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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Among long-time Spider-Man writers and editors, MJ being a party girl but secretly putting on a facade is debated. Gerry Conway and others see her that way, and wrote MJ with Hidden Depths but others point out that the thought bubbles in the early issues are largely consistent with MJ's Manic Pixie Dream Girl behavior. Roger Stern for instance saw her as a party girl and believed that the MJ who married Peter was basically written into an entirely different character, even if, ironically enough, he was the one brought her back from being Put on a Bus, which led to her backstory being created and giving her more depth and sentiment. Marv Wolfman also had very similar feelings, which is why he was the one who put her on that bus to begin with.
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    • Does MJ really love "the real Peter" or is she only interested in him because she knew all along that he was Spider-Man. The latter is argued by Dan Slott, controversially, because he believes that it prejudiced her attitude towards Peter before she even met him, while others point out that her knowing Peter explains why she was more patient with him than many of his fellow social circle, and that the Two-Person Love Triangle is a pretty dead trope to use to judge true feelings. Likewise, given the fact that Spider-Man is the Hero with Bad Publicity (unlike Superman who is a charismatic public celebrity), MJ preferring and loyally supporting Spider-Man even when he is unpopular speaks in her favor (especially since that's why many liked her to start with). Adding credence to this is the often-forgotten aspect of Parallel Lives that notes that MJ actually had a crush on Peter before he got his powers, where to her he was Aunt Anna's cute, though geeky, neighbour. Finding out he was Spider-Man (whom she also separately crushed on because she identified with his need to wear a mask) merely added a wrinkle to her feelings.
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  • Angst? What Angst?: She had a miscarriage at the end of the Clone Saga, and the angst of losing a child is dealt with in pages that followed but downplayed after that. Given the tangled mess and editorial shenanigans that followed that and for the fact that the stories were downplayed, this isn't brought up again during the JMS era when the couple reunited even when certain issues such as Sins' Past about Gwen maybe secretly being Peter's babymama (and actually Osborn's) could have brought it up for MJ.
  • "Common Knowledge": Due to adaptions generally leaving out the more complex aspects of Mary Jane's character, the Raimi films especially, MJ seems to be seen in the general census as a typical cliché superhero love-interest; part popular girl wish-fulfilment fantasy for a Give Geeks a Chance story, part Damsel Scrappy constantly in need of rescue. In actuality, even before her backstory was expanded upon, her main role was more the comic relief than damsel-in-distress, and though she was pretty and popular with boys, she was hated by her female classmates, meaning that she wasn't even the popular girl in school (not to mention Peter met her after he'd finished school and grown out of being a 'geek'). The Character Development and expansion on her backstory furthers this, as its established that she was the one actually chasing Peter but afraid thanks to her insecurities (making it a case of 'Give Self-Conscious Girls a Chance'), and she'd developed into an Action Survivor who's more liable to escape and help save Peter than the other way around when in harm's way, who's also a highly valuable asset to Peter.
    • Another one that's been pointed out after the first issue of 2019's The Amazing Mary Jane, but the aforementioned popular perception of MJ being an unattainable wish-fulfilment character for a Give Geeks a Chance story often ignores that MJ herself is pretty adorkable herself; her first appearance has her happily, goofily dancing to music on the TV, and her upbeat energy generally gives her a fun weirdo vibe. Again, part of this is adaptations often downplay this to composite her with Liz and Gwen, who were popular girl types, even as the latter was re-written to be a nerd like Peter in modern updates.
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  • Death of the Author: Roger Stern is still widely liked and respected as one of the best writers of Spider-Man but a lot of fans have criticized him for his statements saying that Mary Jane wasn't right for Peter and that she had been written into a different character by later writers.note  An argument used by Dan Slott and others to defend the Post-OMD status quo, while Stern who wrote a short comic about MJ in The Many Loves of Spider-Man claimed that he had rerailed her character by making her into a fame-obsessed girl again by throwing out all the character work done by writers who came after him. The problem, as many point out, is that Mary Jane's backstory (having a broken home, guilt about leaving her sister) was all created by Stern himself who first outlined it and hinted at it in "The Daydreamers", even if it was Gerry Conway and Tom DeFalco who fleshed it out. They along with other writers who followed developed her character based on his work the same way he had built on the work done by earlier writers and many question both his claims when in fact his story repeatedly featured Ship Tease between Peter and MJ and likewise showed that both of them have similar yearnings for acceptance and neurosis.
  • Designated Monkey: Mary Jane is something of a strange and perhaps rare inversion of the Creator's Pet: she still remains utterly beloved by the fans but is polarizing among writers and editors (some writers do like her and like writing her). This has been true since Stan Lee and Ditko teased her as the girl Aunt May saw as being Peter's ideal girl and then Lee and John Romita Sr. gave her the iconic introduction. They initially saw MJ as a Romantic False Lead but she proved far more popular and interesting than Gwen Stacy, while also benefiting from a long buildup and tease unlike Gwen who just showed up when Peter went to college. Lee noted that it was as if the character took a life of her own. Later editors and writers point out that MJ is "too perfect" in that she more or less is Peter's true love, and she's also too big a part of the story (which means they can't just kill her off and have Peter go back to being the quipster like he did when Gwen died) and given that she's a light-hearted and generally cheerful character, killing her off would spoil the mood of the entire series and make it too dark.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Especially among fans of the comics. She started off as just a tease character to later on become Spider-Man's main Love Interest, as well as his Official Couple for most of the character's run. Her Fun Personified attitude made her stand out, not only among the other more conventional love interests Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy, but among female characters in super hero comics of the time in general. Afterwards, writers like Gerry Conway and Tom DeFalco rounded up her personality and back story, making her a much more compelling character on her own right.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Spider-Man/Mary Jane is possibly the most definitive example. Namely because it remains the most successful example of a fan ship actually becoming one of the first (she and Peter married before Post-Crisis Clark and Lois did) and longest running Official Couples in comics, over the intentions of both the original writing team and later Marvel editors with Stan Lee admitting the character took on a life of her own. The fact that Marvel broke them with what many in the comics see as Spider-Man's all-time worst story and one of the worst ever in comics, merely ensured that fans will continue to prefer them.
    • In fact Spider-Man/Peter Parker is basically the only guy who fans pair Mary Jane with. (In which the comics/adaptations have only occasionally ever played around with the idea of Mary Jane being with another guy and even then it is rarely if ever treated as serious.) But in recent years people have been pairing Mary Jane with some of the ladies namely Black Cat and to a lesser extent Gwen Stacey. Sure the shipping for Mary Jane & Black Cat (and/or Gwen Stacey) is often played as Les Yay since they are both well-known Ms. Fanservice ladies in which some fans use this as a One True Threesome with Spidey while some others use it as a joking Take That! to Spidey for his infamous actions in One More Day. Though as for Mary Jane & Black Cat, Marvel did have some fun with this in the Mangaverse in which while Black Cat & Mary Jane try to treat that Kiss of Life as No Yay but many fans have jokingly refer to it as sexual tension.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: For some, namely Dan Slott, Parallel Lives is this. Slott argues that the famous retcon of MJ knowing Peter's identity the whole time raises doubts if MJ fell in love with Peter Parker or with Spider-Man. Many also point out that having MJ know Peter is Spider-Man all along rather than cottoning or figuring it out over time, undersells her own deductive skills and powers of observation. While others feel that this Revision is necessary given that the main story is told entirely from Peter's perpective, and it lends earlier stories (especially her major moments) with some amount of retroactive Rewatch Bonus that develops her character, even if it is inconsistent in some stories and bits.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Aunt May and Aunt Anna's match-making of Peter and MJ is already sweet now anyway given where it lead, but Parallel Lives also casts some extra tingles thanks to establishing that while Peter didn't see MJ until years later, MJ had seen Peter and was interested in him, though her insecurities kept her from seeking him out on her own. Their matchmaking was actually them recognising MJ's crush and trying to help her.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Before her Signature Scene where she was fully introduced, Mary Jane tended to make appearances with her face obscured or out-of-panel so as not to be visible to the reader, often by an item in the foreground. Another attractive redheaded character in superhero media, Sara Bellum of The Powerpuff Girls would later have this as a constant character trait.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Inevitable when you have a bunch of old dudes write about teenagers and young adults and young romance in a period when the youth an their tastes were changing widely:
    • Stan Lee said that MJ was intended by him to be a joke character, i.e. the girl Peter was dodging was literally the most beautiful woman in comics at the time but after Ditko left and Romita appeared and driven by their need to update some of the dynamics for a new generation, they made MJ into a '60s sexually liberated girl that they saw, and expected their readers to see, as flighty, irresponsible, and a red herring for Peter who would then settle with Gwen (now reconfigured into a more demure and elegant type even if Ditko made her into a "man-eater" type originally). Most of the young readers saw a girl who was closest to them in sensibility (especially since she liked both Peter and Spider-Man), who was outgoing and extroverted and who weren't all that upset about her "irresponsibility". As such MJ became popular and the preferred pairing with Peter much to Lee's bemusement and surprise.
    • MJ's backstory (i.e. a child from a broken homenote  which first showed in pages in 1984 (three years before the decision to have her and Peter marry) was intended by Roger Stern who conceptualized it (later introduced by his successor Tom DeFalco to Stern's satisfactionnote ) as a Ship Sinking, explaining why MJ never accepted Peter's proposal, and why she wasn't marriage material (since she had psychological baggage about the failure of her parents and her sister's marriage and wasn't keen on continuing the cycle) and that she and Peter would be Better as Friends. Stern also saw this as Ship Sinking without derailing her character by giving her a sympathetic and understandable motivation so that people could see Both Sides Have a Point about why they wouldn't work as a couple, while also allowing MJ to become Peter's close friend and confidant. What the story ended up doing was confirming many of her fans' ideas about Hidden Depths, showed her to be just as flawed and nuanced as Peter (especially Stern's "The Daydreamers" where both she and Peter have similar fantasies about instant success and glory that get punctured by their own neurosis). The new backstory also made MJ Peter's foil, and the friendship between made them more and more compatible and only intensified their chemistry. Once the decision had been taken to have them married, most audiences felt that it was natural and in-keeping with their Character Development.
    • Spider-Man vs. Wolverine #1 a key story published in nearly the same time by Christopher Priest (comics), a writer who disliked MJ as a character and was opposed to their marriage, had Peter and MJ discuss his recent adventure with plenty of intense scenes and chemistry between them, including a moment where Peter kisses her on reflex. All the while the captions repeatedly insist to readers that She Is Not My Girlfriend. The end result is that people ended up liking them even more. Priest, in a 2018 Podcast at Amazing Spider-Talk Lampshaded this, noting that his intention was to communicate why it was an impossible love, but the romantic tension there ultimately helped sell the marriage that came a few months later, which he opposed. Priest compared it to the T'Challa and Storm romance which he had discussed for a brief issue as another impossible love but which again led to the marriage between the two.
    • Another problem on the whole was that once Spider-Man became a tri-monthly title, the second series such as Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (later just Spectacular Spider-Man until the end of V.1) and Web of Spider-Man which had more character focused Lower-Deck Episode tended to provide more nuanced takes on Mary Jane than the main title and yet both were canonical. So Writer Revolt meant that Mary Jane who in the main title callously rejected Peter's proposal, in the second title, offered a more sympathetic take while also confirming that she deeply loved Peter. New writing teams as a rule tended to follow the main series continuity and scant the second series (and historically the latter are still overshadowed) even if the latter was canonical. So in a single month you would read stories where MJ's portrayal varies Depending on the Writer.
  • My Real Daddy:
    • Ditko, Lee, and Romita created her and defined her basic background (really attractive next-door neighbor that Aunt May believed would make a good couple with Peter), with Romita Sr. designing her final appearance, but Gerry Conway was the one who believed that she really had to have Hidden Depths and not be the flake that Peter, his friends, and readers saw her (as otherwise there should be no reason for Aunt May to believe MJ would be good for Peter). While Conway never defined her background, he highlighted the loneliness in her party girl facade, her compassion, and her warmth and he was the first one to write her and Peter as a couple. After Conway left for a while, he returned in The '80s and wrote the Parallel Lives graphic novel.
    • Tom DeFalco was the one who wrote the issue where MJ reveals that she knows Peter is Spider-Man, and he was the one who wrote her family background dealing with her troubled childhood as well as the issues setting up the marriage, when she accepts Peter's proposal. However, he drew on details and ideas suggested by Marv Wolfman (who revealed in Issue #192, that her parents were divorced) and especially Roger Stern (who implied that Mary Jane had a broken home and in Issue #246, in a daydream sequence introduces her sister Gail and her children and buried guilt about her past), which is ironic as both Wolfman and Stern have gone on record to state that they were highly opposed to Mary Jane's Character Development and eventual marriage to Peter that this helped bring about.
    • Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley's take on Ultimate Mary-Jane has also proven influential even if Ultimate MJ differs significantly from classic MJ in a lot of respects (no longer being the spacey Party Girl that has been an artifact since The '60s and so they updated it to someone who was interested in journalism), albeit also proving that Peter could be in a relationship with her and still be a superhero. Their design of MJ also made her look beautiful but more homely, dialing down the "unattainable goddess" aspect that made many believe she was "too perfect for Peter". This inspired her well regarded turn in Spider-Man (PS4).
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The recent complaints about Joe Quesada and Dan Slott writing MJ out of character isn't the first time this happened to MJ. It was done by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. themselves when in an effort to resolve the triangle between Peter, MJ and Gwen in favor of the latter. They sought to make MJ ugly with a ridiculous haircut, had her Put on a Bus (something that later writers and editors also did), had her take a level in Jerkass, and in one issue even colored her blonde by mistake (here). Even during the marriage the writers put her through phases of this, particularly the mid-to-late 90s, when she was more portrayed as a Wet Blanket Wife that completely disregarded her usual spunky attitude.
    • A good part of MJ's background and character was already set up in the Lee-Ditko era when she was still The Ghost before Romita Sr's introduction. Most notably, the fact that she was incredibly beautiful as Betty and Liz who see her think aloud themselves. That she came from Queens and was from a modest background, and that Aunt May believed she was right for Peter. Her long build-up and instantly iconic introduction instantly confirmed her in the eyes of Spider-Man's fans as Peter's true romance since she was set up for so long even if Stan Lee and Romita Sr. later entertained the idea of Gwen Stacy as Peter's real girlfriend.
    • Mary Jane's troubled background was suggested as far back as Amazing Spider-Man #192, where in a thought bubble written by Marv Wolfman, MJ reveals that her parents were divorced, and this alongside the brittle marriage of Ned and Betty led her to reject Peter's proposal at first. Roger Stern then expanded when he reintroduced her and had Aunt May reveal to Peter that both he and MJ have "lost so much" and in Issue #246, which had various characters experience daydreams, hinted at Mary Jane's guilt about her sister Gail and her family.
    • Recently fans have taken to deprecating MJ as Spider-Man's Lois Lane, especially in adaptations that tend to make her into reporter. While having her be a journalist in Ultimate Spider-Man and the PS4 game is based on Lois (who is an archetypical character in her own right as is her husband), what people forget is that a good part of what defined the modern Superman and Lois dynamic (knowing and liking both Clark and Superman, being his confidant, getting married and having children) was all done by MJ first. Already in The '80s, she had known Peter's double life and had become his confidant. The Spider-Man Wedding preceded and influenced the marriage of Lois and Clark in regular continuity ten years later.
    • While a number of fans assume that MJ's first appearance in media (games/movies/cartoons etcetera) came in The '90s. Her real first appearance is in Spider-Man (1967) episode "the Big Brainwasher" i.e. right from the start. Hilariously, while MJ in the cartoon is similar to her appearance in AMS #51 (i.e. as a go-go dancer for one of Kingpin's fronts) she's also made a composite with Gwen Stacy (being Captain George Stacy's niece) and this from an episode that aired before Gwen's death in the comics. In other words, MJ was upstaging and having her character blended with Gwen right from the start and before Gwen's death.
    • There are many fans who believe that Mary Jane being portrayed as a helpless Damsel in Distress was an invention of Sam Raimi, since from the 80s and onward this has seldom happened to her in the comics. But following the death of Gwen Stacy in the 70s, this actually did occur on a semi-regular basis. And that includes screaming for Spider-Man to help her, which at one point Spider-Man himself actually made fun of. So the real issue here is simply a generational gap, as Raimi is a child of the 60s and 70s, so this kind of portrayal of Mary Jane is the one he's most familiar with.
  • One True Pairing: Peter and Mary Jane. This pair has been around for over 45 years The fact that Mary Jane is Spidey's Official Couple in the vast majority of adaptations and spin-offs definitely helps.
  • Periphery Demographic: Her presence in Spider-Man titles, both in the early years and especially after the marriage, brought a significant female readership to Spider-Man especially since a lot of their best stories deal with being in a relationship, issues of commitment, upholding a marriage which few superhero stories tackled. Likewise, Mary Jane was also a fairly progressive character for her age being a Working-Class Hero who struggled against adversity and was smart, compassionate, and independent.
    • A lot of women (and even men!) found MJ to be very compelling and a breath of fresh air compared to other female characters at the time. People liked how she had more characterization than the usual stock traits Love Interests are saddled with in other stories (turning into damsels in distress or spending all their time crying and nagging at their boyfriends), or how she wasn't the typical sexy and tough superheroine who'd punched her way out of problems. In comparison to these two stock characters, people found MJ relatable and approachable.
  • Poor Man's Substitute:
    • A number of fans and writers who remembered Gwen from the issue in which she died or from her posthumous elevation as Peter's lost lenore tend to see MJ as "sloppy seconds" on account of the fact that Gwen is seen as "wifey material" (owing to her upper middle-class university educated background who also attended Peter's science lectures), as well as George Stacy approving of Peter. In actual fact, Gwen was MJ's Rich Man Substitute. She was reconfigured by Lee and Romita Sr. to resemble MJ physically and wear more fashionable clothes in later issues, and MJ was always the popular character who audiences related to, while Gwen was the Designated Love Interest that Lee kept trying to make the heroine to little avail. Jonathan Lethem Lampshaded this in his review of Spider-Man:
      "By the mid-1970s Spider-Man’s great plot-lines – The Death of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s ethereal blonde girlfriend, who would haunt him as Kim Novak haunts James Stewart in Vertigo...were well behind him. And Peter Parker had settled for what seemed to us a second-best girlfriend, the dark-haired ‘girl next door’, Mary Jane Watson...My researches unearthed this horrible fact –- the Marvel scripters who followed Stan Lee on the job killed off Gwen Stacy because they found her unworkably dull, a cold fish. Red-haired Mary Jane was more approachable, sexier, all along. If I’d known sooner I might have been spared some pining."
    • MJ In-Universe also sees herself as this, and some writers tend to use this to give tension to her relationship with Peter since it negates MJ's "unattainable" quality where rather than being out of Peter's league, MJ sees herself as never measuring to an impossible ideal (Gwen being the perfect love who died) and her own insecurity over growing up poor and incompletely educated as compared to Gwen and Peter.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Her backstory revealed by Stern and Defalco, as well as Parallel Lives, effectively gave many iconic moments a new spin, with many noting that it makes Mary Jane's attitude and actions in earlier stories, and especially her major ones, brimming with insight, while making the existing stories more complex. It also reveals a more impish, tricksy, and trollish side to her.
    • Mary Jane's first date with Peter which consists of dragging him off to see the Rhino's rampage while MJ stands and cheers Spider-Man on, with Peter's own thought bubbles communicating how awesome it is for Spider-Man to have such a girl around, makes it funnier and sweeter with this in mind, especially her off-hand comment out loud about how she hopes Peter takes pictures of the entire fight.
    • Mary Jane's more unsympathetic behavior like her dismissal of Harry Osborn's drug problems make some amount of sense given her past growing up in an abusive home with dead-end relationships in her father's and her sister's marriages, as well as Harry trying to be possessive of her. Likewise her catty comment to Gwen in Issue #87 over her hysterical responsenote  to Peter possibly being Spider-Man while Harry suggests that it's an elaborate prank really works if you see it as an eyeroll on her part at how thick both her friends are as well as Lampshading Peter's dead-end relationship with Gwen.
    • Mary Jane knowing Peter's identity, waiting for his return until late at night at the end of The Night Gwen Stacy Died also makes sense with the revision while also making her decision to stick with Peter and starting a relationship after seeing what happened to Gwen, even more courageous on her part as well as highlighting her compassion for him. It also better explains why she rejected Peter's first proposal since as far as she knew Peter was proposing to her without telling him his greatest secret and continuing to lie to her about it, which she obviously saw as a sign that he didn't trust her enough.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Quite often gets this, from either people who want Peter to be single or people who wanted him to end up with Gwen Stacy or Black Cat (usually the former); quite often, despite MJ and Gwen having been best friends, their friendship is downplayed to instead depict them as bitter rivals, often sympathising with Gwen on the matter. Interestingly, this plays into the real-life What Does She See in Him? that Peter and MJ often get, as people erroneously believe that as a supermodel (something MJ never was in the first place) would have no reason to date a nerdy everyman like Peter...which seems to assume that simply being a sexy model means MJ is incapable of valuing Peter's kindness and strength of character, and treats it as if trading on her looks must mean she's too shallow.
  • Signature Scene: Many of the most iconic Spider-Man moments revolve around her:
    • The first is her famous introduction scene, "Face it Tiger..." which is still considered one of the all-time greatest character intros.
    • The other is the final panels of The Night Gwen Stacy Died where she chooses to stay with Peter even after he lashes out at her in grief.
    • The Reveal where after the fight with Spider-Man and Puma, she reveals that she had known Peter's double identity all along.
    • The upside-down kiss in Spider-Man was repeatedly parodied and homaged in popular culture in The Oughties, with The Simpsons even doing their version with Homer and Marge.
    • Matt Fraction's "Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1" - "To Have and to Hold" (nominated for an Eisner award and considered one of the best Spider-Man stories in the last decades), has many iconic moments, such as the opening and closing scenes showing Peter and MJ atop the radio tower on the Empire State Building.
  • Super Couple: Again, Peter and Mary Jane. However, they're unique in the sense that their on and off dynamics aren't intentional to keep the readers interested. Ironically, it's due to the editors wanting to separate them, but their popularity as a couple (and the fact that, with the arguable exception of Gwen, their chemistry and romance are overall far better written than with Spidey's other love interests) just make them getting back together every time. Even after One More Day, the possibility keeps coming back every once in a while.
    Ta-Nehisi Coates: I wouldn't argue that the Parker-Watson marriage was always well-written and well-drawn... But in a genre aimed at young males, it is very hard for me to come up with a more mature, and I would say healthy, vision of what a marriage should look like. Mary Jane Watson was not looking to be saved. If anything, she wanted Peter Parker to stop saving people. She did not need Peter Parker. She was not fashioned especially to be his wife. She was a human and seemed as though she would have been with Peter Parker, or without him... One More Day felt like an erasure of what had been one of its more unintentionally bold endeavors—the attempt to allow a superhero to grow up, to be more than Peter Pan, to confront the tragic world as it was, to imagine life beyond what should have been.
  • Tough Act to Follow: None of Peter's other Love Interest have ever given her real competition. The only one who came close was Gwen Stacy and even that was more by means of massive Informed Attribute and Character Shilling, until Gerry Conway simply threw in the towel and dropped her off a bridge. Incidentally, in the Steve Ditko era, when MJ was still The Ghost, one of her early "appearances" (where her face was covered by a partition) had Betty Brant and Liz Allan (both of whom had a crush on clueless Pete) taking one look at her at Aunt May's house, and admitting to themselves at the same time (this was still the time when they used thought-bubbles) that she has them beat, setting the problem in later stories. Another popular Love Interest is Black Cat, but since she is not really into the Peter Parker persona, realistically speaking, she isn't real competition to MJ either. This also applies in the Post-OMD era, where basically coming in after a marriage that lasted in the real world for more than twenty years, and then ended in proverbially bizarre circumstances, makes Peter's follow-up romances feel like less-than-rebounds, and none of them have been able to fulfill the role for any meaningful amount of time. Specially since she is still widely beloved by the fan base, and Spidey has far more iconic moments tied to her compared to any other supporting character, except perhaps for Jameson.
  • Values Dissonance: This was always part of what made her popular in the first place, as while she was meant to be what the creators saw as irresponsible only for readers to instead see as relatable and liberated. But to a modern viewer, even things that were at the time seen as negatives by readers look much more reasonable now. When written, MJ's excessively laid-back attitude looked shallow to the writers/readers, but to a modern viewer her dating for fun rather than commitment seems perfectly reasonable for a college girl and hardly a 'flaw'. Similarly, her bailing on Harry when his drug abuse and mental problems got out of hand was treated as a mistake she regretted. However, to a modern audience, the idea women are supposed to take care of damaged men even at their own expense has became increasingly criticised due to it often leading to abusive relationships, and so MJ deciding to leave Harry (who shortly after became violent and unstable) looks more like her recognising serious red flags and understandably prioritising her own safety. The later reveals about her backstory even adds additional context, as it makes it even more reasonable why she wouldn't want to stay in a relationship with a mentally unstable drug-user.
  • The Woobie:
    • Given her depressing backstory and abusive father, she ultimately becomes this. Also whenever MJ is shown feeling guilty and insecure about Gwen, it makes her so sad and vulnerable that she becomes this even more.
    • Ultimate Mary Jane is even more this than regular one. She suffers from a broken home, encounters PTSD after her first Damsel in Distress encounter, and is so tormented by the emotional abuse her father unleashes on her mother and her, that her relationship with Peter is the happiest she has ever been.

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