Peter Parker may have the proportionate strength of a spider, but his most spectacular superpower are the sparks he has with Gwen Stacy. Speaking to reporters at a press junket on Sunday, actress Emma Stone discussed her role as Peter Parker’s first love in Amazing Spider-Man 2, describing how her character had grown since the first film.
Stone said that Gwen had not been beaten down by the death of her father, Captain George Stacy, at the end of the first film. Instead, she’s grown from it.
“When you lose somebody close to you, that you care very much about, suddenly everything else in your life comes into sharp focus,” Stone said. “You realize what does and does not matter, and there’s sort of a confidence that she’s found in this totally tragic event. She’s very clear on what she wants to do with her life, what her destiny is, what her aim is.”
Unfortunately, that causes some friction with her notoriously neurotic boyfriend, Peter Parker — aka, the Amazing Spider-Man, who has a ton of angst over his role in Captain Stacy’s death.
“Anybody who’s flailing around and can’t figure it out, she doesn’t really have the energy for,” Stone said. “I think she’s just a bit more willful in this one, because Peter is trying so hard to keep her at arm’s length… there’s a sort of willfulness and confidence knowing that she can help him.”
Still, she added, “their relationship is very grounded, very human, and I think that’s important… Gwen is probably the most human component outside of Aunt May.”
Given that many people didn’t even know Gwen Stacy existed prior to the first Amazing Spider-Man, Stone said that she found a lot of likable qualities that allowed her to go toe-to-toe with the more famous Mary Jane Watson.
“We wanted to modernize [Gwen] — she’s independent, and she has a lot of her own goals. I think her heroic impulse is pretty strong because of her father. And she’s got a great mind. So she’s going to school for medicine, and she wants to save people just as much as Peter without being bitten by a radioactive spider,” Stone said, adding that director Marc Webb and the screenwriters were very adamant about keeping the character “proactive, and never a damsel in distress.”
“That kind of clarity and maturity that she brings to Peter’s life, I really dug,” Stone added. “They’re such equals.”
Yet Peter Parker almost wasn’t a one-woman man, Stone revealed, as she discussed shooting scenes with actress Shailene Woodley, who had been cast as Mary Jane Watson.
Woodley’s scenes were cut because a love triangle between Peter, Gwen and Mary Jane would have been like “if Romeo and Juliet fell in love, and then they got to the end and he fell in love with the pharmacist’s daughter also,” Stone said.
“There was actually kind of a beautiful scene with Gwen and Mary Jane that we shot, where Gwen is going to say goodbye, and Mary Jane’s on the porch, and they talk to each other, and Gwen says, ‘Will you give him this message for me?’” Stone recalled. “And the last line was, she says, ‘oh, I didn’t say my name, by the way — I’m MJ,’ and I say, ‘I’m Gwen,” and I’m about to go to London, and I say, ‘I’m really glad I got to meet you, MJ.’ And then I leave for London, which makes me want to cry even now. It was beautiful, it was really beautiful.”
Stone said that with some of the big moments in the film, she was expecting Spider-fans to have some emotional reactions. She described Amazing Spider-Man 2 as “courageous,” and said it was obvious why characters like Spider-Man were important.
“I think one of the most inspiring stories for me is experiencing such great loss and pain, and overcoming,” Stone said. “Peter is a bad luck charm — so much happens around him, he has to deal with so much at such a young age, and the fact that he picks himself up from his bootstraps and keeps fighting and grows stronger and more solid in himself, that’s what I want to see, that’s what I want kids to see, and people to see.”