The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released this past weekend and ended in a magnificent, albeit, darker fashion hinting at events yet to befall our favorite wallcrawler in coming installments.
The fifth Spider-Man in 12 years, this installment was met with considerable criticism; now ranking as the lowest rated film of the two franchises thus far. Though many of the criticisms were aimed at the film’s rather massive running time as well as the addition of too many villains, many have agreed that the chemistry between the two leads was unmistakable, and quite honestly the most successful part of the movie.
Perhaps this natural chemistry comes from the fact that both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are a couple in reality, or maybe they are just better actors than Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire. Either way, the two leads have an electricity more palpable than Electro’s. There is a natural whimsy when Garfield and Stone are allowed a little room to play around on screen. They carry on like a couple would as they get to know one another better. They poke fun at each other, giggling and smirking. There’s an air of improvisation throughout their scenes; nothing feels forced and therefore we, as an audience, feel a sense of ease and joy just by two actors performing one-on-one. What an odd thing to happen in a summer blockbuster, right? Finding ourselves wanting to spend more time with character(s) before being launched off into full-swing action set-pieces. One of which ends in epic tragedy.
if you read past the spoiler warning than we’ll assume you saw the film or just don’t care but hey, there was your warning. Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy faces the same fate here as she did in the comics.
Yes. Gwen meets her end in the final act of the film. Many already saw the signs from the onset of the production. With the addition of Harry Osborn as the Green Goblin and the choice to have her wear a mint-green jacket and purple skirt – which matches Gwen’s final iconic outfit in the comics – it was hard to ignore. However, whether you ignored the signs or not, it happened all the same.
Spidey tries his best to fend off The Goblin all the while holding onto Gwen’s web. The gears of the clock act as a guillotine ready to drop. Ultimately, the ‘blade comes down’; Gwen is cut lose and begins to fall as the clock’s hands spin out of control and the gears and clogs crumble around her. Time is figuratively falling apart, it can’t be stopped and Spidey dives to save her, extending a helping hand of a web towards the love of his life. The web sticks but the force of the drop and sheer stopping power of the web’s tether breaks what looks like any of her following: back, neck or head. The scene ends and what transpires in the final minutes of the film carry a shift in tone and trajectory for films to come.
When asked if there was ever a second thought to killing off Gwen, director Marc Webb said:
Well [laughs], there was a lot of lamenting, but there was never really a question about it. Because we really built the entire movie around that event. I mean, it was in her speech — you just could not extract it from it. And, weirdly, the ironic and terrifying and beautiful thing about it is, the next movie, we’ll have to find our way without that relationship — which is exactly the problem Peter is going to have.
Published in June 1973, The Night Gwen Stacy Died was issue #121 of The Amazing Spider-Man written by Gerry Conway. The now controversial story arc had Spider-Man rushing to meet his foe, the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn, who was the first Goblin in the comics) atop the George Washington Bridge. The Goblin throws Stacy off the bridge as Spider-Man confronts his foe. Shooting his web and grabbing her by the leg, Spidey believes to have caught her but realizes when he approaches her that she is in fact dead. While the reader might be left unsure of whether the whiplash from her sudden stop broke her neck or if the Goblin had broken it just as he dropped her, Peter blames himself for her death.
A note on the letters page of The Amazing Spider-Man #125 stated:
“It saddens us to say that the whiplash effect she underwent when Spidey’s webbing stopped her so suddenly was, in fact, what killed her.”
The final, tragic end is the same. Peter blames himself for the death of Gwen, but where there was (some) doubt in the comics, the film leaves little for Peter to convince himself otherwise. The sinking loss and guilt that he could have done more to save her sticks with him and probably will continue to through all subsequent films in this franchise. Whereas in the comics we have a ‘damsel in distress’ motif, here we have a character who makes her own decisions. Gwen stresses that she makes her own choices, not him. Unfortunately, it was one time she should have been elsewhere, the film portrays this death as if it were inevitable, as if time just ran out.
The death of a character occurred as in the source material, but where this death differs from other comic book films is in its showcase of the character (both performance and dialog) leading up to the moment before her death. It was refreshing to see a female character who, at the very least, vocalizes the choices that led her down her own path. It may be baby steps but you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. Here’s hoping Hollywood picks up the pace.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is in theaters worldwide now.