Thursday, March 23, 2023

Gwen Stacy, Alive and Well

I'm not sure Stan Lee had this in mind...

About ten years ago I wrote an article on this blog where I discussed the Spider-Man supporting character Gwen Stacy. I had recently seen The Amazing Spider-Man and, after being enamored with Emma Stone’s performance and her great chemistry with Andrew Garfield, I wanted to write about how Gwen’s character had been completely compromised due to decades of being martyred as “Spider-Man’s Dead Girlfriend.” So ingrained was this one aspect in the hearts and minds of fans and creators alike, that every new adaptation of the character either always inevitably dies or the creators planned for her to die if they were allow to continue the story the way they wanted (the creators of Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon have said their ideal scenario for the show would have included a TV/Home Video movie where Gwen was killed). No real reason for this is ever given beyond “that’s just what Gwen does; she dies.”

My original article (which you may want to read) very briefly ran through Gwen’s tragically short history and also touched don some reasonings and suggestions on how they could bring her back and give her the opportunity to be an actual character again, something she hadn’t been since the 1960s. But more than that, I challenged the creators of The Amazing Spider-Man to not kill Gwen off in a sequel, and seeing as they had a super talented rising star of an actress in the role I was convinced that they would not.

 Then Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out and completely proved my point by unnecessarily killing Gwen off. Awesome.

Pictured: The preferred version of Gwen, according to the writers

I was pretty convinced at the time that Gwen would remain this nebulous area that were seemed terrified of altering the status quo, regardless of how inherently sexist this concept of turning her into a Spider-Martyr had really become. I resigned myself to it always being the way because too many editors and producers think of Gwen’s death as being too sacred to ever even entertain the idea of bringing the character back.

I was wrong. Marvel Comics did bring Gwen back and they did it in a way I would have never expected: as a superhero in her own right. From the pages of the original Spider-Verse comic, a story where Spider-Man had to team up with variants of himself from across the multiverse, one of the encountered characters was a version of Gwen Stacy who developed spider powers instead of Peter Parker. Almost immediately upon her debut did the character become a breakout hit for most fans both old and new, especially in the cosplay scene. Since then the character lovingly referred to as “Spider-Gwen” has become a major recurring character in the comics, regularly appearing in cartoon shows, and has starred in one of the most celebrated animated films in history and set to return in its sequel later this year.

Today I’m like to talk about Spider-Gwen in detail, partially out of a longing to do a follow-up on my original article, and discuss who and why she is, why she is popular, and why she is extremely important to both the Spider-Man mythos and to the salvation of the decades long wronged character.

 Learn about Spider-Gwen after the jump.

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