Mary Jane Watson

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Mary Jane Watson
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance (partial) The Amazing Spider-Man #25 (June 1965)
(full) The Amazing Spider-Man #42 (November 1966)
Created by Stan Lee
John Romita, Sr.
Steve Ditko
In-story information
Full name Mary Jane Watson
Supporting character of Spider-Man
Notable aliases Mary Jane Watson-Parker

Mary Jane Watson, often shortened to M.J., is a fictional supporting character appearing originally in Marvel comic books and later in multiple spin-offs and dramatizations of the Spider-Man titles as the best friend, love interest, and one-time wife (as Mary Jane Watson-Parker) of Peter Parker, the alter ego of Spider-Man. This was after the tragic death of Gwen Stacy, and initially upon her introduction, she had a friendly rivalry with Gwen for Peter's affections.

In the 2002–2007 Spider-Man film trilogy, Mary Jane was played by actress Kirsten Dunst as Spider-Man's main love interest. Shailene Woodley was scheduled to play the role of Mary Jane in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but her part was cut from the film.[1]

Publication history[edit]

Mary Jane Watson is first mentioned in The Amazing Spider-Man #15 (Aug. 1964), and is initially used as a running joke of the series, as Peter Parker's Aunt May repeatedly attempts to set her unwilling nephew up on a date with her. Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) consistently worms his way out of meeting Mary Jane who, aside from a brief appearance in #25 (June 1965) with her face obscured, is never actually seen until The Amazing Spider-Man #42 (Nov. 1966).[2] Peter David wrote in 2010 that artist John Romita, Sr. "made the definitive statement of his arrival by pulling Mary Jane out from behind the oversized potted plant [that blocked the readers' view of her face in issue #25] and placing her on panel in what would instantly become an iconic moment."[3] Romita has stated that in designing Mary Jane, he "used Ann-Margret from the movie Bye Bye Birdie as a guide, using her coloring, the shape of her face, her red hair and her form-fitting short skirts."[4]

According to co-creator Stan Lee, Mary Jane was originally intended to be simply a rival for Gwen Stacy for the affections of Peter Parker. Lee had always intended for Gwen Stacy to be Spider-Man's one true love. The pairing of Mary Jane and Peter Parker became one of the most prominent couples in the superhero genre. The names "Mary Jane" and "M.J." are also common slang terms for marijuana. When asked about this, Stan Lee claimed it was purely coincidental, that he knew nothing about drugs and never tried marijuana.[5]

In 1987, the character was married to Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. As a consequence, writer J. M. DeMatteis made Mary Jane and her marriage to Spider-Man one of the central themes of the critically acclaimed "Kraven's Last Hunt", published the same year as the wedding. DeMatteis commented that "'Kraven’s Last Hunt' has a lot of darkness in it, but the story primarily is about Peter and his journey into the light and the power of simple human love. The reason Peter makes it out is because he has Mary Jane in his life, and that is his salvation."[6]

Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada said that he feels the marriage ages the characters, making them less appealing to young readers, and lessens the dramatic, "soap opera" possibilities, but also stated that "divorcing or widowing, or annulling the marriage...would only be worse."[7] He has also pointed out that the marriage itself was editorially mandated; Stan Lee decided to marry the characters in his daily newspaper strip and, even though the two were not even dating at the time in the comic book series, it was decided to marry them in the regular Marvel Universe as well. In 2007, Quesada presided over the controversial "One More Day" storyline, which he also drew, in which Peter and Mary Jane's marriage is erased from history and everyone's memories by the demon Mephisto. Quesada states he is an avid fan of the Peter and M.J. relationship, and in several interviews has claimed that the alternate MC2 universe, in which Peter and Mary Jane are happily married, is a "natural progression" of the characters.

Fictional character biography[edit]

1965–1987[edit]

Mary Jane is depicted as an extremely beautiful, green-eyed redhead, and has been the primary romantic interest of Peter Parker for the last twenty years, although initially competing with others for his affection, most prominently with Gwen Stacy and the Black Cat. Mary Jane's relatively unknown early life was eventually explored in The Amazing Spider-Man #259.

Early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man featured a running joke about Peter dodging his Aunt May's attempts to set him up with "that nice Watson girl next door", whom Peter had not yet met and assumed would not be his type, since his aunt liked her (in the Parallel Lives graphic novel an identical scenario is shown between Mary Jane and her Aunt Anna). Mary Jane made her first actual appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #25 (June 1965), although her face was obscured. It is not until The Amazing Spider-Man #42 (November 1966) that her face is actually seen. In that issue, on the last page, Peter finally meets her, and he is stunned by her beauty even as she speaks the now-famous line: "Face it, Tiger... you just hit the jackpot!"[8]

Mary Jane's face is shown for the first time, and her famous catchphrase first uttered.
Art by John Romita Sr. From The Amazing Spider-Man #42.

Peter begins to date her, much to the annoyance of Gwen Stacy.[volume & issue needed] Her apparent superficiality proves to be an irritation, and Peter subsequently chooses to date Gwen. Mary Jane, who becomes Harry Osborn's love interest and girlfriend, remains a close friend to Peter and Gwen.

Despite her enjoyment of life, her friendships, and dating, Mary Jane refuses to be tied down for too long. When her relationship with Harry Osborn comes to an end,[volume & issue needed] it has significant impact on Harry, driving him to a drug overdose.[volume & issue needed] This in turn creates a boomerang effect, driving his father Norman Osborn to the brink of insanity, temporarily restoring his memories as the Green Goblin.[volume & issue needed] Mary Jane only realizes the true consequences of her lifestyle when she learns of Harry's predicament and after Gwen Stacy's death.[volume & issue needed]

When the Green Goblin murders Gwen in The Amazing Spider-Man #122, Mary Jane attempts to comfort Peter. Initially, Peter, who is distraught over the loss of Gwen Stacy, angrily confronts M.J. about her seemingly flighty and carefree attitude. He questions her ability to ever care about people like him and Gwen, and states "You wouldn't be sorry if your own mother died" unaware that her mother had actually passed away. Mary Jane is hurt by Peter's comments. She attempts to leave, but hesitates as she approaches the door, and ultimately chooses to stay with him. This served as a turning point in their relationship, and over the next couple of years, she and Peter become very close friends. Eventually, upon realizing the feelings that they share for one another, they decide to take their relationship to the next level. Their relationship has a few initial hurdles, such as M.J.'s hot temper and Peter's always dashing off to be Spider-Man.

Despite loving Peter, M.J. does not wish to be tied down, and when she allows the relationship to progress too far, she is left with a difficult decision when Peter proposes to her. After taking a short time to consider, she turns him down. Following a series of traumatic experiences involving Peter's absences and his costumed alter ego endangering his Aunt May, a spiritually exhausted M.J. leaves New York for several months. Peter meanwhile dates other women, most notably Felicia Hardy.[volume & issue needed]

M.J. eventually returns, her behavior showing a marked change with her abandonment of her false front. Following an attack on Peter by Puma, she breaks down and admits her knowledge of Peter's secret identity in The Amazing Spider-Man #257. After learning of her own family history in The Amazing Spider-Man #259, Peter finds a new respect for her and begins to truly understand her. M.J. makes it clear to Peter that knowing his identity changes nothing about her feelings, and that she only loves him as a friend.[volume & issue needed]

Despite the one-shot graphic novel "Parallel Lives" and Untold Tales of Spider-Man #16 revealing that Mary Jane discovered Peter's secret when she noticed Spider-Man climbing out of Peter's bedroom window, many comics published before this revelation claimed that she had simply "figured it out", with the details of how and when left ambiguous to the reader.[volume & issue needed]

After yet another period of reconsidering his priorities in life, Peter contemplates letting go of the Spider-Man mantle, with Mary Jane backing the decision, but his relationship with Felicia Hardy soon resumes. Feeling lost and guilty, Peter visits Mary Jane and apologizes with an awkward kiss before heading to Berlin with Ned Leeds.[volume & issue needed]

Following Ned Leeds' murder at the hands of the Foreigner, a changed and bitter Peter returns to New York, where his lack of direction in life is not helped when Ned is framed as the Hobgoblin, and Felicia elects to leave Peter behind as she is tied to the Foreigner. Mary Jane returns to Peter, presumably to patch things up, but Peter surprises her with a second proposal of marriage, which M.J. again turns down. She returns to her family to settle old debts with her father, with Peter following her. After aiding her sister in having her crooked father arrested, and aiding Peter against a Spider-Slayer, Mary Jane has an epiphany on marriage, and agrees to become Peter's wife.[volume & issue needed]

Marriage[edit]

In spite of Peter and Mary Jane's mutual worry that they were marrying too early, Peter's concern for her safety, and her unwillingness to give up her "party girl" lifestyle, they married.[9] She attached Peter's surname to her own, making her Mary Jane Watson-Parker. Spider-Man wore his black costume around this time, but after Mary Jane was frightened by a stalking Venom, she convinced him to change back to his old costume.[10]

Mary Jane continued to model after her marriage, but was stalked by her wealthy landlord, Jonathan Caesar. When she rejected his advances, he kidnapped her and held her prisoner, but she managed to escape. While Caesar was briefly incarcerated, he used his powerful business connections within the city and had her blacklisted as a model. She got a role on the soap opera "Secret Hospital", but was unhappy with her character's air-headed and mean personality. On top of that, Caesar, who had been released from prison and was still obsessed with Mary Jane, plotted to kidnap her again—this time intending to whisk her away to a private island he owned in the Caribbean. After luring Mary Jane to an abandoned studio and threatening to kill her, Caesar was confronted by Officer Goldman, a policeman assigned to Mary Jane's original case against him. Goldman then shot Caesar dead, saving Mary Jane's life. Although she successfully petitioned her boss to adjust her character's personality, a deranged fan tried to kill Mary Jane out of hatred for the actions of her soap opera character. Mary Jane quit her job out of fear for her own safety and returned to modeling. This, alongside with Peter's role as Spider-Man, triggered a growing divide and she briefly flirted with an actor called Jason Jermome, which almost tempted her into a secret affair after he kissed her twice; but she eventually rejected his advances.[volume & issue needed]

Due to this stress, the recent death of Harry Osborn, and the seeming return of her husband's parents, Mary Jane began smoking (a habit she had quit in high school), only increasing the tension between her and Peter. Peter ultimately convinced her to stop smoking when he tricked her into visiting Nick Katzenberg suffering heavily from lung cancer (he presumably died; Peter encountered his ghost in an out-of-body experience). When his parents were discovered to be fakes, Peter was unable to cope with the knowledge and disappeared for a time. Mary Jane visited her sister Gayle and her father for the first time in years, and finally reconciled with them. Meanwhile, Peter overcame his problems on his own. When she and Peter reunited, both were happier than they had been in a long time.[volume & issue needed]

Pregnancy[edit]

During the 1994–96 "Clone Saga" storyline, shortly afterward, Peter's clone, Ben Reilly, appeared. Mary Jane discovered that she was pregnant. While she experienced some complications in her pregnancy, Reilly's scientist friend Seward Trainer helped her. Peter and Ben were told by Trainer that Ben was the real Peter Parker, and Peter was the clone (which later proved to be a lie). After conducting the tests themselves (tests which Seward rigged) they confirmed Seward's story. A disbelieving Peter, while arguing with Ben, accidentally struck Mary Jane. After this, he decided to quit as Spider-Man, because the stress of his double life was endangering his wife and unborn child. Peter, acting on hypnotic suggestion by the Jackal, attempted to kill Mary Jane, but was prevented by Ben Reilly (as the Scarlet Spider), his teammates the New Warriors, and Kaine. Later, Peter and Mary Jane left New York and moved to Portland, Oregon. While there, he lost his powers in a lab accident. They lived there peacefully for several months, adapting happily to normal life. However, they missed New York City and their friends, and moved back. Peter became unexpectedly ill and nearly died, but instead regained his powers. During the Onslaught crisis, Mary Jane was scanned by a Sentinel robot, who detected genetic abnormalities in her fetus.[volume & issue needed]

Soon afterward, when Mary Jane's baby was already past due, she was poisoned by Alison Mongrain, an agent of the Green Goblin. Mary Jane's baby was stillborn. The baby has not been seen since in the normal Earth-616 continuity, but appears in stories set in the alternate-timeline MC2 universe. In this timeline, Mary Jane and Peter Parker are reunited with their child, a daughter they named May (though she is often referred to as "Mayday"). Peter would later lose a leg in a fateful final battle with Norman Osborn, and thus retire as Spider-Man. The couple would go on to have another child, a son called Benjamin Richard Parker, many years later in this continuity, whilst Mayday became the superhero Spider-Girl.[volume & issue needed]

Marital Problems[edit]

In the 616 timeline, the couple managed to survive the more tragic turn of events and Mary Jane managed to return to college to major in psychology, but the stress of the ongoing manipulations of Norman Osborn took their toll. After the Gathering of Five incident and the return of Aunt May, Mary Jane begged Peter to quit being Spider-Man.[volume & issue needed]

He was happy to do so for several months, but soon felt the tug of his great power and great responsibility to be a hero. Meanwhile, Mary Jane was offered a new modeling contract and reached new heights of success. Peter became Spider-Man again behind Mary Jane's back, which put strain on their marriage yet again. At the same time, she began receiving lewd and threatening phone calls from an anonymous stalker. Mary Jane was flying across America when her airplane exploded in midair in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #13 (January 2000). Peter was shocked and went into deep denial over her death. Although he was set up with several other women, and his friends encouraged him to move on, he believed she was still alive. He was proven right when her mysterious stalker, an unnamed, telepathic mutant, made himself known. This stalker had telepathically connected to Peter in some way, and wanted to take over his life. He kidnapped Mary Jane as part of his plan and held her hostage for several months. The stalker kills himself after finally gleaning enough of Peter's personality and morality to discover that he had done terrible things. Peter and Mary Jane were reunited in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #29 (June 2001).

The stress of her captivity drove Mary Jane away. She moved to Los Angeles and immersed herself in acting — starring as the doomed love interest in the film Lobster-Man. Although missing Peter after he failed to meet her on a visit back to New York, she refused to talk to him; it took Aunt May to get Peter to visit her in Los Angeles in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #43 (September 2002), however the two remained separated. Peter's encounter with the supernatural Spider-Wasp Shathra eventually lead to the two of them flying to New York and Los Angeles to see each other and reconcile, and despite missing each other at their respective homes, by a fortunate stroke of events they met in an airport in Denver, Colorado where they reconciled after a brief encounter with Doctor Doom and Latverian terrorists in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #50 (April 2003).

"Civil War"[edit]

During the events of the 2006 – 2007 "Civil War" storyline, when Peter and Mary Jane's apartment and Aunt May's house are burned down by Charlie Weiderman, and Spider-Man joins the New Avengers, Mary Jane and Aunt May accompany him to live in Stark Tower. Mary Jane immediately feels at home with the New Avengers and is happy to finally be a part of Spider-Man's world.[volume & issue needed]

With a bit of strain at first, a jealous Peter swore to himself that he would find a new home for his family, but when his initial jealousy subsided, the Civil War events forced him to stage a secret transfer of Mary Jane out of Stark Mansion, feeling that with the loss of his secret identity and his doubts about Tony Stark's ideas, Mary Jane had become a hostage in a luxurious house. Now residing in a cheap motel, her whole life had been affected, from her increasing difficulties in finding a new job as an actress to her being an easy target and prey, along with Aunt May, for the superpowered foes of Spider-Man.

As the superhuman civil war reached its conclusion, Peter, Mary Jane, and Aunt May were targeted by an assassin working for Spider-Man's old foe, the Kingpin. The assassin's primary target was Peter, with M.J. and May designated as secondary objectives. When Peter returned to the Parker family's motel hideout and stood in front of a window, the assassin took aim at Peter and fired, but Peter sensed the bullet using his spider sense, and dodged it—thus hitting Aunt May.[volume & issue needed]

"Back in Black"[edit]

In the 2007 "Back in Black" storyline, Peter and M.J. scramble to save Aunt May's life, rushing her from hospital to hospital while trying to maintain their fragile cover of anonymity. In trying to keep May alive and hidden from Spider-Man's enemies, they truly became fugitives on the run.[volume & issue needed]

She was later arrested by a former acquaintance, now an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and refused to surrender Peter to the authorities. (Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1). Fortunately, she was immediately rescued by her spouse, after she signaled him using the Spider Tracer she always carried with her.[volume & issue needed]

"One More Day"[edit]

During the 2007 "One More Day" storyline, Peter is forced to decide whether he will accept Mephisto's offer to save Aunt May in return for wiping the knowledge and memory of Peter and M.J.'s life together as husband and wife from the face of reality, which would leave only a single, subconscious piece of their souls to remember, allowing Mephisto to feast on the pain exhibited by those vestiges for eternity.[volume & issue needed]

M.J. accepts Mephisto's offer, but only with the caveat that Mephisto promises to restore Spider-Man's secret identity which he agreed to do without question. She also asks to put his life back as it was and have a chance at happiness. Mephisto accepts these terms, and in the revised timeline, which began at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man #545, and was further explained in the following issues, M.J. and Peter were never married (although they nearly did), but instead "dated seriously for years".[volume & issue needed]

According to interviews conducted with then-Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, every story prior to this story remains canon (this would later be contradicted as the events of later stories imply M.J. never fell pregnant). Quesada also stated that a gap of undefined duration occurred between pages in "One More Day", during which the couple separated. By the end of that period, M.J. has moved to California to become an actress, but continues to visit New York from time to time. In the epilogue to "One More Day", she attends a "coming home" party held by Harry Osborn during one such visit, with Peter catching a small glimpse of her before she left.[citation needed]

"Brand New Day"[edit]

At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man #560, as part of the "Brand New Day" storyline, Mary Jane makes her return as the girlfriend of actor Bobby Carr, having earlier in the issue been referred to as Carr's "mystery girl." In The Amazing Spider-Man #561, Mary Jane is seen getting into bed with Carr, and is later attacked by Paperdoll. Concealing herself in the panic room, Mary Jane observes a battle between Spider-Man and Paperdoll, and communicates with Spider-Man over the intercom. Mary Jane says that she and Spider-Man made a great team "in another life" and longingly touches a monitor screen showing his face, hinting that she still had strong feelings and misses him.[11]

Peter does not learn that Mary Jane is the girlfriend of Carr nor that she was the voice on the intercom. Mary Jane is seen at the conclusion of the issue contemplating a phone call to Peter, but is hesitant to do so. She is asked for an autograph by Sara Ehret, an associate of Jackpot. Mary Jane tells her she does not know when she will return to New York. She left a message on Peter's machine but it was cut off before she could say anything.[12]

Red Headed Stranger[edit]

Mary Jane had been living on the West Coast pursuing her acting career and still seeing Bobby Carr. M.J. returned to New York after Carr was found to be taking Mutant Growth Hormone for a movie role, supplied by the White Rabbit. Carr complained that now she would tell them all about his drug use. His shallowness made M.J. walk away from him and take a TV job, which took her back to New York.[volume & issue needed]

Mary Jane appears on the last page of issue #600 at May Reilly Parker's and John Jonah Jameson's wedding. May tosses the flowers to the sea of screaming female wedding guests when M.J., arriving late to the wedding, catches them and asks what she missed, which implies that she will be soon married "again".[13] The following issue begins a story titled "Red-Headed Stranger."[14]

In the following issue it is revealed that both Mary Jane and Peter agreed to meet with each other the following day. Peter does not remember when or where as he had been drunk at the wedding, and is further delayed due to his activities as Spider-Man. M.J. also was drunk (while waiting for Peter to muster his courage in order to talk to her) and while she recalls their meeting she has sadly overslept it. As she turns on the TV, wondering how Peter spent his night, she sees Spider-Man rescuing people and she comments: "Guess you did nice work, Tiger" hinting that she is aware of Peter's dual identity[15] which is confirmed later; issue 605 flashbacks to Mary Jane recalling a fight with Peter while he was dressed as Spider-Man, where she was so angry that she stated that she did not care where he was and that he had a responsibility to their relationship. Peter begins to explain about his Uncle Ben, but Mary Jane interrupts him to say that he cannot let a single moment define his life.[volume & issue needed]

"One Moment In Time"[edit]

In the 2010 "One Moment in Time" storyline, it is revealed that Mary Jane whispered to Mephisto that Peter would not agree to the deal unless Mary Jane tells him to make it, and that Mephisto will leave Peter alone forever once the deal is done. Mephisto replies "Agreed, as far as I'm concerned—this never happened." In present time M.J. shows up at Peter's door. They talk about how they have been acting towards each other lately and both agree they want to be friends with each other. Then they start to reminisce about what happened on what was supposed to be their wedding day. On the wedding morning, M.J. shows up but Peter does not as he is lying unconscious in an alleyway due to his activities as Spider-Man.[16]

After Peter misses his own wedding, he tries to explain what happened to M.J., but she had already intuited that it was due to his superheroics, and demands that he retire from crimefighting. He refuses, and enraged, she leaves him. After being urged to reconsider by her Aunt Anna, M.J. goes to see Peter, and during the course of their conversation, tells him of the daughter she always envisioned having with him, who she hoped would take after both of them. She says that bearing children to someone constantly in danger as Spider-Man it would not be fair to them, and that they must remain unmarried. They are still together when Aunt May gets shot during the events stemming from "Civil War". Refusing to accept her death, Peter performs CPR, saving her life.[17]

Wilson Fisk, informed of May's survival by a disguised Mephisto, decides to send a masked hitman after Anna Watson. Mary Jane goes to check on Anna, just in time to stop the hitman, who goes after her. Spider-Man saves Mary Jane and dispatches the hitman. Spider-Man brings the wounded Mary Jane to Doctor Strange, who performs a healing spell on her. Peter insists that Doctor Strange should make people forget he is Spider-Man. Doctor Strange contacts Tony Stark and Reed Richards for advice on the matter, as they were partially responsible for Peter's decision to publicly unmask.[18]

They decide that no one, including themselves, will remember anything. Peter enters a protective shell to shield himself from the changes. At the last moment, he leaps out of the shield and pulls Mary Jane in with him so she will not forget either. They wake up in the motel and Peter explains what has happened. Back in the present, Mary Jane explains that, although she still loves him, she is not strong enough to be at his side, she tells him he has to move on and find somebody who can be with him.[19]

"Big Time"[edit]

After being evicted from his apartment, Peter turns to many of his friends for help, including M.J., but when confronted with the idea of living together again, the two find themselves laughing off the situation and declining the opportunity.[volume & issue needed]

Peter soon begins a new relationship with Carlie Cooper. Though initially jealous, M.J. decides to respect their relationship, and encourages Peter to reveal his secret identity to her, which Peter is hesitant to do, as he desires to be loved for simply being "Peter Parker". While M.J. argued that Spider-Man represents the "real Peter Parker", Peter argues that M.J. hashad the benefit of hindsight since the beginning, and that Carlie does not share that luxury.[volume & issue needed]

"Spider-Island" and "Ends of the Earth"[edit]

During the "Spider-Island" storyline, much of New York City becomes infected with a virus that gives its inhabitants Peter's Spider-like abilities. M.J. finds herself caught in a series of riots across the city.[20] Saved by the intervening Future Foundation, M.J. later locates Peter and Carlie, the latter having also been granted spider-powers. M.J. encourages Peter to use his civilian guise when displaying his powers and rally the city against the chaos. She would later attain spider-powers herself and comes to the aid of defenseless citizens, her prolonged contact with Peter during their relationship granting her a degree of immunity that protected her from the mutative side-effects of the transformation. As Peter is successfully able to cure all of New York, Mary Jane quietly tells him she loves him, though Peter does not hear her.[21][22]

Shortly after, Carlie Cooper breaks up with Peter, having deduced his secret identity. Conflicted over her lingering feelings for Peter, Carlie decides to confide in Mary Jane, and the two begin to bond over their experiences with Peter.[citation needed]

In the 2012 storyline "Ends of the Earth", Mary Jane purchases a nightclub.[23]

"Dying Wish" and The Superior Spider-Man[edit]

Mary Jane remains in the role of best friend and confident to Peter until he begins to take an interest in her romantically again, and they begin dating again. Unknown to M.J., Peter has had his mind swapped by Otto Octavius. The real Peter Parker, trapped in his rival's dying body, breaks out of prison and attempts to switch back, only for his body to eventually give out on him before he can complete the procedure. As a last resort, Peter downloads all of his memories and experiences into Octavius' mind, convincing his foe to develop some sense of responsibility, and convinces him to do good as Spider-Man so long as he has control of his body.[24] Octavius, as Peter, continues to date Mary Jane after this, but she begins noticing distinctly different character traits displayed by him, such as a heavy intake of alcohol and his rude behavior towards his loved ones, including herself, most notably when he observes that she is no longer anything more than "the plucky best friend with the one motivational speech". It is later revealed that Peter's mind is still active and tucked away somewhere in Octavius' psyche, and he vows to get his body back before his rival can go too far with either an opponent or even with Mary Jane.[25]

Mary Jane still dates Octavius, who intends to become more intimate with her and makes several advances, only to be rebuffed each time. In desperation and frustration, Octavius relives Peter's memories with M.J., which infuriates Peter. After one of Octavius' Spider-Bots detect Mary Jane in trouble and saves her from the Vulture gang, Mary Jane moves to kiss him, but Octavius, who has by now developed genuine feelings for her, rebuffs her, and breaks up with her, though vowing to continue to protect her.[26]

Peter's mind is returned to his body, and informs Mary Jane that it was Octavius' mind in control of Peter's body for the past several months. Mary Jane stops tells him that she knows Octavius' actions were not Peter's fault but she cannot let his dual life affect her anymore. She recognizes and admires the choices Peter has made in his life, but now she wants to build her own life, mostly thanks to the successes she has enjoyed with her nightclub and her new relationship with Ollie.[27]

Skills and equipment[edit]

Mary Jane has no special powers, but due to her relationship with Spider-Man and her job as an actress and model, she has found herself in danger many times. Having learned of the risk at the expense of her friend Gwen Stacy's life, she is unwilling to be dependent on others for her safety. Her intelligence and tenacity make up for her lack of superhuman abilities.[citation needed]

Mary Jane has training in self-defense, with teachers including Captain America. She has been able to fend off attackers of normal strength and skill, including the Chameleon, one obsessive stalker, and another stalker using a cue stick. Besides her training in martial arts, she is also strategically smart when fighting her enemies. On one occasion, she knocked out a kidnapper with a lamp and also electrified his bodyguards with it; and she was able to defeat Hydro-Man when she lured him away from water sources, and into hot dry areas, forcing him to evaporate[volume & issue needed] (the latter only happened in the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon).[episode needed]

Furthermore, on several occasions she saves Peter's life from his enemies. She beats Alistair Smythe with a baseball bat, and distracts his Spider-Slayer. She sets the Hobgoblin's cape on fire. She fends off Styx and Stone as they are about to kill Spider-Man. She thwarts the White Rabbit's attempts to rob a high-class party at which she is present. She manages to defeat Swarm, a supervillain even Peter had trouble defeating.[volume & issue needed]

Mary Jane has been shown carrying a gun, which she uses against the Green Goblin in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #12, and in the video game Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. After Peter developed organic webshooters, he modified his original webshooters into bracelets that she could wear discreetly, giving her an additional defensive weapon. She also carries a modified spider-tracer with an amplified signal that can be traced over long distances.[volume & issue needed]

Mary Jane has used her fashion design and sewing skills on many occasions to make and repair Spider-Man's costumes. She also designed the Hornet, Prodigy, and Ricochet costumes. She is usually the person who provides first aid when Peter is injured.[volume & issue needed]

On two occasions, she was possessed by the spirit of Red Sonja and battled Kulan Gath side-by-side with Spider-Man.[28][29] During the earlier issues of "The Other" story arc, she borrowed Iron Man's old armor temporarily.

During "Spider-Island" storyline, she develops versions of Spider-Man's powers, including enhanced strength and agility, the ability to stick to walls and the ability to produce organic webbing.[20] She loses these powers when given the antidote, so she would not turn into a giant spider.[22]

Other versions[edit]

In addition to her mainstream incarnation, Mary Jane Watson has been depicted in other fictional universes. In one reality visited by the Exiles, where she was Spider-Woman, she had a relationship with Exiles member Sunfire (Mariko Yashida), who was a known lesbian.

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Spider-Man (1967)[edit]

In the original Spider-Man cartoon, Mary Jane appears in the episode The Big Brainwasher (based on The Amazing Spider-Man #59–61). Unlike her comic book counterpart, she is the niece of George Stacy.

Spider-Man (tokusatsu)[edit]

In Tokusatsu Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson was called Hitomi Sakuma (played by Rika Miura). She is a photographer of a newspaper.

Spider-Man: The Animated Series[edit]

First appearance of Mary Jane in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Reference to her original debut in the panel of The Amazing Spider-Man #42.

In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Mary Jane Watson (voiced by Sara Ballantine) first meets a 19-year-old Peter Parker in "The Return of the Spider-Slayers" (Season 1, episode 4), where May Parker set Peter up on a blind date with her. At the time, Peter's main love interest was Felicia Hardy and he did not look forward to meeting Mary Jane, but is left speechless when he meets her. She is last seen in the season three finale "Turning Point," in which the Green Goblin discovers Spider-Man's true identity. In a nod to "The Night Gwen Stacy Died", he takes her to the George Washington Bridge. Spider-Man tries to save her, but she falls into a dimensional portal created by his stolen time dilation accelerator. In season four, a clone of Mary Jane, created by Miles Warren, appears, and after the death of Mysterio at the end of Season 4, Episode 9, Spider-Man reveals his secret identity to her. They subsequently marry in the Season 5 premiere, when she is revealed to be a clone, one that possesses the same powers as Hydro-Man, but by the end of the episode, her body disintegrates as a result of imperfections in the cloning process. In the series finale, Spider-Man's mystic advisor, Madame Web, promises they will find the real Mary Jane. The real Mary Jane is never seen again in this series, but is shown to have been reunited with and married to Peter in the sequel series, Spider-Man Unlimited, in which she is voiced by Jennifer Hale.

Spider-Man Unlimited[edit]

Mary Jane makes a brief appearance in the first episode of Spider-Man Unlimited, voiced by Jennifer Hale.

Spider-Man: The New Animated Series[edit]

Mary Jane appears in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (where she was voiced by Lisa Loeb). She appears as an on and off girlfriend of Peter Parker. In Mind Games: Part 1, Mary Jane discovers that Spider-Man is Peter Parker, but it was revealed to be a dream sequence. Her hair is shorter here than in any other version. She was going to have long hair but there were difficulties rendering it with animation so it was cut down.

The Spectacular Spider-Man[edit]

First appearance of Mary Jane in The Spectacular Spider-Man. Reference to her original debut in the panel of The Amazing Spider-Man #42.

Mary Jane, voiced by Vanessa Marshall, appears in The Spectacular Spider-Man. She is first mentioned by Aunt May in the fourth episode, "Market Forces". Peter declines May's offer to introduce them, despite May's insistence that Mary Jane has a "wonderful personality". A running gag occurs when Peter (and on one occasion, Harry as well) shuddered every time "wonderful personality" is used in reference to Mary Jane, due to their perception that this description tends to be given of those who are unattractive, but Peter is stunned when he meets her in an episode in which Aunt May has arranged for them to attend a school dance together.[episode needed]

Ultimate Spider-Man[edit]

Mary Jane appears in Ultimate Spider-Man. She is voiced by Tara Strong.[30] Like her "Ultimate Comics" incarnation she is a childhood friend/best friend of Peter Parker, and an aspiring journalist who dreams of reforming Daily Bugle Communications and rehabilitate Spider-Man's reputation, which is attacked by J. Jonah Jameson on a daily basis. Peter and Mary Jane dated in their early teens, but they later chose to remain just friends. In this incarnation, Mary Jane is unaware of Peter's identity as Spider-Man.[31]

Films[edit]

In the three Spider-Man feature films directed by Sam Raimi, Mary Jane Watson was portrayed by Kirsten Dunst.

Spider-Man[edit]

In the 2002 feature film Spider-Man, Mary Jane is Peter Parker childhood and high school crush, and high school girlfriend to Flash Thompson. Desperate to escape her abusive, alcoholic father, and to pursue a happier future, she breaks up with Flash after they graduate, and an aspiring actress, waiting tables to support herself. She dates Peter's best friend, Harry Osborn, who knows of Peter's interest in her, but notes that Peter has never asked her out. She first develops an attraction to Spider-Man after the latter repeatedly rescues her, first from the Green Goblin (who is secretly Harry's father Norman), and later from thugs in an alley, after which they share a kiss. She also grows closer to Peter, and in response, Harry breaks up with her. When Norman deduces Spider-Man's identity, he kidnaps Mary Jane, and in a recreation of the Golbin's kidnapping of Gwen Stacy from the comics storyline, holds her at the top of a city bridge, but Spider-Man rescues her. Mary Jane and Peter later share a kiss as she tells him that she loves him, but Peter, who fears that a relationship between them would endanger her, rejects her. A heartbroken Mary Jane realizes that her kiss with Peter reminded her of the one she shared with Spider-Man.

Spider-Man 2[edit]

In the 2004 sequel Spider-Man 2, Mary Jane, frustrated at Peter's reluctance to be with her, and his apparent lack of commitment even as a friend (which occurs when his crimefighting keeps him away from shared activities with her), begins a relationship with J. Jonah Jameson's son, John Jameson. Deciding that being without her is too high a cost, Peter resolves to abandon his life as Spider-Man, despite the fact that Mary Jane accepts a marriage proposal from John. However, Mary Jane comes to realize that she does not truly love John. After Doctor Octopus kidnaps Mary Jane, Spider-Man rescues her, and during his struggle with Octopus, he is unmasked in front of Mary Jane, confirming what she suspected. Mary Jane breaks up with John Jameson, and begins a relationship with Peter.

Spider-Man 3[edit]

In the 2007 film Spider-Man 3, Peter decides to propose to Mary Jane, their future is complicated by professional setbacks suffered by Mary Jane, a rivalry for Peter's affections in the form of Gwen Stacy, manipulation by a scheming Harry Osborn (who seeks revenge against Peter, who believes killed his father as Spider-Man), and by behavioral changes in Peter that are brought on by Peter's encounter with the venom symbiote. Realizing the negative effect the symbiote has on him, he disposes of it, and it falls into the hands of a fellow photographer Eddie Brock, who bonds with it to become Venom. Seeking revenge on Peter for ruining his career after Peter exposed Eddie's sale of a doctored photo to the Bugle, Venom kidnaps Mary Jane. Spider-Man defeats Venom, kills the symbiote, and rescues Mary Jane, with whom he reconciles.

Video games[edit]

Mary Jane has appeared in numerous Spider-Man video games.

  • She is kidnapped in The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin by the Kingpin, and is hung over a tank of acid. She is freed if the Kingpin is beaten in a certain amount of time. If the fight takes too long, she falls to her death and, after Kingpin is arrested by the police, Spider-Man vows revenge. If the player is defeated in battle, then both she and Spider-Man die.
  • In the Spider-Man game for the Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation, Venom believes that Spider-Man stole an invention of Dr. Octavius (it is later revealed that Mysterio is the actual thief) and kidnaps Mary Jane in attempt to get revenge. She is held in the sewers and must be rescued by Spider-Man. Jennifer Hale, who voiced Mary Jane in Spider-Man Unlimited, reprised the role.
  • In Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace, Mary Jane forgets to purchase a fish bowl for fish she won at a carnival, and asks Peter to retrieve one for her at the beginning of the game. In the end Peter obtains one for her (Mysterio's helmet) and says "You'll never know the trouble I went through for this."
  • She appears in the 2002 Spider-Man game based on the film. Although Kirsten Dunst provided the likeness, Mary Jane was voiced by Cat O'Conner. If the player types in the code GIRLNEXTDOOR, they can play as her. This code was taken out of later re-releases due to a controversial cinema scene in which the "real" Mary Jane kisses the "player" Mary Jane,[citation needed] sparking complaints of lesbianism.
  • She appears in Spider-Man 2, where Kirsten Dunst reprised the role. In this game, like the movie, she is unaware of Peter's secret identity until the end. There is a brief additional storyline where Peter is tempted to abandon his interest in Mary Jane due to the possibility of a new relationship with Black Cat, but he eventually abandons such a relationship when he realises the importance of his civilian life.
  • In the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, Mary Jane's Ultimate version appears several times in the game, helping Peter research and discover information on the villains he must fight. The game ends with her talking to Peter. In the Nintendo DS version of the game, the player must save an unnamed character who has Mary Jane's clothing and hair color. She's voiced by Andrea Baker.
  • Mary Jane appears in Spider-Man 3. Much like in the game based on the first movie, she is not voiced by Kirsten Dunst. Here, she's voiced by Kari Wahlgren.
  • Mary Jane appears in the video game Spider-Man: Web of Shadows voiced by Dana Seltzer. Unlike most of her appearances in Spider-Man games, she takes an active participation in one of the boss battles, taking out foes with a shotgun while Spider-Man fights a symbiote version of the Black Cat. In the beginning of the game she is caught in the crossfire during a fight between Venom and Spider-Man and is put into the hospital. She frequently appeared throughout the game, where her cutscenes are based on the player's choice. In the all good ending she joins Spider-Man in web slinging across New York, while in the partially good ending Spider-Man attempted to call her to apologize for his actions but she did not pick up and left a message on her phone. In the darker endings, Mary Jane abandons Peter completely for his willingness to use the Black Suit even after he promises her otherwise, particularly when he uses its powers to save Black Cat.
  • Mary Jane is referenced in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. She is referenced by Deadpool in his Ultimate Marvel level as a "redhead" that Spider-Man is always saving. Deadpool accuses Spider-Man of being in a love triangle with her and Kitty Pryde, much to the latter's embarrassment.
  • Mary Jane appears in the video game Spider-Man: Edge of Time voiced by Laura Vandervoort.[32] While Peter Parker is temporarily trapped in the year 2099, he discovers records of Mary Jane's death back in his home time in an accident at Alchemax, forcing Miguel O'Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, to try and save her. After he rescues Mary Jane from a falling elevator, Mary Jane comments to Miguel that he is just as brave and unselfish as another Spider-Man she knows.

Toys[edit]

  • A 6-inch (150 mm) scale action figure and a 12-inch (300 mm) scale doll of Mary Jane were released to coincide with the 2002 Spider-Man film. Both were based on the likeness of Kirsten Dunst and wore the Asian-inspired red dress she wore in the film. These figures were released by Toy Biz.
  • A 6-inch (150 mm) scale version of Mary Jane from the movies Spider-Man 2 and 3 has been released from Hasbro. This figure includes a "build-a-figure" part of a large Sandman figure from Spider-Man 3. The dress on this figure is like the one she wore in Spider-Man 2.
  • Mary Jane has two figures released in the Minimates small-scale figure series, the first a comic themed convention exclusive, the second a Spider-Man 3 themed chase figure, both times in a two-pack with Peter Parker.
  • Art Asylum produced a full-body statuette of Mary Jane based on her appearance in the early 1970s, identical except for its paint application to a simultaneously released statue of Gwen Stacy.
  • Moore Collectibles produced an 8-inch (200 mm) bust (actually from the knees up, nearly a full statue) of Mary Jane based on her first full appearance.
  • Sideshow Collectibles produced a 14.25-inch (362 mm) "comiquette" statuette designed by Adam Hughes showing Mary Jane discovering Peter Parker's Spider-Man costume in his washing. Even though Hughes clarified that Mary Jane was not doing Peter's laundry,[34] the statuette has received a fair amount of criticism over her pose.[35][36] The statuette's first line sold out rapidly.[36]

Broadway[edit]

Actress Evan Rachel Wood was scheduled to play Mary Jane in the new Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. However, she had to drop out of production due to a scheduling conflict, and was replaced by Jennifer Damiano.[37] Jennifer Damiano left the production and the part of Mary Jane Watson was played by Rebecca Faulkenberry before the musical closed.

Novels[edit]

Romance novelist Judith O'Brien wrote two young adult novels featuring a teenage Mary Jane in 2003 and 2004. They featured illustrations by Mike Mayhew.

The first novel is a basic retelling of the origin story from Mary Jane's point of view. She is depicted as a shy, insecure girl who knew Peter Parker from elementary school. She deals with such problems as anorexia and peer pressure.

At a field trip to Osborn Industries, Peter is bitten by a spider, which grants him powers. It is later revealed that Norman Osborn had injected a super drug known as OZ into the spider, which he later uses as a sports drink which he sells to Mary Jane's classmates. The use of OZ is the only real connection to Ultimate, but even that is drastically different from the way it's portrayed in the original comics, being much closer to Bill Jemas' original concept. As Peter suits up to become Spider-Man (his origin with Uncle Ben is only hinted at), Mary Jane sets out to expose Norman with Peter's help.

The novel was successful with teenage girls who were not familiar with the comics, but was met with criticism from the core fans due to its characterization of some of the characters (most notably Harry Osborn, who is portrayed as manipulating Peter into doing his homework while treating him horribly) and changing continuity.

The second novel, Mary Jane 2, deals with the continuing relationship of Peter and Mary Jane, and the emergence of Gwen Stacy. In this continuity, Gwen is an 'ugly duckling' who Mary Jane gives a 'makeover'. However, Gwen soon has feelings for Peter. Harry Osborn reappears and is made more sympathetic than he was in the previous novel; with his father in jail, he is now poor and has to live without a life of luxury.

"Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot!"[edit]

"Face it, Tiger... you just hit the jackpot!", Mary Jane's first words to Peter,[8] is one of the most famous quotations in superhero comic book history. The quotation is duplicated in nearly every continuity in which Mary Jane appears and repeated in nearly every flashback to their first encounter. It is also often referenced or parodied in other contexts. Appearances of the quotation in Marvel comic books and other Marvel products include:

The line was not used in any Spider-Man films, although "Tiger" has been used by Mary Jane as a term of endearment and she says "Go get 'em, Tiger."

Outside of Marvel, the line has also been used in:

  • In DC Comics' Supergirl #7, Linda Danvers learns that the date her parents set her up with (similarly to Peter's first date with Mary Jane, set up by Aunt May) is her abusive, Satanic ex-boyfriend Buzz, who says "Face it, tigress, you just hit the jackpot."
  • In Image Comics' The Pirates of Coney Island #6, a girl says the line to Patch, the main character of the series.
  • The line is said in Clerks II by Dante's fiancée when they discuss his coming new life.
  • At the end of Amalgam Comics' Spider-Boy #1 Spider-Boy is introduced to Mary Jane Watson—also known as the Insect Queen. Upon being introduced Mary Jane utters her variation on the famous quotation, "Face it, Spider, You just hit the jackpot!"
  • In the interactive fiction game Varicella, this is the first thing Princess Charlotte says when you meet her.
  • In "Santa Ana Winds", the opening track to The Wedding Present's eighth studio album El Rey: "I must look anxious because she fixes me with this gaze/Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot, she says"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kit, Borys (June 19, 2013). "Shailene Woodley Cut From 'Amazing Spider-Man 2'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1960s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 119. ISBN 978-0756641238. "After teasing the readers for more than two years, Stan Lee finally allowed Peter Parker to meet Mary Jane Watson." 
  3. ^ David, Peter; Greenberger, Robert (2010). The Spider-Man Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles Spun from Marvel's Web. Running Press. p. 38. ISBN 0762437723. 
  4. ^ Saffel, Steve (2007). "A Legend Is Born". Spider-Man the Icon: The Life and Times of a Pop Culture Phenomenon. Titan Books. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-84576-324-4. 
  5. ^ "Celebrity Stoners". Cannabis Culture. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  6. ^ Johnson, Dan (August 2009). "In Our Sights: Kraven's Last Hunt". Back Issue (35) (TwoMorrows Publishing). p. 9. 
  7. ^ Quesada, Joe (October 12, 2007). "Joe Fridays: Week 48". Newsarama. Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b The Amazing Spider-Man #42 (November 1966)
  9. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987)
  10. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (May 1988)
  11. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #561
  12. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #591
  13. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #600
  14. ^ Rogers, Vaneta. "Weekly Webbing: Waid & Van Lente on Bringing Back MJ", Newsarama, June 12, 2009
  15. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #601
  16. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #638
  17. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #639
  18. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #640. Marvel Comics
  19. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #641. Marvel Comics
  20. ^ a b The Amazing Spider-Man #670. Marvel Comics
  21. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #672. Marvel Comics
  22. ^ a b The Amazing Spider-Man #673. Marvel Comics
  23. ^ Slott, Dan (w). The Amazing Spider-Man #688. Marvel Comics
  24. ^ Slott, Dan (w), Ramos, Humberto (p). The Amazing Spider-Man #700. Marvel Comics
  25. ^ Slott, Dan (w). The Superior Spider-Man #1. Marvel Comics
  26. ^ Slott, Dan (w). The Superior Spider-Man #2. Marvel Comics
  27. ^ Slott, Dan (w). The Superior Spider-Man #31. Marvel Comics
  28. ^ Claremont, Chris (w), Byrne, John (p), Austin, Terry (i). "Sword of the She-Devil" Marvel Team-Up 79 (March 1979)
  29. ^ Red Sonja/Spider-Man miniseries
  30. ^ "Marvel Animation Age". Marvel.toonzone.net. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  31. ^ Ultimate Spider-Man: "Beetle Mania".
  32. ^ Sullivan, Michael (July 18, 2011). "Activision, Marvel enlist top VO talent". Variety. 
  33. ^ "Tara Strong IMDB". Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  34. ^ Hughes, Adam. "Adam hughes on the mary jane statue". NEWSARAMA. 
  35. ^ Graves, Neil (May 16, 2007). "Mary jane is spidey 'sensuous'". New York Post (News Corporation). 
  36. ^ a b Arpe, Malene (May 17, 2007). "No plumber's butt for Spidey?". Toronto Star (Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd.). 
  37. ^ "Comics Continuum by Rob Allstetter: Friday, June 26, 2009". Comicscontinuum.com. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 

External links[edit]