'Spider-Man': Aunt May Actresses Getting Younger With Each New Film

Marisa Tomei - H 2015
<p>Marisa <span data-scayt_word="Tomei" data-scaytid="1">Tomei</span> - H 2015</p>   |   AP Images
Marisa Tomei is set to be the youngest guardian of Peter Parker yet.

It's not your imagination — Peter Parker's Aunt May really is getting younger with each new actress named to the role.

With Marisa Tomei in talks to take on the role of Spider-Man's unsuspecting caretaker in the Sony/Marvel reboot of the superhero franchise, online response to the casting has been mixed. There's been both excitement and a sense of disbelief that she's old enough to play the iconic Marvel character, best known among comic fandom for a series of ill-timed health problems and a love of wheatcakes.

When the next Spider-Man movie is released, in 2017, Tomei will be 52 years old, well within a believable age range to be the aunt of the then-to-be-21-year-old Tom Holland — but it does point out the strange trend that has seen May Parker get progressively younger.

In Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man movie, Aunt May was played by Rosemary Harris, who was 75 at the time of the release 48 years older than leading man Tobey Maguire. When Andrew Garfield took over as the wall-crawling superhero in 2012, he was 28 years old, while the second Aunt May, Sally Field, was 66 — an age difference of 38 years.

Now, with Tomei and Holland, that difference is down to 32 years, with Tomei representing the youngest Aunt May by far. Given the casting, it's likely that Marvel and Sony aren't looking to the wizened crone of series creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's initial stories but, rather, the far younger, far more active May Parker that writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley offered up in the 2000 comic book reboot Ultimate Spider-Man.

Given the fact that that series eventually killed off Peter Parker, only to replace him with the biracial Miles Morales, perhaps fans of that character could take heart in thinking that maybe the cinematic Spidey won't always be as white as he's been in his current three incarnations. Unless Tomei is planning on playing far older than her years, of course.

The unnamed Spider-Man reboot will be released July 2017.