Nothing says Spider-Man lore quite like Peter Parker, but what role does Gwen Stacy play in his adventures as Marvel’s favourite web-slinger?
Marvel Comics is notorious for its multiple characters who serve the same purpose. The late great Stan Lee used to say Spider-Man was one of his favourite creations. So, it’s not surprising that Spider-Man gained himself allies. One of those allies is Gwen Stacy.
Gwen has appeared in various mediums over the years. She has gone from strength to strength over time though she once got killed off. Starting out as a supporting character of Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, Gwen has gained her own fan following. Her most famous persona is Spider-Gwen, a female Spider-Man.
Note: The information in this article comes from sources on Gwendolyne Stacy. This article does not include Gwen’s role in video games.
FULL NAME: Gwendolyne Maxine Stacy
COMIC BOOK FRANCHISE: Marvel
CREATOR(S): Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (original character),
FIRST APPEARANCE: The Amazing Spider-Man #31 (December 1965)
Samantha Wilson/Captain America
Ability to cling to most surfaces
Use of inter dimensional travel
Uses web-shooters to shoot strong spider-web strings from wrists
George Stacy (father)
BIOGRAPHY – The Amazing Spider-Man Story Arc
Gwen Stacy met Spider-Man’s civilian persona, Peter Parker while studying at Empire State University. To make Parker jealous, she dated Flash Thompson and Harry Osborn. Gwen dated Peter after his breakup with Mary Jane Watson.
Gwen was also the daughter of New York Police Captain George Stacy. When she and Peter dated, Captain Stacy was supportive of his daughter’s relationship. However, Gwen’s relationship with Peter strains when George is killed by falling debris. Gwen blames Spider-Man for her dad’s death and left to deal with the pain.
Gwen’s demise came when the Green Goblin kidnapped her. He murdered her by taking her to the George Washington Bridge and throwing her off. This occurred in The Amazing Spider-Man issue #121 and deemed controversial by fans. However, Gwen’s murder served as a crucial part for the Silver Age. Before her death, Superheroes always saved civilians.
PAST APPEARANCES IN LIVE-ACTION FILMS
Gwen has appeared in live-action films, but only as a civilian character and never as her heroic alter-ego. In 2007’s Spider-Man 3, Gwen was played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Stacy was Peter’s lab partner and friend. They were never romantic in this version of the story. Her love interest in this film was Eddie Brock who became the villain, Venom.
After the cancellation of Spider-Man 4, the story became The Amazing Spider-Man. In the film and its sequel, Gwen is played by Emma Stone. Late in the first film, Gwen’s father, George Stacy is killed during an altercation with Lizard. During the second film, Gwen dies during Spider-Man’s fight with a deranged Harry Osborn. She falls from a clock tower, almost mirroring her death in the early comics. A mournful Peter hangs up his cowl until he goes up against Rhino.
RECENT APPEARANCES – ANIMATED
Gwen’s first animated appearance came in the series Ultimate Spider-Man in the show’s fourth season. The female web-slinger comes into play when Miles Morales suddenly vanishes. Voiced by Disney Channel star Dove Cameron, Gwen teams up with May Parker, becoming Spider-Woman. In this series, Gwen doesn’t have powers like her comic book counterpart.
In 2017’s Spider-Man, Laura Bailey takes on the role of Spider-Gwen. During the Spider Island story arc, Gwen receives her powers after she gets exposed to her uncle The Jackal’s chemicals.
2018 was a big year for the character on the small screen. Once again voiced by Dove Cameron, Gwen played a major role in the first part of the Marvel Rising franchise. Marvel Rising highlights the adventures of under-used female heroes. One of those was Gwen. In Marvel Rising: Initiation, Gwen is Ghost-Spider, a hunted vigilante blamed for the death of her Inhuman best friend, Kevin. She later receives information from S.H.I.E.L.D agent Daisy Johnson.
On the big screen, Spider-Woman made her first big-screen appearance voiced by Hailee Steinfeld in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In the film, Gwen serves as her dimension’s Spider hero. After saving her father, but not being able to save her friend, Peter Parker, Gwen gives up on friendship. Her costume appears similar to her comicbook counterpart, however, her civilian appearance has an eyebrow piercing and has one side of her blonde hair shaved.
Other than Spider-Gwen and Spider-Woman, Gwen has used other aliases during her time as a hero. Here’s a look at a few of the other aliases she’s used.
Gwenom was created by Dr. Elsa Brock (a gender bent version of Eddie Brock) when the scientist created a Venom symbiote to help cure Harry Osborn who’d become Lizard. However, Gwen had to give up her powers and was forced to inject Harry with the serum. The symbiote attached itself to Wolverine before attaching to Gwen and forming Gwenom.
Gwen had no control over her newfound ability at first. After discovering her dad got beaten up prison by Rhino, she learns how to control the beast.
In the Marvel: Rising franchise, no one knows Gwen has powers. The police and the media calls her Ghost-Spider. While Gwen embraces this name, the media think she’s a killer when her best friend is murdered and she finds the body. She spends much of the time trying to evade other heroes until she’s uncovered by Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl.
Gwen learns Daisy Johnson knows who she is after seeing her flinch around her dad, Captain George Stacy who wants her arrested for Kevin’s death.
A mashup of Gwen Stacy and Deadpool, Gwenpool is Gwen Poole, a mercenary like Deadpool, but shares her appearance with Gwen Stacy. Her suit mirrors Gwen’s civilian appearance.
As Spider-Woman, Gwen Stacy has become a favourite among fans and reviews. ComicsAlliance writer, Andrew Wheeler felt the character should remain dead and buried. However, after seeing what she would look as Spider-Woman, he wanted her back within Spider-Man lore.
Bill Rosemann, the creative director of Marvel Games states that Gwen Stacy was one of the greatest modern superhero designs.
IGN writer Jesse Schedeen wrote while reviewing the first issue of the Super-Gwen comic series that Gwen Stacy wasn’t the female version of Peter Parker. He also stated she wasn’t like other female Spider characters, Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, Mayday Parker or Anya Corazon. Schedeen added that Stacy had her own brand of humor.
Comic Book Resources writer, Doug Zawisza says Gwen may be a conflicted character, but she is humourous and determined. He also adds Gwen comes across as a normal human being with human, family, and superhero problems.
Moreover, the character has gained attention to a different feminist perspective. The Daily Dot’s Aja Romano praised the fresh take on the Gwen Stacy character and compared it to the original character saying her revival was a godsend and sends a message that female characters shouldn’t be killed off at the expense of the male characters.
Over the years, Gwen has been in both live-action and animated form, played by various actressses. Here’s a final debrief on those who have played the character.
Dove Cameron – Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six and Marvel Rising
Disney Channel star Dove Cameron has provided the voice of Gwen on two separate occasions. The first was in Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six during a storyline where Mile Morales goes missing.
The second is in the character’s most recent appearance on television in Marvel: Rising. Gwen goes under the moniker Ghost-Spider and gets framed for the murder of her Inhuman best friend.
FUN FACT: Dove Cameron was cast in a guest role on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D during the show’s fifth season. Fans speculated who she was playing. Some suggested she was playing Gwen Stacy as she and the character are both blonde. However, when the episodes aired, it was revealed she was playing Ruby Hale, a top student, and an agent of H.Y.D.R.A.
Laura Bailey – Spider-Man animated series
Gwen Stacy appears in the 2017 animated series, Spider-Man under the guise of Spider-Gwen voiced by voice actress Laura Bailey. In this version, Gwen doesn’t wear a mask to hide who she is as a hero. She was exposed to her evil uncle’s chemicals.
Hailee Steinfeld – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Dove Cameron’s Barely Legal co-star, Hailee Steinfield provides the voice of Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman in the animated box office hit, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
In the film, Gwen has been a hero for two years. She denounces friendships after she being unable to save her friend, Peter Parker from becoming The Lizard.
She poses as a student at Miles’s school and witnesses Miles’s Spidey Senses. After an incident occurs with Morales’s powers, which causes the right side of her head to get shaved in the process.
Bryce Dallas Howard – Spider-Man 3
In 2006, Bryce Dallas Howard secured the role of Gwen Stacy. At the time, she had no idea the character was a superhero. A natural redhead, Howard died her hair blonde instead of wearing a wig.
The film depicts Stacy as a close friend of Peter Parker’s along with his lab partner. This film does not have Gwen has a love interest to Parker, but does have her as the love interest of Eddie Brock who becomes the villain Venom.
#1: Howard did some of her own stunts in the film, but found out she was pregnant with her first child.
#2: During promotion for the home release of Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom, Howard was told that her Spider-Man 3 character was actually a superhero, something she found cool.
#3: If Spider-Man 4 had gotten made, Gwen would have been killed off in a similar fashion to her original comic depiction.
Emma Stone – The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel
In 2012, Emma Stone portrayed college student, Gwen Stacy opposite Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker. In the first film, she ends up dating Peter with her dad discovering Parker’s super identity. Unfortunately, the final battle resulted in Captain Stacy’s death.
During the climax of the second film, Gwen is kidnapped by a deranged Harry Osborn and falls to her death from a clock tower. Gwen’s death prompts Peter to give up his Spider-Man alter ego until he remembers her graduation speech. He realises Gwen would want him to continue fighting for justice.
Let’s say, Gwen’s death mirrors her early comicbook counterpart in The Amazing Spider-Man comic series. Therefore, if a third film had been made, Peter would have had to deal with Gwen’s death.
What do you all think of Gwen Stacy as a character? Be sure to comment below!