Gwen Stacy was introduced in the Marvel comics in 1965, becoming Peter Parker’s first major love interest. She was killed during the events of “The Amazing Spider-Man” #121 in 1973 after she was thrown from a bridge by the Green Goblin. Spider-Man tried to rescue her by shooting a web strand, only for her neck to break from the whiplash. It was a controversial moment in comics history — recreated onscreen in 2014’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” where Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy suffers a similar fate.
And while Marvel has since brought the character back in numerous forms since that fateful 1973 issue, her death has somewhat overshadowed everything to do with Gwen Stacy ever since. This is pretty much why John Semper decided to steer clear of Gwen when it came time to produce his vision of Spider-Man’s universe. Speaking to Marvel Animation Age (via The World’s Finest), Semper said:
“I chose to go with Felicia Hardy instead of Gwen Stacy because all roads with Gwen lead to death, which we couldn’t really do on [a] Saturday morning [cartoon]. But Felicia in our series was really a completely new character. She wasn’t the Felicia of the comics at all. So I guess I can take some credit for ‘creating’ the version of her that we used.”
Much of the production of “Spider-Man: The Animated Series” seemed to be affected by outside interests. Toy sales controlled the first season, with its one-off storylines just excuses to introduce new villains. But more generally, Semper and his team were hampered by network censors and their requirements to keep children’s animation family-friendly. And so, Gwen, whose death looms large over her character, just wasn’t the right fit.