Spider-Man: Homecoming does something pretty fantastic with its final scene, and we wanted to dig into a bit. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, quit reading now because there are spoilers ahead.
At the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has reclaimed his powerful costume, deepened his sense of responsibility, and looks out on the city with a renewed sense of optimism. And because this Peter doesn’t have spider-sense, he’s too busy looking out the window to notice Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) come to his room and see him in his Spider-Man costume.
That’s a big deal because for five movies now, Aunt May has never discovered that her nephew is Spider-Man. Peter’s always made it a point to hide his alter-ego because he doesn’t want to put May in danger, and for this Peter in particular, he doesn’t want to upset her. He believes Aunt May that because she’s been through so much to present her with the reality that should could lose both her husband and her nephew would be too much, so Peter keeps his life as Spider-Man a secret. That is until May seems him in costume, shouts “What the fuck?!” and we cut to credits.
Peter keeping his life as Spider-Man from Aunt May has also always been a huge part of the comics. Although she eventually finds out at different points along the way, it’s always been teased out, which makes sense. The story derives dramatic tension from Peter keeping a secret from his beloved aunt, and it also keeps the story in the realm of possibility by allowing May to be a responsible adult who wouldn’t let her surrogate son risk his life on a nightly basis.
What’s surprising here is that this Peter is so young and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s not like the movies are just going to skip to a post-college Peter Parker where he’s now an adult responsible for his own choices. He’s still a teenager, and that puts a serious burden on Aunt May. On the one hand, her nephew can do incredible things and feels that it’s his responsibility to help other people. On the other hand, if a 15-year-old said, “I’m off to join the police force!” Most parents (and governments) would be less than thrilled with that decision.
With two more Homecoming sequels planned and the filmmakers planning on keeping Peter in high school during that time, it could open the door to giving May a more substantive, complex character that’s completely unlike anything we’ve seen from her so far. Tomei is a talented actress, so hopefully future films will really delve into her reaction to this news and how she’s going to handle that her nephew is a superhero.
It’s exciting to see where future Homecoming movies will go now that May knows Peter is Spider-Man and how she chooses to deal with that information. At the very least, it’s yet another thing that helps differentiate the MCU Spider-Man from those that came before.