If you follow The Amazing Spider-Man films, then you will know that the series focused on two lead characters: Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) and Gwen Stacy. In the short-lived film series, Peter and Gwen develop a romantic relationship in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, which continues into 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
In both films, Gwen Stacy is played by actress Emma Stone. Stone brings a real vibrancy to the role and is often credited as being the real star of the two movies.
So, considering how popular the character and actress is, there is one question which confuses most people: Why did Gwen Stacy die in The Amazing Spider-Man 2?
In this post, I will discuss Gwen’s death in the Spidey sequel and provide an explanation as to why it happened. In order to do this, I will also highlight the character’s demise in the original comics.
The death of Gwen Stacy in comics
Few comic book characters stay dead. Most return from beyond the grave, with their resurrections explained via some last-minute get-out clause or another anomaly.
However, there are a small number of comic book characters who do stay dead and two of them are connected to Spider-Man. No matter what happens in Spidey’s adventures, these characters will not be revived.
The first of these characters is Peter Parker’s uncle, Ben Parker. And if you want to know more details about this character and his importance to the Spidey mythology, then check out my post: ‘Why does Uncle Ben die in the Spider-Man movies?’.
The other character is Gwen Stacy. Gwen was killed off in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man issue #121 and in terms of the original comic book mythology, she remains dead.
During an altercation with the Green Goblin, Gwen Stacy is knocked from the top of the George Washington Bridge. Spider-Man shoots out a web-line to catch her, but she dies in the fall.
Published in 1973, the storyline shocked fans and quickly became a milestone in Spidey continuity. As such, Gwen Stacy’s death is now a fixed point in history and one that remains unchanged.
Over the years, Marvel have brought Gwen back into the comics, but it is never the original version of the character. The Gwen(s) that have appeared are either clones or characters from an alternate universe.
The death of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
When it came to producing The Amazing Spider-Man movies, the decision was made to incorporate Gwen Stacy into the film series. Gwen would take on the role of Peter Parker’s love interest – a part previously taken by Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (2002 – 2007), which proceeded The Amazing series of films.
A version of Gwen Stacy had been introduced in Spider-Man 3 (2007), but she was merely introduced as a love rival to Mary Jane. The character was given little screen time and very little depth.
For 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man all that changed and Stacy became a fully developed character, with a family, a lot more screen time and a lot more personality. Gwen was not a love rival, and she also wasn’t just a love interest, she was a very interesting character that could equal Peter Parker.
When The Amazing Spider-Man 2 arrived in cinemas, Gwen was back and once again she was an important part of the story. Her relationship with Peter was on rocky ground, but it was clear the two characters loved each other – even if they were beginning to move in different directions.
The film flirts with the idea of writing Gwen out of the story, by sending the character to England. However, in a move that would shock audiences unfamiliar with Gwen’s comic book roots, she is killed off during the final act of the film.
In a battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, Gwen is involved in a fall. Spider-Man shoots out a web-line to save her, but she dies when her head hits the ground.
Once again, like the comic that first introduced Gwen’s death, it is a shocking moment and one that is painful to watch. The scene is not undone, and as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 concludes, Peter must move on without Gwen.
Why does Gwen die?
As highlighted at the beginning of this post, Gwen’s death in the comics is important. It is an event which is never undone and therefore stories which involve the character – be it in film or television – are mindful of this.
When Spider-Man: The Animated Series aired during the 1990s, the character of Gwen Stacy was not part of the core cast. Instead, Mary Jane Watson was Peter Parker’s main love interest.
Stacy was kept out of the cartoon, as the creators knew they would have to address her death. Stacy was also kept out of Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie in 2002, so a death sentence wouldn’t hang over the head of a lead character.
By introducing Gwen into The Amazing Spider-Man film series, the production team knew that this character would have a finite existence – she isn’t a part of regular Spider-Man comic book continuity and hasn’t been since 1973. Put simply, if Gwen is to enter the Spider-Man movie mythology, then she is fated to die.
Could Gwen Stacy have survived?
It could be argued that the character could have been written out of the series, without a death, but the writing team opted to follow the path of the comics. In doing so, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was able to demonstrate the danger of living in a world with Spider-Man.
Writing Gwen out of the movie would have also changed the dynamic between Gwen and Peter. By keeping the character in the film, no matter the cost, it established their love for each other – and Gwen’s bravery in the face of danger.
There are still countless arguments that Gwen could (and possibly) should have survived the events of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but ultimately it came down to a decision to adhere to comic book mythology. Some fans will agree with this decision, others not so much, but to stick to Spidey lore, Gwen Stacy must die.
What is interesting to note is that Emma Stone was contracted to appear in three films within The Amazing Spider-Man series. Had The Amazing Spider-Man 3 gone into production, it is likely that the character would have returned in some capacity, perhaps as a vision or as part of a dream sequence.
Did Gwen die in order to introduce Mary Jane Watson?
The character of Mary Jane Watson was being lined up for inclusion in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with actress Shailene Woodley in the role. But director Marc Webb decided to cut Mary Jane’s involvement from the finished film, in order to focus on Gwen’s story.
Webb’s decision would have allowed for Mary Jane to be introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 3 instead, where a relationship would have formed between her and Peter. In the comics, Peter dated and eventually married Mary Jane, so the filmmakers would have pushed the story in this direction.
Gwen wasn’t killed to introduce Mary Jane, but Mary Jane would have made an appearance after Gwen’s death.
Gwen Stacy is a fantastic character in The Amazing Spider-Man movie series and while it is sad to see her die, her death scene feels achingly real because of what she means to Peter. Both Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy were (and still are) important characters in the comics and The Amazing Spider-Man movie series ensures they are just as important on film.
But what do you think? Do you think Gwen Stacy should have died, or do you think The Amazing Spider-Man movie series should have ignored her comic book death and took a new path? Sound off in the comments section.