The most famous couple in all of Marvel Comics is surely Spider-Man and Mary Jane. Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman are close runners up, but Spidey and MJ’s only true competition in comics would be DC’s first couple, Superman and Lois Lane. Thanks to those Toby Maguire movies and that famous upside-down kiss, though, I think this pair is advancing even on Lois and Clark.
Mary Jane Watson made her first appearance in June 1965’s Amazing Spider-Man #25, sort of. Her face was obscured by a plant in that issue, so Spidey fans didn’t actually get to meet Mary Jane, fully, until November 1966’s Amazing Spider-Man #42. That’s a year and a half between the almost reveal and the actual reveal of Peter Parker’s one true love. Mary Jane was actually mentioned as far back as issue 15 of the series.
Why did it take so long for the iconic character to make her true first appearance? Gwen Stacy. The writers of the comic intended Gwen to be Peter’s love interest, not Mary Jane. So, when Peter’s Aunt May decided to set him up on a blind date with Mary Jane, he avoided the blind date like a plague. The continual postponement of the date became a running gag in the series.
However, then Mary Jane shows up and says that entrance line that hooked Spidey’s readers forever, “Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot.” The writers tried to persist with Gwen, though, and Peter and Mary Jane only date briefly before he began dating Gwen. Mary Jane, meanwhile, dated Harry Osborn. Stan Lee has said that he and John Romita Jr. really tried to push Gwen as the love interest, but the more they wrote Mary Jane’s character, the more they liked her instead of Gwen.
So, eventually, Mary Jane won out and returned to Peter. The two even made comic book history in 1987’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 by getting married. They beat Superman and Lois to the altar. Stan Lee wanted a big splash with the wedding, so he timed the wedding in the comics to coincide with the wedding taking place in his Spider-Man comic strip as well as a live performance of the wedding in Shea stadium. He even had Mary Jane’s wedding dress made by designer Willi Smith. Though the characters’ marriage hasn’t lasted, the relationship between the two lives on.
The movies, the first three at least, have mimicked the comic book’s love story. When 2002’s Spider-Man hit the big screen, Peter and Mary Jane’s romance was brought to the whole world. Nerdy Peter slowly won Mary Jane over in the first movie and was prepared to propose to her by part 3 until that whole dance scene thing happened. In each movie, Mary Jane is obligatorily made the damsel in distress for Spidey to save from the villain du jour.
When the lackluster Spider-Man 3 led to a reboot with Amazing Spider-Man, Peter’s love interest once again shifted to Gwen Stacy. Since she eventually suffered the same fate as her character from the comics, it’s probably good for Mary Jane fans that the switch happened.
Spiderman and Mary Jane: Face it, Tiger, There’s Love in the Air
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