Mary Jane Watson

From Academic Kids

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Mary Jane on the cover of The Amazing Spider-Man

Mary Jane Watson is a fictional supporting character in the Marvel Comics universe who was created by Stan Lee. She is the love interest of Spider-Man (Peter Parker), whom she affectionately refers to as "Tiger". She herself often goes by the nickname "MJ".

In nearly all continuities in which she appears, there are several constants. She has red hair and green eyes. She is Peter Parker's "one true love", but she often initially has to compete for his affections with other women, most prominently Gwen Stacy and Felicia Hardy, and sometimes Liz Allan and Betty Brant.


Mary Jane in comic books

Mary Jane in mainstream Marvel continuity

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Mary Jane's face is shown for the first time. Art by John Romita Sr from 'Amazing Spider-Man #42.

In the primary Earth 616 continuity, Mary Jane Watson was Peter's fourth love interest, after Liz Allan, Betty Brant, and Gwen Stacy.

Mary Jane's early life was for many years unknown; it was first explored in Amazing Spider-Man' #259 and finally established by Gerry Conway's graphic novel The Amazing Spider-Man: Parallel Lives (January 1990). MJ came from a severely troubled family with her father being a professor who was a frustrated writer who took it out on his family in the form of spousal and child abuse. As a way of coping with her hellish family life, Mary Jane kept up a facade as a superficial party girl to avoid the embarrassment. Eventually, the family divorced with Mary Jane coming to live with her Aunt next door to the Parkers. During that time, she spotted Peter and was unimpressed by the bookish nerd. That opinion changed dramatically on the night of Ben Parker's murder and Mary Jane saw Peter become Spider-Man for the first time. For years, MJ kept that knowledge to herself, but it certainly made Peter more interesting.

Mary Jane's name was first mentioned in Amazing Spider-Man #16 (September 1964), but she was originally an unseen character. The early issues of 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. Mary Jane made her first actual appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #25 (June 1965); however, in that issue, her face was obscured. It is not until Amazing Spider-Man #42 (November 1966) that her face is actually seen. In that issue, on the last page, Peter finally met her, and he was stunned by her beauty even as she spoke the now-famous line: "Face it, just hit the jackpot!" (see the quotations section below for more information).

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Mary Jane gets married to Peter. Cover to Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. Art by John Romita Jr.

Peter began to date her, much to the annoyance of Gwen Stacy. However, her apparent superficiality proved to be an annoyance to Peter that her rival did not share. When Gwen was murdered by the Green Goblin, MJ stayed with Peter during his mourning, and he focused more on her on the rebound as he recovered. However, she eventually moved on and Peter saw other women as his adventures continued.

MJ eventually returned and her behavior showed a marked change with her abandonment of her false front. She admitted her knowledge of Peter's secret identity in Amazing Spider-Man #258, and Peter found a new respect for her with her newly discovered maturity, making her his confidante.

In Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987), Peter married her, and Peter's surname made its way into her name, making her Mary Jane Watson-Parker. Later, the couple separated but did not divorce. After an unsuccessful acting career, she reconciled with Peter and returned to his apartment in New York City.

After Spider-Man began wearing his black costume, it was Mary Jane who convinced him to return to his old costume in Amazing Spider-Man #300 (May 1988). She disliked the black costume because it reminded her of Venom.

According to Stan Lee, MJ was originally intended to be simply a rival to Gwen. However, her character proved to be irresistibly compelling to the writers and artists who increased her use at the expense of Gwen.

Gwen Stacy and, to a lesser extent, Mary Jane Watson, are the focus of the critically-acclaimed Spider-Man: Blue, a 2002 mini-series by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.

Mary Jane in Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate Marvel continuity, Mary Jane goes to high school with Peter Parker and Liz Allan. She is fairly popular and a friend of Liz; she is also the only friend of the unpopular, nerdish Peter Parker. She and Peter begin dating, and, in Ultimate Spider-Man #13, she becomes the first person to whom Peter reveals his secret identity. The relationship is complicated when Gwen Stacy enters their lives.

Mary Jane in Marvel Age

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Mary Jane comic book issue 2

In the Marvel Age continuity, MJ is the title character of her own comic book, Mary Jane, which has had two four-issue runs in 2004 and 2005. It focuses on MJ's teenage years. Mary Jane is primarily a comic book about teen relationships, rather then a superhero comic book, even though it takes place in a superhero universe with Spider-Man playing a prominent role. In this continuity, Mary Jane is dating Harry Osborn and her best friend, Liz Allan, is dating Flash Thompson. Mary Jane: Homecoming is part two and is four issues.

Mary Jane in film

In both films to date, the character of Mary Jane Watson was played by Kirsten Dunst.

Spider-Man (2002)

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In the first movie, Mary Jane is Peter Parker's only sweetheart. Harry Osborn is at first her boyfriend, but she manages to fall in love with Parker and his alter-ego, Spider-Man. After Harry sees them holding hands, he gets angry and breaks up with her.

The Green Goblin, who is Harry's father Norman Osborn's alter ego, kidnaps her and holds her over the Queensborough Bridge. He tells Spider-Man that he must choose between her and a group of children caught in the Roosevelt Island tram car. Spider-Man manages to save both Mary Jane and the children. (In the comic book, it was Gwen Stacy who was held over a bridge, and Spider-Man's attempt to save her failed.)

The Green Goblin announces plans to torture and kill Mary Jane to Spider-Man during the climax, but he dies before having the chance to act upon his threat.

Peter shies away from Mary Jane at the end of the film as he is afraid for her safety, and thus does not want to get involved with her.

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

In this movie, Mary Jane wants to start a relationship with Peter Parker. Peter backs away from a relationship with her even though he wants one because he fears for her safety. In her frustration Mary Jane goes on to have a relationship with John Jameson, the astronaut son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson.

The movie hints that she is doing this in the hope of making Peter jealous. Peter decides that being Spider-Man is not what he wants and comes back to Mary Jane so that he could start a relationship with her. Mary Jane pushes him away this time because she is getting married to the astronaut, but secretly does want a relationship with Peter. After kissing the astronaut, in a manner that is reminiscent of the upside-down kiss between Mary Jane and Spider-Man from the first Spider-Man movie, she finds that she may really want a relationship with Peter Parker.

She meets Peter in a coffee shop where she asks for a kiss to confirm her beliefs. Just before Peter can kiss her Doctor Octopus snatches her and runs away. Peter runs after Doc Ock and has a showdown. Mid-battle his mask gets torn off and Mary Jane sees Spider-Man's real identity and understands why Peter could not have a relationship with her.

Mary Jane runs away from her wedding with the astronaut and comes to Peter's door where she tells him that she loves him and will take him as Spider-Man knowing the danger it poses to her life.

Mary Jane in cartoons

On the animated Spider-Man television series of the 1990s, Mary Jane is the primary rival of Felicia Hardy for Peter's affections.


"Face it, just hit the jackpot!"—her first words to Peter Parker, initially appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #42 (November 1966), are by far her most famous words, and indeed, one of the most famous quotations in the Marvel Universe, duplicated in nearly every continuity in which Mary Jane appears. A non-exhaustive list of comic books the quotation appears in:

  • Amazing Spider-Man: Parallel Lives (January 1990)
  • Deadpool #6 (June 1997) — Typhoid Mary parodies the quotation
  • Spider-Man: Blue #2 (August 2002)
  • Ultimate Spider-Man #13 (November 2001)

Other Mary Janes in literature

In Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, there is a minor character named Mary Jane, who is described as a beautiful redhead and was possibly Stan Lee's inspiration for the comic book character.

Mary Jane is the title character of Mary Jane and Mary Jane 2, both novels by Judith O'Brien.

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