WARNING the following post contains potential MAJOR SPOILERS for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. If you are avoiding story details for the film, turn away now.
As production on Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man 2 draws to a close, there's still a lot that we do not know about the film - especially considering all those behind-the-scenes snapshots the director shared through social media. Jamie Foxx is set to appear as Electro and Paul Giamatti will fulfill his lifelong dream of portraying The Rhino but rumors of an appearance by yet another villain and a possible ally for Spider-Man have left some viewers wondering if the sequel is already in danger of falling victim to the same problems as Sam Raimi's notoriously over-stuffed Spider-Man 3.
Of course, that's not including the addition of actress Shailene Woodley as a future love interest for Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, whose scenes were recently cut. The choice to remove Woodley from the picture was a controversial one, leaving some fans speculating that Webb had caved to unwarranted and dismissive criticism that the actress wasn't the right person to play MJ. Fortunately, thanks to a new plot rumor, it sounds as though Webb's choice to cut Mary Jane was in service of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 story - not external pressure or issues with Woodley's depiction of the character.
NOTE: This is your last chance to avoid MAJOR SPOILERS for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Turn away if you do not want to be spoiled.
Begin Amazing Spider-Man 2 SPOILERS
For anyone that has been following our coverage of the film, or is simply familiar with Gwen Stacy's original comic book arc, the latest Amazing Spider-Man 2 rumor shouldn't come as much of a revelation. However, assuming it's not just an educated guess, the report lends support to a prior article that we posted - regarding the real reason that Woodley's scenes were cut.
According to a Hollywood Life source, pushing Mary Jane to Amazing Spider-Man 3 was entirely a creative choice - to make sure the character did not distract from the death of current love interest Gwen Stacy:
Emma Stone’s character dies in the next film and that really would take a bunch out of the film if Spider-Man all the sudden starts dating a new girl so close to an important characters death. They were noticing this occurring as they filmed Shailene’s scenes. They want to make the death of Gwen Stacy really mean something and then it will leave room for Shailene to shine in the third film.
As stated, Hollywood Life's source is merely confirming what many fans have already assumed - that Gwen Stacy will die in Part 2 (possibly by Spider-Man's own web). That said, the real takeaway here is that, after shooting the scenes, Webb and the filmmakers had a change of heart about when it would be appropriate to introduce Parker's (presumed) future wife. Obviously, fleshing out the larger Spider-Man movie universe is a major focus in the upcoming sequel - given that Norman Osborne and Harry Osborne are also going to play major roles. Yet, Webb is a smart enough storyteller to know that building-out the cinematic world to setup future installments should not come at the expense of the current storyline - especially one as emotionally impactful (and heartbreaking) as the death of Gwen Stacy.
The report also clarifies a few key points: Woodley is slated to appear in Amazing Spider-Man 3 (meaning there's little merit to rumors that she might be recast) and that Emma Stone might make an appearance in future installments via Parker's flashbacks/nightmares. The mention of Emma Stone returning appears in the second part of the report (which, sadly, had to directly addresses TMZ-like speculation that Emma Stone was too over-protective of her on-and-off screen boyfriend, Andrew Garfield):
There is no jealousy, this is definitely a creative decision and Emma was also told that she would have her character get the proper send off and probably would appear in flashbacks and nightmares in the third film. When you are a huge star like Emma you get things thrown to you even if you don’t ask or demand them.
Fortunately, it sounds as though Webb (along with writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) are positioning The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to tell the best possible story - instead of attempting to pack-in franchise story threads. While it would have certainly been exciting to see Woodley's version of Mary Jane, her inclusion (even as a brief cameo) could undercut the impact of Gwen's unfortunate fate - as well as distract from the guilt and pain Peter Parker will experience in the aftermath.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens in U.S. theaters on May 2nd, 2014, followed by The Amazing Spider-Man 3 on June 10th, 2016 and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 on May 4th, 2018.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.