Marisa Tomei On Being Called A "Sexy Aunt May" In 'Spider-Man': "It's Confusing"

by Anna Menta
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Marisa Tomei's Aunt May in Spider-Man: Homecoming isn't the same kindly and frail Aunt May fans came to know and love from the 2002 Spiderman (played by actress Rosemary Harris).

The difference between the old and new May comes down to one word, at least in Marvel's mind: sexy.

It's clear the writers of the film want us to know that Aunt May is sexy now. In nearly every scene that Tomei has in Spider-Man, someone is talking about how hot she is. Aunt May gets hit on from everyone Tony Stark to waiters at restaurants.


At a press conference last month, Tomei (very politely) implied that the filmmakers basically told her to sex it up in her portrayal of the character.

Now, in a new interview with Variety, Tomei elaborates on this pressure — and why it was a confusing for her that everyone was fixating on this one quality.

"I don't know if Marvel said it," said Tomei when asked if she was really pitched a "sexy" Aunt May. "My agents said it to me."

Tomei went on to say,

I think they were trying to disarm me, because how would they know if I'd seen the comics. And then when I saw the parasol and the high-Victorian collar, I was like, 'Is she just loony?' I think they were trying to pre-empt my terror, which didn't work, because I was like, 'Why do they keep saying that?' It's not like that one quality is a character. I don't even know what that means in the scheme of things. It's confusing, because you're an aunt.

It's a fair point. There's a lot more to Tomei's Aunt May than sexiness, even if the characters around her don't know it. She's quirky, funny, and plays something of a best friend role for Peter — encouraging him to go to parties, teaching him how to dance when he asks out his crush, and looking how to tie a tie on YouTube for him.

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And, Tomei tells Variety, there was even a short-lived plan to get Aunt May in on the action scenes of Spider-Man, which she hopes will still be coming in future films.

Tomei said,

We did talk a lot, [the director] Jon Watts and I, about Spider-Man being a community hero. Maybe May was a community organizer or invested in the neighborhood, getting his values from that. At one point, we talked about her rescuing a kid. It never made it to filming, but it's all there in the soup.

I personally greatly look forward to the Aunt May action-movie spinoff, where she is so much more than just sexy.