Mary Jane Watson is a supporting character, love interest, later girlfriend and wife of Peter Parker from the Spider-Man franchise.
She was created by the late Stan Lee, and John Romita.
Mary Jane is depicted as a green-eyed redhead, and has been the primary romantic interest of Peter Parker for the last twenty years, although initially competing with others for his affection, most prominently with Gwen Stacy and the Black Cat. Mary Jane's relatively unknown early life was eventually explored in The Amazing Spider-Man #259.
Early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man featured a running joke about Peter dodging his Aunt May's attempts to set him up with "that nice Watson girl next door", whom Peter had not yet met and assumed would not be his type, since his aunt liked her (in the Parallel Lives graphic novel an identical scenario is shown between Mary Jane and her Aunt Anna).
Mary Jane made her first actual appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #25 (June 1965); however, in that issue, her face was obscured. It is not until The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #42 (November 1966) that her face is actually seen.
In that issue, on the last page, Peter finally meets her and he's stunned by her beauty even as she speaks the now-famous line: "Face it, Tiger... you just hit the jackpot!"
Peter begins to date her, much to the annoyance of Gwen Stacy. However, her apparent superficiality proves to be an irritation to Peter that her rival did not share and Peter subsequently chooses to date Gwen.
Mary Jane, who becomes Harry Osborn's love interest and girlfriend, remains a close friend to Peter and Gwen.
Despite her enjoyment of life, her friendship and dating, Mary Jane refuses to be tied down for too long. When her relationship with Harry Osborn comes to an end, it has significant impact on Harry, driving him to a drug overdose.
This in turn creates a boomerang effect, driving his father Norman Osborn to the brink of insanity, temporarily restoring his memories as the Green Goblin. Mary Jane only realizes the true consequences of her lifestyle when she learns of Harry's predicament.
Later, when the Green Goblin murders Gwen, MJ stays with Peter during his mourning; though he initially tells her to leave him alone, he becomes interested in her as he recovers.
Their relationship has a few initial hurdles, such as MJ's hot temper and Peter's always dashing off to be Spider-Man. Following the events of the original clone saga, Peter realizes that he loves Mary Jane and the two begin dating again.
However, despite loving Peter, MJ does not wish to be tied and when she allows the relationship to progress too far, she's left with a difficult decision when Peter proposes to her.
After taking a short time to consider, she turns him down. Following a series of traumatic experiences involving Peter's absences and his costumed alter ego endangering his Aunt May, a spiritually-exhausted MJ leaves New York for several months. Meanwhile, Peter dates other women, most notably Felicia Hardy.
MJ eventually returns, but her behavior showing a marked change with her abandonment of her false front. Following an attack on Peter by Puma, she breaks down and admits her knowledge of Peter's secret identity in The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #257.
After learning of her own family history in The Amazing Spider-Man #259, Peter finds a new respect for her and begins to truly understand her.
But MJ makes it clear to Peter that knowing his identity changes nothing about her feelings and that she only loves him as a friend.
Despite the one-shot graphic novel "Parallel Lives" and Untold Tales of Spider-Man #16 revealing that Mary Jane discovered Peter's secret when she noticed Spider-Man climbing out of Peter's bedroom window, many comics published before this revelation claimed that she had simply "figured it out", with the details of how and when left ambiguous to the reader.
After yet another period of reconsidering his priorities in life, Peter contemplates letting go of the Spider-Man mantle, with Mary Jane backing the decision, but his relationship with Felicia Hardy soon resumes.
Feeling lost and guilty, Peter visits Mary Jane and apologizes with an awkward kiss before heading to Berlin with Ned Leeds.
Following Ned Leeds' murder at the hands of the Foreigner, a changed and bitter Peter returns to New York where his lack of direction in life is not helped when Ned is framed as the Hobgoblin and Felicia elects to leave Peter behind as she's tied to the Foreigner.
Mary Jane returns to Peter, presumably to patch things up, but Peter surprises her with a second proposal of marriage, which MJ again turns down. She returns to her family to settle old debts with her father, with Peter following her.
After aiding her sister in having her crooked father arrested and aiding Peter against a Spider-Slayer, Mary Jane has an epiphany on marriage and agrees to become Peter's wife.
- In the Sam Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy, she was portrayed by Kirsten Dunst, who also played Judy Shepherd, Christy Fimple, Erin Randell, Torrance Shipman, and voiced Young Anastasia.
- Dunst also voiced the character in the Spider-Man 2 video game.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, she was suppose to appear, being portrayed by Shailene Woodley, but her scenes were cut out so the film could focus on Peter and Gwen's relationship. Woodley also played Amy Juergens in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Tris Prior in The Divergent series, and plays Jane Chapman on HBOs Big Little Lies.
- In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, she was voiced by Zoë Kravitz, who also portrayed Angel in X-Men: First Class.
- In the 1976 Spider-Man cartoon, she was voiced by the late Peg Dixon, who voiced many superheroes of the Marvel universe in The Marvel Super Heroes, such as Black Widow, Jane Foster, Sharon Carter, Wasp, and many others.
- In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, she was voiced by Sara Ballantine.
- In Spider-Man: Unlimited, she was voiced by Jennifer Hale, who also voiced Female Shepard.
- Hale voiced the character again in the 2000 Spider-Man video game.
- In Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, she was voiced by Lisa Loeb.
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man, she was voiced by Vanessa Marshall, who also voiced Irwin, Danica LeBlake, Hera Syndulla, and Black Canary.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, she was voiced by Tara Strong, who also voiced Timmy Turner.
- Strong also voiced the character in Spider-Man: Unlimited, Lego Marvel Superheroes, and the web series Marvel Rising: Initiation.
- In the 2002 Spider-Man video game based on the film, she was voiced by Cat O'Conner, though Kirsten Dunst did provide the likeness.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, she was voiced by Andrea Baker, who also voiced Clover.
- In Spider-Man 3, she was voiced by Kari Wahlgren, who also voiced Charmcaster, Mina Monroe, and Starfire.
- In Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, she was voiced by Dana Seltzer.
- In Spider-Man: Edge of Time, she was voiced by Laura Vandervoort, who also played Kara Kent in Smallville.
- In 2018s Marvel's Spider-Man, she was voiced by Laura Bailey, who also voiced Rayne, Helena Harper, Nadine Ross, Gwen Stacy, and Supergirl.
- In novels, she is depicted as shy and insecure, dealing with anorexia and peer pressure, and knew Peter back in elementary.