Spider-Man 2 is a superb sequel to 2002’s Spider-Man. It adds a great deal of emotional weight to the franchise, with relationships tested at every opportunity, and strong characters, memorable lines, and plenty of action forming the backbone of the picture.  

Spider-Man 2 is also a game changer. It is the Spider-Man movie in which multiple characters, including Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn, learn Peter Parker’s secret identity.

But one character who doesn’t learn Peter’s secret is his closest relative, Aunt May. Or does she?

This question is a regular topic of discussion amongst fans of Spider-Man 2, because the film serves up a slight hint that Aunt May *might* know about Peter’s double life. And this all takes place during a scene in which Aunt May give Peter a talk about heroism.

Image: ©Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment

For those who can’t quite recall the scene, it takes place approximately one hour and 20 minutes into the movie. Aunt May is packing up the contents of her house, ready to move out, when Peter stops by to find May and one of her neighbours moving boxes.

During a conversation between the characters, May begins to discuss the importance of heroism. She tells Peter that people need heroes to look up to, and admits she misses seeing Spider-Man around. May hasn’t seen Spider-Man in a while because Peter has temporarily given up his life as a crime-fighter.

The words that May uses and the looks that she gives Peter, suggests she is encouraging him to return to his role as Spider-Man. She doesn’t directly address the notion that Peter is Spider-Man, but the conversation gives the impression that she knows and quietly supports him.  

But does she really know?

Image: ©Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment

If you came to this post asking for solid evidence that Aunt May knows Peter’s secret identity in Spider-Man 2, then I can tell you quite confidently, that such evidence doesn’t exist. At no point in Spider-Man 2 does Peter sit down with Aunt May, lift up his mask, and break the news about his super hero career.

I can also tell you that even if May did know, she never makes this clear to the audience. She doesn’t reference to it at any point in the movie, and it is never touched upon in the sequel, Spider-Man 3 (2007), not even during a scene in which Peter tells May that Spider-Man has killed someone.

So, in answer to the question at the top of this post, from what is made clear on screen, Aunt May did not know that Peter is Spider-Man.

However, movies are open to interpretation, meaning it is possible to view scenes a little differently to how they appear on screen. So, let’s just assume for one moment that she *did* know. How would she have worked it out?

Well, for the answer to that one, we need to think back to May’s previous scenes in Spider-Man 2, beginning with a scene set in a bank. In the scene, May is with Peter, attempting to get a loan, when Doctor Octopus arrives to steal money.

As Doc Ock makes his presence known, Peter runs out of the bank so that he can change into his Spider-Man costume. May sees Peter leave and calls after him, asking Peter not to leave her.

As the scene continues to play out, Aunt May is taken hostage by Doctor Octopus. Spidey and Doc Ock battle, and May is rescued by Spider-Man.

During this whole scene, May is in direct contact with him for the first time, and she comes to see his heroism.

Image: ©Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment

The next important scene to focus on takes place a short while later, when Peter talks to May about what really happened the night that Uncle Ben was killed. In this scene, Peter explains that he could have stopped Uncle Ben’s killer (as seen in Spider-Man) but he failed to act. May gets upset and walks away.

This scene, and the one that came before, are important because they could explain how May figured out Peter’s secret.

Image: ©Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment

In the first scene, May sees Peter run away from the bank, just before Spider-Man appears. Even if she doesn’t spot the connection straight away, she is seeing one person, of the same height and build, replaced by another.

In the second scene, she is given information about Ben’s death, which upsets her, and that is why she walks away from Peter. However, when processing this information, she could have started connecting up the dots about Spider-Man, based on what she has just learned.

She knows that Peter is a good person, and that he would want to make amends for Ben’s death. She also knows that Spider-Man is a good person, who showed up shortly after Ben had passed away.

This could have unlocked her subconscious thoughts about Spider-Man/Peter, allowing her to link the two. And maybe that’s why there is no scene in the movie in which May reprimands Peter for leaving her at the mercy of Doctor Octopus, because once she made the connection, she didn’t need to take him to task over it.

Of course, this is all speculation, because as stated above, there is no on-screen confirmation that May knows Peter’s secret. But if she did, this is one explanation for how she could have worked it out.

Now I know what you are thinking, ‘but if she *did* know, then why would she carry on pretending she doesn’t?’

Simple. May is protective and supportive of Peter, and regardless of what he chooses to do, sometimes things can be left unsaid. Or to quote May, “it’s water over the dam, or under the bridge, or wherever you like it.”



Thank you for taking the time to read this post on Don’t Tell Harry. Let me know your thoughts on Aunt May’s knowledge of Spider-Man in the comments section below. All musings and theories welcome.

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