In case the headline didn’t make it clear, stop reading if you don’t want to know the film’s ending.
Fans of the Spider-Man comics have known for decades that the story of Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, doesn’t end well. In a 1973 issue that rocked the comics world, she’s thrown off a bridge by the Green Goblin and supposedly dies of whiplash after Spider-Man’s web catches her at the last second.
So last June, when Stone was photographed wearing the exact same outfit Gwen wears in “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” it seemed her character was destined for the same fate in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which opened this past weekend.
At the same time, so much of what made The Amazing Spider-Man movie a hit was the thrill of watching Peter and Gwen fall in love on-screen. Could Webb and the producers really kill off a character who added as much new energy to the films as Andrew Garfield did in the titular role?
“I wondered if they would extend it further,” Stone says. “But it was not meant to be.”
As moviegoers discovered this weekend, Peter Parker’s girlfriend dies in a way that’s similar to her death in the comics. During a clock tower battle with the Green Goblin, Spider-Man’s spider silk catches a falling Gwen just as she hits the ground, where her neck snaps with a gruesome sound effect.
“It does have to happen,” Stone says. “It had such a huge effect on Peter in the comic books and feeds into his relationships in the future in such a major way.” Including romantic ones: The Spectacular Now actress Shailene Woodley was originally cast to play the other love of Peter Parker’s life, Mary Jane Watson, in the film, though her brief scenes were cut to reportedly slim down the movie and focus on concluding Peter’s and Gwen’s relationship. (With three more Divergent films on her plate, Woodley says she’s probably not returning to the franchise.)
As necessary as Gwen’s death is to tell the complete story of Peter Parker, even the producers admit they weren’t sure they were making the right decision at first.
“You have the kind of reservations that are good reservations when you feel like you’re doing something exciting,” says producer Matt Tolmach, who notes they haven’t yet decided what to do about the Mary Jane Watson casting. “Audiences want you to be faithful to a certain degree and then also invent things so they feel unique to the experience. You want a reason to go to the theater.”
Stone saw it coming — you don’t sign on to play a character who famously dies in the comic books and expect to play happily ever after on screen. But while Stone, like many fans of the fictional couple, wishes Gwen’s and Peter’s story could have continued on a little longer, she ultimately has no complaints.
“When I read the script, the way they got to it was so beautiful,” Stone says. “I sort of wish that it hadn’t been so tortured between Gwen and Peter. [I] wish they had more time together so the relationship could be explored. That might just be selfish. I thought it was really beautifully done. It felt right in some way.”