I liked The Amazing Spider-Man well enough. Mostly, I liked how great Andrew Garfield was as Peter Parker, but it wasn’t a bad movie. The biggest issue was that it didn’t do enough to separate itself from the Sam Raimi treatment of just a few years ago. When Sony announced the inevitable sequel—Garfield and director Marc Webb are already signed on and Emma Stone is currently hammering out her deal—I was hoping they would spend some time justifying the reboot’s existence by fleshing out the points of departure from the previous trilogy, but as Variety is reporting that Shailene Woodley is in talks to play Mary Jane Watson, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
The biggest difference between Raimi’s trilogy and the reboot is the presence of Gwen Stacey, Peter Parker’s first girlfriend. The strongest stuff in The Amazing Spider-Man came from Peter and Gwen’s relationship, fueled by the chemistry between Garfield and Stone. But the looming specter of Mary Jane suggests that Gwen will arrive at her terminus sooner rather than later, ending that storyline and leading into the Peter/MJ plot we already know so well. They’re also looking for a new Harry Osborne, which is another step closer to the Raimi trilogy when they need be trying to move further away.
Although maybe super-hippy Woodley can re-imagine Mary Jane and actually make her likeable. Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane was borderline detestable, yanking Peter’s chain and making him out to be a chump most of the time. She dated everyone but Peter, including his best friend and the guy who regularly beat the snot out of him in high school, and still Peter insisted on following her around like a puppy. The poorly written character was not helped by Dunst’s smugly satisfied interpretation of her. I think she was going for sassy, but it came across as condescending more often than not. Woodley and her wide-eyed, au natural presence would be a welcome change.
But it does mean that Stone’s days are numbered with the franchise. They always were, as Gwen Stacey has a very finite story arc in the comics (is this getting into spoiler territory? I can’t tell since the story has been published for years). But I was hoping Gwen would make it through the new trilogy, keeping the perspective on the new rather than revisiting the old. It looks like we’re in for a retread of familiar territory instead.
Attached -- Emma Stone in LA this week and Shailene Woodley at the Book of Mormon opening last month.