J. Jonah Jameson, Mary Jane + more from the ASM 2 script that didn't make the movie

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Jul 15, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

When it comes to a film like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, many of us can't help but think about what might have been.

When the second installment of the Andrew Garfield-led Spider-Man reboot hit theaters earlier this year, it got quite a backlash from many fans and critics, and much of the criticism was leveled specifically at screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Whether you're talking about the often strained plot, the sometimes wooden characters, or the fact that the film felt like little more than a setup for spinoffs for much of its runtime, it seems Orci and Kurtzman were to blame. But did it have to be that way?

Films like Amazing Spider-Man 2 can often start life on the page in a very different form than the one they end up in onscreen, thanks to rewrites, script doctoring, studio tinkering and any number of other fun Hollywood things. Sometimes those script changes are improvements, but there's always the danger that shaving too much off of those early drafts can worsen the flick. So, did that happen with Amazing Spider-Man 2? Well, Devin Faraci of Badass Digest (who definitely didn't like the film when it was released) took a look back at one of Orci and Kurtzman's early drafts of the original screenplay, looking for differences that would have significantly impacted the final film had they been left in. Though Faraci said he found that "the film's problematical plot elements were always in place," he also discovered some things that may have improved the film if they'd made it to the screen.

For one thing, there's the issue of Spider-Man's second great love, Mary Jane Watson. For a while, we all expected to see her in the movie. Shailene Woodley was cast to play the role, and the character stayed in the movie for so long that we actually have images of Woodley working on set alongside Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, before she was cut from the film. In the script, according to Faraci, MJ is Peter's next door neighbor, the daughter of an abusive, alcoholic father (who apparently would've been confronted by Spidey at one point, and told to change his ways). She spends her days waitressing and "builds motorcycles in her spare time." She's also got a Spider-Man tattoo, and an apparent interest in Peter, who only has eyes for Gwen. In one of the script's final scenes, before Gwen is set to head off to college in the U.K., she meets MJ while trying to find Peter at his house, and when Mary Jane asks her for dating advice, Gwen says, "Date a nerd." It's a kind of passing of the torch, signifying that it'll be OK for Mary Jane to pursue Peter after Gwen's gone. I'm not sure how it would've worked onscreen, but I would've liked to see Mary Jane, if only for a little while, to flesh out Peter's world as a kid from Queens beyond his life with Aunt May.

Then there's the omission that, for some fans, will sting most of all. In the final film, Parker has a quick email exchange with J. Jonah Jameson, the editor of the Daily Bugle, over some photos of Spider-Man. It's a brief nod to fans of the hot-tempered newspaperman, but apparently in the original script Jameson was there in the flesh, with lines and everything. He would've have appeared in a scene in which Peter brings him his first Spidey photos in person, and then would've toured Peter around the Bugle offices while complaining that the Internet would be the death of newspapers. There was also originally a scene in which Electro and Spider-Man's first clash would've sent them through the Bugle offices and printing press. Alas, all we got in the end was that email.

So, what else showed up in this draft that didn't make it to the final film? Well, according to Faraci, we also missed out on a mother for Electro, Gwen's dying words, a different explanation for the Green Goblin armor, a one-year time jump and this continuity's first use of the phrase "with great power comes responsibility," among several other things. Faraci's breakdown is thorough and thoughtful, and the whole thing is well worth reading, particularly if you're curious about how this film evolved and why certain story choices might have been made. 

Would any of these elements have improved the film if they'd been allowed to stick around? It's hard to say, but some of these changes provide a very clear insight into where the plot priorities were during the making of this film.

(Via Badass Digest)