Back in 2014, Marvel Comics launched the epic "Spider-Verse" event — but the last thing they expected was for one alternate-reality version of Spider-Man to become a breakout star! Now, celebrating the two-year anniversary of Spider-Gwen #1, it's time to take a look at the impressive legacy Spider-Gwen has built in only a few years. What makes her so popular, and could she ever enter the MCU?
Among #SpiderMan fans, the name Gwen Stacy is legendary. Gwen was Peter Parker's first true love, and yet her star shone so briefly.In Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, Gwen was kidnapped by the Green Goblin. It all came to a head on the George Washington Bridge, with the Green Goblin and Spider-Man going head to head. But as battle raged, the unconscious Gwen was knocked off the bridge.
What followed is the stuff of comic book legend. Spider-Man rushed to Gwen's rescue, his webbing snagging her unconscious body and capturing it in the air. He towed her back up, and for a single delirious second he thanked his spider-powers that he'd been able to save her.
Except he hadn't. Worse still, the readers knew something Peter Parker didn't. The comic showed a sound-effect as Gwen's body was snagged by the webbing.
The clear implication was that the webline caught her, arresting her fall with such suddenness that poor Gwen's neck was broken. For all his great power, Spider-Man had not only failed to save the love of his life, his effort to save her had in fact been the cause of her death.
It's a complete subversion of the superhero tradition, and a heart-wrenching moment that left readers as grief-stricken as Spider-Man himself. For Peter Parker, whose whole motive as a superhero was trying to actively prevent the kind of tragedy that took the life of his Uncle Ben, it was a defining moment. It was the point at which Peter Parker grew up.
Fans of Spider-Man had never forgotten Gwen Stacy. Many writers had brought her back — in one way or another — from the awkward mess that was the Clone Saga to the disturbing glimpse of an alternate reality in House of M. These visions of Gwen have always been bittersweet, tainted by grief and loss. When Emma Stone's Gwen was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man, everybody knew where the story was headed.
But in 2014, Gwen's story took a very different twist. Dan Slott was throwing out crazy ideas for alternate Spider-Men who could be featured in a miniseries, Edge of Spider-Verse. One was "Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman." Jason Latour wound up writing the Issue, while Robbi Rodriguez created a tremendously fun costume. What nobody expected was for the internet to go wild, and the character was christened "Spider-Gwen" by Twitter!
It was all a bit left-field for Marvel. Jonathan Hickman was building toward Secret Wars, which would destroy Marvel's Multiverse for a few months, and it just wasn't the right time to push an alt-reality book. As a result, #SpiderGwen's first ongoing was oddly truncated (a shame, after a stellar #4), but the second series didn't take long to pick up!
Still, there's something about Spider-Gwen that deeply resonates with fans. Jason Latour's skillful narrative, combined with a remarkable costume design and stunning art from the soon-to-retire Robbi Rodriguez, has given her a firm place in Spider-fans' hearts.
Is It Possible To Introduce Spider-Gwen In The Marvel Cinematic Universe?
There's a strange way in which Spider-Gwen is both an awkward fit for the MCU and a natural route to traverse. As we know, Tom Holland's Spider-Man is in high school, and #SpiderManHomecoming will explore his life as a teenager. Although rumors persist that Zendaya will be playing Mary-Jane Watson, it's actually looking far more likely that neither of Peter's famous loves will appear in the film. Still, that would actually be comic-book-accurate; Peter met both MJ and Gwen later in his life.
The awkward problem is that a version of Gwen's story has already been told — and, actually, remarkably well. Emma Stone was a tremendous Gwen Stacy, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 showed Spider-Man film fans everywhere just where her story was destined to go. But I do think that, if a Spider-version of Gwen were ever to work on the big screen, you'd first need to establish this plot. Jason Latour's Spider-Gwen is a careful mirror of Spider-Man's own story; her version of Peter Parker is the guy she failed to save, a strange mix of Uncle Ben and Gwen herself. Without that pathos, the character would just fail to work.
Here's the thing, though; memories of Amazing Spider-Man 2 are still pretty fresh, meaning the tragic fate of Gwen Stacy is known to viewers. As a result, in the short-term at least the tale of Spider-Gwen would still have a strong sense of pathos, but the window on this opportunity will close within the next few years.
Meanwhile, though, it's increasingly possible that we could wind up with a version of "Spider-Verse" in the MCU, introducing the character. Doctor Strange used that telltale word 'multiverse', a concept crucial to developing the arc. Meanwhile, there are intriguing hints that a major Spider-Man figure — as yet unidentified — will make an appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming. I'm dearly hoping it will be Ezekiel, setting up a "Spider-Verse"-inspired sequel.
Surprisingly enough, a common fancast for Spider-Gwen is actually becoming increasingly associated with the character; Dove Cameron. She's definitely got the 'Gwen Stacy' look, and she's also been hired to voice Spider-Gwen in the Ultimate Spider-Man series.
- New 'Ultimate Spider-Man' Sneak Peek Shows Dove Cameron's Spider-Gwen In Action - Could She Enter The MCU?
- 'The Night I Died' Just Made The Death Of Gwen Stacy A Lot More Tragic…
- Will 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Introduce Ezekiel — And The Spider-Verse?
All in all, I have to be honest that right now I'm not convinced Marvel is ready for Spider-Gwen. That said, the character has proved to be a tremendous success — testimony to the skill of both Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez. Her comic book journey has been a thrilling one, and she's added some real joy to the wider Spider-Man universe. I can only hope she does make an #MCU debut soon!
Do you think Spider-Gwen will enter the MCU soon?
(Poll Image Credit: Marvel Comics)