Strip back the villains and the supporting cast, and The Amazing Spider-Man movie series has two leads – Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. The characters are the key focus of both The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone taking on the roles.
But one character who doesn’t appear in The Amazing Spider-Man movies, yet who is often expected to be a lead, is Mary Jane Watson – a key figure in the Spider-Man mythology. Mary Jane – or MJ as she is sometimes known – has been a part of the Spider-Man movie mythology since she appeared in the Sam Raimi-directed film, Spider-Man (2002).
So, if Mary Jane is important to Spider-Man, why doesn’t she appear in The Amazing Spider-Man films?
In this post, I will shine some light on this.
Mary Jane in The Amazing Spider-Man movies
When Sony Picture went into production on The Amazing Spider-Man movie series, the decision was made to not include Mary Jane Watson in the first film. Traditionally, Mary Jane did not appear in the first few years of the Spider-Man comics, so there was no specific reason that she had to be included in a Spidey origin film.
With Mary Jane out of the picture, the writing team instead decided to focus on Gwen Stacy. Not only would Gwen offer a different romance to the one seen on screen in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007), but she would also bring a different dynamic to Peter’s life.
But Gwen was only designed to be the focus of Peter’s affections for one movie. The plan beyond this first picture was to introduce Mary Jane in the sequels, beginning with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014).
And when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 went into production, Mary Jane Watson was included in the script. The role was even cast, with actress Shailene Woodley taking on the part for a few scenes.
However, when the movie opened in cinemas, neither Shailene Woodley nor Mary Jane was anywhere to be seen. Woodley had been removed from the picture and there was no reference to her character.
Why was Mary Jane cut from The Amazing Spider-Man 2?
With Woodley’s scenes in the can, it appeared that Mary Jane would be in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. However, when the film was going through the editing stages it became apparent to director Marc Webb that the character simply didn’t have a place in the film.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 spends a great deal of time looking at the on/off relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. This relationship reaches a climax when Gwen dies at the end of the movie, during a battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin.
Webb felt that introducing Mary Jane would not be a good fit for the story and its devastating conclusion. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times back in 2014, Webb said: “It was very difficult to introduce someone as a competing love interest when so much is on the table with Peter and Gwen.”
He added: “It was something we only discovered when we were shooting and then in the edit room.”
Producer Matt Tolmach agreed, noting: “It felt like a distraction. You can’t have Peter thinking about Gwen every moment and then there’s this girl next door who’s suddenly there.”
It is worth noting that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was loaded with a large number of characters and teases for future Spidey stories. Sony Pictures wanted The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to be a springboard for sequels and spinoffs, so put as many characters and Spidey references in the picture as possible.
Including Mary Jane in the film might have been one character too many, in a film that many critics felt was already fit to bursting. And producer, Matt Tolmach agreed, telling the Los Angeles Times, “we bit off more than we can chew.”
Was Mary Jane due to appear in The Amazing Spider-Man 3?
Although Woodley was cut from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it was heavily rumoured that the actress would appear in The Amazing Spider-Man 3. However, there was no official confirmation that Mary Jane would feature in the film.
With Gwen Stacy no longer a part of the movie series, it would have made sense to introduce Mary Jane, but as The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was cancelled, the character’s debut was put on hold indefinitely.
But what do you think? Should Mary Jane have been included in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Do you think the picture would have benefited from including the character, or was the film better off for simply focusing on the Peter/Gwen relationship? Sound off in the comments section.