Not Her Time: Shailene Woodley’s Mary Jane Cut From ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’

By June 19, 2013
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Due in no small part to Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal in Sam Raimi’s films, most people have the perception that Mary Jane Watson is Spider-Man’s one true love. Comic book fans that call the ol’ webhead their favorite know that this isn’t exactly true, since his first love – and perhaps even greatest love – was the doomed Gwen Stacy. In last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man, the Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy relationship was explored on film in detail for the first time, and although many comics fans were happy, many other, more casual Spidey fans were left asking: where’s Mary Jane?

We thought that this question would be answered in next year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, since actress Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) was cast, and was seen on location shooting scenes with prominent Amazing cast members, like Emma Stone. Today, though, word has come down from on high that her role as Peter’s destined lover is being completely cut out from the film, in favor of introducing her in the recently announced The Amazing Spider-Man 3 scheduled for release on June 10th, 2016.

Woodley had some words on the topic that she related to Entertainment Weekly, where she tells us that she’s displeased, but apparently not angry.

“Of course I’m bummed. But I am a firm believer in everything happening for a specific reason…Based on the proposed plot, I completely understand the need for holding off on introducing her until the next film.”

Some fans had expressed concern that the sequel to the 2012 reboot was perhaps getting loaded with too many characters from established Spider-Man canon. In addition to the returning Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy, Jamie Foxx has joined the cast as Max Dillon/Electro, Paul Giamatti has been cast as Aleksei Sytsevich/the Rhino, Chris Cooper is in the film as the incomparable Norman Osborn (aka the future Green Goblin), and Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) has been cast as Norman’s son (and one of Peter’s historically good friends) Harry.

These new additions are on top of other returning characters, including Sally Field as Aunt May, and even Martin Sheen and Denis Leary coming back as the deceased Uncle Ben and Captain Stacy, respectively.

Director Marc Webb released a statement to Deadline saying that the removal of Mary Jane was strictly due to focusing the film’s story more on Peter and Gwen, and took time to praise Woodley in the process. He said:

“I made a creative decision to streamline the story and focus on Peter and Gwen and their relationship. Shailene is an incredibly talented actress and while we only shot a few scenes with Mary Jane, we all love working with her.”

Although it’s not precisely known at this point, many fans expect the forthcoming sequel to be a loose adaptation of the story that quite literally changed superhero comics in the 1970s: “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” from Amazing Spider-Man #121-122. If this is indeed the case, refocusing Peter’s and the audience’s emotional investment in Gwen would definitely pack a far greater punch if her destiny is, indeed, to die.

[Editor’s note: There’s also a report from The Hollywood Reporter that says the role of Mary Jane Watson will actually be recast, presumably because Woodley will be busy shooting sequels to her own hopeful tentpole series Divergent by the time filming rolls on the third film in the rebooted Spidey franchise. If that happens, it’s a real shame; Woodley is a terrific young actress – wait until you see her in The Spectacular Now later this summer – and would have been a perfect Mary Jane. It’ll be interesting to see who Sony casts moving forward, or if things will end up working out after all.]

The new, Mary Jane-less sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 releases in U.S. theaters on May 2nd, 2014.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.