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Spider-Man: No Way Home Writers Explain Why The Film’s Major ‘Sacrifice’ Had To Happen

Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Image credit: Sony)

Major spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home lie ahead.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was a truly visceral experience for Marvel Cinematic Universe fans and longtime admirers of the character. The sequel, which has received critical acclaim and crushed at the box office, provided massive action, big laughs and plenty of fan service. However, it also offered up some genuinely emotional moments. One of these involved the death of a beloved character, which likely came as a shock to viewers. But based on the writers’ recent comments, there were specific reasons for including that major “sacrifice.”

Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna have been with Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man franchise from the beginning. Together with director Jon Watts and producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, the two scribes built out a fresh take on the wall-crawler’s world, which included lovable characters. So you can imagine it must’ve been somewhat difficult for them to kill off Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May in No Way Home. Despite this, Sommers told Variety that the loss was necessary given how Peter Parker was dealing with the returning interdimensional villains:

We were at a point where we felt like there needed to be a loss, a sacrifice, that Peter needed to pay a real price for this decision to try to save the villains. I think it became pretty clear to a lot of us that losing Aunt May was the thing that would really drive home the point we were trying to make: making this the movie where Peter Parker experiences the loss that the other ones did in their first movies.

Marisa Tomei in Spider-Man: No Way Home

(Image credit: Sony)

Instead of eliminating Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn, Alfred Molina’s Otto Octavius and the others, Parker sought to reform them. This approach was working until Osborn, who’d been mentally hijacked by his Green Goblin persona, wrecked the plan. And before departing, the Goblin killed May with his glider. It was indeed a sad moment, to say the least but, as Erik Sommers mentioned, it did need to happen. Like his cinematic predecessors, Tom Holland’s web-slinger needed a massive loss to propel him to become the hero he was meant to be. Chris McKenna, in the same interview, provided additional thoughts on the lead-up to the moment and how it affected the titular hero:

He was trying to do what May taught him and that made the sacrifice that much more difficult, because it blew up in his face and it got her killed. Then he started questioning that morality in a way that he never really questioned because he hasn’t been put to the test in that way.

Though Aunt May’s death was rough, it served as a nice way for the MCU to refresh Peter Parker’s story while still staying true to the core of it. Most have always viewed Uncle Ben as the source of Peter’s heroism but, here, May serves as the catalyst for it. This is solidified when she finally utters the iconic “with great power, comes great responsibility” line. Considering all of this, May received the exit of a true hero. 

Marisa Tomei’s iteration of the classic mother-figure quickly became popular with fans following her debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The actress recently explained that her “reinvention” of the character was the result of collaboration amongst her, Jon Watts and even Robert Downey Jr. While she didn’t get in on too much of the action until later in the franchise, she was still a joy whenever she appeared on screen.

May Parker will certainly be missed within the MCU, but her memory will definitely live on through the lead hero. And it’ll be interesting to see how her selfless spirit will continue to guide the character as the franchise continues.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is currently playing in theaters.

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.