If you have not seen “Amazing Spider-Man 2” and want to be surprised, this is your one and only spoiler alert.
image from comixology.com
If you are familiar with comic book lore concerning one Peter Parker, you probably already know that Gwen Stacy, who is played in the movies by Emma Stone, suffers a terrible fate at the hands of the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man 121. That would be her tragic death.
While a few journalists are busy writing about how the character would have been better used in the movies (probably true) and purists are arguing about how the character had to die to stay true to the source material, everybody is actually right.
There is a reason that Amazing Spider-Man 121 sells for hundreds of dollars, several hundred in top condition actually, and it is because of how much the event helped refocus Peter and Spider-Man. The Gwen story arc was written in 1973, when female characters were placed in jeopardy for the sole purpose of getting the “hero” to seek vengeance. This trend continued into the 1980s and beyond, think about some movies from the era as well.
Yes, I think modern female characters, like Michonne from The Walking Dead or Buffy The Vampire Slayer, would not have been well received in the 1970s and maybe even into 1980s. Society, let alone the comic book industry, had to advance to the point where female characters could be empowered. Plus, let’s not forget the market segment these works were targeted towards. Wonder Woman was once a novel concept and a supporting character. Try to name some strong female characters from any popular series. How far can you get? Five, ten, now eliminate the villains Harley Quinn fans.
For every Lois Lane and Wonder Woman there are even more versions of Gwen Stacy, because nothing brings out a heroes true colors than reacting to loss. It’s a popular story line, and going solely off the price of Spidey 121, fans appreciate it.
So could the movies have went a different direction and change the fate of a character altogether. Could Gwen and Peter have made a life together? If my memory serves me correctly, changing the course a character does not always work out so well (I’m looking at you Deadpool from X-Men Origins).
Instead of telling their own story, the writers behind the current generation of Spidey movies have decided to retell versions of stories written long ago. There is nothing wrong with that, because the death of Gwen Stacy means something to Peter Parker and it helped shape the Wall Crawler as well.