Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is almost 100 days into production, which means they are deep, deep, deep into shooting. Then this week a couple of big things happened: Sony announced release dates for Amazing Spider-Mans 3 and 4, Shailene Woodley's Mary Jane Watson was cut from Amazing 2, and rumors began to swirl that the role was being recast in general, with actress Sarah Gadon being tipped as the new MJ.
These are major changes for a film three months into production. What the heck is going on over at Amazing Spider-Man 2? Is this the sign of a disaster, or is it a movie series finding its footing and readjusting on the fly?
Webb had previously said that he envisioned his Spidey films as a trilogy, with a specific arc. I can tell you that multiple sources have told me that Amazing Spider-Man 2 was building to an introduction of the Sinister Six, with that villain group being the focus of 3. But now with the changes happening, could that all be out the window? Might the Sinister Six have been pushed back to the next movie or beyond? Might Amazing Spider-Man 2 focus more closely on Electro and the Rhino and the introduction of the Green Goblin?
It seems clear that the reshuffling of 2 is a result of Sony committing to a quadrilogy of movies. Suddenly there are two more hours to tell whatever story Webb wanted to tell, and that means he has to stuff less into this first sequel. That feels positive, and the fact that MJ can be cut completely from the film - even after Woodley shot a bunch of scenes - shows that her character was probably a little extraneous. That Sony committed to four films also shows that they're very gung ho on what Webb has been doing, which I believe is correcting a lot of the mistakes made in The Amazing Spider-Man.
As for Woodley - maybe this is for the best. She's clearly one of the most talented actresses at her level, and it's better for her to be taking real roles in movies like The Descendants and Spectacular Now (where she KILLS) than slogging around in too many blockbusters. She's already the lead in a YA adaptation, Divergent, which will give her needed commercial juice. The online reaction to Woodley has been, frankly, horrifying, with many male comic book assholes complaining she wasn't pretty enough - which is simply patently untrue, as anyone who has seen her work knows (and it seems pretty likely that the sort of basement-dweller who complains about the looks of actresses doesn't bother to see smart indie movies).
It's kind of sad that we're at a point where I'm relieved that a talented young actress is being spared the attention of my own nerd community. When are we going to get our shit together?
I'm looking at all of these changes as positive. The creative part of making a movie doesn't end with the script and the storyboards; films often take shape during shooting and editing .That Webb is rolling with new ideas and changes makes me hope these are all good new idead and changes. Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm opting to be optimistic.