Who is Gwen Stacy? A brief history of The Amazing Spider-Mans' new love

Daniel Sarath
4 July 2012

Those who grew up with the original 'Spider-Man' films starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst will recognize many familiarities in the franchise's reboot 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. Peter Parker's transformation into the iconic web-slinger remains the same, for example, as does his close relationship with Aunt May and Uncle Ben who have raised him since his parents' death. However, one of the greatest alterations to the superhero's screen persona, now brought to life by Andrew Garfield, is in his love life.

In 'The Amazing Spider-Man', Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy has replaced the red-haired neighbour Mary-Jane Watson whose relationship with Spider-Man formed the emotional core of the first films. Stacy made a short cameo in the previous 'Spider-Man' trilogy's third and final release played by Twilight's Bryce Dallas Howard who, like Stone, also had to dye her red hair blonde for the role. Serving as the catalyst that would threaten Mary-Jane and Peter's relationship, her time in 'Spider-Man 3' may have been brief but Stacy is actually a character who performed a substantial, pivotal role in Marvel's comics. She, after all, was Peter Parker's first true love long before MJ.

Gwen Stacy made her first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man's 31st edition in 1965 as a former high school beauty queen who met Peter Parker at Empire State University. Defined by her long blonde hair and bright blue eyes, they shared the same biochemistry class where she became immediately attracted to his intellect.

Soon, despite a jealous love triangle that formed with the aforementioned girl next door, their relationship slowly began to blossom and Peter grew to love Gwen more than any girl he had ever known. But, of course, when your part-time job involves fighting some of New York City's deadliest villains, committing to a serious relationship wasn't going to be easy.

Gwen found herself progressively more distressed by her boyfriend's tendency to disappear without explanation (once finding comfort in Peter's high school nemesis Flash Thompson) and her father, police captain George Stacy, became suspicious of Peter's activities outside of the relationship. All of which came to a head when Captain Stacy, played in the upcoming film by Denis Leary, was killed by falling debris from a melee between Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man. In his last words, he surprisingly called the superhero by his real name and asked Peter to keep his daughter safe.

In much the same way that James Franco's Harry Osborne began to hate Spider-Man in the film's first outing, blaming him for unknowingly initiating the chaos that would cause his father's death, Gwen Stacy vowed to rid the city of the wall-crawling superhero. All the while, unaware that the love of her life was also her sworn nemesis, she and Peter continued dating. At least until The Amazing Spider-Man's infamous, controversial 121st edition that is.

A decade after her introduction to Marvel's world, during which time she captured the hearts of comic fans across the globe, Gwen Stacy was killed. It occurred during a battle with the Green Goblin who kidnapped her and held her hostage above the George Washington Bridge. Spider-Man fought to save Gwen's life, but during the conflict knocked her off causing her to plummet to the water below. Spider-Man was able to catch her at the last moment, but her neck snapped in the fall and she tragically died.

Her demise dispelled the myth that the hero saves the world and gets the girl and it would forever haunt the web-slinging hero who since visits her grave at times of torment. But more than anything else, this controversial twist would become one of the most shocking moments in comic book history.

Little is known about whether 'The Amazing Spider-Man' producer Ari Arad and director Marc Webb plan to utilise any of Stacy's controversial history in their upcoming franchise. But what we do know about Spidey's new cinematic partner is that she could potentially transform this fresh adaptation into dark, daring territory akin to the recent Batman saga. She could help Spider-Man tread on ground rarely explored by the superhero genre. And without doubt, Gwen Stacy could easily be the character who morphs 'The Amazing Spider-Man' into the "untold story" it boldly claims to be.

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