Spider-Man and Mary Jane are one of the most famous couples in all of comic books. The only relationship that might be more well known than theirs is Superman and Lois Lane. When Sam Raimi released Spider-Man (2002), he decided to rewrite Spider-Man's history to make Mary Jane the girl next door, who Peter had a crush on since childhood. In the comics, he didn't meet her until much later, and they didn't seriously start dating until years had passed. However, they eventually got married, and as far as everyone was concerned, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were Marvel's best couple.
Of course, behind the scenes, things were never that simple. Mary Jane was originally introduced just to be a foil for Gwen Stacy, Peter's love interest during the time period. Decades later, when Peter and Mary Jane got married, not everyone at Marvel was thrilled. Many writers and editors tried to break the couple up, but could never do so without angering fans. When they eventually did, it was one of the most controversial stories ever. The result is that the two have had a very weird, strained relationship over the years. While they're depicted as happy and in love, there are a lot of details that don't make sense.
20 EVERYTHING ABOUT "ONE MORE DAY"
One of the most controversial Spider-Man stories ever has to be One More Day (2007) by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada. Aunt May is nearing her end after being shot by one of the Kingpin's assassins. Mephisto offers to heal her, but only in exchange for wiping out Peter and MJ's marriage, because he hates true love.
Peter is reluctant, but MJ agrees. The result was one of the most confusing retcons ever. History was changed so that they never got married, but they still had a years long relationship. This left a lot of gaps in continuity that Marvel decided to just ignore and move on from.
19 THEY HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON
It's possible for two people to love each other and not have much in common. At some point, however, a couple needs to have something to build a relationship on. Peter Parker and Mary Jane couldn't be further apart from each other in almost every single way. He's a science geek with a weird sense of humor and no social skills.
Meanwhile, MJ is an aspiring model/actress, except for when she's a super successful model/actress. In recent years, she's shown a more entrepreneurial side, but that still involved opening a nightclub, the sort of place where Peter doesn't fit in at all. They say opposites attract, but there comes a point where that just becomes nonsensical.
18 THEY GOT TOGETHER WAY TOO SOON AFTER GWEN'S DEMISE
Time in comic books is a funny thing. The Marvel Universe has a sliding timescale, meaning that it's hard to peg down when stories took place in relation to each other. The time that passes in the real world means nothing. That being said, Peter and MJ started dating way too soon after Gwen Stacy's demise.
She lost her life in Amazing Spider-Man #121 (1973) by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane. By the end of the next issue, the seeds were being planted for them to get together. They didn't immediately start dating, but Peter seemed to get over his "one, true love" suspiciously fast. Granted, MJ was aware that Gwen cheated on Peter with Norman Osborn, but that's another story entirely.
17 SHE FLIP-FLOPS ON PETE'S LIFE AS SPIDER-MAN
Look, dating a superhero must be hard. Nobody can blame someone for not wanting to deal with it, or trying to convince a loved one not to risk their life. Also, it can make having a social life impossible. It's understandably frustrating, but at some point, enough is enough.
It seems like Mary Jane can't make up her mind about Peter's life as Spider-Man. Sometimes she's fully supportive, while other times she wants him to quit. Considering that she knew Peter was Spider-Man before she even met him, it's time for her to figure out her feelings and make a decision. They both know he's not going to give up being a hero, so it's time to be grown ups.
16 THEIR ENGAGEMENT WAS SUPER QUICK
In Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987) by David Michelinie, Jim Shooter, and Paul Ryan, Peter Parker married Mary Jane. Behind the scenes, this occurred because Stan Lee wanted Spider-Man to get married in the newspaper comic strip that he was writing at the time. Marvel liked the idea, and decided to have them get married in the comics as well.
The problem was that they were broken up at the time. So, the writers had to quickly bring her back, rekindle the romance, have Peter propose, and then get married. This all happened within the span of a few issues. Anyone that's ever planned a real wedding knows how unrealistic this whole timeline was.
15 DO THEY HAVE A BABY OR NOT?
The second Clone Saga that ran during the mid '90s had one of the most confusing endings ever written. Basically, the writers needed to finish Ben Reilly's storyline while also tying up all of Peter's loose ends to make it possible for Peter to become Spider-Man again. One of these plot threads was the fact that Mary Jane was pregnant.
The editors felt that Spider-Man being a dad would age him, so they suggested that Mary Jane not have the baby, after all. However, it was also heavily implied at the time that Norman Osborn had the baby taken away. This storyline was teased for a few years, before ultimately being forgotten about.
14 WHY DOES PETER STILL USE THE BLACK SUIT?
In Amazing Spider-Man #299 (1988) by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, Venom made his frightening first appearance. Mary Jane thought she saw Peter wearing his black costume, until a mouth formed and turned into a horrific smile. Venom didn't hurt Mary Jane, but the experience was still pretty traumatic for her.
After Spidey defeated the villain, Mary Jane asked him to stop wearing the black costume. This made sense, and Peter happily obliged. Except, he keeps bringing the costume back from time to time. Sometimes there's a specific reason, other times he just seems to feel like wearing it. He knows it scares his wife, but apparently Peter likes the way it looks too much to care.
13 HOW SUCCESSFUL IS HER CAREER?
Not everyone is a fan of Peter and Mary Jane's relationship. While many fans love her, some feel that it's weird for Peter Parker to be married to a supermodel. That can be a valid complaint, but the problem is that Mary Jane has had one of the most inconsistent careers ever.
She's constantly moving between being a struggling model, a highly sought after model, a soap opera actress, and even giving up on show business completely multiple times. It's understandable for careers to have ups and downs, but it seems like the writers can't even decide if she's famous or not.
12 THEY'VE BOTH DEALT WITH TOO MANY STALKERS
In the late '90s, Marvel's first attempt to undo Spider-Man's marriage resulted in Mary Jane getting on a plane which then exploded mid-flight. For the next year or so, everyone believed she had passed away. Instead, she had been snatched away by a deranged stalker, who caused the explosion so that no one would look for her.
Before that, Mary Jane had to deal with Jonathan Ceaser, who attempted to take her away several times in the early '90s. Even Peter had to deal with his ex girlfriend, Felicia Hardy, dating Flash Thompson just so she could be near him during that same time period. People really need to give these two their privacy.
11 THEY BREAK UP CONSTANTLY
Comic books can't just rely on action, they also need to have drama. One of the most common places writers create drama is in the hero's relationships. It's probably very hard to date a superhero, and it's understandable that not everyone would want to sign up for that ride. At some point, however, enough is enough.
It's hard to feel bad for them when Peter and Mary Jane break up, because they do it all the time. He's always focusing on saving people, she's constantly moving to another part of the country to work on her career. When Mephisto forced them to break-up, he could've just waited a few months and gotten the same result.
10 HOW DID SHE NOT NOTICE OTTO'S MIND IN PETER'S BODY
One of the darkest moments of Peter's life came about when Dr. Octopus swapped brains with Peter. In Amazing Spider-Man #700 (2012) by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, Otto's body passed on with Peter still trapped inside of it, leaving Otto in control of Peter's body. For the next year or so, he lived as Spider-Man, and nobody noticed (despite a complete change in "Peter's" attitude).
Now, this may make sense for most people, but Otto briefly had a relationship with Mary Jane. She spent years living with Peter, and knows about his Spider-Man adventures. How could she not notice that something was very wrong? Sure, she noticed a change in Peter, but she should've realized that he wasn't the same person.
9 HOW DO THEY AFFORD THEIR APARTMENTS?
A common complaint across various forms of fiction is that characters always seem to be able to afford apartments that they shouldn't be able to. For Spider-Man and Mary Jane, however, it's pretty bad. Of course, there are times when Mary Jane's career is going very well, which explains how they can afford a nice apartment.
For the most part, however, Peter is a struggling photographer and she's a struggling model. Somehow, they are consistently able to afford apartments with giant skylights. Seriously, Tony Stark would struggle to afford some of the places they've lived in over the years. In reality, they should be living in a basement studio an hour away from Manhattan.
8 PETER WAS SUPER SHALLOW ABOUT MEETING HER
In the early stories, Peter could be kind of shallow. Granted, he was a teenager, but he always just seemed interested in dating the prettiest girls. Considering that he was always getting bullied and picked on, he should've been more understanding. When Aunt May first mentioned trying to set Peter up with MJ in The Amazing Spider-Man #15 (1964), he wanted nothing to do with her.
His reasoning was that he assumed that she wouldn't be his type, but the implication was pretty clear. Then, when he found out that she was beautiful, he was suddenly interested. It turns out, Peter's type was "any girl that looks good, regardless of her interests or personality."
7 WHY DID SHE NEED TO BE SET UP WITH PETER IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Every comic book fan knows the story of how Peter and MJ met. A recurring plot line in early Spider-Man stories was Aunt May constantly trying to set Peter up with her friend's niece. The two didn't actually meet until The Amazing Spider-Man #43 (1966) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, when Peter opened the door and she said the iconic phrase "face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot!"
What's weird about this, however, is that Mary Jane was a beautiful and outgoing girl. Peter was busy being Spider-Man, and was considered a nerd by his peers, so it's understandable that he'd need help getting dates. Mary Jane, on the other hand, should have been doing just fine.
6 HOW DID SHE KNOW TO SAY THE JACKPOT LINE?
Ok, this might seem like a nitpick, but it's always seemed kind of weird. The famous scene where Peter and Mary Jane first meet plays out like this: Peter answers the door, and Mary Jane is standing and delivers the famous line. It's a memorable moment, but it also doesn't make any sense.
Mary Jane never met Peter before this. How did she know she was a "jackpot" for him? Maybe she wasn't his type? For all she knew, he could have answered the door and been very disappointed. Also, maybe he wouldn't care what she looked like? It was a pretty arrogant thing to say, looking back, and she's lucky it didn't backfire.
5 THE REASON SHE CALLS HIM TIGER MAKES NO SENSE
For years, everyone focused on the "jackpot" part of Mary Jane's famous introduction, but apparently, Peter was focused on a different part. Apparently, he never understood why she called him "tiger," especially because the nickname stuck. In all honesty, it's a good question. Especially during those early years, Peter Parker was anything but a "tiger."
In the original Clone Saga that ran during 1975, Peter actually asked Mary Jane for the reason. It turns out, it's because he's not a tiger and she's just playfully teasing him. That's fine, except why did she say it the first time she met him? How did she know he wasn't a "tiger?"
4 THEY DON'T EVEN TRY TO HIDE KNOWING EACH OTHER
Peter's never been great at keeping a secret identity. His entire scheme is that he takes pictures of himself fighting crime as Spider-Man, and then pretends that he's just Spidey's photographer. He's basically telling everyone that he's connected to the wall-crawler in some way.
Even worse, whenever Spider-Man runs into Mary Jane, they often blatantly talk to each other in public. They always forget to pretend that Mary Jane isn't supposed to know Spider-Man. That, or they go way over the top and really awkwardly state that they don't know each other. At some point, someone's going to notice Spidey flirting with Peter Parker's wife and put two and two together.
3 HOW DID SHE FIGURE OUT HIS SECRET ID?
As previously stated, Peter is kind of terrible at keeping a secret identity. Often times, Peter doesn't even get caught as Spider-Man, people just end up figuring it out. For example, after dating Peter during the '70s and the '80s, Mary Jane broke up with him, moved away, and then came back to New York. When she returned, she revealed that she had figured out his secret.
While that made sense, later stories contradicted this. It was eventually revealed that she saw Peter leaving his house dressed as Spider-Man the night Uncle Ben died. So, she didn't figure it out. Obviously, this was a retcon, but the result is that Mary Jane lied to Peter. She didn't figure anything out!
2 THEY BOTH KEEP HANGING AROUND THEIR EXES
Both Peter and Mary Jane had healthy dating lives before marrying one another. There's nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, it's strange how they're both constantly hanging around their exes. Peter still brings Black Cat around constantly, and he and Betty Brant are still very close.
Meanwhile, Mary Jane dated Harry Osborn while they were both in college, and the relationship did not end well for him. Now, years later, everyone is always hanging out together and that's a little strange. Hanging around with your exes typically leads to disaster, and based on how many ex-boyfriends and girlfriends are around, Peter's Spidey-sense should be tingling.
1 GWEN WAS MEANT TO BE PETER'S TRUE LOVE, NOT MJ
The end of Gwen Stacy is one of the most defining moments in comic book history. Up until that point, the hero saved the girl. Part of what made this story so memorable was that Gwen Stacy was always meant to be Peter's one true love. Her demise rocked his world, and he's still affected by it, even to this day.
That's understandable, but it also strains Peter's relationship with MJ. She's always been understanding, but how many times can she come across him crying over Gwen's picture in the attic before it starts to effect her. She's constantly being reminded that she might be Peter's second choice. Even if she doesn't hold it against him, that has to hurt.