Please don’t read this until you’ve seen the movie. Consider that your spoiler warning.
I’ve been obsessed with the idea of seeing Gwen Stacy die on film ever since the first Sam Raimi cheated a little by very nearly Xeroxing the climactic battle that led to her death for his first Spider-Man film (with Mary Jane Watson very nearly getting offed). In fact, the ending of the movie, in which Peter refuses to enter into a relationship with Mary Jane, would have made more sense, logically and emotionally, if Gwen’s death had happened first. Frankly, it would have made the movie amazing. Peter is such a young superhero that it has always made sense that he would make mistakes, like treating his powers without respect, leading to his uncle’s death, or becoming so confident in his abilities that he forgets about physics, and so Gwen dies. Imagine, a mainstream superhero with emotional baggage. That would be awesome.
Which brings us to Amazing Spider-Man 2. I knew for sure Gwen would die within the first five minutes–it was hard to miss, actually, the foreshadowing was laid on rather thick; she might as well have read MLK’s prophetic speech, in which he all but predicted his own death. And I was okay with that. What was important was the conflict, that Peter was haunted by his promise to stay away from Gwen, but not enough to keep it in the end. It all felt very promising at first. But then they break up about 5 minutes later, and she disappears from the movie for a good chunk of the running time while the villains are created. What made the Raimi films so good was that they at least tried to make the conflict with the villains resonate in some way with Peter’s internal conflicts, rather than simply being obstacles. Osbourne saw more of himself in Peter than in his own son, and Peter was left with a choice to either join him, or choose to live as he was raised by his uncle Ben; he chose the latter. Dr. Octavias, an ostensibly good man, lost a lot of himself in his single-minded pursuit of his dream, much as Peter’s webslinging threatens to consume and destroy his happiness.