Sony Pictures just confirmed Emma Stone for the female lead in Spider-Man. The surprise? While days ago both the studio and her reps expected her to take the role of Mary Jane Watson, she has instead closed to play Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s first love. Here’s the studio release:

CULVER CITY, Calif., October 5, 2010 – Emma Stone has been cast as the female lead in the upcoming Spider-Man film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios, it was announced today by Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures. Stone has been tapped for the role of Gwen Stacy opposite Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. The film, to be directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and produced by Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will begin production in December and will be released in theaters nationwide in 3D on July 3, 2012. The casting continues an association between Sony Pictures Entertainment and the actress, who previously starred in Superbad, The House Bunny, and Zombieland, all for Columbia Pictures; she may currently be seen in Screen Gems’ hit comedy Easy A, and takes a cameo role in Screen Gems’ upcoming Friends with Benefits.

Commenting on the announcement, Tolmach said, “It’s been an incredible journey for us to watch Emma’s star rise as an actress. She is extraordinarily talented and has a very special on-screen spark that is perfect for this role. Given her history with the studio, casting her in one of our most important franchises is a real thrill.”

Webb added, “The chemistry between Andrew and Emma was stunning and made Emma the clear choice. At the heart of the story of Peter Parker is not only the amazing Spider-Man, but also an ordinary teenager who is wondering what he has to do to get the girl. Andrew and Emma will bring everything audiences expect to these roles, but also make them their own. Much to my surprise, it was fun to find out that our choice for Gwen (Emma) is also a natural blonde.”

Emma Stone can currently be seen starring in Screen Gems’ hit comedy Easy A. Next year, she will star in Warner Bros.’ Crazy, Stupid, Love opposite Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling and in The Help, the adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel; she also takes a cameo role in Screen Gems’ Friends with Benefits and will voice a role in DreamWorks Animation’s comedy The Croods. Stone’s recent credits include Paperman, Zombieland, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The House Bunny, The Rocker, and Superbad.