This post contains major spoilers about "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."
Marc Webb did the unthinkable at the end of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2": He broke up one of the best onscreen couples in a decade, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, with the permanence of a character death.
As had long been expected, anticipated and rumored, Stone's Gwen Stacy dies in Webb's blockbuster sequel, fulfilling the character's destiny from the Spider-Man comic books. That leaves Garfield's Spider-Man in a state of mourning as the film hurdles toward its closing credits, and puts the franchise itself on a shaky emotional ground as it heads to the forthcoming third installment.
"That's exactly the problem that Peter Parker has, which is a good place to be: How do you go on? How the fuck do you go on after that?" Webb told HuffPost Entertainment about the decision to kill Gwen. "It's a big question, and it's a question that we're going to have to hit on the head."
Webb's right about that one. Even detractors of what he has done with the friendly neighborhood web-slinger have found the on-screen chemistry between Stone and Garfield (an off-screen couple) to be the franchise's high point thus far. Not having that to fall back on will change the dynamic of "The Amazing Spider-Man 3" in fundamental ways.
"In a weird, terrifying and ironic way, Andrew, Emma and I were on a path of discovery in the first movie. Then in this movie, we were having fun, but there was also a gravity to it," Webb said about the development that occurred between films. "In the next movie, we're not going to be able to rely on the things that we have relied on in these last two movies. We're going to have to ask the question: Can Peter Parker love again?"
Well, probably. Shailene Woodley was initially cast as Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man's other famous love interest, in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," but her scenes were excised because Webb wanted to focus the sequel on Peter and Gwen's relationship. "It was just a little like hint," Webb told ScreenCrush about the lost Mary Jane role.
While it's doubtful that Woodley will play Mary Jane in part three -- "'Divergent' is a massive hit and I think it's going to be tricky for schedules," Webb said to Movies.com about trying to wrangle the burgeoning A-list actress for the next film -- the character will likely appear in some capacity.
"There are broad strokes of the story that we have worked out from beforehand," Webb said of what to expect from the third film. "We're teasing the Sinister Six, too. But we haven't figured out how all those things are going to overlap and interact. It's still in the developmental phase."
Fortunately, Webb has some time: "The Amazing Spider-Man 3" isn't due out in theaters until June 10, 2016.