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Aunt May Gets Younger With Every ‘Spider-Man’ Reboot

Sony / Donald Kravitz, Getty Images

In the (minor) Justin Timberlake work In Time, his character’s mother was played by Olivia Wilde. Wilde is 31 in real life and Timberlake is 34, making that relationship biologically impossible. But In Time was a science fiction movie with a moral point to make about our morbid fear of aging; people could literally buy more time to evade death. Wilde’s role as JT’s mom was purposely absurd, and the sight of the two of them playing mother and son was meant to be visually jarring.

Unfortunately, that film’s sight gag is only a slight exaggeration of a phenomenon that occurs in Hollywood all the time. Angelina Jolie is a year younger than Colin Farrell, yet she played his mother in Alexander. If the Mean Girls characters were the same age as the cast, Amy Poehler’s “cool mom” would have birthed Rachel McAdams at age 7. Maggie Gyllenhaal recently told The Wrap that she was turned down for a movie role because, at 37, she was “too old” to play a 55-year-old man’s love interest. These are just several of countless examples.

Ladies: Have you ever been contacted by a 65-year-old on OKCupid/Match/Tinder and wondered, “Why on earth would they think I’d want to date someone more than twice my age? Is it me, is it something I’m doing?” There’s no one definitive answer, but there are dozens upon dozens of movies on Netflix that reinforce their impression that this is a viable idea (and no, it isn’t you).

As the Hollywood Reporter points out, casting in the post-Sam Raimi Spider-Man films fall in line with this practice: Maria Tomei is currently in talks to play Peter Parker’s caretaker Aunt May. Tomei is 50 years old, which is 32 years older than Tom Holland (the new Peter) — a totally feasible age difference. But it’s well worth noting that this age difference shrinks with each reboot. Andrew Garfield was 28 in The Amazing Spider-Man, and Sally Field was 38 years older than Garfield when she first played his Aunt May at 66. This was a significant drop from the 48-year age difference between Tobey Maguire and Rosemary Harris in the first of Sony’s Spider-Man series (Harris was 75).

Aunt May is typically a silver fox in Marvel’s many comic book iterations. But if this trend keeps up, the inevitable 2021 Spider-Man re-re-reboot will co-star Kate Upton as Peter’s put-upon, but still very sexy legal guardian. Where does it end?

The as-yet-untitled Spider-Man reboot doesn’t hit theaters until July 2017. Until then, if you’re frustrated by Hollywood’s routine misuse of actresses over 40, make your lack of support known by declining to give them your ticket money. You can also enjoy Amy Schumer make fun of this all-too-real practice in her deeply satisfying “Last F—ckable Day” sketch with Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

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Next: Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Discuss Spider-Man's 'Package'

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