Shailene Woodley and the Amazing New Endlessness of a 'Spider-Man' Franchise

Esther Zuckerman
Shailene Woodley and the Amazing New Endlessness of a 'Spider-Man' Franchise

The Amazing Spider-Man, last year's Spider-man film starring Andrew Garfield, was a pleasant surprise. Sure, it was only five years after Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker had run his course, but it was good fun, even landing on our best movies list for the year. But now, with a sequel underway and two more coming, we're starting to get worried. What started as an artful take on the web-slinger could start to get messy. 

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Today we learn via an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Shailene Woodley's role as Mary Jane Watson has been cut from the film. "Of course I'm bummed," she said, according to The Playlist. "But I'm a firm believer in everything happening for a specific reason....based on the proposed plot, I completely understand holding off on introducing [Mary Jane] until the next film." In a statement, director Marc Webb said: "I made a creative decision to streamline the story and focus on Peter and Gwen and their relationship." 

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Considering that filming on the sequel started in February ahead of a 2014 release, and that Woodley—the reigning queen of all things Y.A.—has been spotted on set with red hair, it strikes us as strange that Amazing 2 would go all Terrence Malick on her role. Deadline reports that it's unclear whether those filmed scenes will end up in the the third film in the re-booted franchise, which is due out in 2016. (Part four is coming out in 2018, it was revealed this week.)

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Woodley's setback may, of course, be for the best. To complicate matters with a spoiler alert, Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy might bite the dust in the upcoming film, considering she wore an outfit while filming that looked an awful lot like the one her character wore in her comic-book death. That would mean a big, emotional storyline for her character and Spidey, which goes along with Webb's comments. Plus, the sequel already looks crowded. Paul Giamatti and Jamie Foxx are playing villains The Rhino and Electro, and Chris Cooper is in as Norman Osborn, who will eventually become the Green Goblin. To complicate matters even further, if the movie is going with the Gwen comic-book death storyline — Webb hasn't stayed entirely loyal to the origins — then the Goblin would be her killer. The rumor mill also churned this week with a maybe non-denial from Felicity Jones about a role as the Black Cat

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All the aforementioned players are fantastic, but we're starting to think too many are on board too soon. Or perhaps, Webb just signed everyone on to eventually cut them from this film, as in the case of Woodley, and emerge with a full formed four-part narrative. Or perhaps everyone just got in a little bit over their heads.