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Alternate Versions Of Gwen Stacy Ranked By Coolness

For a character once mostly known as Spider-Man's dead girlfriend, Gwen Stacy has since enjoyed a very rich life within Marvel's multiverse. Thanks to the existence of parallel worlds, Gwen continues to thrive on Earths where she gets to be more than Spider-Man's girlfriend — or anyone's girlfriend, period. From a brilliant scientist to a god's bodyguard to a spider-themed superhero, Gwen Stacy is living proof that in the multiverse, you can be anyone or anything. And while some of these Gwen variants may not get to live their best lives, their struggles regularly call into question who Gwen Stacy really is and who she wants to be.

Let's take a joyride through these many worlds to glimpse all the Gwens that might have been — and continue to be. The Green Goblin may have killed one Gwen Stacy, but others continually redefine what it means to be the ultimate cool version of yourself.

13. The Gwen Clones

"The Night Gwen Stacy Died," which ran from "The Amazing Spider-Man" #121-122, may be considered a classic Spider-Man story arc today, but back when it debuted in 1973, a lot of fans hated the story, with one disgruntled reader calling Marvel "a pack of soulless, mercenary sadists" (Marvel Comics).

Writer Gerry Conway attempted to appease fans by scripting a follow-up story in "The Amazing Spider-Man" #142 where Gwen Stacy "returned," only to be revealed as a clone created by Peter Parker's biology professor Miles Warren (aka "The Jackal"). Turns out, Warren had a sick obsession with Gwen and was obsessed with resurrecting her, even if he had to grow a new Gwen from scratch. In the end, "Clone Gwen" walked out of Peter's life a second time, only to reappear years later married to a clone of Miles Warren.

To make matters worse, the Jackal continued making clones of Gwen Stacy who disintegrated shortly after their birth from "clone degeneration" disease. The fact that these Gwens were made solely for the twisted pleasure of an unhinged geneticist just made the whole scenario disturbingly creepy.

12. Gwen of the Raimiverse

Gwen Stacy made her live action film debut in "Spider-Man 3," the final installment in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (which may be getting some new entries if rumors about Tobey Maguire's return to his original saga turn out to be true). Played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Gwen was a brilliant student in Peter Parker's class, a part-time model, and the sort-of girlfriend to Eddie Brock Jr. (Topher Grace) who would go on to become this film universe's Venom.

Honestly, there was nothing particularly bad about Howard's performance — she just wasn't given much to do beyond falling off a building so Spider-Man could save her and later getting shoehorned into a love triangle between Peter and Mary Jane (Kristen Dunst). Peter dated her briefly while under the influence of the Venom symbiote, but his crude behavior and jazz dance number ended up turning her off, and she left him (although not before showing some class by apologizing to Mary Jane). For a character so important to the Spider-Man comic book mythos, this Gwen Stacy just felt forced into the story.

11. Gwenpool

This alternate Gwen is a bit unique since she's not really Gwen Stacy at all! Gwendolyn Poole was a normal Marvel comic book fangirl until an accident transported her into the Marvel Universe. Thanks to her genre savvy and Marvel Comics knowledge, Gwen (or "Gwenpool" as she came to call herself) decided to become a mercenary for hire, feeling she wasn't really doing anything wrong by killing fictional beings. Even so, she began to form genuine friendships with minor characters, allowing her to grow into a fully formed unique character of her own ...

Except that's not how she really started. See, back in 2015, Marvel came out with a bunch of variant comic book covers featuring mashups of popular characters with Gwen Stacy. These "Gwen variants" included a Gwen who could fire optic blasts like Cyclops, a Black Widow Gwen Stacy ... and a Gwen in a Deadpool-inspired costume. This "Gwenpool" became so popular that Marvel decided to spin her off into her own comic, leading to the birth of "Gwendolyn Poole." So, Gwenpool really does owe her existence to Gwen Stacy ... just not in the traditional sense.

10. Marvel Adventures' Gwen Stacy

Paul Tobin's "Marvel Adventures Spider-Man" offered an alternate take on the traditional Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy relationship by revealing a universe where Gwen never dated Peter ... although she thought she did.

In this universe, Peter was dating Sophia "Chat" Sanduval, a young mutant who was best friends with a teenage Emma Frost (aka the telepathic villain the White Queen). When Emma started to develop her own crush on Peter, she tried to split Chat and Peter up in "Marvel Adventures Spider-Man" #58 by brainwashing Gwen Stacy into believing she was Peter's girlfriend. The telepathic spell eventually wore off, leaving Gwen with the sad belief that her relationship with Peter was over, even though it technically never happened.

To Gwen's credit, she made multiple efforts to get on with her life. She made friends with Peter and Chat and began dating a new boy at school — who turned out to be the grandson of a crime boss. She also pursued a career as a reporter by writing about Spider-Man, but this plot thread never really gained traction, and Gwen became a strangely sidelined character in a Spider-Man comic.

9. '90s Animated Gwen Stacy

The early Spider-Man animated cartoons largely ignored Gwen Stacy in favor of Mary Jane Watson. This included the popular "Spider-Man" animated series from the 1990s where Peter dated and eventually married MJ (although later on it turned out he'd actually married a clone of Mary Jane birthed from Hydro Man's cells who spontaneously evaporated and ... yeah, things got pretty complicated).

In the "Spider-Man" Season 5 finale, "Farewell, Spider-Man," Peter traveled to a parallel universe where his alternate self was a wealthy Tony Stark-level industrialist — and engaged to none other than Gwen Stacy. Peter was stunned since he'd never met Gwen in his home universe but tried to play along. Gwen proved to be quite perceptive, though, and realized who the new Spider-Man really was.

Despite her limited screen time, this Gwen Stacy (voiced by Mary Kay Bergman) showed a lot of spirit. She freed Peter after he was bound and gagged by a corrupt "Spider-Carnage" version of himself, and later blasted Spider-Carnage with a sonic gun to protect a crowd of civilians. It would have been nice to get to know this Gwen better — but sadly, Spidey left her universe right before the entire animated series ended.

8. Marvel's Spider-Man Animated's Gwen Stacy

Disney's "Marvel's Spider-Man" animated series emphasized Gwen's (Laura Bailey) strong science background, introducing her as a classmate of Peter Parker's at Horizon High where she worked with other science geniuses like Miles Morales (Nadji Jeter) and Anya Corazon (Melanie Minichino). Aspects of Gwen's comic book background were tweaked into this series — including a disturbing one where her uncle turned out to be Professor Raymond Warren (John Dimaggio), this universe's version of the Jackal. Considering the original comic book Jackal had an unhealthy fixation on Gwen, their relationship was uncomfortable to say the least.

Gwen eventually developed spider-powers of her own in Season 1's "Spider-Island" storyline and fought alongside Spider-Man as both Spider-Gwen and Ghost-Spider. Interestingly, while she was friends with Peter Parker (Robbie Daymond), their relationship wasn't anywhere near as close or as romantic as most classic depictions. Instead, her closest relationship was with Anya, who became the superhero Spider-Girl in the animated series and the comics.

7. Ultimate Spider-Man Animated's Gwen Stacy

Disney's "Ultimate Spider-Man" animated series contained multiple story arcs where Peter Parker (Drake Bell) traveled to alternate universes and met up with different versions of Spider-Man, including Miles Morales (Donald Glover) who spent time living in Peter's home universe. Later, Peter and Miles traveled back to Miles' home universe in "Return to the Spider-Verse Part 4." only to find a different spider-hero had been fighting crime in his absence — the mysterious Spider-Woman (Dove Cameron), who turned out to be this universe's Gwen Stacy.

Seems this Gwen was friends with the Peter Parker of her universe and decided to become her own spider-themed hero after her Peter was killed in action. And she has help — Peter's Aunt May is now an active part of her crimefighting team, secretly monitoring Gwen's activities and providing her with key information about her opponents like Old Bruce Wayne in "Batman Beyond."

What's cool about this Spider-Woman is that she's an entirely self-made hero. Instead of actual spider powers, Gwen replicates Spider-Man's abilities using digital sensors to simulate a spider-sense, magnetic grips in her gloves and boots to let her wall-crawl, and even copies of Spider-Man's original web shooters. While she's still learning the ropes, she proves to be an effective hero, and Miles decides to turn over his crimefighting responsibilities to her when he immigrates permanently to Peter's universe.

6. Age of Apocalypse's Gwen Stacy

One of the most unique alternate versions of Gwen Stacy was introduced in 1995's "X-Universe" #1 by Scott Lobdell and Carlos Pacheco. Born in an alternate dimension where Charles Xavier never founded the X-Men and the genocidal mutant Apocalypse had laid waste to the world, this Gwen Stacy became a hardened fighter who fought alongside Doctor Donald Blake (who never became Thor in this universe), Tony Stark, Sue Storm, and Ben Grimm.

Where other versions of Gwen often became victims of criminals and supervillains, this Gwen could hold her own against many of the super-powered threats in her world, despite having no powers of her own. She blew away a version of the killer Marauders (including Norman Osborn) and held her own against the Hulk of her universe. At one point, she even made it to the mainstream Marvel Universe in "X-Man" #37 where she appeared before Spider-Man, who was shocked to see his old girlfriend alive — and holding a really big gun.

5. Classic Gwen Stacy

Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and John Romita Sr.'s depiction of Gwen Stacy laid the groundwork for all the Gwen variants that came after, but the original Gwen came with more than a few problems. Gerry Conway believed Gwen was too perfect — an unattainably smart and beautiful woman that Peter Parker could never hope to date (Screen Rant).

Gwen herself came off as cold in her first appearance in "The Amazing Spider-Man" #31, feeling Peter was a stuck-up snob when he was actually worrying about his Aunt May. Eventually she warmed up to him, but the two didn't start dating until much later.

Most problematic, Gwen hated Spider-Man and blamed him for her father's death after he was killed during a fight between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus in "The Amazing Spider-Man" #88. Peter himself never came clean with her, and she died never knowing her boyfriend was also the superhero she despised. This didn't paint their relationship in the healthiest light, and for years Gwen remained a tragic symbol of the people Peter hurt thanks to his double life.

Writers added new details to Gwen's backstory after her death, with J. Michael Straczynski penning the despised (and later retconned) "Sins Past" storyline where Gwen slept with Norman Osborn and became pregnant with his twins (per Bounding Into Comics). Christos N. Gage and Todd Nauck also created a "Gwen Stacy" limited series that showed a high school-aged Gwen running an investigation to clear her father of corruption allegations. These stories help flesh out her character, but it's too bad they came after she died. 

4. Ultimate Universe's Gwen Stacy

Marvel's original "Ultimate Spider-Man" comic book from the early 2000s reimagined Peter Parker's supporting cast in new and exciting ways. One of the coolest reimagined characters was Gwen Stacy, who appeared in "Ultimate Spider-Man" #14 as a smart-mouthed "bad girl" who favored dark tank tops and leather jackets.

This Gwen Stacy wasn't afraid to pull a knife on a school bully in "Ultimate Spider-Man" #15 when she saw him picking on Peter Parker, which created some friction with her police captain father. However, Gwen got to show her vulnerable side too when her dad was killed in action and she ended up living with the Parkers, becoming more of a sister-like figure to Peter.

While Gwen managed to escape her death at the hands of the Green Goblin, she still "died" at one point when she was absorbed by the Carnage symbiote in "Ultimate Spider-Man" #62. Later, the symbiote went through another evolution in "Ultimate Spider-Man" #98 and transformed into an identical duplicate of Gwen, effectively resurrecting her. Sadly, Peter died in the Ultimate Universe (he later got better), and Gwen became something of a surrogate daughter to Aunt May.

3. Amazing Spider-Man Universe's Gwen Stacy

While the movies themselves weren't universally beloved by fans, many people who saw "The Amazing Spider-Man" films were blown away by Emma Stone's portrayal of Gwen Stacy and the chemistry she shared with Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

Based on her traditional comic book depiction, but updated for modern audiences, this Gwen was the top science student in her class, edging out Peter in the brains department. Peter also revealed his secret identity fairly early on in their relationship, which changed their dynamic significantly. Here, Gwen didn't blame Spider-Man for her father's death at the hands of the Lizard, and even actively supported him in his crimefighting career by making suggestions for modifying his web shooters to fight Electro and formulating cures against the Lizard's mutating toxin.

Despite Peter's attempts to keep her out of harm's way, Gwen assured him that it was her choice to become involved in dangerous situations. This choice proved to be her downfall when Harry Osborn (Dane DeHann) became the Green Goblin and tossed Gwen off a clock tower. Unable to save Gwen, Peter went on to become a more vengeful Spider-Man, although he gained some sense of redemption when he saved an alternate MJ from dying in the same way in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Following that film, rumors started circulating that Emma Stone could return as an alternate live-action "Spider-Gwen," so we may not have seen the last of her (Comic Book Resources).

2. Spectacular Spider-Man Animated Series' Gwen Stacy

"The Spectacular Spider-Man" is a fan-favorite animated series that ran for two seasons from 2008 to 2009, per Screen Rant. The series is celebrated for introducing audiences to high school-aged versions of Peter Parker, Harry Osborn ... and Gwen Stacy.

Voiced by Lacey Chabert, this Gwen Stacy starts out as one of Peter's best friends, although it's pretty obvious early on that she has feelings for him. In a cool reversal from the comics, it's Gwen who tries to make the first move with Peter, kissing him in the first season finale. Peter himself has strong feelings for Gwen, although he keeps these emotions buried, and much of the second season deals with him trying to reconcile where he wants their relationship to go.

Unfortunately, the classic "Parker Luck" keeps getting in the way of Peter's love life, and Gwen ends up dating Harry Osborn. Peter and Gwen do get to confess their feelings for each other, but the series ends before that plot line can go any further. At least she stayed clear of the Green Goblin ...

1. Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider

Easily the most popular version of Gwen on this list, "Spider-Gwen" (aka Spider-Woman, Ghost-Spider), is a Gwen variant created for the original "Edge of Spider-Verse" comic event where Spider-Man teamed up with multiple spider-heroes in the multiverse. The recipient of her universe's spider-bite, this Gwen Stacy was the one to acquire spider-powers, not Peter Parker.

Frankly, everything about this Gwen is cool, from her costume (which inspired hundreds of cosplaying fans to don her signature spider-hoodie at comic book conventions) to her after-school interests (she's a drummer in a band). Like any good spider-themed hero, however, Spider-Gwen is no stranger to tragedy. Her best friend Peter Parker became his universe's version of the Lizard, leading to his death. Gwen was accused of murdering him and became targeted by her police captain father. She even served time in a maximum-security SHIELD prison in "Spider-Gwen" #33 for crimes she committed as Spider-Woman.

Versions of Spider-Gwen have appeared in multiple animated series like "Marvel Rising" as well as films, including the celebrated "Into the Spider-Verse" where she was voiced by Hailee Steinfeld. Interestingly, recent depictions of this Gwen Stacy have paired her with Miles Morales' younger Spider-Man, showing Gwen has truly branched out from being simply "Peter Parker's girlfriend" and can now enjoy all the possibilities her mainstream counterpart never got to experience.