Aunt May almost never made it into Marvel’s Spider-Man because older characters are too difficult to animate.
Speaking to GamesRadar+, acclaimed Spider-Man comics writer Dan Slott, who contributed to the game’s narrative, said early on in development Insomniac wasn’t planning to include Peter Parker’s only living relative, who is a major part of many portrayals of his character. “They wanted Aunt May to just be a voice on the answering machine or over the phone. In a very early version, they didn’t want Aunt May to even be an NPC.”
According to Slott, the reason behind Insomniac’s approach was that May would be too difficult to animate. “They were telling me the reality of it; according to them, old characters – wrinkly characters – to make them look good and realistic, it takes a big amount of work. Equal to what they could use to create five other characters.”
Fortunately, Slott stuck to his guns, saying he was “adamant” that the character should feature in the game. Eventually, he said “‘Look, Marisa Tomei [who plays Aunt May in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man films] isn’t that old. Aunt May doesn’t have to be super wrinkly; she can be less wrinkly’.” That does seem to have been the way that the developers chose to go with the character; while Insomniac’s May looks a little older than Tomei’s portrayal, she’s also a bit younger than take in Maguire’s films or even some of Slott’s comics.
Slott says that while Insomniac was “fantastic” to work with, “this was an early bone of contention I had with them,” but that he’s “very happy they ended up using her.”
While Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will get “a little darker” than the original, we also spoke to Slott about his work on The Reckoning War (opens in new tab).