UPDATE: On the heels of the news that Spider-Man director Marc Webb has cut Shailene Woodley from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, THR reports that it "is likely that Woodley will not return and that the part will be recast." It's suggested that Divergent might keep Woodley too busy to return to Spider-Man's world. Or maybe Webb just wants someone different for the sure-to-be-expanded role? More on this as the story develops.
EARLIER: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is shaping up to be The Empire Strikes Back of Spidey movies.
Why? In its cover story on the upcoming adaptation of Divergent, EW.com spoke with star Shailene Woodley and learned that the actress’s role of Mary Jane Watson for Marc Webb’s Spider-Man sequel is going to be pushed back to part three, which recently secured a release date of June 10, 2016.
Says Woodley (according to ComicBookMovie):
"Of course I'm bummed. But I am a firm believer in everything happening for a specific reason. … Based on the proposed plot, I completely understand the need for holding off on introducing [Mary Jane] until the next film."
On the surface, I absolutely agree with Woodley, Webb and Sony’s plans to hold off introducing Mary Jane until a later chapter … especially if we subscribe to the theory that Webb is going to be telling the “Death of Gwen Stacy” story. Emma Stone deserves the full focus of at least one film -- Spider-Man 2, say – and trying to cram M.J. into the waning moments of that sequel would seem, on the surface, to be a rush job that might disrupt and affect the emotional arc I think is being established in the next Spidey movie.
Here’s where things get interesting. Webb shot a few scenes with Woodley earlier this year. And as you can see via the photos on ComicBookMovie’s site, it has Gwen meeting Mary Jane. But what if Gwen dies at the end of ASM2, as several (myself included) have speculated? Will this footage be scrapped? Would a meeting between Peter Parker’s new, potential girlfriend and his deceased ex be used as a flashback? All of that is possible.
On a side note, I do love how Watson’s classic introduction in the pages of a Spider-Man comic tease that the next issue has “The Rhino On the Rampage.” That’s symmetry.
Here’s the next big question: If Sony is spreading out some of the footage that Webb shot for ASM2 and saving it for parts three and beyond, does this mean that Webb’s back for the immediate sequel (at least), or will a new filmmaker be tasked with incorporating his shot footage into their own vision?
No matter the answer, I believe wholeheartedly that this is the right course of action for the Spider-Man franchise. As I have been saying all along, there are too many elements being introduced and established by Webb and his team to simply stockpile for a second film. Sony is mapping out a massive Spider-Man universe, and the recently announced release dates – coupled by this news that Mary Jane is being preserved for a future chapter – continue to suggest to me that Sony is taking its sweet time with this particular storyline so that everything can move and breathe with fluidity and ease. I, for one, can not wait to see what Webb has in store for Spidey 2. How about you?