Due to the difficulty of rendering aged, wrinkled people, Insomniac almost didn’t include Aunt May in 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Aunt May is an important component of Peter Parker’s universe, but she almost didn’t cut Marvel’s Spider-Man due to the difficulty of animating elderly characters. However, when it was launched on the PlayStation 4 in 2018, Insomniac’s Spider-Man gained near-universal acclaim, thanks in part to an emotionally intense plot that addressed the contradiction between Peter Parker’s ordinary existence and his high-octane escapades as New York City’s masked guardian.
May Parker, Peter’s kindhearted and well-meaning aunt, spends the most of Marvel’s Spider-Man working at a volunteer shelter managed by Martin Li – nicknamed Mr. Negative. Peter may frequently visit her at the shelter where she works to offer food and shelter to Manhattan’s homeless population, and he can even hold an endearingly awkward discussion with her on social media while swinging around in Marvel’s Spider-Man. However, Aunt May’s life soon takes a much darker turn when she contracts the deadly Devil’s Breath plague that is unleashed on New York during the later chapters of Marvel’s Spider-Man, and the game ultimately concludes with Peter having to choose between his personal life and the greater good of the city at large. This dramatic conclusion, though, almost didn’t happen. In reality, Insomniac did not intend for Aunt May to appear in Marvel’s Spider-Man at all.
According to GamesRadar, Marvel‘s Spider-Man writer and longtime comic book scribe Dan Slott recently revealed that Insomniac almost didn’t include Aunt May in a physical capacity, preferring to feature her as a faceless voice on an answering machine or over the phone rather than a walking Spider-Man NPC. Slott noted that this was due to the difficulty of rendering aged, wrinkled people, with Insomniac telling him that Aunt May’s model required as much effort as five younger characters. On the other hand, Slott was adamant that May appears in Marvel’s Spider-Man, even pointing out that other incarnations of the character aren’t as wrinkly. Insomniac ultimately chose a midway look between Rosemary Harris’s elderly representation in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy and Marisa Tomei’s youthful portrayal in the MCU.
Slott’s remarks come as fans prepare for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, which was recently unveiled at the PlayStation Showcase in September and is planned to ship on the PS5 sometime in 2023. In this new adventure, Peter will team up with rookie Spider-Man Miles Morales to combat many new foes, including Peter’s longtime best buddy Harry Osborn as Venom. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is believed to contain a far darker plot than either Marvel’s Spider-Man or its 2020 sequel Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which is significant given Peter’s strong and emotional finale in the previous game.
Given Aunt May’s importance in the plot of Marvel’s Spider-Man, it’s difficult to fathom how the game would have turned out if Insomniac had stuck to its original intention of having her be heard but not seen. Fortunately, Dan Slott and the excellent developers behind Marvel’s Spider-Man were able to build a solid physical image of Aunt May to serve as an emotional crux for one of the best superhero games ever created.