In 2014, #Marvel Comics launched the epic Spider-Verse story, but the last thing they expected was for one alternate reality version of #SpiderMan to become a breakout star. The superhero affectionately referred to as Spider-Gwen is now on her second ongoing, and she's proven to be a fan-favorite! But could Spider-Gwen ever make her way into the #MCU?
What Makes Spider-Gwen So Special?
Among Spider-Man 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 mythology. 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, a heart-wrenching moment that left readers as grief-stricken as Spider-Man himself. For Peter Parker, whose whole motive as a superhero was resolving 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, Spider-Gwen's first ongoing was oddly truncated (a shame, after a stellar #4), and the post-Secret Wars, Radioactive Spider-Gwen is only now picking up in terms of quality.
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 for the story to follow. As we know, Tom Holland's Spider-Man is in high school, and Spider-Man: Homecoming will explore his life as a teenager. Gwen Stacy was a big part of that childhood, and introducing us to a new version of Gwen would be a smart move. We could even see the classic love triangle, with Peter caught between Gwen and Mary Jane.
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.
As you can see, I do think that it's important to keep Spider-Gwen as an alternate-universe character. Putting a ton of Spider-powered characters into the MCU would risk damaging Spider-Man's uniqueness. But that's not a barrier to her entry; Doctor Strange is already set to use the concept of other universes and parallel realities. What's more, my fellow Creator Zane Sanders has suggested how Marvel could easily incorporate a Spider-Verse into the MCU.
I've got to be honest, though, that — of all the new and young characters in the Marvel Comics world — Spider-Gwen is one that I feel would be most difficult to bring into the MCU. I doubt that Marvel would actually choose to repeat Gwen's story, so soon after Emma Stone has portrayed it so well; and as the years pass, given that the MCU is in real-time, that ship will sail. Perhaps Spider-Gwen's only chance is if Marvel chooses to jump into alternate realities pretty quickly, and actually casts Emma Stone herself as Spider-Gwen. Sure, she'd be older than the MCU's Peter Parker, but the nod to the two Amazing Spider-Man films might be enough to imbue the Spider-Gwen character with enough pathos to work.
With Donald Glover also joining the Spider-Man: Homecoming cast in an unknown role, there's plenty of room for new Spider-characters in the MCU.
There are some new characters who I think are guaranteed to make their MCU debut sooner or later; Kamala Khan's Ms. Marvel is one of them. But as for Spider-Gwen? Sadly, I think she's unlikely, but I do rather hope I'm wrong.