Academy Award-winning actress Marisa Tomei was 'horrified' when she found out how old Aunt May really is in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Aunt May is the adoptive mother of Peter Parker. She supports him and takes care of him in the early comics, while functioning as an elderly "Lois Lane" type character that is always in some sort of trouble. Whenever Aunt May is in trouble, it's Spider-Man to the rescue, and Aunt May has been in a lot of trouble over the years. She has died, been sick, been kidnapped, married to Doc Ock, etc. In recent years, writers have started to give the older Aunt May more of a personality, and a voice of reason as opposed to the damsel in distress.
According to The New York Times, 52-year old Marisa Tomei jumped at the chance to portray Aunt May when Marvel approached her with the role. In fact, she didn't even do any research on the character, she just said yes. And who wouldn't just say yes to a bunch of money and the chance play an iconic character and to be a part of the MCU? When asked how she felt when she learned about Aunt May from the comics, the actress was refreshingly honest with her answer. She says this.
"I was horrified... Talk about crushed... I went through the whole negotiation without knowing. They just kept saying "an iconic character an iconic character."
Tomei went on to talk about how fast everything took place, while also mentioning that she kept an eye on the prize throughout the negotiations. Tomei explains.
"It sounds kind of ridiculous, but it all happened very quickly... I was more focused on my deal, honestly. And then the illustration was revealed to me."
Co-producer Eric Hauserman Carroll had said that they were looking for more of a "big sister" or someone closer in age to Tom Holland's Peter Parker during the casting of Spider-Man: Homecoming. But at the time that was not clear to Marisa Tomei. The actress also rationalized the choice of going younger with the Aunt May character as opposed to playing the "dowdy grandma type." She had this to say.
"There's nothing wrong with that depiction of the character. I don't want to be coming from an ageist point of view about that, at all. It was my own personal cross to bear at that moment, but in the scope of things, why not?"
Tomei even toyed with the idea of going gray for the movie, but ultimately decided against it. In addition, she has said in the past that she might not have even taken the role if she would have been presented with a picture and backstory to Aunt May at the onset of the negotiations. She has said that she "might have been horrified" when presented with a picture of elderly Aunt May and then joked, "Don't toy with my heart, Marvel. Is that really how you view me?" At the same time, the producers chose to age down Tom Holland's portrayal of Peter Parker down to 15 as well, so why not have a younger Aunt May?
Spider-Man: Homecoming opened up over the weekend and smashed the domestic box office, earning $117 million. This places Homecoming as the third best debut this year, beating out the DCEU's Wonder Woman and trailing behind Disney's Beauty and the Beast live-action remake and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. There's no evidence to suggest that a de-aged Aunt May was the reason for the box office success, but you just never know.