May 3, 2014

Why I'm Angry About Gwen Stacy

I saw Amazing Spider-Man 2 tonight. And I’m mad. (spoilers ahead)
Gwen Stacy’s death was handled poorly. So poorly, in fact, that I would like to put her second-in-line for the Women in Refrigerators crown.
But let’s back up a bit. 
Gwen Stacy is set up as a smart (valedictorian) recent high school graduate, with a job at Oscorp, and a scholarship to Oxford. She and Parker are having relationship problems because Peter still feels tied to his promise to her dad to keep her out of his work. However, they keep talking, and Gwen becomes one of the few girlfriends who hears the inner workings of a superhero’s mind and actually helps him defeat a villain (without Gwen, Peter would have been fried, actually). 
Did Gwen Stacy have to die? I would argue that no, Gwen Stacy did not have to die. It’s a movie; they can do whatever the fuck they want! 
What pisses me off the most is that the solution was there the whole time. She didn’t have to die; she could have gone to England! Like a normal person does after high school when they’re super smart with a scholarship to study in England! 
Now here’s what DID happen: the majority of the movie is spent setting up and dealing with Electro, who is pretty much a sad, lonely, low-threat villain. Harry shows up, as a sidenote. We’re not really sure why he and Peter are still friends, or even what they’re like as friends, since they spend most of their time trying to keep stiff upper lips over their dead dads (or, in Peter’s case, his dead dad, dead uncle, and girlfriend’s dead dad). Once Electro is defeated (with Gwen’s help, btw), the Green Goblin shows up (oh, yeah, Harry turns into the Green Goblin, did you miss that?) out of fucking NOWHERE and decides that Peter has betrayed him, therefore, he’s going to kill Gwen Stacy.
What. the. fuck. I’m sorry, Harry, I lost you. You’re going to kill Gwen Stacy why again? Your character isn’t well-developed enough for anyone to figure it out. I gueeeesss that Goblin juice really did a number on your moral centre and all but…really? You’re going to just kill off the random girl you met in the elevator earlier on, just because she’s kinda sorta in a complicated relationship with Peter? Whaaaat.
At this point, I was shaking my head in the theater. I was still hoping that they weren’t going to do it. And then she falls. There’s an audible gasp and cringe in the theater.
Peter drops to the ground beside her and starts jostling her around (my inside voice is screaming, DON’T MOVE HER, YOU’VE GOT TO STABILIZE HER SPINE, CHECK HER PULSE, CALL THE AMBULANCE, or, or…SOMETHING!). He cries. Cut to the funeral scene (typical). Cut to Peter sitting by the grave (also typical). 
Then we get this awkward flipping through the seasons as Peter stands by the grave. It looks horrible and it does nothing to cool the burning rage in my chest.
Spider-Man then takes a break apparently. Because he’s sad. But he hears the news on the tv and he cries with his aunt and then puts Gwen Stacy’s pictures away (the audience is not ready for this; there’s still sniffling in the theater). 
And then it’s all fine again?
So Spider-Man goes out to fight a robot. Yay, robot fight?
Oh, what’s that you’re feeling? Just the slap across your face from the makers of Spider-Man 2. What, you had feelings for a character you knew was going to die? Well, fuck that, there’s a robot fight! (there’s still sniffling and clearing of throats in the theater)
Goddammit. This movie even made me angry at that poor bullied kid who stands up to the robot because all I could think about was the smart, bad-ass woman who just DIED because someone decided that women NEEDED to see MORE smart, bad-ass women getting killed JUST for being smart and bad-ass and in a real-talk relationship with a superhero.
Fuck. that. Gwen Stacy deserves better.

7 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:54 AM

    Thank you for writing how I feel. I was so angered by this movie I am still unable to sit down and write a coherent review.

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  2. Thanks for responding! I'm glad other people feel the same way.

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    1. Anonymous11:55 PM

      I've finally (somewhat) calmed down enough to put my thoughts into words. It's long and cuss-filled, but if you're interested it's here: http://letterboxd.com/admatha/film/the-amazing-spider-man-2/

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  3. I started to cry when she screamed and the slow motion scene began. It was really painful to watch. Emma Stone nailed her job.

    Her death wasn't poorly handled but awesome. It was the best scene and at the same time...the saddest one.

    Whether we like it or not, she was SUPPOSED to die because they follow the comics story.

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    1. While I mostly agree that she was "supposed" to die because that's what happens in the comics, I still think they could have handled it better by giving the audience time to process her death, instead of moving on from it so quickly. The movie treated her death like a side-plot, or a checklist, rather than as a huge turning point for Peter's arc as Spider-Man.

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    2. Anonymous11:55 PM

      Why was she 'supposed' to die? Comic book characters are constantly being rebooted, both in comic books and in movies. So why is Gwen so incontrovertibly relegated to the land of refrigerated girlfriends?

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  4. Anonymous1:15 AM

    Yeah i feel the same...

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Thoughts?