Face it, Spider-fans, we’ve just hit the jackpot. Hot on the heels of The Amazing Spider-Man‘s box office success this summer, rumors have emerged about casting in the sequel, which will begin production in early 2013.
First, Shailene Woodley, perhaps best known for her spectacular performance as George Clooney’s troubled daughter in last year’s critically-acclaimed The Descendants, has been offered the role of Mary Jane Watson, according to EW. Should the deal go through, Woodley would be joining Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy in the Marc Webb-helmed sequel, almost certainly setting up a love triangle between the three young stars. Those familiar with the Spider-Man story mostly through Sam Raimi’s previous movie trilogy will recognize Mary Jane as the love of Peter’s life. However, if you’re familiar with the Marvel Comics adventures of your friendly neighborhood web-slinger, you’d know that prior to Mary Jane, Peter’s heart belonged to Gwen. This love story – partly the focus of The Amazing Spider-Man - was one of the major aspects that differentiated the reboot from Raimi’s films.
For a while in the Spider-Man comics, the trio was caught in a love triangle that Gwen ultimately won out. Gwen was the sweet, innocent girl next door whom Peter fell hard for, which meant when MJ was introduced as the LITERAL girl next door. She turned out to be the ultimate party girl, with writer Stan Lee and artists John Romita and Steve Ditko providing a neat turn on a time-tested romantic trope. In fact, MJ’s first appearance was a pay-off to a long-running joke, where Aunt May was attempting to set Peter up with “that nice Watson girl.” While readers expected a homely lass whom Peter would need to escape from, what they got was, well, one of the most memorable (and sexy) panels in comics history:
In the comics, Peter only turned to MJ after the tragic death of Gwen Stacey at the hands of the nefarious Green Goblin (played by Willem Dafoe in Raimi’s triology).
Does the advent of MJ in Webb’s version of the franchise bring ill tidings for Gwen Stacey? Well, the same EW article reported that Webb is also on the lookout for Peter’s best friend, roommate, and sometimes-nemesis Harry Osborn. As viewers of Raimi’s trilogy (and readers of the comics) will remember, Harry is the son of Norman “Green Goblin” Osborn, who takes up the mantle upon his father’s death… which he blames on Spider-Man. If Harry enters Peter’s life, just how long will it be until Norman does the same?
We may have to wait until right after the initial credits scroll, actually. Current reports hint at Electro (you can probably guess his powers) as the big baddie of the sequel, which means that a post-credits Norman/Green Goblin appearance would be the perfect set-up for a threequel.
Casting speculation in regards to Harry, who was portrayed by James Franco in the Raimi trilogy, is already running rampant. EW has proposed its own list of potential young actors to take on the role, ranging from Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Josh Peck. Personally, though, I think we need something of a petulant, snotty, blue-blooded Harry as a contrast to down-to-Earth Peter, and who better to do that than a slimmed-down Jonah Hill?
Nope, not kidding. He’s already proven his action chops (21 Jump Street) and his acting chops (Moneyball). He could easily give us a rich-boy Harry with just the right blend of humor and pathos to make us like him despite ourselves and ultimately mourn when he turns towards the darkness in his soul. Plus, it would be fun to see him and Emma Stone together again after their star-making turns in Superbad.
All said, then, things just ain’t looking good for poor Ms. Stacey. Depending upon how dark Webb intends to go with his version of Spider-Man, might we not only see one of the most memorable of comics moments (“Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot”), but also one of the most tragic?
Only time, and spider-sense, will tell.