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How Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Big Death Was Changed As A Result Of COVID

Two Peters in Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Image credit: Sony)

Massive spoilers ahead for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe expanded in a major way with Spider-Man: No Way Home, which opened up the multiverse and featured a ton of characters from the previous two franchises. The threequel also included one of the most emotional death scenes out of all the Marvel movies. And it turns out that No Way Home’s big death was changed as a result of COVID.

About halfway through Spider-Man: No Way Home’s runtime, Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May dies after sustaining an injury from the Green Goblin. It’s an emotional scene that she and Tom Holland really nailed, but it could have gone down differently. As writer Erik Sommers recently explained, 

It was tricky [to write]. It was also tricky production-wise because we had different ideas for where the scene could take place, but because of COVID [it had to change]. We had one idea that maybe it was going to be inside an ambulance, and we had a whole version that was constructed around that, but that was not practical for shooting during COVID.

There you have it. It looks like the bait and switch around the death of Marisa Tomei’s character in Spider-Man: No Way Home could have been even more emotionally grueling. But squeezing cast and crew into a small space like an ambulance simply wasn’t a safe plan for the blockbuster’s set. Still, the scene ended up being super emotional.

Erik Sommers’ comments to Gold Derby help to show what it’s actually like working on a massive blockbuster like Spider-Man: No Way Home in the midst of a pandemic. Because while there’s a ton of resources available, new safety and health protocols have been adopted to keep the cast and crew safe. As such, filming May’s tragic death in a small space simply wasn’t in the cards.

Later in that same interview, Erik Sommers went on to explain the realities of working on a film set. Whether it’s an indie or a blockbuster like Spider-Man: No Way Home, sometimes you just have to problem solve. And in the theatrical cut, May’s death remained a super heartbreaking moviegoing experience. As he put it,

That's the kind of thing that happens. So then we had to move the scene, physically, to another place while trying to keep all the other elements working. We had to make adjustments, and that's the kind of thing that happens in production. So it was [tricky], but I'm glad that it turned out the way it did, and that it affected people the way we wanted -- that it resonated -- because it's so important to Peter's story and to his journey.

Seeing May die in Spider-Man: No Way Home was such an emotional rollercoaster because she seems fine at first. It’s only after a few minutes that she collapses, and her injury is revealed to both Peter and the audience. And it comes after May finally says the iconic line “with great power, there must also come great responsibility."

Spider-Man: No Way Home is in theaters now, and continuing to dominate at the #1 spot of the box office. We’ll just have to see if/when Tom Holland inks a new deal to continue the franchise. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.