'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse': Aunt May Inspiration Revealed

When it comes to the many iterations of Spider-Man, there’s one staple we all know and love: Aunt May. The character has been played by Rosemary Harris, Sally Field, Marisa Tomei, and most recently voiced by Lily Tomlin in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Thanks to Marvel’s upcoming art book, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse -The Art of the Movie, we now have a little history behind the animated character. In fact, she was inspired partially by the woman who ended up playing her.

“This is certainly not your father’s Aunt May,” the book explains. “Echoing popular mature actresses like Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, the film’s Aunt May is described as ‘bad-ass’ and ‘feisty’ by the creative team.”

Shiyoon Kim, a character designer and concept artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios, worked as a character designer for Spider-Verse, and discussed the character’s journey in the new book.

“Just as our Peter Parker is different from the live-action versions of Spider-Man, our Aunt May is also quite an original in the universe,” he explains. “She can easily handle herself as well as the other characters from the other Spider-Verse worlds.”

When it came to inspiration, Lily Tomlin was an obvious choice, especially after Grace and Frankie became a hit on Netflix back in 2015.

“We looked at a lot of feisty older actresses, especially Lily Tomlin as we see her in the Netflix sitcom Grace and Frankie. But along with the toughness, she also has this natural warmth and support for Miles. There is a part in the movie where she seems to be the only character that gives him a chance. You need that balance for Aunt May. She can’t be too tough without showing her caring side as well.”

Kim also worked on Tangled (2010), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), Big Hero 6 (2014), and Zootopia (2016).

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse follows multiple versions of the friendly neighborhood hero, including the iconic Peter Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson). The film stars Shameik Moore (as Miles Morales), Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Lily Tomlin, Kathryn Hahn, Brian Tyree Henry, and Luna Lauren Velez.

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You can catch the movie in theaters now!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse -The Art of the Movie is available for purchase on February 1st, 2019. You can pre-order it on Amazon now!