|Mary Jane Watson|
Mary Jane Watson
Art by Adam Hughes.
|First appearance||(partial) Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #25
(full) Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #42
|Created by||Stan Lee
John Romita, Sr.
|Full name||Mary Jane “MJ” Watson|
|Supporting character of||Spider-Man|
|Notable aliases||Mary Jane Watson-Parker|
Mary Jane Watson, often is shortened to MJ, is a fictional supporting character appearing, originally, in Marvel comic books and, later, in multiple spin-offs and dramatisations of the Spider-Man titles as the best friend, love interest, and, in some continuities, wife (as Mary Jane Watson-Parker) of Peter Parker, the alter ego of the title character. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist John Romita, Sr., after a few partial appearances and references, her first full appearance was in The Amazing Spider-Man #42 (November 1966).
She 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 Amazing Spider-Man’ #259.
Today, Mary Jane is considered an important part of the Spider-Man series and has been featured in most other media adaptations of the character. She has even been the main character of some comics and novels aimed at young female readers. Perhaps most notably, MJ, portrayed by Kirsten Dunst, played a key role in the recent film series.
Mary Jane Watson comes from a severely troubled family. Her father, a professor and frustrated writer, takes his stress out on his family in the form of spousal and child abuse. Coping with her hellish family life, Mary Jane develops a facade as a superficial party girl to avoid the embarrassment, which may have cast her as a forerunner to the archetype of a wily, feisty redhead. Her parents would eventually divorce, and Mary Jane and her sister lived with her mother, often staying with relatives. She also frequently babysat a cousin of hers, Kristy Watson, who had minor appearances throughout the Spider-Man titles. Her favorite relative, her Aunt Anna, lived next door to the Parkers.
The accuracy of Mary Jane’s early feelings towards Peter are constantly reinterpreted with different writers putting their own stamp on the titles. At one point, it was revealed she was unimpressed by Peter, a bookish nerd, but this was contradicted in a 1990s Marvel “Valentines Day” issue, where she admits she fell in love with the considerate, but reserved “bookworm”.
It should be noted many one-shots and ongoing issues continue to redefine and retcon various periods of MJ’s life to reflect a different opinion of her character, from intellect to durability. Many fans have found this a constant irritation, and feel it “cheapens” MJ’s love for Peter on his own merits without becoming aware of his powers. Other interpretations (such as the movies, Spider-Man: Reign and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane), have since attempted to reaffirm that Mary Jane fell in love with a “nerdish” Peter Parker long before she discovered his secret identity.
Mary Jane’s name was first mentioned in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #15 (August 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. (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 Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #25 (June 1965); however, in that issue, her face was obscured. It is not until Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #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!”
Peter begins to date her, much to the annoyance of Gwen Stacy. However, her apparent superficiality proves to be an irritation to Peter that her rival did not share. Peter eventually learns to cope with this, and Mary Jane becomes an occasional flirtitious interest as well as a close friend to Peter, Gwen, and others.
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, it has significant impact on Harry, driving him to a drugs overdose. 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. Mary Jane only realizes the true consequences of her lifestyle when she learns of Harry’s predicament
Later, when the Green Goblin murders Gwen, MJ stays with Peter during his mourning, though he initially tells her to leave him alone, he becomes interested in her as he recovers. Following the events of the original clone saga, Peter realizes that Mary Jane is the girl he has always loved, and the two begin dating again.
However, despite loving Peter, MJ does not wish to be tied, and when she allows the relationship to progeress 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-exhaused MJ leaves New York for several months. Peter meanwhile dates other women as his adventures continue, with the most noticeable being Felicia Hardy
MJ 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 Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #257. After learning of her own family history in Amazing Spider-Man#259, Peter finds a new respect for her and begins to truly understand her. MJ however, makes it clear to Peter that knowing his identity changes nothing about her feelings, and that she only loves him as a friend
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.[volumeÂ &Â issueÂ 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 apologises with an awkward kiss before heading to Berlin with Ned Leeds.
Following Ned Leed’s 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, presumbly to patch things up, but Peter surprises her with a second proposal of marriage, which MJ 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.
In spite of Peter and Mary Jane’s mutual worry that they were marrying too early, Peter’s concern for MJ’s safety, and Mary Jane’s unwillingness to give up her “party girl” lifestyle, they married in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #21 (1987). 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 in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #300 (May 1988).
Mary Jane continued to model after her marriage, but was stalked by her wealthy landlord, Jonathan Caesar. When she rejected his advances, he 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. 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.
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 and never took up in the film series), only increasing the tension between her and Peter. Peter ultimately convinced her to stop smoking when he tricked her into visiting an old friend suffering heavily from lung cancer. 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.
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). 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, while arguing with Ben, Peter 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 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.
Soon afterward, when Mary Jane’s baby was already past due, she was poisoned by Alison Mongraine, an agent of the Green Goblin. Mary Jane’s baby was stillborn. The baby has not been seen since in the normal 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 by Kaine. Two years later, Peter loses his leg in a final confrontation with The Green Goblin. Years later, Mayday becomes the heir to her father’s legacy as Spider-Girl
The couple managed to survive this 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.
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 modelling 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. 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, however, killed 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.
However, 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, where the two reconciled. However, when the villainess Shathra claimed to have had an affair with Spider-Man, Mary Jane had to be assured by Peter that it was a lie. After he defeated Shathra, Mary Jane and Peter ended their separation.
When Peter and Mary Jane’s apartment and Aunt May’s house were burned down by Charlie Weiderman, and Spider-Man joined the New Avengers, Mary Jane and Aunt May accompanied him to live in Stark Tower. Mary Jane immediately felt at home with the New Avengers and was happy to finally be a part of Spider-Man’s world.
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 Parker. Nevertheless, MJ remained supportive of her partner during the whole ordeal. She later proved her devotion to her husband when she was 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.
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 MJ 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 missed — shooting Aunt May. Peter and MJ scrambled to save her 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.
During the climactic “One More Day” storyline of fall 2007, Peter had to decide whether he would accept Mephisto’s deal of saving Aunt May in return for Mephisto wiping the knowledge and memory of Peter and MJ’s life together as husband and wife from the face of reality. This would leave only a single, subconscious piece of their souls to remember, allowing Mephisto to feast on those pieces’ pain for eternity.
Peter and MJ grappled with their unspeakable choice with MJ telling the demon that “the answer is yes!”. As part of the bargain MJ made Mephisto promise to restore Spider-Man’s secret identity which he agreed to do without question. She also asked to put his life back as it was and have a chance at happiness. Mephisto asked why he should do that, and MJ answered that it was because of what she could offer him. MJ whispered something to Mephisto, striking a devil’s bargain, and then urged Peter to “save May. Be the hero. Be my hero.” The penultimate frame was Mary Jane whispering the famous line, “face it, tiger…you just hit the jackpot.”
In the revised timeline, which began at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #545, and was further depicted and explained in the following issues, MJ and Peter were never married (although they nearly did), but instead “dated seriously for years”.
According to interviews conducted with Marvel EIC Joe Quesada, every story prior to this story remains canon, implying that MJ and Peter, in this timeline, refused to let the obstructed wedding hinder their love for each other. 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, MJ 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.
At the end of Amazing Spider-Man #560, 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 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 Spider-Man knew her “in another life”. 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. Recently, she left a message on Peter’s machine but it was cut off before she could say anything  Mary Jane is set to return to The Amazing Spider-Man in issue 600. The following issue begins a story titled “Red-Headed Stranger.”
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, although fans vocally supported the feisty Mary Jane over the non-offensive Gwen Stacy. The pairing of Mary Jane and Peter Parker became one of the most prominent couples in the superhero genre.
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,”. 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 MJ relationship, and in several interviews has claimed that the alternate MC2 universe, in which Peter and Mary-Jane are happily married, is the “natural progression” of the characters.
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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 completely dependent on others for her safety. Her intelligence and tenacity make up for her lack of superhuman abilities.
Mary Jane has some 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 using a baseball bat, one obsessive stalker using a can of hair spray and a heavy purse, and another using a cue stick. On another occasion, she knocked out a kidnapper with a lamp and electrified his bodyguards with it. Furthermore, there were several occasions in which she saved her husband’s life from his super-powered enemies when they had the upper hand: she distracted Alistair Smythe and his Spider-Slayer with a baseball bat, set fire to Hobgoblin’s cape, and drove off Styx and Stone as they were about to kill Spider-Man. Recently, she managed to defeat Swarm, a supervillain even her husband had trouble defeating, by using sprinklers.
Mary Jane also carries a gun (although Peter dislikes the idea) which she uses against the Green Goblin in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #12. 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.
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.
On two occasions, she was possessed by the spirit of Red Sonja and battled Kulan Gath side-by-side with Spider-Man(Marvel Team-Up vol. 1 #79; Red Sonja/Spider-Man miniseries). During the earlier issues of “The Other” story arc, she borrowed Iron Man’s old armor temporarily.
In addition to her mainstream incarnation, Mary Jane Watson has been depicted in other fictional universes. In one version of the Exiles, where she was Spider-Woman, she had an affair with Exiles member Sunfire (Mariko Yashida), who was a known lesbian.
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.
In Tokusatsu Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson was called Hitomi Sakuma (played by Rika Miura).
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 Ep #4), where May Parker set Peter up on a date with her without Peter even knowing who she was (making it as Peter put it, “a blind date”). At the time, Peter’s main love interest was Felicia Hardy and he didn’t look forward to meeting Mary Jane, commenting “A blind date is like the lottery, you have a one a in million chance of hitting the jackpot.” Left completely speechless when seeing her for the first time, Mary Jane tells him “Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot.” Over the course of the series, Mary Jane slowly supplants Felicia as Peter’s primary love interest. She is last seen in 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 (due to censorship, no one in the show could die – she is forced into limbo and Spider-Man doesn’t know what happened to her). Prior to her fall, Mary Jane awakes thinking she had heard Peter’s voice, not Spider-Man’s; this is a subtle nod to her knowing Peter’s secret. As with the “Gwen Stacy” storyline, Norman Osborn is vanquished when he is impaled by his own glider and sent into limbo himself, but would soon resurface to influence his son Harry into becoming the second Green Goblin.
In season four, a clone of Mary Jane, created by Miles Warren, appears, and after the death of Mysterio at the end of the ninth episode of season four, Spider-Man reveals his secret identity to her; They subsequently marry in the first episode of season five. This marriage is portrayed as significantly different from that in the comics, which had no intervention from super-villains. In this episode, the wedding is attacked by the Green Goblin (Harry), the Scorpion, and Alistair Smythe’s Spider-Slayers. Later, this Mary Jane’s true nature is revealed as a clone created by Miles Warren, who had also created a clone of Hydro-Man. A side effect of the process was that Mary Jane possessed the same water-based powers as him, and aided in fighting her fellow clone off as Spider-Man went after Dr. Warren. By the end of the two-part episode, both Mary Jane and Hydro-Man destablilize into nothing, though she tells Spider-Man that she enjoyed the time she spent with him.
In the series finale, after Spider-Man saves all reality from Spider-Carnage, Spider-Man’s mystic advisor, Madame Web, promises they would find the real Mary Jane (as she promised when she took Spider-Man from Earth after the Mary Jane clone died before the Secret War, which was a test to see if Spider-Man could stop Spider-Carnage). The “true” Mary Jane is never seen again in this series, but is shown to have been reunited with and married to Peter in the sequel, Spider-Man Unlimited. Jennifer Hale provided her voice. John Semper, producer of the previous show, revealed if he had continued the show, Mary Jane would have been found in Colonial England.
Mary Jane appears in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (where she was voiced by Lisa Loeb), taking place shortly after the events of the first live-action movie. In Mind Games: Part 1, like in the second movie, Mary Jane discovers that Spider-Man is Peter Parker, but it was revealed to be a dream sequence.
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Mary Jane, voiced by Vanessa Marshall, appears in The Spectacular Spider-Man. She is first mentioned in the fourth episode, “Market Forces”, by Aunt May, in her attempt to have her and Peter meet. Peter of course declines after May’s insistence that MJ has a “wonderful personality”. Later, Peter goes to visit Harry and receives an E-mail inviting him to the school’s Fall Formal. Peter jokingly suggests he could bring Mary Jane Watson, as he is dateless. A running gag occurred when Peter (and on one occasion, Harry as well) shuddered every time “wonderful personality” was used in reference to Mary Jane.
MJ finally appears for the first time just before the Fall Formal, when Peter, sulking because Betty Brant turned him down, is told by Aunt May that Anna Watson’s niece will be arriving any second. Peter is shocked to discover that May planned to have Peter attend the formal with Mary Jane all along. When he answers the door he is stunned to find her gorgeous, not at all what he was expecting. She looks at him with a sly smile and says her famous line, “Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot…” This version of Mary Jane can be seen somewhat as a mixture of the both the original and Ultimate version of the character—retaining the honest and geniuine version of the Ultimate counterpart, while still maintaining the flirtatious personality of the 616 version.
Peter and Mary Jane attend the dance where she shocks the crowd by showing up with Pete and playfully flirts with the boys. When Gwen sees her, she becomes upset, believing Peter lied about not going to the formal because he’d rather go with Mary Jane than her. Peter receives a call from the Daily Bugle demanding he go across town to photograph an event hosted by Tombstone where the new villain, Green Goblin, has just attacked. Mary Jane is very understanding of Peter ditching her, hinting that, like in the comics, she may be aware of his dual identity. When Peter foils the Goblin’s plans and returns to the gymnasium, he finds the students emptying out and Mary Jane dancing with Hobie Brown. He sighs, believing he blew his chances with the beautiful redhead by leaving, but Mary Jane tells him she saved the last dance just for him, and the two share a slow dance in the empty gym.
In the episode “Reaction”, she is seen cheering on Midtown High at a football game, sitting next to new friend Glory Grant. Peter squeezes between them and nervously tries to talk to her about the state of his and her relationship. Mary Jane assures him that they’re just friends, and that the dance was simply for fun. Peter is shown to be slightly disappointed at her interest in Flash. Later, when Doctor Octopus attacks Peter and his friends at the Coney Island Carnival, Gwen trips and falls in the chaos, and Mary Jane goes back and helps her up. Spider-Man rescues both girls from Octopus’ clutches. That night Flash and Liz break up, and Peter, ready to comfort Liz is held back by Mary Jane who says “Not now Tiger.”
On the night of the Halloween Fair in the streets of Manhattan, Mary Jane, dressed as a vampire, searches for Peter in hopes of telling him she now attends Midtown High thanks to her acceptance by its theater magnet. Later that night, when Flash makes a move on her, she tells him she likes him, but that “this redhead’s a free agent”. When Peter appears at the Fair dressed in his Spider-Man garb, MJ smiles and tells him he fills out the costume nicely. The next day, Peter makes his way to school when he hears Mary Jane call him over from the water fountain in the school’s courtyard. She informs him of her enrollment at the school and that she meant to tell him last night but he had disappeared once again. Gwen then arrives and tells the two that Harry has taken a leave of absence with his father (which Peter secretly knows is because of Harry’s addiction to the Globulin Green Formula and his subsequent stint as the Green Goblin).
Later when the Sinister Six attacks Spider-Man (who recently bonded with the Venom Symbiote), Aunt May has a heart attack with Anna Watson nearby. Mary Jane is then the one to notify Peter of his aunt’s condition, and she later informs his friends as well. Later, when Peter arrives at school and his friends attempt to console him, Peter (under the symbiote’s influence) verbally dejects everyone, including Mary Jane. He apologizes the next episode though, and Mary Jane warns him about Eddie’s growing hatred towards him, as he tried to hurt Peter by using her.
She is seen at the Thanksgiving Day parade with Flash. As before, she continually dodges his advances. Nonetheless, Spidey is understandably annoyed. It is Mary Jane who initiates the assistance in helping Gwen from dangling from a float after being endangered by Venom. When Venom makes mention of his plans to go after the one Peter truly loves, he dashes to the parade and seeks out Mary Jane, believing it was her who Venom spoke of. Once he sees she is not in any danger, he notices Gwen is speaking to Eddie Brock.
In the three films to date, the character of Mary Jane Watson has been portrayed by Kirsten Dunst.
Mary Jane is Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire)’s childhood and high school crush and only sweetheart. At the time, she is dating the high school bully, Flash Thompson (Joe Manganiello), but breaks up with him at their high school graduation ceremony. Desperate to escape her abusive, alcoholic father, Mary Jane begins to pursue a career in acting, but she secretly waitresses at a diner after being rejected at an audition. Peter’s friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), is her first boyfriend after leaving high school, but she becomes attracted to Peter’s alter-ego, Spider-Man, after the superhero saves her from the Green Goblin. She later shares a passionate kiss with Spider-Man while he is suspended upside down after he saves her from a gang of thugs. Mary Jane begins to grow more distant from Harry, denying his advances. Her feelings for Peter grow when he tells her what he supposedly told Spider-Man about her. After Harry sees Peter and Mary Jane holding hands, he gets angry and breaks up with her.
Harry’s father Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) knows of Spider-Man’s secret identity and finds out about his feelings for Mary Jane from his son. As his criminal alter-ego, the Green Goblin he kidnaps her and holds her over the Queensboro Bridge, telling Spider-Man that he must choose between her and a group of children caught in the Roosevelt Island tram car. Spider-Man saves both Mary Jane and the children, however. At the end of the film, Mary Jane tells Peter that she loves him and they kiss. However, Peter shies away from her as he is afraid for her safety, and thus does not want to get involved with her. She is heartbroken by his rejection, but realizes that her kiss with Peter reminded her of the one she shared with Spider-Man and suspects that he is the superhero.
Mary Jane wants to start a relationship with Peter, who still resists because he fears for her safety. In her frustration Mary Jane goes on to have a relationship with John Jameson (Daniel Gillies), the astronaut son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons). Prior to this, Harry said that she was waiting for him. Much to Peter’s delight, he sees her billboard picturing her modeling for a perfume near the pizza place he works at.
Later, Peter decides that being Spider-Man is not what he wants and he attempts to start a relationship with her. Mary Jane pushes him away this time because she is getting married to John Jameson, but secretly does want a relationship with Peter, although she tries to convince herself otherwise. She is also angry at Peter because he fails to see her star in The Importance of Being Earnest, which John, Harry, and Aunt May have seen, some of them more than once. (Even her father went backstage to ask for money.) When Peter does arrive to see it the first time, a snooty usher (Bruce Campbell) stops him for being late. The second attempt to see it, which is successful, is when he tries to reconnect with her. After Mary Jane kisses John, in a manner that is reminiscent of the upside-down kiss between she and Spider-Man from the first film, she finds that she may want a relationship with Peter.
She meets Peter in a coffee shop where she asks for a kiss to confirm her belief that he is Spider-Man. She even asks him if he loves her, to which he falsely replies,”I don’t”, for the sake of his superhero responsibilities and her safety. Just before Peter can kiss her, Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) kidnaps her and runs away. Doctor Octopus takes her to an abandoned pier where Spider-Man confronts him. Spider-Man pulls his mask off in hopes of getting Doctor Octopus to come back to his senses, and Mary Jane sees that Spider-Man and Peter Parker are one and the same. After Doctor Octopus reforms and sacrifices himself to save New York, Spider-Man and Mary Jane share a moment toegther, where Spider-Man finally admits that he does love Mary Jane, but cares more for her safety.
At the film’s end, Mary Jane prepares to marry John Jameson, but she leaves him at the altar, goes to Peter’s apartment, and reveals that she loves Peter and is prepared to face whatever risks their relationship may bring.
Both Mary Jane and Harry now know that Peter is Spider-Man. In the film, Peter is intending to ask MJ to marry him. When he reports the good news to his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), she is delighted and asks Peter to give her engagement ring as a gift to Mary Jane. However, Peter becomes slightly overconfident due to Spider-Man’s success. Meanwhile, Mary Jane’s Broadway debut takes a turn for the worse when her performance gets bad reviews. Unaware of this incident, Peter accidentally pushes Mary Jane away, thinking he understands her situation. She also begins a rivalry with Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) for Peter’s affections. Having been replaced on Broadway by her understudy and then having to work at a jazz club, Mary Jane and Peter’s relationship worsens when Spider-Man is unexpectedly kissed by Gwen Stacy in front of a whole crowd of people the same way Mary Jane kissed Spider-Man in the first film. When Peter attempts to propose to Mary Jane that same night, Gwen appears at the same restaurant and flirts with him; Mary Jane leaves, furious.
Mary Jane, feeling alone and despondent, calls Harry, who recently lost his memory and hatred of Spider-Man after being defeated in an aerial battle as the New Goblin. They renew their bond, and in a moment of joy, Mary Jane kisses Harry. Realizing what she is doing, Mary Jane quickly leaves; the emotional turmoil restores Harry’s memories and his mission to destroy Spider-Man as the New Goblin. He confronts MJ in her apartment, and threatens to kill Peter if she does not break up with him. Following Harry’s orders, she breaks up with Peter. Peter, heartbroken and upset, refuses to tolerate these tragedies, and turns to the symbiote suit, which enhances his aggression.
One night, Peter decides to go to Mary Jane’s jazz club with Gwen. He shows her up on stage by playing the piano, and makes a big show of dancing with Gwen. Gwen, realizing that she is being used as a prop to make Mary Jane jealous, apologizes and leaves. Mary Jane is still visibly shaken when Peter confronts her at the bar, and he is assaulted by two of the club’s bouncers. A fight ensues, and Mary Jane tries to stop Peter. Thinking she is another bouncer, Peter strikes her. Peter, realizing what the evil symbiote is trying to do, leaves the club.
Peter tears the symbiote off his body at a church bell-tower. During the struggle, it falls on Eddie Brock, Jr. (Topher Grace) standing below and creates Venom. At his apartment, Peter fears that even though the symbiote was responsible for current events, he may not be able to put Mary Jane first, and gives his wedding ring back to Aunt May, who convinces him that if he tries his best, he can put things right. Peter then goes to Harry in desperation, because he needs help against his new foe. Harry turns him down, but changes his mind after his butler reveals that Norman Osborn had in fact killed himself. Meanwhile, Venom kidnaps Mary Jane, holding her hostage at a construction site, where a climatic battle takes place between the team of Venom and the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) against Spider-Man and Harry Osborn, a.k.a. the New Goblin. During the fight, Harry defeats Sandman, but is impaled by Venom with his own glider. After Spider-Man defeats Venom, he goes over to the mortally wounded Harry, alongside whom Mary Jane is also present. Harry dies in Mary Jane’s arms, mending his friendship with Peter in his dying breaths.
After attending their friend’s funeral, Peter and Mary Jane reconcile.
Romance novelist Judith O’Brien wrote two 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.) 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 weren’t 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.
Mary Jane appears in almost every Spider-Man video game, but almost exclusively as a victim of kidnapping who must be saved.
“Face it, Tiger… you just hit the jackpot!”, Mary Jane’s first words to Peter, 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 quotations in Marvel comic books and other Marvel products include:
This line has never been used in any Spider-Man films, although “tiger” has been used by Mary Jane as a term of endearment.
Outside of Marvel, the line has also been used in: