When Sony first announced that the studio was scrapping Sam Raimi’s in-development fourth Spider-Man film in favor of a franchise reboot, many fans were cautiously optimistic about re-launching Marvel’s famed web-slinger so soon after his blockbuster trilogy. However, this year’s The Amazing Spider-Man proved itself a successful addition to the franchise, earning over $750 million worldwide and mostly positive reviews.

The film smartly avoided including the same cast of characters as Raimi’s films. However, as astute comic book fans know, the relationship between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) does not end well. So it was no surprise when director Marc Webb brought on The Descendants star Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane Watson, Peter’s eventual love interest, for the upcoming sequel.

Woodley’s casting is sure to invite comparisons to Kirsten Dunst (who previously played the character in the heavily-criticized Spider-Man 3). However, in a recent interview with MTV News, Dunst voiced her approval of the casting move. Here’s what she had to say:

“I really like her too, a lot. I’ve met her a few times and we’ve talked about health foods, we know some of the same people, she’s really into finding springs and natural water and she’ll go get her water and things like that. I’ve done that before, and we’ve talked about that. I think she’s a sweetheart and such a good actress. I’m happy. If I had to pick someone, I’m happy she’s following in my shoes.”

The validation of the previous star to play the role will surely not keep Spidey fans from endlessly critiquing Woodley’s performance. However, Webb’s apparent desire to keep the continuity of Peter Parker’s love life more in line with the source material (and Green Goblin nowhere to be seen, at least not yet) means that Mary Jane will probably have at least a film or two of development, allowing viewers more time to get acquainted with the character before she becomes a more central figure in the series’ over-arching mythology.

What do you think about Shailene Woodley playing Mary Jane Watson? Do you prefer her to Kirsten Dunst? Sound off in the comments.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (not the official title) swings into theaters on May 2nd, 2014.

Source: MTV News