Even in a year of “big” – as in, cast size, budget, and thematically-speaking – superhero movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 still stands out as an “event,” as well as a major upgrade to the rebooted Spider-Man continuity.
However, there is one traditionally-important element of the web-slinger’s mythos that was trimmed from Marc Webb’s sequel early in post-production: Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker’s other famous love interest, who was brought to life in the aforementioned deleted scenes by Golden Globe-nominee Shailene Woodley (Divergent).
Woodley has, in recent months, publicly voiced her doubts about her playing Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man 3, since the second and third installments in the Divergent franchise – based on the young adult novel trilogy – have already been scheduled for release in 2015 and 2016, meaning that shooting for the duo projects would overlap (and thus conflict) with Webb’s Spider-Man trilogy capstone (also slated to arrive in 2016).
That concern is all the more real, now that the Divergent sequel Insurgent has been formally green-lit, thanks to the first installment having already eclipsed its $85 million budget after less than two weeks.
As you can see in the video interview with Total Film, Woodley is more uncertain than ever about her being a part of the forthcoming Amazing Spider-Man movies, what with Divergent having managed to do what other recent YA adaptations (Beautiful Creatures, The Host) have failed at: successfully launching a new cinematic intellectual property, beyond one installment.
Similarly, as her Divergent costar Theo James points out during the Total Film interview, Lionsgate/Summit would prefer for its young star to remain focused on the studios’ latest YA property, rather than split her time between Divergent sequels and rival Sony’s Spider-Man franchise. Moreover, Woodley’s ongoing role as Tris is demanding enough as is; it’s one thing to shoot three short scenes as Mary Jane, but it’d be a whole other challenge to play the character in a larger capacity, on top of her ongoing role as Tris.
Woodley’s latest comments raise another interesting question: how significant a role will Mary Jane play in Amazing Spider-Man 3 – assuming that she is, in fact, a part of the film – and would it indeed require a greater time and effort investment than Woodley can provide over the next couple years?
Amazing Spider-Man 2 screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner will have planted the seeds for the third movie (which they’re also writing) in the sequel. No matter if Gwen Stacy’s (Emma Stone) famous comic book death plays out onscreen or if the character simply moves overseas to England by the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2, it appears as though the writers’ blueprints for the next Spider-Man movie includes, at least, partially removing Gwen from the picture before Part 3.
Point being, when you couple all that with the fact that the original plan was to introduce Mary Jane in Part 2 of the rebooted Spider-Man continuity, it seems safe to assume the character will soon be making an appearance – in a proper love interest capacity, no less.
If possible, Woodley as Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man 3 would be a welcome bit of casting… or, rather, non-recasting, since she has technically already played the role once. Woodley has proven quite capable at playing authentic young characters in convincing onscreen romances (see: The Spectacular Now), so her acting opposite Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker could be a promising continuation of that trend.
Assuming that Woodley doesn’t work on the Amazing Spider-Man series, though, it would presumably benefit the Peter/Mary Jane dynamic to have a similarly capable rising star (with a strong dramatic background) in the latter role. That’s assuming their relationship will be written to contrast with the whirlwind first-love between Pete and Gwen (Stone is Garfield’s real-life girlfriend) in the earlier films, and to keep on providing this superhero franchise with a solid “heart” to ground its pulpier elements.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.