Marisa Tomei as Aunt May holding a piece of paper

How Old is Aunt May in the MCU?

May has discovered the fountain of youth
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(Contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Far From Home, and No Way Home)

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Aunt May has always been a formative character in the world of Spider-Man. After Uncle Ben’s death, which spurs Peter to become a hero instead of using his powers purely for personal gain, Peter and May have a tight-knit relationship.

May counsels and looks after Peter, and Peter, in turn, tries (and often fails) to keep May sheltered and safe from the wild life of a superhero. With May’s character evolution over the past twenty years, though, fans have begun to wonder just how old May is.

For years, Spidey fans had a pretty solid understanding of May’s general age range. Ever since her first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, the comics portrayed her as an old woman, giving her a grandmotherly dynamic with Peter even though she was his aunt (specifically, his father’s sister-in-law, with Ben being his father’s older brother).

When Sony’s first Spider-Man trilogy came out in 2002, May was portrayed by Rosemary Harris, who was 75 at the time. Harris’s portrayal of May was very much in line with the comics, with May playing the role of Peter’s frail, gentle-natured elder. They even played up her age by giving her costume details like a dowdy house dress and a babushka. May’s frailness was also worked into the plot a couple of times in the trilogy, with supervillains coming to menace her and Peter swooping in to the rescue.

When The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield came out in 2012, Sally Field took over as May. Field was 66 when the first movie was released, and although she looks a little younger than previous incarnations of May–her hair is brown, for instance, and she’s a bit more spry—she still has a timeless, grandmotherly look about her. Aunt May also has a similar look in the various animated movies and shows, like Into the Spider-Verse, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Spectacular Spider-Man. It seemed like the core aspects of May’s character were set in stone.

Then Captain America: Civil War came along, and with it, the Tom Holland era.

Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May

Our first look at May in Civil War was jaw-dropping. Gone was the little old lady. Gone were the house dress, reading glasses, and babushka. Instead we got Marisa Tomei in all her glory! When Spider-Man’s presence in the MCU was expanded into his own new trilogy, we got May wearing makeup and tank tops and adorable jeans! And getting hit on by waiters! And charming audiences at post-blip fundraisers!

In an interview with The Wrap, Tomei revealed that the reinvention of May was a very deliberate move on Marvel’s part, and that, at one point, there had even been a possibility that she would be portrayed as a lesbian.

So how old, exactly, is the latest version of May? Well, Tomei was 52 when Civil War came out, so we can assume that May is in her early 50’s when the events in the MCU play out. Also remember that May is one of the unlucky 50% of the population that gets blipped when Thanos gathers the infinity stones, so she doesn’t age much between Homecoming and Far From Home.

May’s new look may be startling at first, but honestly, it kind of makes sense. If Ben and May were in their 70’s, the way the comics and first trilogy portrayed them, that would mean that either Peter’s father was elderly when Peter was conceived, or that there was a sizeable age gap between Peter’s father and Ben. (I mean, it happens—I had a friend in grad school who flew home mid-semester to meet his newborn sister—but it just raises some questions.) May being in her 50’s when Peter is a teenager is much more likely.

Plus, Tomei’s portrayal of May was so fun and tender that it’s clear she was the right actress for the job. May’s romance with Happy Hogan, and the way it horrified Peter, will always be hilarious.

What do you think of the new May? Does it make more sense that she’d be closer in age to Peter’s parents, instead of in her 60’s or 70’s? Or are you nostalgic for the classic May?

(Featured image: Sony)


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Image of Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>