It was inevitable that “The Amazing Spider-Man” high school movie reboot would get brave and take on a major death that you should heretofore stop reading about if you don’t want spoilers. The death of Gwen Stacy in the original Spider-Man comic book series was one of the most talked about comic book events of all time. While it was over 40 years ago when it happened in comic book form, none of the previous Spider-Man TV or movie franchises ever dared go and take it on, perhaps out of fear that she couldn’t be brought back in a form that made sense to viewers.
Lest any producer forgets that two years after the Gwen character died in the comic books, Marvel brought her back in a way that could translate very well on film today. It’s right in tune with a popular show called “Orphan Black” that’s taking on the emerging new genre of actors playing more than one version of themselves or separate characters. In this regard, an “Amazing Spider-Man 3” a couple of years from now could give Emma Stone a major acting showcase she hasn’t had since “The Help.”
Gwen Stacy as Clones
If you’ve seen the BBC America show “Orphan Black” and star Tatiana Maslany, then you know what kind of precedent Maslany has already set in one actress portraying as many as seven (and perhaps more) clones. It’s a tour de force performance made all the more amazing being in a TV series where it has to be done every week. While that might sound exhausting for an actress, the idea of multiple Gwen Stacy clones may sound the same way. For someone with the acting capability of Emma Stone, it may not be.
If you’re familiar with what happened after Gwen Stacy’s death in the comic books, you know they brought her back in clone form. The first time around, it was the result of the Spider-Man nemesis The Jackal cloning Gwen, yet doesn’t give her any memory that her real self died a couple years before. He uses this Gwen clone to get back at Spider-Man by making her a new nemesis.
This was part of a “Clone Saga” series in the Spider-Man comic book series that wasn’t all that far off from the main plot of “Orphan Black.” In fact, we find out later in this comic book series that Gwen has even more clones existing in the world. A second one that we initially think is the original somehow acquires some memory of who she was before. Even though she’s doomed to never reconnect, it becomes filled with as much intrigue as an “Orphan Black” episode.
Eventually, the initial Gwen clone gets killed off by yet another clone living under a different name. And we see yet another that appeared in a 1990s comic book series who finally regains all her memory of who she initially was. Regardless, she dies from the underutilized problem of clone degeneration. Yes, that’s something “Orphan Black” might have to consider for yet another compelling edge.
Would the Alternate Timelines Be Tapped?
To show the flexibility of comic book plots, there were also countless offshoots showing alternate timelines where Gwen ultimately lives. In these timelines, she goes off and either marries Peter Parker, and even had her killed by the Big Bad Wolf (with Mary Jane Watson as Little Red Riding Hood) in a surreal fairy tales edition of the Spider-Man series. Yet another timeline showed what might have happened had Spider-Man been able to save Gwen.
It’s doubtful the film series would ever follow any of the alternate timeline plots, though you can easily see the clone idea with Emma Stone. Despite perhaps looking like they’ll be borrowing from “Orphan Black”, they’d have to make it known that the comic books were on this idea 40 years ago. It also gives a chance to show the complexities of cloning, how the minds of the clones might be affected, and all the usual existential issues.
If the new “Spider-Man” reboot series wants to follow the comic books, this is probably going to happen in a third movie just so they can bring Emma Stone back. Stone needs something to show off her acting adeptness again, and this might be it on a level that’s already given Maslany a huge notice in the industry.
All we can hope for is they make it believable and not implausible. At its best, it gives Emma Stone’s Gwen a chance to turn into a sudden nemesis with no initial memory of who she was before. It can also help kick off the new path of actresses proving they can play multiple characters much more effectively than male actors once did on the big screen.