The-Amazing-Spider-Man-PosterVery early on in the casting of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it was announced that Shailene Woodley was set to star as the iconic Mary Jane Watson, made famous on the big screen by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi’s original trilogy.

At the time, it wasn’t clear how involved the character would be with the film. But, given that Emma Stone was set to be the female lead once more, we had a feeling that MJ’s role wouldn’t be substantial in the first sequel, and that it would be developed further down the line.

Following the news this week that Sony have announced release dates for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4, word now arises that Marc Webb has decided to leave Mary Jane Watson out of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and is expected to introduce her in The Amazing Spider-Man 3.

Speaking in the latest issue of EW, via Collider, Woodley says,

“Of course I’m bummed. But I am a firm believer in everything happening for a specific reason… Based on the proposed plot, I completely understand the need for holding off on introducing [Mary Jane] until the next film.”

And Webb confirmed the news last night, via THR, explaining.

“I made a creative decision to streamline the story and focus on Peter and Gwen and their relationship,” said Webb. “Shailene is an incredibly talented actress, and while we only shot a few scenes with Mary Jane, we all love working with her.”

Though nothing is set in stone, it’s likely that Woodley won’t be returning for the third film, and that the role will be recast.

Andrew Garfield is of course returning as leading man Peter Parker / Spider-Man, and he and Stone will be joined by a fantastic cast, led by Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti, Felicity Jones, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Chris Cooper, Brian Haley, Colm Feore, and B.J. Novak.

Webb is directing from a script co-written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Transformers) and Jeff Pinkner (Fringe, Lost), based on a previous draft by James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man). And with Woodley’s role now streamlined out of the sequel, it could well be that another writer’s credit will emerge in due course.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set to be released in 3D on May 2nd, 2014, and will be followed by two further sequels in Summers 2016 and 2018.