The Small Lebowski:
Amazing Spider-Man annual #21
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man annual #21
Well obviously that didn't happen! Pretty much no one has held their peace on this topic.
The first thing to get out of the way is the gimmicky nature of this event. The marriage was intended to sync up with the marriage in Stan Lee's syndicated newspaper strip and also included a big promotional event at Shea Stadium. Jim Shooter has some of the details here. It seems that the actual syncing up with the newspaper strip didn't work out as planned, and the majority of the promotional copies intended to generate new readers wound up getting shredded.
Storywise, Peter and MJ hadn't really even been a romantic couple at this point until the decision to go forward with the wedding was made and some stories were put together to get them back together. Considering that the story was meant for mass consumption, it's interesting that the decision was made to make this annual an in-continuity story, especially considering some of the objections to it (see editor Christopher Priest below). And while it was in-continuity, apparently David Michelinie's plot was considered too continuity laden, so Jim Shooter decided to plot it from scratch:
I think David Michelinie wrote the plot for the wedding issue first, but I had some concerns with it. I'm doing this from memory, but I think my objection was that it was too convoluted and unnecessarily continuity-heavy. We planned to do a big PR push. The book was likely to get a lot of attention, likely, therefore to attract a lot of new readers, including people new to comics. It had to be clear and accessible. No need to violate any continuity, but no need to get mired down in it, either. David didn't have time to do a rewrite, or maybe wasn't willing. Whatever. I ended up writing the plot.
Shooter then continues to say that, "Getting an art team was more difficult than it ought to have been". For more detail behind that story, see this excerpt of an interview with Sal Buscema.
And here's the quote from Christopher Priest:
Also, around that time, Stan decided that Peter and Mary Jane would get married in the Spider-Man syndicated newspaper strip. I thought, and still think, it was the worst creative move the company could have made. Spider-Man, by definition, is "The Hero Who Could Be You." Once he marries a supermodel and becomes domesticated, he moves beyond the realm of wish fulfillment of most adolescents. I mean, sure they'd like to give Mary Jane a toss, but marriage? What teenage boy dreams of marriage?
And let me also include a relevant part of an interview with Roger Stern:
GK: All right, how did you end up at DC? Were you a little disillusioned with Marvel after a while?
The question about Spider-Man getting married is a question about what we want Spider-Man (and all of Marvel comics) to be. Is Spider-Man an evergreen character, like Charlie Brown or Archie, perpetually the same character, never growing but always reliably the same character for each new generation of fans to enjoy? Or is he like a character in a novel that grows, ages, and changes and perhaps eventually reaches the end of his lifecycle?
Marvel at this point had already inadvertently chosen a path. Peter Parker began as a high school age boy, but he graduated in Amazing Spider-Man #28. And contrary to some interpretations, Marvel didn't just freeze time at some point after the Silver Age. Peter graduated college circa Amazing Spider-Man #185 and then spent some time in grad school before quitting to support himself with his photography. So while i've seen Tom Brevoort and others say that the core concept behind Spider-Man is "youth", Peter was already at least in his early 20s even before the wedding. To the average beginning comic book reader, that's old. I was 12 when this book came out. Peter Parker already had his own apartment and a job. It never occurred to me to relate to him as a fellow kid the way i could with, say, Power Pack or the New Mutants.
That said, though, the distance between issue #28 and issue #185 shows that Marvel was definitely slowing down time in their shared universe, and with that we've also already seen evidence of their sliding timescale concept. So even if Peter had made it as far as graduating college, he could have been frozen as a perpetual 20-something. I don't think he could have ever embodied "youth" again the way he did in the Lee/Ditko issues, but he might not have ever gotten any older. The argument is that having Peter get married aged him even more than graduating and having a job and an apartment did. And it also ended the possibility of any storylines with a romantic interest, or at least it fundamentally changed what Peter having a new romantic interest would mean. And ending the marriage through divorce would have aged and, it's been argued, damaged the character even further.
The counterargument is that it's fine for Peter to move on to this new phase of his life where he could deal with new challenges about being a responsible husband and eventually parent, the same way that Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman have. And that having Peter remain perpetually single, supporting himself on a part time photographer's salary, stops looking like youth after a while and starts looking like sadness.
This argument is interesting and i can see both sides of it. But the argument really ought to have been academic once the marriage occurred. It happened! There's no going back now!
Instead, much of the attention focused on Spider-Man after a while became devoted to undoing the marriage. The Clone Saga, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, the Ultimate line, the Marvel Adventures line, and even a storyline (seemingly, of course) killing Mary Jane all tried to find a way to tell stories about an unmarried, and preferably youthful, Spider-Man again. This culminates in unquestionably the biggest retcon in Marvel's history, which has Spider-Man and Mary Jane making a deal with Mephisto to retroactively erase their marriage from history.
Unlike, say, the Phoenix Force or Lyja Lazerfist retcons, which certainly changed the intention of past stories because they replaced one character (or entity) in those stories with another, this retcon actively revises the past stories to say that they didn't actually happen. In most cases it's meant to be that events have taken place in ways that are similar to what is depicted in the comics, with Peter and Mary Jane still moving in together although not married, but this wedding issue did not occur at all, with Mephisto having changed events so that Peter is delayed from making it to the wedding, and then he and MJ decide not to go through with it.
I'll save the full brunt of my opinion for when i eventually get to the Brand New Day issues, but it's probably not a shock to you that someone who spends his time on a project like this isn't too happy with that turn of events. I'll still review this issue in the hopes that one day someone will retcon the retcon.
One thing that becomes obvious pretty quickly is that this book is written for a less sophisticated audience than a typical Marvel book. That becomes apparent at the start, with a very generic and campy appearance by Electro. No motivation...
...and lots of bad puns.
One thing i do like about the Electro appearance is that when he's pulling on his costume, it reminds me of the scene from Brian Michael Bendis'
After the Electro plot is finished, we see Spider-Man manically running from one crime to the next, getting pictures. The idea is that he's going to have a wife to support now, so he'd better get himself in gear career-wise. The other side of this is that Mary Jane is being played up as a very successful super-model, to a degree that we haven't seen before...
...and Peter is afraid that he's not going to measure up. These are the sort of themes you can expect for a married Spider-Man, although it's not like feelings of inadequacy are anything new for Peter Parker. He's also thinking about Gwen Stacy and wondering if he could ever love another woman as much as he loved her.
Mary Jane is similarly having doubts. She's getting tempted by a male friend (boyfriend?) named Bruce who wants her to run away with him to France.
This is your typical cold feet scenario that you see in the wedding episode of any sitcom. For readers just coming in for the annual, who are aware at a basic level that MJ has been in Peter's life for many years, it probably feels just like your normal standard pre-marriage plotline. But if you've been reading along in the regular books, you know that Peter has only recently been dating the Black Cat, and the marriage proposal to Mary Jane was very sudden. And in that context, the cold feet plotline raises alarm bells - maybe these two really ought to reconsider!
They both eventually decide to go through with it though.
Despite the mainstream attention, Spider-Man remains in his black costume except on the cover. We do see Peter considering the red and blue Spider-Man costume replica that he wore in the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine oneshot (with the "Die Spinne" logo on the back hidden from view).
If you're wondering about the other characters on the cover, besides Electro, they're all just part of a dream sequence.
Actually, with Peter not being able to invite his super-hero friends, it's actually pretty sad to see how few friends Peter Parker has. He makes Flash his best man. It should have at least been
Another lingering bit of continuity is the status of Betty Leeds. I thought her denial phase was ended in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #129 but she is back to believing that her husband is still alive.
Mary Jane's wedding dress, both in the comic and the Shea Stadium event, was designed by real life fashion designer Willi Smith.
We also learn the secret behind how Peter's camera manages to get pictures of him without wasting a lot of film.
The unfortunate part of dumbing down the comic in anticipation of a wider audience is that it does nothing to challenge mainstream assumptions that comics are strictly kids stuff. David Michelinie can write intelligently and with natural dialogue, but that isn't on display here. Of course i'm sure Marvel wouldn't have minded an influx of young readers either, but a book doesn't have to be dumb to get kids to read it.
Finally, i leave you with this.
Sure Aunt May. In fact, i'll save so much love for you that if it ever came down to you or MJ, i'd choose you.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This occurs after Amazing Spider-Man #292. The honeymoon in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man annual #7, occurs during this issue, before the final page, and it's worth noting that the honeymoon issue takes place over a long span of days. The graphic novel Parallel Lives shows that Doctor Octopus is observing the wedding on a viewscreen, so i've included him as a character here even though he doesn't actually appear.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
It wasn't just the trouble Sal had when the art team was being selected that bugged him; when Back Issue investigated this book, Shooter apparently tried to rewrite history during the interview. He claimed that he gave no static to Sal, and that Sal must have heard incorrect rumors of threats, ending with "Sorry you're so gullible!" To which Sal replied "I Can't believe I'm hearing this!"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 9, 2014 5:13 PM
Readers have argued for years about whether the Asian lady at the wedding was supposed to be Sha Shan.
Posted by: Michael | April 9, 2014 9:33 PM
Michael, I agree with you there. I did not have any problem with Peter getting married (although the romance build up should have been better), but I think portraying MJ as some kind of super model was a huge mistake. Granted this was the age of the wealthy super model, but most models never make it that far, or even manage to make it a solo career without having to get a second (or more) jobs. If they had MJ as a steady, successful model, but not one of great wealth, it would have been so much better.
Posted by: Chris | April 9, 2014 10:18 PM
I was a kid when the whole Spider-Man gets married thing happened. By the time I started reading comics he had a job and appeared very adult to me. Even the way he was drawn looked more like a man rather than a teenager. I couldn't relate to him as if I could be him.
I was actually excited that he was getting married to MJ and he would be moving on in life. Nothing had really changed, he'd still be that character with problems this time they'd be more challenging. He'd have to balance being a husband as well as a crime-fighter. Maybe he'd quit (again) to concentrate on being a husband, maybe it would put a strain on his relationship (but they'd get through it) the possibilities of new story lines were endless (in my opinion).
Posted by: jsfan | April 10, 2014 3:31 AM
Put me in the "Peter was already older than me when I started reading" camp! Heck, he was older than me in Amazing Fantasy #15!
It actually annoys me when they try to have characters "relate" to me. They don't get to decide who we relate to, and relating to someone isn't the most necessary thing in the world (I like a bit of Punisher here and there but my God, I wouldn't WANT to relate to him). It leads to a tricky argument too, like... How can you relate to someone who doesn't have some sense of history beyond what is happening now?
I remember some fans actually felt rather insulted at the insinuation Peter had to be single to be relatable to them. Others questioned the point of introducing him to other love interests, seeing the marriage erasure as a sign it wouldn't go anywhere.
I was worried about the continuity implications myself, but over time I've become convinced that its mostly just people's memories that have been changed rather than the actual events. If they had used this as an excuse for DC style shennanigans, I would have gone really crazy.
Posted by: Max_Spider | April 10, 2014 8:15 AM
I think one of the biggest problems comics have had in recent times- and surely, this is a HUGE issue in the past decade and a half- is that Marvel and DC feel every character has to be "relatable". Well, it never occurred to me to need to relate to Spidey or Superman, etc. I just accepted Spider-Man got married- I'm a few years younger than 12 when this came out, but old enough to get it- it didn't phase me anymore than it does make me not enjoy the banter between Nick & Nora in the "Thin Man" Series.
I think, for example, Spider-Man is more of a spaz and obnoxious in modern Marvel for the same reason Superman is emo in the New 52: the publishers need readers to 'RELATE' to them. I don't want to relate to them. I read Spider-Man's dialogue in the 'Spider-Men' "event" when he's interrogated by Nick Fury and he just didn't seem like the character I grew up reading in the 1980s and it occurred to me they made him like this- a Big Bang Theory reject- because so many of the perceived readership are these quirky, nerdy, spazzy, pop-culture obsessives. I read comics for escapism and I never wanted to be stoic like Captain America- but loved that HE was. So this relation worry is causing more problems than it solves. Stop worrying about super-heroes being unrelatable to normal schlubs. I don't see super-heroes reading comics, either.
Jack Kirby said "you can't do it with ordinary people, so the characters have to be extraordinary people."
Posted by: George Gordon | April 13, 2014 2:56 AM
King of agree with George Gordon, seems like why DC movies are trying to be dark and I think they're trying too hard. I'd like to compare Clark and Steve Roger's introductions in Man of Steel and the Captain America movies.
Maybe that's the opposite of Gordon's point. Maybe I'm going with the angel of trying to hard. Like Hellboy: I don't need normal Mr. McBoring agent. I want to learn about the bad ass red demon guy with a giant stone hand. He's relatable because he likes kittens and pancakes. So relatable and I'm a dog person who loves French Toast!
Message: don't try too hard!
Posted by: david banes | April 13, 2014 3:22 AM
I don't see most of Marvel's characters being relate able anymore. They're all super-geniuses who can routinely change the world.
I don't really like this hyper-real, post-modern sci-fi direction that Marvel has moved in, myself. Every superhero is changing the world...well, Earth should be an utopia by now...It should look like the WildStorm Universe, but Marvel has to reflect our own world too.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 13, 2014 3:58 AM
I will say though that the original ending for the Clone Saga was to let Peter and Mary Jane live happily ever after, while Ben became Spidey, and I think that was a great idea.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 13, 2014 4:05 AM
When this book was mentioned in the Amazing Heroes Preview #5, they asked "Was Uncle Ben's Rice thrown afterwards?"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 20, 2014 6:21 PM
Michelinie stated in Amazing Heroes #117 that he preferred the wedding to be held off until #300 to develop Mary Jane's background some more, and that he didn't know who exactly ordered it to be pushed up.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 21, 2014 7:48 PM
"Omar Karindu at the Spider-Man boards argued that MJ became a supermodel, and later a soap opera star, because David Michelinie likes his protagonists as wealthy people fighting crime, like in Iron Man. Regardless of whose idea it was, it hurt Peter because he's supposed to be middle-class at best. It became impossible, for example, for Peter to have money problems without a huge conspiracy. (And how did MJ go from being a runway model for Kingsley to Calvin Klein's favorite model in only a couple of weeks, Marvel time?)"
But again, Michael, keep in mind that Peter WILL eventually become rather well-off himself (during the "Big Time" arc) with satisfactory results, so Peter being "above" his middle-class background isn't quite so far-fetched.
And I never agreed with the notion that the marriage would "age" a character too much (or that that was even a "bad" attribute if it did) or it made someone like Spider-Man "less interesting" even when I was a kid. Quite honestly that type of thinking always struck me as creators projecting their own mid-life crisises unto the characters.
Of course I'm usually a sucker for "wedding" storylines (I like the Human Torch/"Alicia" and Cyclops/Jean Grey ones too) so maybe the problem, is that I'm a big sap.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | June 23, 2014 2:45 AM
I find it very interesting that people at Marvel at the time hated the marriage for creative reasons because they felt it "damaged" the character of Spider-Man. One of the objections to One More Day (admittedly from people that grew up with the marriage) seems to be that by keeping the character in stasis it "damages" Spider-Man that way and represses creativity for perceived commercial gain. Yeah, most big-time super-hero marriages are ways to get a short-term sales pop, but it's very interesting to see the attitude of these 80s creators that "creativity" means keeping the character the same, making sure he's always "relatable". Opponents of the sliding timeline would argue the opposite: that good stories, and more stories (as opposed to eventually just telling the same ones over and over), require the passage of time, require characters to grow and change. (For the record, I'm not an opponent of the sliding timescale, though Marvel's points of intersection with the real world make it difficult, but I am an opponent of using it as an excuse not to change anything ever.)
Being an ageless character like Charlie Brown or Archie only works when the character has no continuity whatsoever (Archie) or only the vaguest kind of continuity where only super-major events and anything falling under the Seven Year Rule are ever referred to as canon (Charlie Brown, early Silver Age DC, the Simpsons). Once you have continuity, once you say everything that's been chronicled going back to 1961 happened in some way, shape, or form, once Peter graduates high school, has Gwen Stacy killed, and graduates college, you pretty much have to admit the passage of time. Want to know why dead characters never stay dead in comics? Because Marvel and DC want to have it both ways: they want the illusion of change, they want to do stuff that looks superficially like the passage of time and events that matter like killing characters or marrying them off, but they don't actually want lasting change, so they keep bringing back dead characters so they can tell more stories with them and undoing what few marriages they allow to happen, and then they wonder why comic readership keeps declining when you factor stunts and reboots (the only form of real change that can actually happen) out of it. The comic book industry is like the shell of a dead star that only survives by consuming itself from within.
You want to have a character that's "relatable" to the audience? Create new ones! Have characters get old, get married, and have new characters come along that new readers can relate to, making the whole shared universe all the richer because it not only has a past, but one you can actually read and look into! Part of the reason Spider-Girl had such a devoted, if small, fanbase was that it showed the direction Marvel could have taken if it wasn't so scared of change! Are comic companies afraid to let time pass because they don't trust their talent to be creative enough to create new characters that can be as appealing as the old ones?
Marvel may have invented the concept of a shared universe where events mattered, but honestly post-Crisis DC actually started beating them at their own game with how many "young" heroes they had and how we got to see all the Silver Age sidekicks grow up... but they never seemed comfortable with it (especially given its implications for the age of the "old guard") and seemed to be throwing it out even before the New 52. (And if I'm interpreting what the powers that be at Marvel have said correctly, DC will STILL be beating Marvel at their own game after Secret Wars; at least their universe still vaguely resembles the real world!)
Or is it that the decline in comics readership since the move from newsstands to the direct market means new characters, no matter how well-written, can never be as iconic as the old ones? If that's the case, then let the main universe grow and change while creating a new universe to retell the stories of the "iconic" heroes (assuming you can't just do an Untold Tales-type thing and tell new stories in the existing characters' past). I found it supremely ironic that the Ultimate universe, supposedly a way to tell the stories of Marvel's iconic characters free of all the continuity dragging behind it, not only became just as continuity-choked as the main universe but actually saw MORE real change; it was the Ultimate Spider-Man, not the 616 version, that died and was replaced by Miles Morales.
Of course, that assumes the same decline in readership hasn't produced a readership that can be divided into two categories: those that want growth and change, and those so committed to things never changing from what it was when they started reading that they're impossible to please anyway. There's an odd disconnect between the people who make comic books and the people who read them: deep down, the people who make comic books want it to still be the Silver Age, if they don't think it still is, when they could worry about keeping iconic characters "recognizable" in their new output for new generations of readers (what new generations of readers?) and for people coming in from seeing them in the theater, while the fans just want them to move on and have real growth and change; I suspect the majority view of fans, at least those that have thought about the issue, is similar to my own, and that includes that those that haven't would ultimately react better to it.
More than a few people have suggested that continuity can actually help bring in new readers, as it helped give Marvel a leg up on DC in the 60s. The barrier to entry isn't as high as it used to be, or as high as comic publishers claim; comic book stores and trade paperbacks make old content (which has more value when it matters for today's stories) far more accessible than in the newsstand era (and that old content is often more relevant to what few people are coming in after the latest superhero movie anyway), and the Internet makes it easier to get up to speed than in the 90s, the period that probably most raised concerns about continuity lockout. Not only is the comic industry a dying star slowly feeding on itself, it actively refuses to do anything to reinvigorate itself even despite the wishes of the few adherents it has left, even if that might keep it alive longer and actually produce more adherents in the long run.
Incidentally, I'd be more optimistic about the New 52's ability to represent a fresh start for DC and allow them to do all of this if it weren't for its many missteps, missteps that are directly related to its reboot nature and underscore the importance of continuity. Comic book writers and publishers complain about being "shackled" by continuity, but continuity informs what characters are far more than comic book publishers' perception of what makes them "iconic", and the New 52 should have shown that a lot of comic book writers shouldn't be trusted to be "unshackled". What was more "damaging" to their respective characters, Spider-Man marrying Mary Jane, or Starfire walking around in a bikini, thinking of humans as interchangeable, and mechanically talking about being bored and having sex because Scott Lobdell doesn't need to worry about how Marv Wolfman wrote her? Was Spider-Man marrying Mary Jane more "damaging" than Superman getting with Wonder Woman because he's not with Lois anymore so we'll just take the path of least resistance and go "duh, superman with superwoman, of course!" regardless of whether it makes sense for their characters because that's what the fans-turned-writers want because writers who actually understand characterization and what makes a good story stay far away from comics except for stunts so everything Marvel and DC produce at this point is basically glorified fanfic?
And of course, which was more damaging to Spider-Man, having him get married because it supposedly makes him less "relatable" and less of an "everyman" because it "ages" him too much, or having him undo the marriage by doing a literal deal with the devil (what a "relatable" "everyman"!) because he doesn't want to see his already-decrepit Aunt May die (hey, it would "age him too much"!) even though the entire point of his character, even more than being a "relatable" "everyman" (certainly from a creative, as opposed to commercial, perspective), has always been about his own sense of personal responsibility?
Okay, rant (mostly) over. Had to get that off my chest when I saw those opening few paragraphs. Don't know if anyone's going to read all of this especially at this point in time, but one more thing...
"I was worried about the continuity implications myself, but over time I've become convinced that its mostly just people's memories that have been changed rather than the actual events." I hate this sort of explanation for retcons. It gets really stupid when the Psycho-Pirate is the only one who has more than "hazy" memories of what exactly happened in Crisis on Infinite Earths (which, you know, affected the entire world), but on every scale events are more than just people's "memories" of them. Even for things most people wouldn't know about, there are written records, from diaries to teams' official records to marriage licences, and events have effects on other events that can't simply be ignored.
(Of course, in the case of Crisis part of what started DC rolling downhill was Infinite Crisis' insistence that everything before, during, and after Crisis occurred exactly as chronicled, that the multiverse existed, was destroyed, and was replaced by a single universe, even though there had been 20 years of stories firmly establishing that the post-Crisis universe had its own history dating to before the Crisis that was more robust than just "memories" but seriously informed its characters and could actually be time-traveled into and even retconned...)
Posted by: Morgan Wick | April 23, 2015 11:45 AM
Wow, that was long but pretty awesome ☺
What intrigues me most is how people like Brevoort who clearly used to love history and consistency, now act as if it is a detriment to their universe.
I Had hoped when dc brought back their multiverse they would only do multiple series of one character if each book was in a different universe. Then at least there is a reason for so many batbooks. Silver age batman in tec, modern day in Batman, and so on. Multiple iterations because of multiple universes.
Continuity in this day and age should be supereasy to keep track of, so it all smacks of laziness and lack of respect for the work of those who came before you.
I love married Peter but I do think they should not have rushed the marriage. I blame Stan Lee ;-)
Posted by: PeterA | April 25, 2015 4:10 AM
Morgan, there's always been a disconnect between the people creating comics and the people reading them. One of the main reasons Robin was created was so that kids would have someone to look up and relate to, because apparently they weren't capable of looking up to Batman.
I go back and forth on the marriage to MJ. On the one hand, I think it does negatively impact Peter's character. Spider-Man remains a hero with problems, but Peter's problems become centered around his supermodel wife. MJ's problems remain her own, but now she has to listen to Peter complain all the time. Being a damsel-in-distress once in a while would actually be a benefit, just to relieve the tedium.
If Spidey were still in the early days 'Stan'n'Steve' style continuity, marriage would have been no problem. [And looking back, it's amazing how much Peter's love life was directed at Betty and her alone.] Nearly 300 issues later - not counting spin-off titles - he's not going to be a character who meaningfully grows and changes.
And I think Aunt May would be the first one to be horrified (in every possible way) at what happened to that marriage. She may not get to be with Ben, or Nathan, or any of the family and friends she's ever lost in her long life, but at least the nephew she tried to raise to be a decent person made a deal with the devil to briefly keep her from them. If she has a stroke in the next six months, Peter and MJ will still be broken up. Sounds like a win for Mephisto on every level.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 13, 2015 3:05 AM
I think the 1980s were the last time where the 'illusion of change' actually seemed like it MIGHT mean anything. As in, Spider-Man got the symbiote costume, then kept the design as an alternate costume or his sole costume for a few real world years, and also got married to Mary Jane. Steve Rogers stopped being Captain America for a few real world years. Thor grew a beard and got some new armour. Professor X went off into space with the Starjammers and Magneto tried to reform. The Hulk became grey and was no longer dumb. The Thing was replaced by She-Hulk on the Fantastic Four. And there are many other examples I could have chosen, even if all bar Peter and MJ's marriage were undone by the 1990s in favour of a more 'classic' status quo (insultingly so as in not only did Professor X return to Earth, but he wound up crippled again as well). Ever since then, any 'shock' change in the status quo (M-Day, Civil War, Doc Ock in Spidey's body etc) has felt much more nakedly a gimmick, as we now know that any real change is impossible in the long run. In the 1980s, it seemed possible. More fool us...?
Posted by: Harry | June 13, 2015 5:56 PM
Yes! Have to agree with you, Harry. In the 80s it was still easy to believe that real change was possible - I would say, for some characters/titles, up until the early 90s it felt really possible. But, now, no matter what they throw at us, we know it will default eventually. Truly sucks.
Posted by: Jack | June 13, 2015 10:21 PM
It's weird because a lot of the "complaint" about this seems to be focus not precisely on the marriage himself, but instead the idea of Peter marrying a gorgeous sucessful supermodel as "unrealistic." I wonder if the wedding would have been better received if he were marrying someone more "girl-next-door-ish"?
Again though, Spider-Man's financial situation HAS changed in recent times, so the idea of Peter being finacially stable isn't as far-fetched as concerned fans think.
Finally, I always though the "core tennents" of Spider-Man was always his sense of responsibility and almost overwhelming desire to do the "right" things at great personal cost to himself. As long as THAT remains, the character can withstand changes to his finacial or social life.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | June 14, 2015 11:40 PM
"I wonder if the wedding would have been better received if he were marrying someone more "girl-next-door-ish"?" You mean, if Gwen Stacy hadn't died and he'd ended up marrying her?
"Finally, I always though the "core tennents" of Spider-Man was always his sense of responsibility and almost overwhelming desire to do the "right" things at great personal cost to himself. As long as THAT remains, the character can withstand changes to his finacial or social life." Which, naturally, OMD threw right out the window...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | June 14, 2015 11:47 PM
Really, the larger problem was that MJ went from "Peter's college girlfriend who was working as a model" to "supermodel with celebrity friends" with no buildup or explanation.
Posted by: Michael | June 14, 2015 11:48 PM
They could easily have had MJ as a model making just enough to make ends meet.
Posted by: Harry | June 15, 2015 9:40 AM
Although Peter's girlfriends were always hot [Gwen was the ex-beauty queen of Standard High, as if you couldn't tell] I think it might have been a stretch for her to have any job where she's making money based on her looks. Even a game show hostess or a weather girl would have made more sense, never mind waiting tables until she gets her big break.
Yeah, I think I agree that making her a supermodel overnight was the biggest problem. I can see arguments against Peter being married, and I can at least understand counter-arguments that it was a sensible step, but Peter marrying Christie Brinkley [or Kate Upton] is not going to lead to anything that belongs in a "Spider-Man" comic.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 15, 2015 11:09 AM
It can be asked here also: would an ongoing timescale have helped or hindered Marvel (or comics in general) in the long run?
Posted by: Harry | June 16, 2015 11:21 AM
"They could easily have had MJ as a model making just enough to make ends meet."
^ This. MJ was always supposed to be hot, per the surprise "Face it tiger" introduction - but super model hot? That was not consistent, I think, as well as a bad creative move.
Posted by: BU | June 16, 2015 12:31 PM
...And model, sure - I believe that was long established. Struggling model fits fine in Spidey's world - but as Chris said, Cheryl Tiegs does not.
Posted by: BU | June 16, 2015 12:36 PM
I disagree that Peter and MJ hadn’t been a romantic couple prior to this story. Peter and MJ’s romance had been budding since at least ASM #259, with them sharing a kiss in the Wolverine one shot and there had been other clear signs that they were obviously in love as they had been in the 1970s when Peter also proposed.
They weren’t officially dating...but they might as well have been given the amount of time they spent together (which was clearly more than platonic). In fact from a storytelling POV that was highly satisfying we the readers could see what the characters themselves were either in denial about or just not talking about. Hence when Peter proposed it was a shocking moment but one which made sense. As he himself said to MJ, c’mon they’d ben more than just friends for a long time. She had the key to his apartment and was even using it to come in uninvited to make him breakfast in bed.
Why was it necessary for them to be openly dating and then transition into marriage if their feelings for one another were on the wall.
Whilst it’s true this was a gimmick, it was at least a gimmick which made sense in continuity/characterisation terms and helped to evolve both characters
Posted by: Al | July 4, 2015 6:29 PM
I think the reason Peter made Flash his best man was because Flash had recently had a very rough time in the wake of the Hobgoblin frame up and breaking up with Sha Shan. Peter was trying to lift his spirits and in fairness making Mary Jane’s ex-boyfriend the best man might’ve been kinda awkward. Yeah she dated Flash but it wasn’t for as long, or as serious and it didn’t have any repsecussions. Harry’s downfall with drugs is partially tied with his relationship with MJ.
Regarding MJ the supermodel and soap star, a soap star isn’t all that famous or wealthy, especially when they are just starting out. With her as a soap star Peter wasn’t very famous (how many people know who soap stars are married too?) and MJ was famous enough to generate drama without it taking them out of the everyman status quo. Plenty of people are married to struggling actors and lest we forget MJ did eventually lose that job too.
As for her being a supermodel Michelinie didn’t take her into modelling initially. I think that might have been Wolfman in the 70s but I am not sure. I don’t even know if he took her into supermodelling but it was under his tenure it was pushed to the forefront. Thing was that too didn’t last and was actually part of a larger arc. MJ and Peter would get a lot of success in their lives only to have it all go away thanks to MJ’s stalker Jonathan Caesar and his contacts in the modelling industry. The Parkers lost thier regular income, their savings and their apartment and were literally in the gutter on Christmas Eve! The progression of the arc is pretty easy to track and lines up with Michelinie’s tendency to seed subplots over a long period of time. E.g. Cletus Kasady debuts in ASM #345ish but doesn’t show up as Carnage until well over a year later. In fact Michelinie’s last issue was ASM #388 and before he left he had plans of what he was going to do in ASM #400 (kill Eddie Brock for the record).
Making Peter and MJ wealthy absolutely didn’t hurt them at all because as I said they lost it all 2-3 years into his run. There is this idea they were ALWAYS like that during the marriage and it is simply not true whatsoever.
As for Peter having money problems that happened quite a few times for legitmate reasons under Michelinie’s run and long after it. In the late 1990s for instance he and MJ were struggling students living with Aunt Anna. In Marvel Knights they were in debt. So the idea of him it being impossible for him to have money problems is a massive misconception. Not to mention there are OTHER types of Spider-Man stories apart from him getting cash which has been done a million times by then.
MJ went from being a runway model to a supermodel because to men in the comic book industry one type of model is interchangeable with another. I don’t rake them over the coals for it because they know as much about modelling as they do of real life legal practices or scientific applications. Let it go.
@#Michale-The romance build up was perfectly hadled. For over 2 years since ASM #259 (or technically before that) Peter and Mary Jane had been growing closer and closer. It was patently obvious that they were in love again and very much involved in one another’s lives. No extra build up was at all necessary. See what I said about MJ being a supermodel. It lasted less than 4 or 5 years and that was ONLY if you include when she modelled in the late 1990s under Howard Mackie and John Byrne which was a wholesale deliberate attempt by Marvel to make you hate Mary jane and the marriage. For at least half of the marriage’s existence Mary Jane was NOT a model, be it super or otherwise. And as I said the great wealth her job generated went away very quickly and that was the point. It built the Parkers up so they had farther to fall.
On the whole ‘relatability’ argument I’ve always hated that. It’s one thing to make him rich and famous but in many other respects how someone relates to a character is incredibly individualistic. I’ve NEVER related to Peter Parker at all but I like him all the same. Other fans do but they can relate to him through his problems or his nerdiness or his friendships or some combination thereof.
@jsfan: no the events have literally changed. The One Moment in Time arc showed us categorically the different way the wedding issue played out and heavily implied Peter and Mary Jane never got pregnant during the Clone Saga either. Also Harry Osborn was never dead for some reason.
@#david banes: Conways’s reasons for killing Gwen are VERY complicated and sometimes contradictory. They range from Romita suggesting it, to editorial mandating it, to him simply just not liking Gwen (understandable), to him liking Mary Jane (very understandable) to even the Vietnam War!
That being said Peter Parker being romantically involved with a woman (no matter what she looks like because seriously, why do her looks matter next to her personality?) doesn’t take him away from his roots. If Peter is to be relatable, to be the average joe, or at least like many, many, many people in American society it is entirely reasonable for him to seek out and find love like many people do. It’s part of the natural cycle of life for countless people across the world. It doesn’t stop him having problems or being having the odd piece of bad luck. And thats besides Peter’s bad luck really just being the result of BEING Spider-Man, a decision he consciously chooses to make.
ChrisKafka: The Clone Saga was in truth a highly mixed bag. The low points are detestable but the high points are very, very high indeed.
@#Mark Dummond: Frankly Peter’s exploits in the Big Time stuff was far worse than anything during the marriage and really was a step too far. Peter Parker had a job that could NEVER happen in real life and everything was made easy for him. on top of that he was very well off financially. And yet he wasn’t as well off as he SHOULD have been. He mad world changing inventions in the Ends of the Earth arc. Realistically he should be Bill Gates rich.
@# Jon Dubya: I know many fans who despise OMD and loved the marriage who began reading long before it happened in 1987.
It is ironic the same buzz word criticisms thrown at the marriage were also thrown at OMD. They were even both technically 4 part editorially mandated stories about Peter and MJ’s romantic relationship.
But the truth is that the critiques levelled against OMD are far more legitimate. Hypothetically let’s say that they were right and the marriage was creatively bad. OMD was creatively worse because from that day onwards you’ve not only created an alternate (read: non-canon) version of Spider-Man with a different history but worse the nature of the Mephisto deal gives the Devil himself a constant ongoing victory our hero is unaware of. Spider-Man for 8 years has been wholly unaware that he lost in the biggest way possible.
But worst of all the deal betrayed everything, everything, Spider-Man as a character and a hero is about and since it is the foundation stone upon which everything since 2007 has been built up it means everything since then has been hypocritical and frankly BS. Every time Spider-Man is shown or talked about as a hero it at best rings hollow and at worst doesn’t matter because when it really came to the crunch he folded like a garden chair and sold out completely. He’s no hero.
Creativley it also renders anything and every change meaningless because from now on we all know we’re just one devil deal or psychic mindwipe away from resetting the dial back to zero. They did this to let Peter have new romances but we now know they were even more meaningless than they were before he married. who gives a crap if he dates girlfriend #783720823, we know it is doomed to fail and is therefore an utterly boring waste of time and money that would be better spent doing literally anything else. The marriage didn’t kill Spidey’s romantic life, OMD did.
And for the record...I did read what you wrote...and I applaud every goddam word you said. Just...well done.
@Morgan Wick: Brevoort is a sexist antagonising troll. And I don’t say that lightly I say it as a matter of fact.
The marriage was rushed ONLY in so far as it happened immediately after the engagement. But the build up to them deciding to get married was doen very well, even if it wasn’t necessarily intended to be that way.
@#PeterA: That is simply not true. Again, Peter’s wife was not a supermodel for very long whatsoever. It’s something that has been flanderised about her and personally I find it very demeaning to the character that she is always described as that as if it is the be all and end all of her character. It was nothing more than her job. It mattered to her character as much as Peter’s job as a photographer did. It was something she did and how she spent her day but it didn’t matter to her personality, her relationship or who she ultimately was as a character. Describing her as such simplifies her down to just her job or worse just a pretty face when MJ is much more than that. it’s like always describing Peter as MJ’s “photographer husband” when that’s far from the most significant thing about him.
Furthermore Peter’s problems hardly revolved around his marriage. Kraven’s Last Hunt, his encounters with the symbiotes, his parents coming back, the Clone Saga, the unmasking, the stuff with Morlun. All these things had nothing to do with his marriage although they sometimes impacted upon it.
I think you will find for good or ill MJ WAS a damsel in distress more than once during the marriage though on many occasions she saved herself and others (even Spider-Man himself) cos she kicks ass.
When you are married you complain about your life to your spouse. It’s realistic. It is also mentally healthy for Peter to share his problems with someone, just as MJ shared hers with him.
Er...if Spidey was in the Silver Age marriage would’ve been a MASSIVE problem. he was far too young and immature for it and we had’t adequately explored his love life yet.
Er...but...he DID meaningfully grow and change over 300 issues after the Ditko era. Hell he meaningfully changed in the Clone Saga and JMS era. It would’ve gone further if they let him have children. I dunno what you are talking about.
@ChrisW: No, the illusion of change absolutely meant LESS in the 80s than it did now. Not that it truly meant anything than an ideal Marvel chased from the 1970s onwards fruitlessly because you literally cannot have change AND continuity at the same time. but in the 80s BIG changes happened to Marvel and at the same time a lot of them have stuck. Venom, War Machine, the introduction of Apocalypse, beta ray bill, etc.
That wasn’t the illusion of change it was ACTUAL change.
You say any real change is impossible but comic book regimes come and go and cycle in and out. In the 1980s a lot of stuff was done in rejection ofthe 70s stagnation. It is possible such an occurrence might happen again and people will get tired of Spider-Man spinning his wheels and actually try to move him forward.
@#Jack: Complaints would have changed but still happened. A lot of this is sexist bullshit dressed up as something morally superior. Quesada can say whatever he likes but when push comes to shove he was a young hip and single 18 year old who didn’t want to settle down when Spider-Man got married. He never grew up and got over it and wanted to work through his midlife crisis by seeing Spider-Man date a girl named after his daughter.
And again, MJ’s attractiveness should be irrelevant because MOST of Peter’s girlfriends have been stunning. Hell MOST women in comics are stunning. The ONE relatively homely girlfriend he had was Deb Whitman and he was obviously uninterested in her. Peter and MJ as characters/people marrying one another made complete sense. How she looks should not matter.
Peter’s financial situation changing has been a testament to Marvel’s hypocrisy because it’s everything they claimed about the marriage taken up to 11.
You are right. Spider-Man is about responsibility at the end of the day. Marriage BEING a responsibility.
@#Jon Dubya: If Mary Jane was apparently overidealised then so was Gwen. Also I doubt the two of them would’ve lasted as a couple. They were messed up.
@Morgan Wick: MJ’s career was taking off before the marriage and she moved in big circles which is a perk of the job. It does’t really matter because fame and fortune disappeared 3-4 years into the marriage as it was always planned to.
@Harry: I don’t think MJ breaking into modelling was at all a stretch. It can happen and she was trying to break in since college. She might even have gotten help from Glory Grant who was also a model lest we forget. Furthermore what qualifies as ‘supermodel hot’ is tricky because the body shapes of models changes along with fashions.
And by this point I hope I’ve pointed out how short lived MJ’s fame and fortune was. Not to mention it was irrlevalnt to her character and to her and Peter’s relationship. And ultimately it DIDN’T affect the things that should be in a Spider-Man comic as many traditional elements showed up countless times after the marriage. Thus as a creative move it was not bad at all as it affected little to nothing. It was just an arc to put them in financial straits. That was all.
@ChrisW: I disagree that death should mean death in comics because it depends upon the creative needs of the story.
Doctor Octopus was killed off in the Clone Saga and his resurrection was logical but not clever at all. But it was necessary to fix what had been broken.
No. Norman absolutely should NOT have remained dead at all. Superheroes NEED good supervillains. Norman was always one of, if not THE best Spider-Man villain and THE BEST Goblin villain. He was Spider-Man arch nemesis through and through and whilst him being dead was fine for a long time bringing him back was necessary not only at the time but in the long run since he’s been such an impactful and brilliant villain. His resurrection story was powerful, scary and his stories therafter entirely justified the decision.
Yes Hobgoblin was awesome and we had Goblin iconography but the fact was NONE of them were as good as Norman. It wasn’t a matter of iconography but personal stakes. Norman KILLED Gwen. Norman knew who he was. Norman was Harry’s Dad. Norman hated Mary Jane. Norman was powerful. Norman represented all that Peter wasn’t and was opposed to. Norman was Spider-Man’s Joker. You don’t leave the Joker dead, even if you’ve made another guy who looks a lot like him.
Again the Clone Saga was a mixed bag, lets not hate on the whole 2+ year thing.
Posted by: Al | July 4, 2015 11:01 PM
Just to head off some confusion, i think Al has mixed up who his comments are directed at. The commenter's name appears under the comment, but i think Al thought they were appearing above. The fact that the names appear under the white line can be confusing.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 5, 2015 1:02 AM
I was going to say...
Assuming I'm answering the comments Al directed at me: I agree, making MJ a supermodel for any length of time definitely reduces her character. I don't think it's demeaning so much as I don't think it's MJ as she's always been. She's hot and she knows it ["Face it tiger, you've hit the jackpot"] but there's five thousand other women like her in that section of Manhattan alone. Women far less attractive than MJ have to put up with far more unwanted advances from men before they turn 18. In this story, MJ is being given a Ferarri by someone who tells her to keep it because he's got another one. There are women who have to deal with men like that, and it is possible that MJ is one of those women, but if she is, she's not going to marry Peter Parker. Even at her best and noblest 'til death do us part' she isn't going to pick a freelance photographer who climbs up walls and could very easily leave her a widow without a pension, she's not insane. Or maybe she is insane, in which case Peter should have stayed the hell away from her to begin with. He wound up siding with the devil to give his decrepit aunt another six months in intensive care just so he could get out of that marriage; it wasn't a healthy relationship.
Basically I could go either way on whether or not Spider-Man should be married, and although MJ was definitely the best choice, he shouldn't have married the MJ that we were given here. If she's being flown to Paris by anybody other than a supervillain who will use her in his master plan for world dominance, she's wrong for Peter.
As for Peter's problems not revolving around his marriage, that's my point. He could have been whining and complaining just as easily to her if they were both single, all she did was sit there and respond. He did not treat her the same way, and her problems were usually idealized supermodel problems that often required a superhero to solve. At best it was defying the trope if she solved the problem herself anyway. MJ could have done that whether she was married or not.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 5, 2015 7:34 AM
@fnord: Ah, thank you yes I was. I’m just used to it being different elsewhere I frequent.
@ChrisW: Again though, her becoming a supermodel went away very quickly and was part of a larger arc which fed back into Peter’s usual money troubles.
Just because lots of women might be similar to Mary Jane doesn’t means she couldn’t be one of the few to break into that business. A fan theory I’ve seen which makes a certain amount of sense is that her career might’ve been given a behind the scenes boost by either Kingsley or Caesar who were influential enough to pull it off.
As for her knowing someone like Bruce I always assumed she knew him from the party scene and not so much the modelling scene. She went on a few dates with Alfredo someone who ran in the same circles as someone as loaded as Richard Fisk the son of the Kingpin. This isn’t even mentioning how she was friends with Harry Osborn a pretty rich guy with a powerful corporation behind him.
I don’t really see what women putting up with unwanted sexual advances has to do with this tbh? And why is getting harassed like that meaning she isn’t going to marry Peter Parker?
Peter is a pretty accepting and generally open minded guy. For instance he never judged Betty Brant of Flash Thompson for having an affair and cheating on their partners, and he still accepted Flash as his friend even though he’d smacked his girlfriend Sha Shan. He wouldn’t approve of course, but he was willing to forgive. Peter might not like men coming on to MJ like that, but when push comes to shove he knows she can not only handle herself but is ultimately never betray him. This is the same woman who kept his secret for years and who was there for him when Gwen died.
Ii think you are being intensely narrowminded in your reading of Mary Jane.
Mary Jane can have moments of shallowness, and maybe even was when she was younger. But she ultimately is not like that and her reasons for being with Peter far outweigh his occupational position. Especially when you consider as a woman who’s always valued her independence and self-reliance the fact that she is the primary breadwinner would be fine. To flip the situation if there was a big famous (heterosexual) man would we say he 100% wouldn’t marry a woman who had a regular job because he had glamorous women hitting on him? Or would we say someone like that could (provided they are willing of course) have any woman he desires. And the one he wants is the one with a regular job because she is the person he is in love with. Such stories crop up a lot of times in fiction. Cinderella is sort of that. The Prince finds a woman and falls in love with her and so marries her. In fact that’s Aladdin in reverse. Jasmine can marry a prince if she wants but she has feelings for Aladdin and (when her Dad changes the law) she is able to indulge in what she wants and that is Aladdin.
Mary Jane could have the rich glamorous guy but she doesn’t want him or any of the other potential suitors because she ultimately doesn’t care about the wealth and glamour of these people. She cares about who they are as people and as people she just isn’t attracted to them, let alone in love with them. She is however physically and emotionally attracted to Peter Parker and indeed is very much in love with him.
Which entirely makes sense consider both of their characters. Peter is no Brad Pitt but c’mon he isn’t an unattractive guy. Under Romita’s pencils he was downright dashing at times. This is to say nothing of his superhuman physique which I’m sure would turn the heads of quite a few people romantically/sexually inclined towards the male figure. And Mary Jane has found Peter hot since day 1. Whether you take day 1 to be Parallel Lives wherein she looked at shy introverted nerdy and non-powered 15 year old Peter Parker from afar and thought he was cute or if you take is as ASM #43 and the Lee/Conway eras thereafter she clearly finds him attractive.
This is to say nothing of his personality. Peter in short has a personality that not all, but a great deal of many people would find very appealing. In fact these traits are appealing even if Peter was a woman. He’s kind, he’s respectful, he’s intelligent, he’s funny, he’s caring, he’s VERY responsible, he’s self-sacrificing and generally just utterly decent as a person. Which isn’t to say he is unflawed but you get my point. This is all BEFORE you know he’s Spider-Man and that he is actually such a decent human being he is an absolute hero, one who without thought of reward (and putting up with outright unappreciation and scorn in both his identities) risks his life all the time for the sake of others. One of those others being Mary Jane whom he has saved multiple times. In particular in ASM #290-292 when she needed his help (not even as Spier-Man, just emotional support) he came all the way to Pittsburgh for her. Which given how she knows he values his duties as a superhero was a really big deal. All that plus frankly being a superhero would be something exciting and glamorous, even moreso than dating an actor, not to mention it’s more important to the world. Spider-Man unlimited volume 3 #2 sums up the last part quite nicely as Mary Jane indirectly says she loves Peter because he makes a difference and is just a good person. There is also an element of danger which potentially a part of Mary Jane and maybe many other women could find a bit of a turn on
Then you factor in Mary Jane’s own history with her abusive father and the fact that she was routinely approached by shallow and superficial men only interested in her because she was hot and glamorous. Peter was totally different to that because he loved her for much more than her looks and was clearly far from shallow or superficial as Bruce seemed to be. In Marvel Valentines Special 1997 she literally says she didn’t really like how shallow and superficial the men hitting on her were, in contrast to the more humble Peter Parker.
But the big deciding factor is her father. Whilst it absolutely doesn’t apply to everyone, for many people their parents form impressions of men and women in their lives and consequently impact who they seek out romantically. There is the old joke of men marrying women like their mothers and women marrying men like their fathers, but there is actually a fair amount of truth to that. Parents are the dominate male and female role models in people’s lives and because of this psychologically people codify personality traits from them. Hence many men are attracted to women with personality traits similar to their mothers’ because in their minds those traits are codified as ‘positive’ (provided they had a good mother figure of course). Sadly this is sometimes the reason why people who’ve grown up watching one parent abused by another either grow up into abusers themselves or seek out people with similarly abusive personality traits, consequently winding up as abused themselves.
However that is far from universal and in fact the opposite can hold true as well. A boy who watches his father abuse his mother or abuse him can as a husband and a parent be the opposite of that because psychologically he’s codified such actions as ‘negative’. “My father acted this way to me. that was bad. I will act the opposite way towards my child because then that will be good”.
It is because of this logic Mary Jane finds Peter attractive. Her father was a tyrant, verbal and eventually physical abuser who liked to throw his weight around and assert his power. he was selfish, highly critical and someone whom she feared. MJ is thus in her mind codified such things as ‘negative’ personalitiy traits and consequently found Peter Parker attractive because he was completely different. Where her father was selfish, Peter is primarily selfless. Where her father was critical, Peter is mostly supportive and encouraging. Where her father blamed his family for his failings, Peter viewed MJ and May as sources fo strength and valued them very highly. Where her father made it clear he’d rather MJ not be there, Peter clearly wants MJ in his life. Where her father was an irresponsible abuser Peter is a caring hero and an immensely responsible man. And he’s highly responsible despite having immense power. power enough to take whatever he wants from whomever he wants, including MJ and neither she nor anyone else (save other heroes) could stop him. But what she loves about Peter (and what set off alarm bells when she met Norman Osborn) was that he would NEVER use his power like that. He would rarely even be tempted to.
Spider-Man Reign #4, though not canon, does sum up a lot of MJ’s feelings towards Peter in one succinct exchange. Mary Jane tells Peter that she didn’t love him because he could punch a whole through Flash Thompson’s thick skull, but she loved him because he could but chose not to.
Which in a very roundabout way is basically saying Mary Jane didn’t love Spider-Man for his great power but because of his great responsibility.
Moving in rich social circles wouldn’t change any of that.
And that’s why ‘a woman like Mary Jane’ would want to be with ‘a man like Peter Parker’. Even if he is ‘just a freelance photographer’.
And she doesn’t even need to be at her best or noblest. She is like that at rest and has found Peter attractive (and has maybe been in love with him) ever since she was 18 years old at the very least.
To Mary Jane who’s gone through so much crap in her life, finding someone who makes her genuinely happy and emotionally fulfilled isn’t something to be throw away merely for fame, fortune or financial security, especially when, again, SHE earned more money than him. Why does Peter need to be the primary breadwinner? My parents both used to work but for the longest time my mother’s income was significantly the biggest and most important. Her pension was much more important to our family than my self-employed father. It was actually wonderfully quite progressive and challenging for the time in comic books.
It basically isn’t insanity to go with what makes you happy just because it comes with some baggage or a bit of a risk. And it’s obviously a risk she had accepted a very, very, very, very long time ago. The moment in fact she closed that door in ASM #122.
Mary Jane and Peter Parker would hardly be the first people to risk things because it makes them happy. Obviously there are examples of where it goes too far but this isn’t one of them. So Peter might die and leave her without a pension. She could at this point in time and at many other instances in her life afford that and had been supporting herself looooooong before she met Peter Parker. It would’ve been the emotional fall out that would’ve been the worst thing to consider but then why would anyone marry a police officer, a soldier or a fire fighter? They might get compensated on their financial loss, but that would mean little to Mary Jane and those other widows in comparison to someone they love being dead.
A lot of this is actually summed up at the end of ASM #298 where Peter says he feels kinda bad that he can’t provide for MJ and that he earns so much less than she does (to the point where his contribution is superfluous). MJ assures him she honestly doesn’t care about that. because Mary jane was only ever someone who cared about a man’s money maybe when she was a dumb, damaged and grieving teenager dating Harry Osborn. And even then she’d rather have been dating Peter Parker.
Another flipside to this using your logic is why on Earth would GWEN want to marry Peter? He wasn’t even qualified in college and would have a hard time providing for her and as freelance photographer who took dangerous assignments his death would also leave her with no pension. But considering Gwen was studying the same field as Peter, also had a bit of interest in politics and was very obviously financially affluent and higher class than Peter by your own logic SHE would also have to be insane to want to marry Peter too. And yeah, she was at times quite nuts but not because of that.
And if you want a real world example of what we are talking about how about a lady named Joan. She was married and worked I believe as a model. She met, fell in love with another man and left her husband for him. she also left her job and he became the provider even though he was a writer who worked in the not very affluent market. He was by his own admission often struggling for cash to keep himself and his family. A lot of his experiences inspired him in his writings, particularly on his favourite character whom he saw as a bit of a stand in for himself in many ways. BTW the man’s name was Stan Lee.
Are you in all sincereity going to actually bring in One More Day as a genuine reflection of both canon or Peter Parker’s character because that is utterly damning to your argument. You don’t merely accept whatever is on the page as reflective of canon or true to the characters merely because it is on the page. That is why the term out of character exists. One More Day was objectively and indefensibly out of character for Peter Parker and Mary Jane and yes even Mephisto who gained exactly NOTHING from the deal at all. So saying he was wrong to marry Mary Jane because of what he eventually wound up doing is just an incredibly weak argument to be frank. When something is OOC it’s OOC and you reject it as an anomaly from your analysis, the same way we catagorcially should not judge MJ’s supermodel status, her character or the marriage by utilising the Mackie/Byrne reboot which was DELIBERATLY trying to make you hate MJ and the marriage by derailing her and MAKING her rich and successful.
Worse than this you aren’t even referencing that piece of crap story correctly. Peter didn’t make the deal in order to get out of the marriage, the story portrayed him more concerned about his aunt’s well being and not wanting to give up his wife, but he (in a character assassination moment) ultimately consented to do that. Even though canon had shown us again and again he would NEVER screw over Mary jane like that and even said more than once he cared MORE about MJ than Aunt May.
Paintings it as an unhealthy relationship smacks of ignorance and/or anagenda to be honest with you.
The Mary Jane we were given here (as in this era, she wasn’t written the best in this story) was absolutely the person he should have married. her personality from a creative and realistic POV perfectly complimented Peter’s. She just happened to work in a glamorous industry with a successful career that was growing. Her and her husband would share in that success together. There is nothing wrong with that beyond the storytelling considerations that ti makes them too rich and famous but again they got rid of that very early on.
“ If she's being flown to Paris by anybody other than a supervillain who will use her in his master plan for world dominance, she's wrong for Peter.”
I don’t even get what you are talking about here.
They went to Paris for their Honeymoon. Lots of people go abroad for their Honeymoon.
Bruce wanted to take her abroad because he wanted her as his prize. Why is someone’s unwanted and even rejected advances onto her something which makes HER wrong for Peter as opposed to just making them an asshole.
The entire Bruce/Paris trip element of this story (from a character POV) existed to represent a temptation for Mary Jane. A chance to once again run away from responsibility and to avoid the kind of commitment she had feared for so long by indulging in her party girl life style. The temptation makes her human and doesn’t at all make her wrong for Peter Parker. her not giving into the temptation is what makes her oh so very right for him.
“As for Peter's problems not revolving around his marriage, that's my point. He could have been whining and complaining just as easily to her if they were both single, all she did was sit there and respond. He did not treat her the same way, and her problems were usually idealized supermodel problems that often required a superhero to solve. At best it was defying the trope if she solved the problem herself anyway. MJ could have done that whether she was married or not.”
You misunderstand. Not ALL his problems revolved around his marriage but his marriage (whether it was in the form of problems or something) else was still often very important to the story.
If she was his WIFE then it made more sense for her to listen to his problems because that’s incredibly common in many relationships.
She didn’t merely respond, she advised, she gave her own problems to him, she got mad at him for some of his decisions, they argued, they made up. it was far from her just sitting there passively. Especially when she was sometimes doing stuff like kicking Chameleon’s ass.
And even if she hypothetically COULD have done the same things if they were single (even though she’d have less of a compelling reason to and it would be a different dynamic given they wouldn’t be in a relationship) why then is it BAD for them to be married. if it works either way why CAN’T they do it with her married?
Oh for God’s sake. Read my lips. She was not a supermodel most of the fucking time! She STOPPED being a model in ASM #315. That was 1989!!!!!!!!!!!! That was TWO YEARS after they got married. So when you say her problems were mostly idealised supermodel problems you are OBJECTIVLY either lying or you don’t know what on Earth you are actually talking about and just pushing an agenda.
Now yes, in those two years she DID have some problems and they sometimes WERE involved with ehr supermodelling. But they were far from idealised and they were merely looking at some of the realistic problems that might come from her living in that job. Holy shit a reflection of real life done in a way intended to entertain...in a Spider-Man comic! Never seen that before *glances over at the majority of Spider-Man’s history*. Mary Jane had a stalker. Mary Jane had to consider giving up some of her career for Peter’s. Mary Jane’s friend was addicted t drugs. Mary Jane’s cousin (though this was after she left modelling) had bulimia partially (very partially) influenced by unhealthy body images. Mary Jane found herself blacklisted from modelling and frustrated that she was getting rejections at every turn. Sometimes Peter and MJ couldn’t spend time together because their respective jobs took them out of town.
How is any of that idealised? Or are you merely saying the FACT that it’s tied to modelling=idealised which is frankly ridiculous.
Then after she left modelling she had other problems. Her pregnancy. Struggling to be accepted as a serious actress BECAUSE of her modelling image. The miscarriage. Becoming a student. Black Cat physically threatening her and trying to tempt Peter away. their break up in the 2000s, which also involved her re-evaluating her own life and her relationship with Peter’s, including how she fit in and if she was honestly important to him. Going on the run in Civil War. Looking after May during her stroke and when she was shot. Her baby possibly having health problems. Her husband LITERALLY having a mental breakdown.
Oh yeah, she had ‘idealised’ problems alright. And they were all clearly to do with being a supermodel. And tell me again, how a superhero solves someone’s drug addiction? Or someone’s eating disorder? Or someone’s career decisions (which in particular was a great and realistic thing a couple would have to consider). Not to mention their martial problems were not solved but partially CAUSED by him being a superhero. But where he could as either Peter Parker or Spider-Man he did try to help MJ in her problems. Of course though the focus was rightfully more upon Peter’s problems because the series is about him at the end of the day.
So defying the trope to have MJ solve her own problems which is a great and progressive depiction of women in a medium straddled in sexism is a meagre accomplishment and meaningless because it could happen when she was single. For female representation and depictions can suck it I guess.
Except we wouldn’t give as much of a damn about it because if that was the case why are we following Spider-Man’s friend’s problems? As opposed to caring because she is Spider-Man’s WIFE and therefore what affects her affects HIM because he is in a relationship with her and the impact upon her happiness and financial income affects him because he lives with her, he cares about her oh and he literally had a ceremony in which he promised to make her problems his problems because they were fucking married. if someone messes with his wife, he will not be happy. If Mary Jane is unhappy he will try to fix that. It’s the difference between Aunt May having a problem and Marla Jameson having a problem. we don’t care about Marla because she has less to do with Spider-Man who is the character we are following. It is also the same reason we saw more of Mary Jane’s mostly off panel job when she married peter than when they weren’t married. Being his wife elevated her character so we inevitably saw more of it than when she was his friend.
And again, if your (flawed) logic is to be belived and we could’ve had the same thing with him marrid to MJ or not then why is her marrying him a BAD thing.
We could have Spider-Man struggle with his studies if we leave him in High School or put him into college. But why NOT put him into college and therefore let him move onto the next stage of life and grow?
Posted by: Al | July 5, 2015 10:04 AM
Al, please dial it back a notch. Debate is great, but we all manage to be civil to each other here. Telling people to "get over it" or that they are being "intensely narrowminded", etc.., is just begging for a flame war, and i don't want that here. You're also accusing a guy who says "Basically I could go either way" of having an agenda and then writing HUGE comments pushing your point of view.
Again, i don't mind the debate but please keep it friendly.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 5, 2015 10:45 AM
I will sorry. I can't promise posts which aren't long cos that's how I write but otherwise okay.
Posted by: Al | July 5, 2015 10:50 AM
Posted by: fnord12 | July 5, 2015 10:53 AM
Forgot to post this part.
On the topic of the Black Cat break up being very recent, yes that had recently happened before he proposed but Peter and MJ had been more or less dating long before he and Felicia hooked back up and when you read the Wolverine one shot basically it contextualises the relationship as Peter believing there is no hope of romance with MJ and then rebounding on Felicia who was another option. Basically Felicia was nothing more than a fling because he couldn’t be with the person he WANTED to be with, which is the one he proposed to. Additionally the Black Cat break up ends with peter realising how bad Felicia was for him and realising that he was an idiot for leaning towards her and not Mary Jane. Why be with Felicia when the person he wanted and always needed was right there the whole time. you know that person he wanted to marry ever since college.
So they weren’ truly getting cold feet so much as natural pre-wedding jitteres accentuated by Peter’s fears for her safety+MJ’s commitment hang ups. Which is why their marriage was actually so great because it showed them moving past that stuff and growing. Maybe the execution of the specific issue could have been better but at the end of the day it was a triumph for the characters.
Posted by: Al | July 5, 2015 11:47 AM
Just a suggestion, Al. this type of conversation might make more sense on the forum section of this site. At least it would be easier for other posters to respond to you that way.
Posted by: kveto | July 5, 2015 2:30 PM
there is a forum section?
Posted by: Al | July 5, 2015 3:11 PM
Al Spider-Man vs. Wolverine takes place WHILE Peter is dating Felicia- it has to take place between Amazing 288-289.
Posted by: Michael | July 5, 2015 4:32 PM
"there is a forum section?"
Posted by: clyde | July 5, 2015 6:20 PM
In Back Issue #35, Ron Frenz comments that DeFalco and he had set up MJ to only be a runway model, and that her becoming a supermodel and fbeing amous was never their intent, and that those two developments worked against how they wanted to portray her.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 28, 2015 2:36 AM
@#Michael: Yes Spider-Man vs. Wolverine happens inbetween ASm #288-289. But the issue specifically points out Peter regards Mj as his girlfriend and is trying to deny that by claiming he hasn't got a girlfriend. Which means he isn't dating Felicia at that time.
Posted by: Al | December 23, 2015 9:05 PM
Of course Pete should have married MJ. In the last Spider Man story. Until that point, well, it's just irresponsible. I'd even say it's out of character. This guy thrives on depriving himself, he'd hold off marriage indefinitely.
Posted by: MindlessOne | May 15, 2017 11:33 PM
Just some spectacular trolling on the HSR, fnord
Posted by: J-Rod | May 16, 2017 10:56 AM
The main problem I have with arguments against the pairing is that at times is that they forget some key aspects of the character.
For one thing, there's some who think Peter is suppose to be a complete loser as opposed to one who merely has his share of good and bad luck.
Sure stories of AF #15 and TASM #1 ended on a sour note, the following two issues tended to end without a trace of bleakness. #2's first story ends with Peter making a pretty good amount of cash and happily paying off some debts. #3 ends with him having a victory against Doctor Octopus with him thanking the Human Torch for the motivation speech.
Even other issues like 7 and 12 give him moments of happiness or suggest things looking up. Now if one prefers the darker stories, fair, but one must still acknowledge the facts, even if they don't support the opinion.
Second, marriage to a supermodel I get is overkill, but...
A. More often than not it seems like MJ's return to super model status is merely to justify her being too good for him. If she factually is a bad fit for Pete, surely one could prove that without making her glamorous.
B. Even then, you had both Betty Brant and Liz Allen getting into a scuffle over him. Plus just before Ditko's departure, it was beauty queen Gwen who first noticed Peter while the latter was more focused on Aunt May's illness.
If we're suppose to see Peter as to plain or boring as boyfriend material, shouldn't those occasions be just as implausible?
Posted by: Antiyonder | May 27, 2017 3:10 AM
Holy moly, this much debate for a damn wedding from 1987.
Posted by: will | October 15, 2017 7:27 PM
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