gwen stacy was witty and intelligent and she had goals set for herself and for all we know she could have found the cure for CANCER with her college degree from OXFORD and in comes mary jane watson with a dream of being a star with adoring fans i’m actually pissed at this point someone calm me down
if gwen stacy lived, peter wouldve followed her to london and made headline news while she aced all of her science studies and graduated a year early with a degree in genetics and then they wouldve moved back to new york together and rented a penthouse with equal distance between the stacy household and aunt may’s house where peter would start writing news articles about spider-man from home in his free time (with his photography of course) and sell them to various places for profit while gwen settled back at oscorp with a more prestigious position and not too long after that they would get married and not too long after that theyd have a daughter and gwen would pick the name lucille and theyd call her lucy and her middle name would be may via peters request he would ask aunt may to be her godmother because he knows if anything ever happened to him and gwen that she would do a great job raising her and aunt may would scold him for even hypothetically saying that something bad might happen to him and then theyd visit her on the weekends and may would watch lucy while gwen was at work and peter was being spider-man and sometimes gwen would call peter in for projects at oscorp even though she couldnt offer him a fulltime job because hed be so unreliable and hed take her on star-gazing picnic dates on the roofs of pretty much every tall building in new york and theyd get all old and stuff together and be big giant cute clumsy genius crime fightin dorks and have more kids and live HAPPILY ever after
Spider-Man 3 is an all-over-the-place campy glorious wild mess of a movie, but in the middle of it all they managed to pull off something remarkably progressive:
Everything about Gwen.
As you probably know (there’s been a lot of talk about it since the most recent Spider-movie) Gwen Stacy isn’t just a fridged female character: she’s the fridged female character. She’s iconic as the beautiful dead girl in Peter Parker’s arms, murdered partly by Norman Osborn and partly by writers and editors who didn’t know what to do with her. People know her far better as a corpse than a character. I’m not saying that her death and the fallout from it isn’t deservedly known as one of the best stories in comics, but dying young both canonised her and warped her - for literally decades she was a perfect, pure, idealised image of What Could Have Been, rather than a person in her own right. (Which she was!) Fandom often used her as a stick to beat MJ - flirty short-skirt-wearing party girl MJ - with, using disturbingly misogynist rhetoric. When Sins Past - the story where it was revealed Gwen had slept with Norman Osborn - came out, people were furious with Gwen for ‘tainting’ herself, rather than furious at Norman for sleeping with a woman young enough to be his daughter. (There was anger at the writers too, but it was mostly in the same vein.)
Anyway! Once I’d spent enough time in Spider-Man fandom to get to know both Gwen and what she became, I was watching Spider-Man 3 one night and it hit me. Okay, I knew perfectly well that she didn’t die in this one, but this Gwen, far from being perfect or pure, was everything people aren’t meant to like in a female character. She’s a model. (Shallow!) She’s only an average science student. (Stupid!) She’s - through no fault of her own - a very real threat to Peter and MJ’s relationship. (Bitch!) She’s still friendly and even flirty to Eddie Brock, even though she has no romantic interest in him. (Cocktease!) She turns down Eddie’s advances, even though he’s obsessed with her, and goes on a date with another man. (Friendzoner!) She’s quite happy to literally wrap her legs around that other man. (Slut!) She’s also a sweet, polite, nice person, but come on! The very archetype of the Woman In The Refrigerator, Gwen, just friendzoned the supervillan and sexy-danced with the superhero: really, she’s gonna survive?
But not only does she survive, absolutely nothing bad happens to her (beyond the inital accident that brought her into the story). When she realises Peter’s using her to make MJ jealous, she apologises to the other woman and walks away. Eddie becomes Venom, but (though motivated by 'losing’ Gwen) he doesn’t actually go after her. MJ doesn’t seem overly fond of the girl her boyfriend’s been flirting with, but after Gwen apologises that subplot’s forgotten. Gwen’s father, who dies in the comics, doesn’t die this time around. MJ doesn’t die either - someone is killed to inspire Peter to be a better person, but that’s Harry, another man. Oh, and creepy Eddie is toast. (Literally.)
Who knows if any of that was intentional? If Sam Raimi had gotten to make a Spider-Man 4, maybe he’d have killed Gwen Stacy off then, I don’t know. But I’ve always been pretty pleased with this movie because, whether by accident or design, the only Gwen who gets to be overtly sexual is also the only Gwen who gets to live.
“There will be days when you feel alone, and that is when hope is needed most. No matter how buried it gets or how lost you feel, you must promise me that you will hold onto hope. Keep it alive. We have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you is to become hope - people need that. And even if we fail, what better way is there to live?“
“I know that we all think we’re immortal, we’re supposed to feel that way, we’re graduating. The future is and should be bright, but, like our brief four years in high school, what makes life valuable is that it doesn’t last forever, what makes it precious is that it ends. I know that now more than ever. And I say it today of all days to remind us that time is luck. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life, make yours count for something. Fight for what matters to you, no matter what. Because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live?” - GWEN STACY IN THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
I know that we all think we’re immortal, we’re supposed to feel that way, we’re graduating. The future is and should be bright, but, like our brief four years in high school, what makes life valuable is that it doesn’t last forever, what makes it precious is that it ends. I know that now more than ever. And I say it today of all days to remind us that time is luck. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life, make yours count for something. Fight for what matters to you, no matter what. Because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live?