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SPOILER ALERT: This column is all about the final scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming, with spoilers being thrown around left and right. You've been warned!
Spider-Man: Homecoming has finally be released in theaters, and people are loving it. Not only has the film earned a lot of positive reviews, but it's the highest grossing opening weekend of a solo debut for an MCU hero since Iron Man in 2008. It's an incredibly fun film that not only delivers on the jokes and action, but also on those all important character relationships. This is exemplified perfectly in the final scene of the film between Peter and Aunt May, where the latter finally learns his secret identity -- blasting the series into an incredibly interesting direction and finally doing something original with Aunt May.
In the final scene of Homecoming, Aunt May finds out that her nephew is Spider-Man. He didn't do himself any favors by leaving the door to his room open, but that just drives home what a rookie this Spider-Man still is even after stopping a national illegal weapons ring. True, Aunt May finding out could have been played for more drama instead of a joke (in the comics, she finds him beaten and passed out in his costume), but that's not what's important. What's important is that she does find out, immediately doing more with Aunt May in one movie than the Amazing series did in two.
Aunt May is probably the most under-serviced character in the Spider-Man movies. She's there to hand out really specific advice that would only be useful to Spider-Man, though she never actually comes out and says she knows her nephew's biggest secret. She's an important part of Peter Parker's story, albeit one that is constantly kept at arm's length from the meatier and cooler events because, well, she has no idea that they're even happening. Her emotional support is vital, but we've already seen five movies of that. No one wants to watch May chide Peter for forgetting the eggs when there's way more interesting superhero stuff to get to. Her scenes are kind of a drag, but now that's likely to change.
Marisa Tomei will be playing an entirely new dynamic between Aunt May and Peter that we've never seen before. This Peter is only 15 years old, and he's already almost been killed by a giant metal bird man -- never mind the purple space tyrant waiting out there. Because this Peter is not an adult, he is not entirely responsible for his actions. That's May's job, and while her nephew is clearly doing great things every night, she has to keep him safe and this will likely cause conflict between them. She will almost certainly come around and when she does, she will become a huge supportive figure in his life -- something Peter really needs.
In the film, it's clear that Peter is starving for people he can confide in. He's clearly elated to finally have someone to talk to about Spider-Man stuff in the form of Ned (minus the constant questions) and he also seeks mentor figures. Tony Stark fills in a pseudo-father figure role in place of Uncle Ben, while Spidey's AI Karen acts as something of a digital Aunt May. He can basically tell her everything he would talk to May about, but with zero repercussions. Now that the cat is out of the bag, May can officially assume that role and help her nephew in new ways that go beyond simple speeches.
As far as Aunt Mays go, Marisa Tomei's is already arguably the strongest based solely on the fact that she gets to have more scenes with Peter that don't revolve around his Spider-Manning. They talk about school and his Stark internship, and she drops him off at parties and tells him to have fun. You know, actual parenting. The montage scene where she helps him get ready for the homecoming dance is beyond precious and full of sweet moments, like the two of them using an internet video to figure out how to tie his tie. That's all without considering the ending, but it's that final scene with her that really pushes the Peter and May relationship to the next level.
This is obviously great for the viewers because it's something entirely new. Aunt May has never officially known Peter is Spider-Man before in the movies, and with that comes a whole new side to their relationship that we can look forward to seeing. Not that this May isn't great already (that getting ready for homecoming montage is adorable), but now the character can take on new and previously unseen dimensions. It's a win for us and for Marisa Tomei, who will surely get a juicier part in the Homecoming sequel.
New is the name of the game when it comes to these MCU-approved Spider-Man films. Being part of the MCU means that there are so many storytelling opportunities that fans could only dream of even just five years ago. If that final scene proves anything, it's that we're in for a lot of fresh dynamics that we've never seen before. It's a very cool time to be a Spider-Man fan, and you must be over the moon right now if you're an Aunt May fan.
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