I recently wrote a review of the new Spider-Man film, it turned out reasonably well but as I was writing it I did come across a slight hiccup… I couldn’t stop talking about Gwen Stacy. Those of you that have seen the film this might not be all that shocking, Emma Stone is amazing in the part but I was reluctant to fall in love with this character, as any one who is familiar with the comics might understand.
WARNING there are possibly spoilers in this post… but then again maybe not. Enter at your own risk!
Spoiler warning: in the comics Gwen Stacy dies. But she doesn’t just die, she is killed by whiplash caused when Spider-Man catches her leg with his web… that’s right Spider-Man kills his own girlfriend. It’s cruel but it’s also epic. Poor Gwen Stacy gets stuffed in the refrigerator to give Peter Parker just a little more angst and, of course, to make way for that fiery redhead known as MJ.
Yes it’s sad, and not just because of all the anti-feminist implications (killing off the female just so you can further the plot of the male hero = not cool), but the whole event never really upset me all that much. I mean Gwen Stacy’s death was just something that happened long ago. I didn’t even know about it until I got into comic books, she was completely left out of Spider-Man: The Animated Series (where I was introduced to the hero).
Sure Gwen Stacy’s death meant something – it was a huge part Spider-Man’s past and the history of comic books in general – but it didn’t directly affect me. Still when I heard that they were rebooting Spider-Man with Gwen Stacy as the love interest I was actually pretty excited. Her death didn’t affect me on an emotional level but it the potential angst excites me to no end.
I know, I know. I am supposed to be angry when they kill of the female characters to further the plot of the male ones. I should probably have been fighting for poor Gwen Stacy’s life before now… but although I am a feminist I also happen to love a good bit of angst and nothing is more angsty than Gwen Stacy’s death. Besides, I grew up with Joss Whedon, I pretty much expect someone to die if they’re in a happy relationship so from a narrative perspective, I get it – in fact I would be totally OK with killing of love interests if they killed off male ones as often as they do with female ones… but I guess that would mean we need more female heroes, which is a whole other problem.
The problem is I had never really thought about Gwen Stacy as a person (bad feminist). Something that I was forced to recognise when I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man last Wednesday. Because there she was, in all the glory of big screen 3D, Gwen Stacy, all flesh and blood and nicely shaped. About 15 minutes into the film I realised that this whole watching Gwen Stacy die thing was going to be a lot harder than I had previously thought.
For starters Emma Stone is adorable on any day, and she’s pretty much perfect as Gwen Stacy. Then there’s the small matter of the chemistry between Stone and Garfield, which is electrifying. And Garfield himself, his face is so expressive I can’t even imagine what it will look like after... I can’t, just thinking about it makes me want to cry.
Even though I kind of guessed they wouldn’t kill Gwen Stacy in the first film of a series reboot I was still in a constant state of fear for the whole movie… flinching every time Gwen Stacy was in even the slightest amount of danger. My poor little heart almost could take it – there was one scene where Peter Parker throws Gwen Stacy out the window and catches her with his spidey-string. I nearly died. Sure it’s all fun and games until someone breaks their neck.
The thing is… when Gwen Stacy’s death was simply an angsty part of history I was totally cool with it, even excited by it. Now that I’m actually confronted by the reality of the situation I don’t know if my emotions can handle it. Of course, I don’t know that they are actually going to kill Gwen Stacy. It’s a new universe after all, which means pretty much anything goes – at least within reason (you don’t even need reason if Spiderman 3 is anything to go by). So all this worry is probably a tad premature; there is still a chance, in this universe anyway, that Gwen Stacy could be saved… but should she be saved?
Sometimes I hate the fact that I know things. Part of my wishes I was one of those people getting introduced to Gwen Stacy for the first time, with no knowledge of her possible (if not probable) fate. Then I could just enjoy the ride as it happened… but alas I have been burdened with way too much time and a abundance of pop culture trivia so I will sit here and angst about poor Gwen Stacy until the sequel comes out in 2014.
Have you ever had an experience like this? Maybe when watching a TV show or movie that you had read the spoilers for, so you knew a certain character was destined to die, but then their death affected you way worse than you imagined.
Anyway, sorry for the wangst…
Infinite X’s and O’s,
P.S this also happened to me when I was watching Lost (about 5 years too late), with Charlie’s death.