Something I want to clarify right off the bat here, y'all: I love me some Emma Stone. In fact, the only famous lady on the planet who I love more than Emma Stone happens to be Mary Jane Watson—which is why you might be a little surprised that I am vehemently against the idea of Emma Stone playing Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man reboot. Like, aggressively, hell-bent against it, if I'm going to get #real here. Would Emma make a great Mary Jane? Of course. She is Emma freaking Stone, beautiful sass goddess extraordinaire. But just because she could doesn't mean that she should.
First, a bit of background on the MJ debacle. For those of you who aren't huge Spidey nerds masquerading as functional adults like I am, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker has been scrapped now that Marvel has rights to the character again, ushering in yet another Spider-Man reboot, due in 2017. It's been a tumultuous era for Spider-Man fans, particularly those who 'ship Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson like the true soul mates they are. We were expecting to see Shailene Woodley as MJ in the recent reboot, and it's no secret that her filmed scenes were cut from the movie (never not bitter forever, Marc Webb). In the end, we got no MJ, no Shailene, and a loose promise that she'd be in the third movie that was, of course, broken. The only hope we have left for her is in this upcoming re-reboot. (IDK what else to call this hot mess anymore, guys.)
You might be wondering why I'm so emotionally invested in this, and I'm gonna be upfront because I lost all semblance of shame somewhere around the time I started openly writing fan fiction in college lecture halls: I'm obsessed with MJ, and have researched her character and written insane, prolific fan fiction revolving around her. Of all the MJ authorities on Tumblr (i.e., the nerd kingdom) right now, I feel comfortable saying I am, at the very least, in the top five of them. We are fierce and aggressive and defend her to the end of the earth (or Earth-1610, whatevs).
So why shouldn't Emma Stone be cast as MJ after her successful run as Gwen Stacy? Well, first off, I already made a list of actresses I think would be great for Mary Jane, and I stand by it. But my personal opinions off the table, there are plenty of reasons why Emma Stone shouldn't be playing everybody's favorite party girl:
1. This next reboot is literally going to be made of babies
OK, I'm exaggerating, but Marvel has been very upfront about casting a young teenage Spider-Man (as opposed to the 29-year-old "teen" one that they cast last time). They're putting the age range around 15 or 16 years old. Now, Emma Stone is a gifted and versatile actress, but this is a bit of a stretch even for her.
2. There are a ton of gifted redheaded and non-redheaded actresses we could cast
Let's be real, a lot of this hype is because when you think "redhead" and "actress," Emma Stone is the first name that comes to mind. I mean, why wouldn't it be? She's extremely talented, relatable, and hilarious. But guys. She is also not the only actress in existence. We shouldn't get tunnel-visioned on someone who has already played a seriously iconic role in this franchise just because she normally has red hair.
3. Peter Parker's romantic partners are not interchangeable
Nay, women are not interchangeable. This has all kinds of unsettling implications if we let it happen. I know there was a ton of joke-talk (and not-so-joke talk) last year about Emma Stone playing Mary Jane in the same reboot she'd just played Gwen in—and guys, first off, YUCK.
Second off, these characters are so distinctly and wonderfully different. Like real human women, they deserve their chance to shine individually of each other. They may both be strong, independent ladies that Peter Parker happens to fall for, but their strength comes from inherently different places and experiences, and they have their own unique insecurities, quirks, and ways of expressing themselves. Representing them as the same person would, in its own way, erase those individualities. The implications of this go way beyond just these comic book characters, and into a very problematic and real issue of expectations to conform to certain behaviors and aesthetics that women deal with every day.
Enough comic book writers have already been guilty of writing these ladies so absurdly two-dimensionally that the literal only difference between them is their hairstyle and shirt color—let's not help them out by doing it all over again on the big screen.
4. This perpetuates the idea that one of his love interests is "better" than the other
I have a strong suspicion that a lot of people asking for Emma Stone to come back as MJ aren't asking for MJ. They're asking for Gwen, Part Two. I feel like this fandom has already done enough to try and pit these two characters against each other in the past few years (#TeamGwen and #TeamMJ, etc.), which is just silly. We shouldn't be pitting women against each other, fictional or nonfictional. Hell, these two are friends in the comics. Can't we just accept that neither of them is "better" than the other and let MJ be MJ the way we let Gwen be Gwen?
5. We'd be doing Gwen Stacy a disservice, too
Gwen had a heart-wrenching, iconic, beautiful run with Peter in the last movie. Their chemistry was visceral, their story tortured, and her death shattering. I know none of us wanted Gwen to die, but you have to admit that Marvel did an amazing job of it. We couldn't have asked for a better tribute to this character. Let's not dismiss it by cheaply trying to resurrect her as someone else.
6. Emma Stone's got better things to do, anyway
We just got the first glimpse of her next film with the trailer for Aloha, the Cameron Crowe flick where Emma plays opposite Bradley Cooper. She has three other big movies slated for release in the next two years, and she is probably way too busy being her fabulous self to come back to a franchise that she already committed a whole chunk of her professional and personal life to. Her star is big and bright, and for the time being it is shining in a decidedly different direction that blockbuster superhero movies.
I know, guys, I know. We all love her. But sometimes when you really, truly love something, you gotta learn to let it go.
Images: Getty images; Giphy (6)