Why Marisa Tomei as young Aunt May for Marvel’s Spider-Man makes sense!


A lot of people are complaining that Marvel are trying to sex-up Aunt May by casting a younger actress to play what is arguably Spider-Man’s most important supporting character. But I disagree

Admittedly the casting choice of Marisa Tomei is a significantly different from an aged Sally Fields and a positively ancient Rosemary Harris who I thought were both excellent cinematic Aunt Mays alongside their respective versions of Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

And that’s undoubtedly gone some way to causing a backlash against Marvel for casting someone who people are labelling as ‘too hot’. Just look at this Guardian article, or this Independant article compiling comments on Twitter. First of all, there is absolutely no difference between saying somebody is too ‘ugly’ for a role, or ‘too hot’ both instances are deplorable and we really should be moving on from fixating on an actor or actresses image.

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Let’s not forget that before Tom Holland was cast as Spider-Man there was a huge furor because people were saying that Peter Parker shouldn’t be played by a black actor, the counter-argument being that the best actor for the job should get the role, or that Marvel should diversify their films and try something new. That argument works both ways and applies to Tomei’s younger (and more attractive,  there I said it) Aunt May.

But, whilst Tomei is undoubtedly beautiful that isn’t really a factor in why she should be cast, that’s just how she happens to look. A lot of people are saying that this decision is Hollywood’s campaign against elderly actors but it isn’t. It’s a casting decision that makes sense and she’s still 50 years old, that still makes her older than the majority of female characters we see in films these days.

And if its the fact that she’s a ridiculously good looking 50 year old rather than a miserly and frail 50 year old that’s the problem, which I think it is, let’s wait and see what she actually looks like in the film, because things like make-up exist and she might be aged a little bit.

Sally Field in Columbia Pictures' "The Amazing Spider-Man," starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
Sally Field in Columbia Pictures’ “The Amazing Spider-Man,” starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. /

And it makes sense because Tom Holland is signifcantly younger than both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man which means that he’s still in High School, playing a teenager. Having a 70-year old Aunt of a teen wouldn’t fit, but having a 50-year old Aunt would, which is exactly how old Tomei is, hence the downwards age-shift.

And yes, whilst the original Aunt May was depicted as a white-haired elderly matriarch there have been several instances in both comic books and television, most notably during the Ultimate comic book line where Aunt May has been a younger, fiercely independant woman.

Lastly lets look at this long term. Marvel and Sony want to make a ton of Spider-Man films with Tom Holland as the star, which is why they cast him young. The odds are they also want Aunt May to be a big part of the Spider-Man film franchise going forward so they’ve clearly cast a younger actress for longevity. Imagine 10-15 years of Spidey films, growing up with Holland and Tomei as Peter and Aunt May. It would probably be great!

Everyone needs to chill out!

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