Over the weekend, word spread like wildfire that Emma Stone, star of Easy A, Zombieland, and Superbad, will be offered the part of of Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming reboot of Spider-Man. No word yet on whether or not the actress will accept the part, but it does seem like a role that she couldn't possibly be able to turn down.
Which is quite unfortunate for fans of the comic book series.
Years ago, when Kirsten Dunst was casted in the part, fans were forced to accept the drastic changes Sony opted to make with the Spider-Man universe. The company looked to The Ultimate Spider-Man series, a reboot of the original comic run, for inspiration. Those books pitted Parker in high school and introduced him to a much younger MJ than in the originals.
Sony has claimed that this reboot will be a retelling of the original origin, but will take place in high school much like the Toby Maguire. Andrew Garfield, who's 27 years old, has been cast as Peter Parker, and with Emma Stone, 22, will certainly look a little out of place as young high schoolers (though Stone has starred in her fair share of high school comedies). While both Garfield and Stone look the part, neither of them are ideal casting decisions.
Sony appears to be casting these lead roles with actors who may look the part, but don't actually fit the role. It all began with the casting of Garfield, who has played a wide variety of parts, none of which were a dorky high school kid. His first memorable role was that in Lions for Lambs, as a young college student opposite Robert Redford, who was too smart for his own good. Garfield was most recently seen in The Social Network, where he played college student Eduardo Saverin. While Garfield is more than a qualified actor, and actually makes for a good Peter Parker, he doesn't fit the part if Sony is looking to send the geeky superhero back to high school.
And then we have Emma Stone. While Stone can play off the high school student well, as she has so many times before, she will be a major disappointment for many Spider-Man fans long hoping that MJ gets the screen treatment she deserves. Stone certainly looks the part, but this is one of those cases where looking the part and being right for the part are two different things (here's looking at you, Colin Farrell, in your Bullseye getup). Many times, specifically with comic book adaptations, studios worry so much over casting the right looking actor or actress that they simply forget about making sure that the performer can actually represent the role outside of appearances.
Two years ago, Malin Akerman was the spitting image of Silk Spectre II from the genius Watchmen comic/movie adaptation. As soon as pictures of her in the costume appeared online, fans were satisfied with the casting decision and felt she was perfect for the role. That is, until the film hit theaters, and fans were able to see Akerman's actual performance. While she may have looked the part, she brought so little to the role that the casting felt forced and was just one of many complaints fans had regarding the adaptation.
Stone's casting certainly looks the part, there's absolutely no question about that whatsoever. But the actress is all wrong for the role. Stone has a great talent at finding the subtle and offbeat humor with the roles that she's had thus far, but MJ has always been written as a confident, strong woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. It's one of the reasons why Kirsten Dunst was one of the most inspired casting choices of all time (well, of all comic book movies anyway).
The natural blonde certainly didn't fit the role of MJ, but her confidence and aggressive characteristics brought the character to life. Director Sam Raimi saw something in her screen testings and found creative and unique ways to bring that out during her performances, which certainly counts for something. With Dunst, fans were given a fresh, new version of MJ that, while not specifically tied to the comic book version, certainly worked on screen. Stone lacks the edge that the character requires.
Emma Stone is about to be faced with one of the biggest roles she could possibly imagine. The bad taste that is Spider-Man 3 can still be found in the mouths of comic book fans the world over, and a redux of the incredibly popular franchise can only mean good things for all those involved. And Stone would be halfway nuts for turning it down. But then again, she'd certainly score big with Spidey fans if she walked away, keeping Parker's leading lady open for someone who does more than just look the part.
If Hollywood is listening, take a strong look at Christina Hendricks, She looks the part, and anyone who's watched an episode of Mad Men knows that she fits the role to a T.
Written by Matt Wehner on GotchaMovies.com