The Spider-Man franchise appears to have a type for Peter Parker's leading lady. From Kirsten Dunst to Emma Stone and Shailene Woodley, the role opposite Spider-Man has been a sign that an actress is on the verge of making it. These actresses are also the kind who tend to favor dramas, comedies--anything but action fare. In the early-aughts franchise, Kirsten Dunst played Mary Jane. Before that role, her work spanned fare ranging from Interview with a Vampire to teen comedies like Bring It On to indie flicks like The Virgin Suicides. But she had never had an action role before--or since. Bryce Dallas Howard joined the franchise in its third installment, with a similar smattering of credits. She did one more action movie, Terminator Salavation, but is more known for roles in The Village and The Help. The relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012
introduced as Gwen Stacy actress Emma Stone, who had a similar background to Dunst. Stone had done teen comedies, like Easy A and The House Bunny, critical favorite The Help, and Zombieland. She was just a little light on the indies.
Now casting is underway for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and it appears the spot of Mary Jane is going to yet another young actress with plenty of momentum: Shailene Woodley, who has charmed teens and their parents in "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" (because TV is the new film anyway) and snapped up some indie roles in The Descendants and recent Sundance selection The Spectacular Now. It's safe to say Woodley is on her way to being a big star.
Apparently The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is breaking with form, however, because not only will Woodley and Stone (probably on her way out) appear in the sequel, there's a third role for a female. The latest news is that Felicity Jones (indie actress of Like Crazy) will join the cast, with Paul Giamatti also in talks to join as a villain, Rhino. Jones, Stone, and Woodley make quite the trifecta of actresses. However, the fact that the deals haven't been finalized yet may be cause for doubt.
Variety also reports today that people have the right to be suspicious of preliminary casting announcements. In this day and age, studio execs pay attention to the reaction in social media to potential casting announcements. A chorus of "yay" or "nay" may be enough to clinch one casting, while making another one fall through. Looking through tweets reporting the announcement, I didn't see any polarized reactions. I expect something like the trailer--long after casting has finished--is more likely to elicit a tweet from a fan proclaiming that a person is completely right or wrong for a role. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set to release next May, and hopefully Jones' role won't remain a secret until then.