The Amazing Spider-Man movies didn’t last long. Now that Tom Holland has taken over the role, Garfield’s movies have largely wound up forgotten. The second (and last) movie in particular repeated the mistake of the third movie of the Rami trilogy by introducing too many villains with no time for any of them to develop. But if there is one aspect that shined through both of the movies, truly cementing this movie as amazing, that would have to be the romance between Peter and Gwen.
The Rami trilogy has many great things to look back upon but the romance between Peter and Mary Jane is not one of those things. Ignoring the fact that she’s in some sort of peril in every movie, outside of the third movie where she kind of starts to become her own person, her character is pretty much relegated to being a love interest for just about every male character. It also doesn’t help that the dialogue between Peter and MJ doesn’t lend its way to much chemistry. The goofy and awkwardness of these movies mostly were charming but this is not one of the times where that was the case.
Gwen Stacy was a lot more interesting. She was a science genius with a good sense of humor to match. In Peter’s endeavors as Spider-Man, she helped him in every way possible by coming up with scientific ways to take on the villains. She was capable of applying her wits in numerous perilous situations. Garfield and Stone’s chemistry made even the most awkward of dialogue flow brilliantly and made them nothing short of sweet and adorable. Even developing her own character in the final movie was done so much better than Mary Jane with her having big opportunities ahead of her and Peter willing to work around her schedule and encouraging her follow her dreams of going to Harvard rather than let their different paths destroy their relationship. In the old movies it took quite a while for Mary Jane to figure out Peter was Spider-Man and it didn’t allow for the romance to bloom because they were constantly going back and forth as to whether or not they wanted to be together. At the slightest sign of tension, Mary Jane was off dating someone else. The third movie showed promise but then Mary Jane stupidly complied with Harry’s request to dump him and it resulted their relationship going back to square one.
Because Peter and Gwen’s relationship was so likable, Gwen’s death hit a hard note. It not only nailed the tragedy of losing a loved one but also just how close Peter was to saving having a future with her but ultimately losing her in the process. It gives far more of a tragic and heartbreaking angle. In the original, had they killed the girlfriend off during the bridge scene the way they did in the comic then it wouldn’t have the same impact. This is because Mary Jane wouldn’t be interesting had Spider-Man been taken out of the picture. Gwen Stacy would be.
In many ways the Amazing Spider-Man movies are giant missed opportunities. But when it comes to this romance it hits all the right notes. Peter and Gwen are both two halves of one another not only as each other but also in being Spider-Man. Their romance is an important core of Peter’s “with great power comes great responsibility.” Even though he made a promise at the end of the first movie to her father leave Gwen out of his heroism, it’s easy to see how he can’t keep that promise because she is a big part of his crime fighting and someone he can fully share his life with because she knows his secret. Because of that we root for the two of them and it really prevents the movies from being forgettable.