Poor Mary Jane Watson. Even though her life looked as if it were full of fun and dancing, she experienced so much hardship just by being Spider-Man’s girl. Sure, she walked into trouble like most superhero partners are wont to do every now and then, but a lot of the time it sought her out just because it would hurt Spider-Man.
Plenty of fans harbored grudges against MJ, who was modeled after Ann Margaret, for stealing Peter Parker away from sweet Gwen Stacy, who also met a grisly death. While some continued to surly refer to Mary Jane as a Mary Sue, she grew on most fans who thought she was interesting and largely supportive of Peter. That makes all of the tragedies that she experienced at the hands of the Marvel Powers That Be even crueler and harder to bear.
A few may be a bit on the “Get over it already” scale, but most of MJ’s worst days are pretty hard-hitting, even for a carefree party girl. Some resulted in life-long heartache and others even ended in death. They’re mostly things you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy–they are the 16 Worst Things That Happened to Mary Jane Watson!
16. Cut From Amazing Spider-Man 2
When you’re promised scenes in a movie with your beau and you’re completely cut from the entire film, it has to sting. While Mary Jane, played by Shailene Woodley, was not intended to be Spider-Man’s main squeeze in Amazing Spider-Man 2, she was supposed to at least be mentioned in the movie. Plenty of people have no idea that this was the case, of course, since she wasn’t even in it at all.
The scenes that Woodley filmed were completely nixed from the movie. Director Marc Webb said that while the scenes were great, they just didn’t feel right paired with the “sacred” romance between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone).
15. Her Face Was Always Hidden (And Once It Was Zombified)
There is a running joke among Marvel fans that Mary Jane’s face was always hidden when she was first mentioned in the series. Aunt May constantly told Peter that she knew this lovely girl for him to date, but as many times as she was mentioned, Mary Jane just wasn’t seen. It’s a pretty lousy way to be introduced into a series, but soon MJ’s face was not only seen but she was heard just about as often as Peter.
Of course, having your face hidden is much better than being eaten and turned into a zombie, which is what happened to Mary Jane in Marvel Zombies (Earth-2149) when Peter attempted to save her and Aunt May. His zombie bite from Captain America tragically spread the contagion through his body with very bad timing and soon he was eating MJ’s flesh as well as May’s.
There was the time she kissed Jerome James and was pretty tempted by the pretty boy. There was the time that she went on a night out with Bruce Wayne that was totally left to interpretation from fans, which is almost worse than telling us what really went down.
As loyal as Mary Jane usually is, she has had some moments of infidelity, which is the worst thing a hero’s lover can do in the eyes of readers. Punch him in the face, eat his grandma in a zombie apocalypse… all is forgiven. Kiss another guy? You are dead to us! Fans even point out that she cheats on Peter in the films… with Spider-Man.
The shoe has been on the other foot, although not nearly as badly: MJ walked in on Peter macking on Sarah Stacy, who once thought that Peter was her father before she decided to make out with him. She caught him by surprise, though, and Parker did not return Stacy’s feelings, no matter how much she looked like her dead mother. Mary Jane and Sarah eventually became friends.
13. Peter Lied To Her About Resuming His Spider-Man Duties
When your partner lies to you about anything, it can lead to a huge fight. “Yes, I returned the Redbox DVD!” A $25 fee later and you’re fighting for a week.
When that lie is about what you do in your spare time – especially if that activity is something that you both agreed you wouldn’t do anymore – it can lead to the destruction of a relationship. Remember in Rocky II when Adrian didn’t approve of Rocky being a fighter after he just promised he wouldn’t fight anymore, even after his doctor advised him not to do it anymore?
Well, then we wouldn’t have had a Rocky II – and we wouldn’t have had a Spider-Man if Peter Parker kept his word, either. When Peter went behind MJ’s back to return to his Spidey duties after promising he was done with his webbed work, she was displeased, to say the least.
12. Worried About Her Husband All The Time When She Needed To Worry About Herself
Chronic worry can do a lot of things to a person. Sleepless nights, raised blood pressure, anxiety… when you have had a loved one in the hospital, work in law enforcement or otherwise in danger, you know this feeling.
Mary Jane understandably worried about her husband pretty often, sometimes even pacing the streets, hoping to see him, in order to cope with both his precarious absences as well as her own loneliness.
She’s not alone in her worry. Peter Parker has anxiety about Mary Jane being in danger due to his own identity, and he knows what happened to Gwen Stacy just because she was his girl. Peter often expresses this worry before the two are married.
Some of the dangers that Mary Jane has faced really don’t have anything to do with her being Spider-Man’s wife, though: she was stalked and kidnapped as a model as well as stalked and nearly murdered by a crazy fan during her TV soap opera career.
11. Became A Damsel In Distress In The Sam Raimi Movies
When Kirsten Dunst complained that her character was watered down and rendered a “damsel in distress” in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, she wasn’t wrong.
In this universe, Mary Jane is routinely in need of saving to the point where it seems as if their relationship is built more upon Spider-Man saving her than anything else. It isn’t as annoying as Kim Basinger shrieking during every scene in Batman, but it’s close.
It’s not that MJ isn’t ever threatened, but in the comic books she is so much more of a fiery force to be reckoned with. She always speaks her mind and doesn’t hold back. She fought off Chameleon and other baddies. She has even transformed into Red Sonja a few times!
10. Propositioned By Venom
When Venom took over Spider-Man’s comatose body in order to fulfill his life fantasy of being Spider-Man in the 2007 What If? issue, things took a pretty gross turn. When Spider-Man insisted upon staying inside his cocoon to support his own fake death, the Venom symbiote took over his still body and renamed itself Poison.
One of the first things that Poison does is attempt to convince MJ to join him as his mate. Remember when Spidey wore the black suit? Yeah, that didn’t go over very well for Poison. Of course she refused.
As much as this terrible experience likely traumatized Mary Jane, Venom succeeded in spawning another symbiote to control Gwen Stacy’s corpse, making her dead body his mate instead, because of course the only thing the Spider-Man universe was missing was necrophilia between Peter and Gwen. Ew.
9. Nearly Raped By Chameleon
While Chameleon is not one of the most well-known Spider-Man rogues, he has definitely provided Peter Parker and company with plenty of grief over the years.
In one of his most sinister ploys in Spectacular Spider-Man #245, he attempted to rape Mary Jane. He posed as Spider-Man after drugging Peter, went to his house and kissed Mary Jane.
She immediately knew something was off (afterward, she said the kiss made her skin crawl) and tested him. When he proved to be a fake Peter, she beat him senseless with a baseball bat until the real Spider-Man came home.
8. Peter Punched Her While She Was Pregnant
The fresh-faced, wisecracking young man we all know and love sure doesn’t look like a wife beater, but he did hit a pregnant Mary Jane once.
In Spectacular Spider-Man #226, Spider-Man has an intense battle with Ben Reilly. When Ben insists that he is the real original Peter Parker and that Peter is the clone, he snaps and goes Berserk. MJ tries to step in and break up the fight, but Peter slams her back with his arm, shouting, “Get away from me! Leave me alone!”
Realizing what he had done, Peter quickly ran from the scene, leaving Mary Jane to wail for him to return to her. It’s a horrible scene all around, from every character’s view, but it’s especially harrowing for the pregnant Mary Jane, who was only trying to keep her husband from committing murder.
7. Made Out With Wolverine When He Was In Peter’s Body
Remember the time Jean Grey of the X-Men punished Wolverine by making him swap bodies with Peter Parker for a day? It was all fun and games until Wolverine took advantage of young Mary Jane Watson, who thought she was having happy naked time with her boyfriend, Peter Parker. T
his was one of the worst things both Jean and Logan ever did, the former out of sheer thoughtlessness and the latter out of repulsive, predatory behavior. Not only was it with someone who couldn’t consent to be with him, since she believed him to be someone else, but she was also underage.
You can even see his awareness of how disgusting his intentions are in the panel. Of course, Marvel’s never seemed to have an issue with consent under such circumstances, but more about that later.
6. Stalked And Temporarily Killed Off
During one of the first attempts to break up Peter and Mary Jane’s nuptials in Amazing Spider-Man (see #4), Howard Mackie and John Byrne decided that killing off Mary Jane was the answer. In 1999’s “Time Enough?” they took a plot that had already been in the works, which was MJ being stalked by a fan, and threw some steroids at it. A plane that Mary Jane had been in was blown to smithereens, apparently killing her off.
The stalker – the survivor of an explosion himself, – didn’t kill her off that easily, but the writers didn’t seem to give that much mind. Not only was Mary Jane apparently dead, but Spider-Man moved on from her death way too quickly, cozying up to Mattie Franklin and embracing his new life.
He had just effectively chosen being Spider-Man over his wife right before her plan crash anyway. In fact, we are meant to believe that was the cause of him not being able to save her in the first place. Later, we learn that she isn’t dead but kidnapped by her stalker.
5. Made Out With And Was Manipulated By Doc Ock While In Peter’s Body
Spider-Man writers don’t seem to give much of a damn when it comes to Mary Jane’s consent. In Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, she was manipulated by Doctor Octopus, who had swapped bodies with Peter.
Although his cruelty toward her should’ve been a red flag (what happened to the whole “wrong kisses make her skin crawl” thing?), MJ was so overjoyed at their sudden reconciliation that she overlooked his strange behavior. Making out with Dock Ock was even more painful to witness than the time with Wolverine, because of his villainous history with Peter.
As mentioned earlier, Marvel has issues with consent. Remember the time we all thought Chameleon raped Spider-Man’s roommate, Michelle, while pretending to be Peter? Writer Fred Van Lente defended the issue, saying it was not rape at all. “My understanding of the definition of rape is that it requires force or the threat of force, so no. Using deception to trick someone into granting consent isn’t quite the same thing.” That understanding of rape is flat out wrong and so was that issue.
4. Had Her Entire Marriage Erased By Mephisto
To many fans, 2007’s crossover One More Day is at the top of their list for both MJ and Spider-Man’s worst moments. It certainly tops the list of most infuriating plots ever written, especially out of all of the plots created just to break up a couple of characters.
In order to keep Spidey young and fresh, Joe Quesada and company decided to just end his marriage to Mary Jane in the weirdest way possible. Following Civil War, Aunt May had taken a bullet meant for Spider-Man and for some reason, none of the heroes in the entire Marvel universe could heal an old woman from a bullet wound. Not even Doctor Strange, who was explicitly asked. So Spider-Man asks the devil, Mephisto, for help, and in exchange for saving Aunt May, the devil doesn’t ask for Peter’s soul but his marriage.
3. Poisoned by Alison Mongrain And Norman Osborn, Which Killed Her Daughter
Even though you hear that most women experience a miscarriage at some point in their lives, that doesn’t make one any easier to bear. On the contrary, the loss of a child (even a potential child, to many women) is one of the most devastating things anyone can ever experience. Because of Norman Osborn, Mary Jane experienced not only this terrible loss, but a painful poisoning to boot.
Osborn paid Alison Mongrain to pose as a server at a restaurant where Aunt May and Mary Jane were waiting for Spider-Man. Mongrain added poison to MJ’s food, forcing her to enter premature labor and give birth to a stillborn baby. The Parkers were then led on to believe that the baby, May, was still alive but kidnapped, only to discover that it had been another cruel lie.
2. Murdered In A Vat Of Acid
In The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin SEGA Game, bad things just happen to good people. It’s kind of the law of the land. When you play as Spider-Man and you witness the love of your life getting dipped in a vat of acid, which slowly and painfully kills her, it’s hard to not become as outraged as Peter Parker must really feel watching the scene.
Many fans hate seeing a hero’s love interest sacrificed just to move his (or her) story line forward. It’s often utilized as lazy, overused motivation material to push the hero against an antagonist, ensuring that he is properly enraged to fight to the death.
1. Killed By Spidey’s Radioactive… Fluids
Yes, it’s disgusting. Yes, we can’t believe Marvel went there, either, but it happened. In the limited four issue series Spider-Man: Reign that ran from December 2006 through March 2007, Spider-Man embraces MJ’s corpse and laments how she died from literally being exposed to the radiation in his body. It gets graphic here, too: he doesn’t leave it open to interpretation at all and specifically states that it’s from taking in all of his fluids over the years.
“I am filled with radioactive blood,” he sobs while he clutches her decaying body. “And not just blood. Every fluid. Touching me… Loving me…” It’s quite clear that Peter is admitting to giving MJ cancer with his own semen. This may be one of the most WTF moments in any comic book’s history.
MJ’s definitely been through a lot. Did we miss any other horrible things that have happened to her in Spider-Man? Let us know in the comments
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