So, we're going to talk about the That Scene. You know the one. The one most of us predicted over a year ago when we saw Emma Stone wearing a green coat. Even though I knew it was going to happen, I hoped that the movie would veer away from the comic, and Peter would save Gwen.
I wanted the movie to keep Gwen alive so much. I love Emma's portrayal of Gwen, and the real life relationship between her and Andrew shines through the movie. Their relationship has its highs and its lows, and the chemistry created by Andrew and Emma helps me to relate to them. Gwen and Peter's relationship was my favourite part of AS2. They fight, they break-up. The awkwardness between the two is palpable when Gwen extends the olive branch when she wants her friend back. When she asks Peter if he's been following her, he hides himself behind a small tree. They feel like a real couple.
|Let me just swoon over these cuties~ |
However, Gwen has a life outside her relationship with Peter. She wants to further her education, even if it takes her across the ocean. She even initially handles the change the way I imagine an 18 year old to handle it: by being all for it, even if it means leaving her boyfriend behind. I think that is a wonderful message for girls coming out of high school. They need to put themselves first, and if college is what they want, nothing should hold them back from achieving that dream. Sure, after talking with Peter, they decide to make the move together, the decision is still about Gwen, and furthering her desires and not Peter's desires.
So we'll fast forward several minutes later in the movie. Green Goblin has shown up. And appearance in the movie felt like he was only included to kill Gwen. Because that's all he does. I have plenty of issues with that, but this post isn't about a poorly written Green Goblin.
Even though I knew what was going to happen, the moment Green Goblin took Gwen, my chest tightened. Her death could happen at any moment. When he dropped her above the clock tower, I turned to my boyfriend, muttering about how stressful this was getting.
|This is what movie stress looks like...|
Peter did catch her, and they crashed through the tower. My hope began to restore at this point. She wasn't going to die. Then she slipped off a gear. But Peter was able to catch her again, but only by his web. Green Goblin began to attack Peter, with Gwen suspended off a gear.
|Hang in there Gwen.|
And as the clock turned, the gear with the webbing began to circle to the next gear. If the gears meet, the webbing would snap, sending her plummeting down the clock tower. Peter realizes this, and tries to stop the gears during the struggle. It doesn't work, and the web snaps.
|I just can't with this movie anymore...|
He tires his damnedest to reach her. My favourite moment during this sequence is when he shoots his web, and we follow it down to Gwen. When it nearly catches her, the end of the strands reach for her in the shape of a hand. It was really beautiful. And then the movie turned ugly.
Right as the web catches her, she snaps back, smashing her head against the ground. And it was shown to us. In slow motion. I'm fairly desensitized to violence and death in media, but I felt that they way the audience was shown her dying was gratuitous. I also feel that by having her head hit the concrete, took away some of Peter's responsibility for her death. He didn't actually kill her, her hitting the ground did. Even if he didn't reach her, she would have died at that moment. There is nothing that Peter could have done at that point to save her, so we can't entirely blame him for her death.
This is one of those moments where I feel like the approach from the comic would have worked best. It would also punch the audience harder in the feels. Peter could have caught her midair, yards above the ground. The whiplash would have snapped her neck. The shots could then be filmed from Peter's perspective (not first person). We could see him pulling her up, so excited that he saved her. The audience would be relived that Peter succeeded. Then we would slowly digest that Gwen's head was lolling at an odd angle, and that she wasn't moving at the same time Peter began to realize it. We, as an audience, would also realize that Peter killed her, albeit by accident, but he still killed her.
Her death happened so late in the movie that Peter wasn't given an appropriate time to grieve, and we the audience could not connect with him during this emotional time. The movie gave him the Twilight approach. We just see him at Gwen's grave over the course of several seasons. That's what we saw Bella do in New Moon after Edward left her. Instead of actually allowing us to connect with the character, we just are forced to see her sitting in front of a window for for months.
If the point of Gwen's death is to give Peter the sad, then she should have died at the end of the first act. That way, the second act could be about Peter grieving and giving up Spiderman. The Third act would be him realizing that he's needed and he has to grow and learn from the accident. While I don't agree with fridging women for the sake of male growth, I would prefer if they take that approach, they handle the male's emotional journey appropriately and realistically, and not just shove it for the last five minutes of the movie.
Preferably, I would have liked Gwen to stay alive. But they wrote her like she had a death wish. She could have told Peter how to reset the power grid. She could have kept herself safe, but they had her tag along. It felt like the entire movie was made for the sole purpose of bringing the iconic Spiderman story line to the big screen. And that's not fair to Gwen's character. The first movie, and the first half of AS2, spent the entire time turning her into a wonderful, relatable character, who had dreams and ambitions outside of her relationship. Instead she was killed to give Peter the sad.
Gwen Stacy, you deserve so much better then to be used as a tool to enhance a man's story.