How ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Changes Up Gwen Stacey and Harry Osborn

The Amazing Spider-Man 2Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection

Although Spider-Man comics have been around for decades, and a whole trilogy of films was delivered just a few years back, there are still opportunities to handle the characters and stories in new ways. Emma Stone’s take on Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is an example of that. The talented Stone manages to give us a far more developed, substantial, and progressive version of the traditionally slighted “superhero’s girlfriend figure.” Meanwhile, Dane DeHaan is offering a version of Harry Osborn that he and Jamie Foxx think could never have existed before.

Producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach on how Emma Stone helped to create a stronger, more substantial Gwen Stacey for the modern era:

Avi Arad: “When you have a great actress, and you give her the proper material, now you have a real scene. You don’t just have someone screaming. It’s important that you noticed it because when the comics were written in the ‘50s and ‘60s, women didn’t really have a role in comics. They were supposed to look good, stay on the side. We’re all very proud that we were able to change completely… there was source material that was changed completely. It’s the way we approached everything, as far as where we are today. And we just love the fact that we had this opportunity to make Gwen a true partner. As a matter of fact, the tragedy of it is that these two should be together forever. The fact that she’s more intelligent than him — way more! — and more mature… to me, the moment where she says, “I’m breaking up with you,” It’s such a change in any time in Marvel’s history. It’s never happened before.”
Matt Tolmach: “You know who wrote that line? Emma Stone. True story… Now I’m going to get an angry call from the writers.”
Emma Stone: “My agent is like, ‘Where’s the writer credit?!'”
MT: “That was your instinct.”
AA: “These are the little victories of time, when you can take comics that were written so long ago and bring it to our world. Again, when you have someone like that, you better make it a two-person act.”
MT: “We spent a lot of time over the years working on Spider-Man movies, asking the question, “What’s happening with Peter Parker? Where’s Peter Parker? Where’s Peter Parker?” as they sort of follow the bouncing ball narratively. And it is really smart of you to pick up on that on sight, because, the truth is, she’s driving the story. She’s the one who’s making decisions, she’s going to England, she’s making choices. Peter is trying to keep it all together. That’s his struggle. Gwen is somebody with a real sense of who she is and what she wants. It’s not that that isn’t complicated, but it’s incredibly empowering in a character.”
AA: “To tell you how much it became a part of everybody’s life, there’s a great scene where he webs to the taxi cab, and you [Emma] go “Peter!” It was not in the script…”
MT: [Joking:] “We actually never had a script.”
AA: “…it was awesome and thankfully we shot it.”

Dane DeHaan and Jamie Foxx on the evolution of Harry Osborn from the comic books to James Franco in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy to The Amazing Spider-Man 2:

Dane DeHaan: “Harry Osborn is a character that’s been around for 50 years. There’s been many incarnations of him, whether it be in comic books or cartoons or movies, or whatever. The main difference now is that there’s never been a Harry Osborn of today. And there’s never been a Harry Osborn in today’s culture. So what I tried to do was look at who Harry has always been in the Spider-Man universe, but then find out where that fits into today’s culture. I think that there’s this whole kind of trust-fund baby, hipster culture today that hasn’t ever really existed in that way. To me, that was just the most natural fit for Harry. And I think that it’s only different because it’s a different time.”

Jamie Foxx: “That’s what’s interesting … I’m looking at a kid in a room who is seeing me for the first time as Electro. Doesn’t know anything — I think maybe they knew, maybe, about Django. It’s too young. It’s interesting how we will ask questions about the older Spider-Mans, but when you think about it, the kid that’s 12, 15, he probably wasn’t even around! Maybe he saw it on [TV]. I think that [we’re] able to get a fresh start, in a sense. I’m opening up to a whole different audience, as well as Dane. They’ll know Dane … We’ve got this thing on Twitter now called ‘the Dane Train.’ I was like, ‘Get on the Dane Train!’ There’s a difference, for me, looking at the perspective of James Franco and looking at [Dane]. Dane has this thing, this sort of like cool… like that line where you say, ‘Isn’t that the question of the day?’ That line in the movie — I had my hoodie on in the theater, seeing what people respond to, you see little girls [get excited] because there’s a certain fly coolness to it, the same with Andrew. There’s a certain… these guys jump outside of these characters and they’re on the red carpet like sex symbols, in a sense. People are looking at them completely different. I think that’s the difference, to me, in how the characters are being played. There’s a certain ‘today’ flyness to it.”

More Amazing Spider-Man 2 interviews: Read about Stone and Andrew Garfield bringing real-life romance to the screen, and the creation of the sets and villains in the film.

Follow @Michael ArbeiterFollow @Hollywood_com