against this casting choice since Tomei is far too young for the part.  Aunt May should always look like everyone’s little old grandma because that’s how it’s always been done, dangit!

But why?  As a non-comic book reader, I never understood why exactly Aunt May and Uncle Ben had to be so much older than Peter Parker, suggesting that either his own parents had him later in life or there was a considerable age gap between his father and Aunt May.  The classic white-haired version of Aunt May does make Peter’s continued efforts to protect her all the more adorable and endearing because, ahh, look – she’s just a little old lady.  He’s such a good guy to look out for her like that.  However, when I saw the Sam Raimi Spider-Man in 2002 I assumed the 75-year-old Rosemary Harris was playing Tobey Maguire’s grandma, and his insistence on referring to her as “Aunt” was part of some odd regional colloquialism, like how some grandma’s are only ever referred to as “Nana.”  Of course, that assumption on my part made no real sense, but Harris was 48 years older than Maguire, who was actually playing several years below his actual age.

Mays2 The Amazing Spider-Man reboot closed the gap, with the 66-year-old Sally Field playing Aunt May to the 28-year-old Andrew Garfield, an age difference of 38 years.

Now, Tomei will be 52-years-old when the next Spider-Man arrives in 2017, at which point Tom Holland will be 20, an age difference of 32 years.

At this rate, a couple of reboots from now it will be like the early seasons of The Vampire Diaries where the high-school-aged Elena and Jeremy Gilbert were raised by just-out-of-college-aged Aunt Jenna.

We know the new Spider-Man is being envisioned as a John Hughes version of a superhero movie.  They clearly meant the teen comedies, but I’m suddenly imagining a version of Uncle Buck (which is a Hughes movie) with Marisa Tomei replacing John Candy and maybe little Macaulay Culkin fighting crime. Yeah, that’s probably not the John Hughes movie they’re going to mimic, although go back and watch it again – Uncle Buck could easily be turned into a good villain.

WKEAb7MAnd now I’m imagining Marisa Tomei chasing after Tom Holland with a hatchet.

Moving on.

In recent years, when I started reading comics the obvious starting point for Spider-Man was The Ultimate Spider-Man, the alternate continuity which reset everything and re-started Peter Parker as a teenager in the present day.  In those comics, Aunt May is a fair deal younger, and the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series on DisneyXD has stuck with that, although they insisted upon sticking with the signature white hair, albeit beautifully stylish white hair [as seen below].  If I’m not mistaken, at one point she even went on a date with Agent Coulson (or at least flirted with him).  Oh, btw, Coulson was briefly the principal of Peter Parker’s high-school. Just thought I’d throw that in there if you’ve never seen the show.

tomei-social_1The Ultimate comics have been referenced multiple times as an obvious source of inspiration for the new movie, but then again the same was true of The Amazing Spider-Man.

What say you?  Is the only good Aunt May old and grandma-like?  Are you ready for a brave new world in which Aunt May will be played by the still stunning Marisa Tomei?  While you ponder your response enjoy this nice clip of Tomei back in the day on Seinfeld.


  1. They want Peter to be around for a while, so it makes sense to cast an actress who isn’t that old. Otherwise he might be forced to sell his marriage before he even has the opportunity to propose to Mary Jane….

  2. I think that there’s (in the comics) something like a 20-30 year age gap between Uncle Ben and his (dead) brother Richard Parker. It really doesn’t make much sense, at all.

      1. Those things happen in real life. I have a friend whose dad’s family has a similar story as your aunt’s. So, this friend always reminds me not to assume normal age patterns for families in movies, like when I criticized Maggie for having a 67 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger play a dad to a teenage daughter. With Spider-Man, I just wonder if or when they ever actually explained why aunt may is so much older than peter, or at least appears to be.

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