Due to the topic of The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and Mary Jane Watson, this article contains spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
“Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot.”
These immortal words of Mary Jane Watson have endured greater than any other line of comic book dialogue this side of “With great power…” A serendipitous creation of Stan Lee’s cornball enthusiasm for capturing the wild and hip baby boomer youth culture of the 1960s and John Romita Sr.’s ability to draw melodrama (and pretty girls) better than any other comic book artist in the business, MJ is arguably the most iconic love interest in the entire superhero form. Others may come, others may go, and others might even meet untimely falls off bridges (or clock towers), but at the end of the day, it appears that it will be Mary Jane Watson standing in Peter Parker’s doorway. She has always been standing in Peter’s doorway.
And after the events of this month’s movie, it’s probably time she saves his life again in The Amazing Spider-Man 3. There is only one hitch: who is Mary Jane?
As everyone and their aunt knows, Shailene Woodley was cast as the once and future love of the wall-crawler’s life, but then her scenes were cut from the finished film of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Now, director Marc Webb has more than hinted that we will probably never see those scenes. This might be partially due to the fact that they will want to rewrite an introduction proper to the famed redhead…and it might be due to the recasting of the role once again, now without Ms. Woodley’s services.
So, who else could play Mary Jane Watson? And can she bring the level of extroverted wild child zeal that has so far escaped previous incarnations of the character on the big screen? Well, we’re here to give our purely speculative guesses on nine actresses who could be the next Mary Jane Watson!
When in doubt, always bet on red. And at the moment, one of the most promising and talented actresses in Young Hollywood is an auburn haired beauty that is a near-doppelganger for Mark Bagley’s image of MJ from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book series. But more importantly, she is ever increasingly proving that she’s a fantastic actress. First making a splash on Suburgatory, ABC’s amusing family show about the hell that is Suburbia, USA, Levy showcases an instant charisma and wit that should come natural to any depiction of comic book Mary Jane’s nonchalant badassery.
Levy has also begun transitioning strongly to features when she, ironically, lived in a Sam Raimi franchise’s shadow and came out with far more fan support and praise than its big budget cousin. As Mia Allen in Evil Dead, Levy played both the hero and the demonically possessed villain for a gruesome, mean-spirited, and wholly groovy reinterpretation of a cult classic that already has its own following that wants to see Levy cross chainsaws with Bruce Campbell. She has since proven she can handle more earnest dramedy by appearing in the inevitable Millennial touchstone, About Alex, due out later this year. A talent on the rise, inescapably the question will become what superhero project will she join, and this one is in need of a charismatic redhead…
Brie Larson had a breakout year in 2013. Giving a knockout performance in Short Term 12 and enjoying a scene-stealing role as a 21st Century Silent Bob in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon, Larson is another actress that is at this point searching for the right mainstream vehicle. She almost had it when she was the runner-up choice for Sarah Connor in the upcoming Terminator reboot, and she was also rumored to be a contender for Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four remake. However, as an actress, she’s shown incredible range as either a young supervisor of troubled teens or actually playing one in films like The Spectacular Now and (on the other end of the spectrum) 21 Jump Street. Plus, she has fanboy cred for appearing as the villainous Envy in the cult classic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, whose whole female cast could make up half this list…
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Perhaps the closest realization to John Romita Sr.’s original vision for Mary Jane, Mary Elizabeth Winstead looks like the character stepped off the page when sporting the long red bangs. But more importantly, Winstead has come into her own in the past few years as an undeniable star on the indie circuit. She worked early in her career with filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino in Death Proof and flirted with franchise films like Live Free or Die Hard, but she truly proved to be a revelation of untapped talent in 2012’s hypnotically wrenching Smashed. Playing a young wife with a drinking problem, it is a multi-layered performance that mixes comedy and tragedy in equal measures. And her newest film Alex of Venice features another absorbing turn in her first fully adult role as a workaholic dealing with divorce.
Of course, some may say that she is too adult now to play a college age character, but at 29, she is still over a year younger than Andrew Garfield. And if rumors about Woodley appearing too young next to the British web-head are true, Winstead could more than compliment Garfield’s still youthful Spidey. Plus, she truly appears to be MJ come to life. This is of course assuming that Garfield sticks around for more than one movie after his contract ends in 2016…
Another actress that would likely compliment the wisecracking Garfield well is Alison Brie, aka the comedic secret weapon on Dan Harmon’s eternally underappreciated Community. As an actress who flips back and forth with great ease between playing overeager community college student Annie “Adderall” Edison, and long-seething housewife Trudy Campbell on Mad Men, Brie has a stunning range of talent that is only now being noticed for the big screen treatment in Hollywood. Whether it is as the demonically sweet voice of UniKitty in The Lego Movie or the plainly demonic publicist in Scream 4, Brie leaves an impression in every project she participates in and is only now looking for a star vehicle. However, like Winstead, this scene-stealing comedy ninja might work well with Garfield’s Spidey, but if Sony is looking to recast their Spider-Man in only a few years, she might just miss the red streaks.
Deborah Ann Woll
One television star that will definitely be free for a web-slinging spin after this summer is True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll. As the fiery ginger vampire with a particular sweet tooth for Bible thumping hypocrites on the steamy HBO blood-and-sex soap, Woll has played the perpetual teenager “baby vampire” since the show’s first season and has remained a fan favorite on the series for its entire run.
Created whole cloth by Alan Ball for the TV show (as opposed to its source material by Charlaine Harris), Woll faced some early skepticism but won over even the most ardent book purists with her down to earth appeal and infectiously endearing joy at being a newly minted member of the Undead. She could also bring that same kind of glee to a Peter Parker who will undoubtedly be morose and downtrodden following the ending of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Woll has the right kind of star potential to give this franchise another shot of adrenaline in the arm, and it’s a part that she could really sink her teeth into.
Still, if Marc Webb and Sony look to pull from a television actress on the potential rise, then they might seek out one they had previously considered. It is well known that not only did Dianna Agron try out for the role of Gwen Stacy in the first Amazing Spider-Man film, but that she was the rumored second choice of the project’s creative pool until they saw Emma Stone test with Andrew Garfield, whose chemistry with her is self-evident for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, Agron came very close to being the one taken for an unpleasant ride by the Green Goblin, and the former Glee star is still looking to transition to film after starring opposite Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in Luc Besson’s The Family. She’s already courted positive feedback from Sony once to play Gwen. Perhaps she can now land in the franchise’s web as Mary Jane?
Yet, if Sony is leaning closer toward an up-and-coming “It Girl” who is already breaking out, Margot Robbie more than may fit that bill. Cast as the jaw-dropping trophy wife to Leonardo DiCaprio’s repellant Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, the 23-year-old Australian actress left one hell of an impression on moviegoers. While the part was relatively small, she sold trashy Brooklyn royalty with an accent as authentic as the movie’s version of Naomi Belfort, a gold digger with serious career objectives.
Working with Martin Scorsese has done much for the starlet, who has gone overnight from roles on ABC’s defunct Pan Am and supporting work in About Time to seemingly being considered for every major blockbuster role in Hollywood. Having contended to appear as both the new Sarah Connor and the new Sue Storm, Robbie finally landed a franchise as Jane Porter in David Yates’ Tarzan. But one swinging love interest can turn into another, and few are more swinging in that groovy 1960s sense than the original comic book Mary Jane Watson.
If there is one young Hollywood actress who appears ready to cross over into superstardom, and has yet to sign onto a major summer blockbuster franchise, it’s everyone’s girl next door, Anna Kendrick. Ms. Kendrick has been knocking it out of the park one movie at a time following her breakout role in Up in the Air, which netted her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Since then, Kendrick has reliably stuck to the work, providing one impressive turn after another. Whether it be as the anxiously disorganized psychiatry rookie in 50/50 or the youthful tagalong caught in an awkward spot in Joe Swanberg’s largely (and impressively) improvised Drinking Buddies, Kendrick has always stood out.
And musical loving audiences discovered exactly that in her star-making role in Pitch Perfect. Playing a musical diva without the success to back up her condescension, it was a curiously unique take on romantic comedy protagonists, which are usually played more as Mary Sues. Thus, it could be imaginable that Kendrick is ready to play Mary Jane after already proving that she can more than bring the firecracker energy needed for the character, as well as the warmth she has displayed in many other movies. Then again, Kendrick already has her own starring franchise with Pitch Perfect 2 in the works for 2015. It may not be the time to sign on as the second love interest in someone else’s sequel.
And yet, at the end of the day, is it possible that this is all a long-winded workaround to Woodley reclaiming the role for a new introduction in 2016? After all, we do not know exactly what her contract is with Sony, but we can guess that it was for more than one picture. Also, it is currently unclear whether Woodley was cut due to rumored chemistry and age difference issues with Garfield, or if the studio spin about not fitting the movie’s narrative flow was the marketing’s honest truth. There is no denying that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 certainly had trouble finding a rhythm even in the final cut.
Still, whatever problems led to the deletion of Woodley’s appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it should be remembered that this occurred before a little movie called Divergent opened. Indeed, the YA adaptation proved doubters wrong when it earned a triumphant $54 million in its opening weekend and has grossed $250 million its worldwide cume so far. Given that YA sequels tend to do better than franchise starters, Summit and Lionsgate have definitely doubled down on Woodley’s star appeal by turning the third and final volume of the Divergent literary trilogy by Veronica Roth, Allegiant, into a two-part finale, much like Twilight and The Hunger Games. Further, the buzz on Woodley’s summer romance drama, The Fault in Our Stars, is strong with early screening reactions being nothing short of enthusiastic. Woodley already stands poised to be a movie star. Why sign that away now if she’s under contract?
So there are nine possible names and faces that could be the next Mary Jane. Whoever it is, hopefully she will get the chance to say the famous line. In the meantime, let us know what you think. Who do you want to play Mary Jane and why? Let us know in the comment section below!