Spider-Man: No Way Home writer Chris McKenna opens up about the film’s tragic death scene, revealing that the scene had to be changed during filming.
This post contains Spider-Man: No Way Home spoilers
Spider-Man: No Way Home writer Chris McKenna opens up about the film’s tragic death scene, revealing that the scene had to be changed during filming. McKenna wrote the conclusion to Marvel Studio’s MCU-set Spider-Man trilogy alongside frequent writing partner Erik Sommers. Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, and Benedict Cumberbatch, the film also saw the return of Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, and Jamie Foxx.
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker’s world is thrown into further disarray after a spell aiming to reverse the effects of Mysterio’s actions goes wrong, bringing villains from across the multiverse into the main universe of the MCU. Learning of these villains’ tragic origins and their doomed fates if they return to their homeworlds, Peter seeks to help heal them, helped and inspired by Aunt May, he uses leftover Stark Tech held by Happy Hogan to develop cures to their ailments. However, when Norman Osborn’s Goblin persona resists, he attacks Peter before he can help them all. May attempts to cure Norman but is fatally wounded. Dying in Peter’s arms, May tells the young hero that « With great power, comes great responsibility, » leaving Peter lost with words that will ultimately shape his life. In a shocking, sudden scene, McKenna reveals that the scene wasn’t always how it played out on-screen.
In an interview uploaded to the GoldDerby YouTube channel, McKenna and Sommers discussed the tragic moment. McKenna revealed that the difficult scene changed during filming, with May at one point passing in an ambulance after being wounded, but COVID safety regulations made this difficult. Despite the changes, McKenna is pleased with the final scene, its impact on audiences, and its place in Peter’s character arc. Check out McKenna’s response below.
« It was tricky [to write]. It was also tricky production-wise because we had different ideas for where the scene could take place, but because of Covid [it had to change]. We had one idea that maybe it was going to be inside an ambulance, and we had a whole version that was constructed around that, but that was not practical for shooting during Covid.
That’s the kind of thing that happens. So then we had to move the scene, physically, to another place while trying to keep all the other elements working. We had to make adjustments, and that’s the kind of thing that happens in production. So it was [tricky], but I’m glad that it turned out the way it did, and that it affected people the way we wanted — that it resonated — because it’s so important to Peter’s story and to his journey. »
May’s death is a shock, with Holland previously opening up about its impact after the film’s release. Though May’s passing sees her leave the hero with one of the most impactful lessons he’ll ever learn, her actual death is seemingly out of the blue, as for a moment she seems mostly unharmed by the Goblin’s strike. However, May soon becomes exhausted, collapsing as it’s revealed that she has been losing blood, and Peter and audiences quickly realize that her fate is sealed. Holland called the scene « hard-hitting » and not a moment people would expect. Despite the trailer teasing other characters potentially falling victim to the film’s villains and the film’s surprise cast members being tight-lipped, Tomei did admit that she told her therapist about the film’s ending.
While May’s death was the MCU’s equivalent to the role Uncle Ben’s death has in other incarnations of the character, her fate is still impactful, with Holland and Tomei’s performances making the heartbreaking farewell more painful. While plans had to be changed from May passing in an ambulance, the impact of the scene is still delivered, and arguably hits harder in the final cut, as Peter and the audience are seemingly given a moment of hope before the rug is pulled from beneath them. In a film full of homage’s to Spider-Man’s big screen past and multiversal madness, May’s death stands out as a quiet, somber, heartbreaking scene that stands out amongst all of Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s spectacle.
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