From the Spotlight to Firefights
May and Anna tried to set up a date between Peter and Mary Jane, who still had not actually been introduced to each other. May thought that Mary Jane had much in common with Peter and would make a good girlfriend for him. May even hoped that someday Peter would marry Mary Jane, but withheld telling Peter about Mary Jane’s past, hoping they would have a first date. Peter, however, had already fallen in love with Daily Bugle secretary Betty Brant, and had gotten flirty overtures from his classmate, Liz Allan. He did not want any further romantic entanglements and, moreover, assumed that a girl his aunt wanted him to date would probably be dull and unattractive. Knowing Peter was Spider-Man, Mary Jane initially did not want to get involved with him and invented excuses to call off the date. She saw Spider-Man in action against Dr. Chen Lu, AKA Radioactive Man, in a natural history museum, and followed the fight as it moved to the Brooklyn Bridge, bewildered yet awestruck by the duality of shy Peter Parker.
One day Mary Jane visited the Parkers’ house, where May hoped she would finally meet Peter, but he was absent, busy fighting the first of the Spider-Slayer robots. However, Betty Brant and Liz Allan dropped by the house and were astonished by the beauty of the girl they immediately regarded as their competition for Peter. However, Peter’s romantic relationships with Betty and Liz came to an end, although he has remained a close friend of both. He began his college work at Empire State University (ESU), where he met and became attracted to fellow student Gwendolyne Stacy.
Gayle and Timothy Byrnes had their first son. However, the stress that Timothy suffered trying to support a family while attending college led to marital discord. Timothy left Gayle when she again became pregnant. Mary Jane and Madeline moved to Philadelphia to support Gayle and her boys. Mary Jane was pained by the family turmoil, escaping from her troubles by acting and partying.
Soon Madeline fell seriously ill. Mary Jane gave up her acting at school and took a series of after-school jobs to help support the family. When Madeline died, Mary Jane, confused and distraught, abandoned her sister. She was determined not to sacrifice her dreams of happiness as Madeline, Gayle, and Timothy had done. When she arrived at Anna’s house, Anna invited May and Peter over for Sunday dinner so she could finally meet the boy next door. Mary Jane spent that week getting a job as a waitress and dancer, and making a deposit on a small studio apartment in Manhattan’s East Village. The following Sunday, though expecting to meet a dowdy girl, Peter was stunned by Mary Jane’s beauty and charm. Like she said when first greeting Peter, he had “hit the jackpot.” Remembering a bookish, bespectacled nerd, Mary Jane never imagined the confident young college student Peter had become. Perhaps realizing that Peter would want to go after Aleksei Sytsevich, AKA Rhino, as Spider-Man, Mary Jane suggested they ride his new motorcycle to see if they could spot the escaped criminal. Peter agreed, but after they found the Rhino, Peter left her, claiming he had to take pictures for the Daily Bugle. When Spider-Man turned up moments later, Mary Jane feigned surprise at the coincidence.
Mary Jane became part of Peter’s circle of friends—joining Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy and Flash Thompson. Gwen was playfully jealous of Mary Jane dating Peter. Shortly thereafter, Mary Jane went on a date with Harry. Later still, Osborn arranged a double-date—himself with Gwen, Peter with Mary Jane—that was interrupted by an attack by Kraven the Hunter. Though he was strongly attracted to Mary Jane, Peter found himself more interested in Gwen. Gwen and Mary Jane competed for Peter for some time, but Peter and Gwen continued to grow closer together.
Mary Jane was hired as a dancer at a New York City dance club, the Gloom Room, which was secretly a front for the crime lord, the Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin. During a gunfight there, a criminal tried to use Mary Jane as a shield, but Spider-Man rescued her. This was Mary Jane’s first contact with Peter in his Spider-Man guise.
During a temporary split between Peter and Gwen, Mary Jane tried to become Peter’s girlfriend again. However, Peter was deeply in love with Gwen and turned Mary Jane down (to her surprise). Gwen and Peter resumed their relationship, which grew increasingly stronger. Joining her friends as a freshman at ESU, Mary Jane went back to being Harry’s girlfriend, but still flirted with Peter. Overwhelmed after years of feeling like a disappointment to his derisive and condescending father, Norman Osborn, compounded by Mary Jane’s perpetual flirting with Peter, Harry became addicted to drugs; while under the drugs’ influence, Harry offered to forgive Mary Jane for her advances on Peter, but she proclaimed herself an unattached young woman.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the teenagers, Gwen had become pregnant after a brief affair with Norman, and secretly gave birth to twins in Europe after an unusually rapid gestation period. After Mary Jane overheard Gwen arguing with Norman for custody of the children, Gwen confided in her, but made her promise to keep silent. Amnesiac Norman, reverting to his Green Goblin persona, remembered knowing Peter’s secret identity and killed Gwen atop the Brooklyn Bridge. Mary Jane waited for Peter in his apartment. Anguished, Peter yelled at her to leave, rejecting her sympathy, assuming she would act true to form and flee when times were difficult; however, reaching a milestone in her maturity, she stayed and the two grieved over the loss of Gwen together. At that moment, Mary Jane first knew she was in love with Peter.
Mary Jane broke up with Harry, who was becoming increasingly unstable after witnessing his father’s apparent death. Despite her feelings for Peter, she claimed she was tired of Peter’s depression, and decided not to become further involved with him. Subsequently, Peter, as Spider-Man, rescued Mary Jane from Clifton Shallot, AKA Vulture. At a party, Mary Jane feigned indifference toward Peter. But later that night she said that she did not want to be in love with Peter because she liked him too much. Presumably, Mary Jane feared being emotionally hurt in a serious relationship with Peter as she had been hurt in relationships with members of her family. Nevertheless, Mary Jane and Peter continued seeing each other. Harry went mad, becoming the new Green Goblin, and set off a bomb that nearly killed Mary Jane and Peter. Mary Jane was hospitalized, and Peter was greatly concerned about her. Harry, as the Goblin, later captured Mary Jane in an attempt to strike at Spider-Man, but she was released unharmed.
Just before he left on a trip to Europe, Peter exchanged a long, passionate kiss with Mary Jane at the airport that was a turning point in their relationship. Mary Jane realized that their relationship was becoming serious and was astonished to discover the depth of her own feelings for Peter. After his return, it seemed for a brief while that Mary Jane might lose Peter to a young woman who was a lookalike for the deceased Gwen Stacy—Gwen’s clone, created by her college professor, Miles Warren (the Jackal). May Parker, still determined to pair Mary Jane and Peter, urged Mary Jane to take the initiative in winning Peter back. Spider-Man was forced to fight his own clone. When the battle was over, Peter was unsure if he was a clone until he recognized his love for Mary Jane; the clone had been implanted with memories during a time before Peter was in love with Mary Jane. After Peter and Gwen’s clone agreed to part, Peter again found Mary Jane waiting for him at his apartment and was overjoyed to see her. Despite this second chance with “Gwen,” Peter realized that he was in love with Mary Jane and even hinted to her shortly afterwards that he wanted to marry her.
Sometime later, Mary Jane became angry at Peter when he left her on a date so he could investigate a killing as Spider-Man. She retaliated by going on a date with Flash Thompson. Though Mary Jane told Peter that she was uncomfortable having a serious relationship and didn’t like him continually leaving her to take photographs for the Bugle, she withheld sharing her inability to deal with him risking his life as Spider-Man.
However, Peter and Mary Jane grew close once more, and when she helped Liz Allan choose a wedding gown for her upcoming marriage to the recovered Harry, Mary Jane wondered aloud what Peter would think of seeing her wearing one. Peter eventually proposed to Mary Jane—but she declined, claiming she wasn’t the sort of girl who could be happy with just one man. Peter and Mary Jane remained friends, but she was upset by his sudden departures on two of their dates and began avoiding him. She briefly worked at another dance club called Studio 52. Uncomfortable being around Peter, Mary Jane dropped out of college and left New York to further her modeling career in Florida, where Anna had moved. Peter dated several women during her absence, including Black Cat, with whom he shared a particularly tempestuous relationship.
Mary Jane returned to New York, and after a while found steady work as a fashion model for Roderick Kingsley, AKA Hobgoblin, not knowing his evil alter ego. Various friends tried to revive the romance between Peter and Mary Jane, but both of them resisted. Mary Jane dated a number of actors and men in the fashion industry, and Peter was pleased to have her just as a friend. One day, one of Spider-Man’s adversaries, Puma, used his superhuman senses to track Spider-Man down to Peter Parker’s apartment while Mary Jane was there. Peter pushed her out of the apartment just before the Puma broke in. Torn with worry, Mary Jane could hear the battle between Spider-Man and the Puma through the apartment’s locked door. After the battle was over, Mary Jane went to Peter and told him she could no longer bear worrying about the dangers he faced and told him she knew he was Spider-Man. Still, Mary Jane had no actual proof of Peter’s double identity until the Black Cat, who was known to be Spider-Man’s companion, arrived at the apartment. In tears, Mary Jane hurriedly left. Mary Jane was about to leave New York but decided she would not run away from Peter. Returning to him, she told him her life story for the first time, and Peter decided he could trust her with his secret. Peter and Mary Jane chose to stay together as close friends and confidantes, while ruling out the possibility of becoming romantically involved once more.
At long last Peter had a friend from whom he felt he did not have to hide his secret life as Spider-Man. Mary Jane continued to worry intensely about Peter risking his life, but remained steadfastly with him as his friend, even bravely facing dangers posed to both of them by the Hobgoblin (Kingsley and his hypnotized proxy, Ned Leeds) and a new version of the Spider-Slayer. As time passed, Peter and Mary Jane realized that they were deceiving themselves about the depth of their feelings for one another, and that they were very much in love. Peter proposed marriage to Mary Jane for the second time, but she did not accept immediately. She left for Pittsburgh, where her sister, Gayle, had been sent to prison. Mary Jane helped the police arrest the real culprit, her father, Philip, who had stolen a rare manuscript. Mary Jane was reconciled with Gayle after the years of tension between them. Right afterwards, Mary Jane accepted Peter’s proposal.
Peter and Mary Jane were married on the front steps of City Hall with her uncle, Judge Spencer Watson, presiding over the ceremony. They spent their honeymoon in Cassis, France—interrupted by Puma offering Peter a job to fulfill his debt of honor—and found a new home at the Bedford Towers, a luxurious condominium apartment that Mary Jane was able to afford thanks to her highly successful modeling career.
Though a happy newlywed, Mary Jane never imagined how demanding it would be to be married to a Super Hero. Villains like Venom invaded their personal lives, and Mary Jane struggled with Peter’s extended absences—and the very real fear that one day, Peter might be killed. That possibility was played out when Peter disappeared for two weeks, buried alive by Kraven the Hunter who ultimately killed himself.
Her own career presented its share of problems too, when Jonathan Caesar, a wealthy, obsessed admirer and owner of the Bedford Towers, kidnapped Mary Jane. After she escaped, the incarcerated Caesar managed to use his influence to force her out of the modeling business. Down but not out, Mary Jane found high-paying work in the daytime drama “Secret Hospital.” Evicted from the Bedford Towers, they moved into May Parker’s home for a time, and Mary Jane’s teenage cousin Kristy moved in with them. Mary Jane took care of Kristy when she was diagnosed and hospitalized with bulimia. Harry and Liz offered the Parkers a loft above their own home in a building they owned in Manhattan’s SoHo district.
Peter’s ex-girlfriend, Felicia, returned from Europe and was horrified to discover Peter had married Mary Jane. She threatened Mary Jane she would win Peter back and tormented them by dating Flash Thompson, intent on breaking his heart. However, after several awkward double dates with the Parkers, Felicia grew to love Flash. Mary Jane and Felicia eventually reconciled during efforts to help Peter.
Whether at home or out being the socialite her soap-opera fans expected her to be, the young bride found herself increasingly alone—like a “Super Hero widow.” Seeking respite, Mary Jane took up—but later quit—smoking and nearly entered into an affair with smooth-talking actor Jason Jerome. Miserable and tense, Mary Jane did at least manage to reconcile with her father.
Living with the Osborns as neighbors went sour as Harry descended into madness again, psychologically tormenting Peter at every opportunity. Though he forced Mary Jane to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge where Gwen died, he backed off, claiming he did not wish to hurt her—only her husband. Harry appeared to have died after imbibing a lethal experimental Goblin formula, and Liz asked the Parkers to move out.
Back in Forest Hills, life started looking up when Mary Jane became pregnant, and Peter’s long-lost clone, Ben Reilly, assumed the role of Spider-Man. However, the woman they believed to be Aunt May died—the real May Parker kidnapped by Norman Osborn and replaced by a genetically modified actress. The Parkers moved to Portland, Oregon to live a normal life, but were soon drawn back to New York. After Norman Osborn returned to America, he orchestrated the loss of her unborn child and killed Ben Reilly. Anna Watson moved in with the Parkers for a time until May was rescued and returned home. Mary Jane enrolled again at ESU where she befriended Gwen’s cousin from England, Jill. When the Chameleon captured and unmasked Spider-Man, he assumed Peter’s form and confronted Mary Jane; Mary Jane, recognizing an imposter, defeated the villain, pounding him with a baseball bat.
Mary Jane eventually resumed modeling, for which she was highly paid. Though uncomfortable with his wife’s bigger paycheck, Peter soon moved into an expensive apartment with Mary Jane and Aunt May. Peter even told Mary Jane he was done being Spider-Man, once and for all. But the spider-bite ran deeper in his blood than his own resolve. With Mary Jane’s busy modeling schedule already straining their relationship, the truth came out that Peter was still fighting crime as Spider-Man.
Mary Jane had never resented Peter’s double life. His incredible sense of responsibility was a key factor in her love and respect for him. But she could never accept the growing feeling that Spider-Man was more important to Peter than she was. Peter’s lies only served to foster that sentiment, and their marriage hit the rocks. Mary Jane faced further problems as the “Stalker” harassed her constantly on the phone—a secret she withheld from Peter. With their love hanging in the balance, Mary Jane took off on a plane trip. Peter was supposed to meet her before she left, but could not get to her in time. The Stalker, onboard the same flight, had other plans. When the plane exploded in mid-air, Peter at first refused to believe his wife was dead. He was eventually convinced otherwise by the weight of evidence. But his first instincts had been correct: the Stalker, who had begun to mimic Peter after absorbing his memories through superhuman means, pulled Mary Jane from the flight and held her captive. Peter rescued Mary Jane, but she had already made up her mind: she would not return to New York and take second place to Spider-Man. The two separated, and Mary Jane moved to the West Coast.
Following a painful time apart, both Peter and Mary Jane independently decided to try to reconcile. As Mary Jane flew to New York, Peter flew to Los Angeles. Each finding the other absent, they left for home. When Peter’s return flight encountered an electrical storm, the pilot made an unscheduled stop in Denver—where Mary Jane’s plane had touched down for a layover. The two met in the airport. Their reunion was nearly sabotaged when Victor von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom, arrived, and a Latverian resistance group launched an all-out attack in the waiting lounge. As Spider-Man aided Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, against Doctor Doom, Mary Jane could have no clearer proof that loving Peter meant accepting the wall-crawler, too. In the aftermath of the fight, Peter told Mary Jane he needed her, that he loved her, and that he was nothing without her.
Reunited with Peter, Mary Jane focused on developing her acting skills with serious stage performances, overcoming the stereotype of being an unintelligent supermodel. During Mary Jane’s absence, Aunt May had discovered Peter’s secret identity, and subsequently May and Mary Jane bonded over their concern for Peter’s safety. Gwen’s twins, Sarah and Gabriel—now rapidly aging young adults—attacked Peter, falsely believing him to be their mother’s killer. Keeping Gwen’s secret for years, Mary Jane finally divulged her knowledge of the twins to Peter, infuriating him. Spider-Man ultimately befriended Sarah, but Gabriel escaped as the insane Gray Goblin. When the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) manipulated Peter into freeing him from prison, he captured Mary Jane, bringing her to the top of the George Washington Bridge. Mary Jane fruitlessly defended herself with a pistol, but a brainwashed Doctor Octopus, attacked the Goblin, while Spider-Man rescued his wife.
After May’s home in Forest Hills was burned down by Peter’s vengeful former classmate Charlie Weiderman, Mary Jane, Aunt May, and Peter moved into Stark Tower after Peter joined the Avengers. There, Mary Jane was able to witness Peter’s Super Hero “peer group” and appreciate their fantastic community. As Peter shared his secret identity with other heroes, Mary Jane was privileged to become friends with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Mary Jane was photographed once arriving home late one evening to Stark Tower. The tabloids accused her of having an affair with Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man; but Tony persuaded the photographer to issue a retraction.
Mary Jane suffered as Peter was beaten and killed at the hands of Morlun, only to watch him re-emerge from his own corpse reborn. She supported Peter’s decision to unmask before the world to support Stark and the Superhuman Registration Act, despite the increased risk to her own safety. However, Peter eventually regretted his decision and publicly withdrew his support for the Act. Their life began to deteriorate. She and May fled Stark Tower and went into hiding at a seedy motel. She was replaced in an Off-Broadway production of Macbeth due to her husband’s notoriety as Spider-Man, the fugitive. Upon learning of Spider-Man’s identity, the incarcerated Kingpin sent a sniper to the Parkers’ motel; while Peter protected Mary Jane from the bullet, May was struck and lapsed into a coma. When police detectives became suspicious of May’s gunshot injury, Mary Jane helped Peter steal an ambulance and transfer May to another hospital. Both were guilty of breaking the law, and unable to find a way to heal May. Their desperation attracted the Hell-lord Mephisto, who offered to restore May if the couple allowed their marriage to be eliminated from ever occurring in history. Mary Jane agreed; Peter followed.
In a revised world, the two were instead engaged for several years, but had a painful break-up. Though knowledge of Spider-Man’s secret identity had been removed throughout the world via unrevealed means, Mary Jane was still aware of Peter’s dual life. She moved to Hollywood, making movies while secretly dating actor Bobby Carr. Her covert romance was nearly captured on film by Peter for the sake of a Daily Bugle reward, but after defeating the nearly two-dimensional obsessed fan Paper Doll, Peter changed his heart about becoming a paparazzo and destroyed his photos without seeing Mary Jane. Ending her relationship with Carr, Mary Jane moved back to New York, surprising Peter at May’s wedding to Jay Jameson Sr., and visiting Harry Osborn, who returned to New York as well. She accepted a job hosting a fashion reality TV show, “Sewn-Up.”
When a spider-virus hit New York and turned everyone into monstrous beasts, Mary Jane received spider-powers thanks to her time with Peter that made her somewhat immune to the virus’s effects. With her new abilities, she used them to protect and help others. She told Peter she loved him but he didn’t hear her, and she soon received a cure that nullified her powers.
Mary Jane then became friends with Carlie Cooper, Peter’s girlfriend, who also knew about his secret identity. Around this same time, Mary Jane purchased a nightclub in New York and dubbed it MJ’s. During this time, Peter asked her out to dinner, not once but twice. But his work interrupted them. She didn’t go on a date with him until Doc Ock had swapped consciousnesses with Peter, inhabiting his body and Mary Jane remained unaware. Their relationship was complicated to say the least. It wasn’t until after the defeat of the Goblin King that Peter, restored to his body, revealed that he had been possessed by Otto. After many years of being a target for Spider-Man’s enemies, Mary Jane left Peter’s life.
After MJ’s was destroyed in a superhuman conflict, Mary Jane then opened another night club, Jackpot, but this time in Chicago to avert the possibility of super-powered criminals and vigilantes messing up her entrepreneurial endeavors. To her disappointment, her club was destroyed on opening night by Iron Man and Doctor Doom, who were mid-battle with Madame Masque. Stark felt bad for his part in it and offered Mary Jane a job as his personal assistant, which she at first refused. When Stark was rumored to be dead, his A.I. assistant Friday begged Mary Jane to join the team and prevent Stark Industries from being seized by the Board of Directors. Mary Jane agreed and became Stark’s executive administrator, and in meeting with the board, she justified Stark’s absence and protected the company.
She then became close with Peter again, but remained conflicted about his dual identity. After a altercation involving Norman Osborn, AKA Red Goblin, and Venom at Stark Industries, Mary Jane left her job there. Following a fight with Quentin Beck, AKA Mysterio, Peter apologized to Mary Jane about how their relationship ended previously and the pair reconciled and rekindled their relationship. To help her deal with her issues surrounding Peter’s double life, Mary Jane joined a support group called the Lookups.
Mary Jane then attended a play with Carlie, but when Francine Frye, AKA Electro, held the play’s lead actress Melanie Daniels hostage, Mary Jane doubled as one of the actresses, tricking Electro and defeating them. This moment in the spotlight led her to accept a part in a film, which required traveling. She was on set for months but it was marred by the Savage Six’s interference. When she returned to New York, she got caught up in a confrontation with Spider-Heroes, who were possessed by Kindred, and Norman Osborn. She managed to help free the heroes by helping Osborn with his Kindred problem, who thought to be Harry was actually Sarah Stacy, twins that had been experimented upon by a deceased Harry , prior to his demise.
Mary Jane then visited Peter at the hospital where he suffered from radiation poisoning post battle with the U-Foes and ended up in a coma. She shared responsibility with Aunt May and Felicia to oversee the comatose Peter, and in turn built a friendship with Felicia. After many weeks, Peter woke up though he was in a weakened state.
Mary Jane then invited Peter to move in with him. They were soon taken to an alternate Earth-TRN1023 by an empowered Benjamin Rabin, AKA Emissary. They encountered that world’s Emissary’s son, Paul Rabin, who rescued the pair but they were soon attacked by Ben’s god Wayep. To protect Peter, Mary Jane used a device that returned Peter to Earth, leaving her stranded. After spending four years in this other reality, Mary Jane married Paul. They adopted two children, Owen and Romy. Upon their return to Earth-616, they stayed together.
Mary Jane largely avoided Peter until she was abducted and used by a robotic Moira X in a plot involving Krakoan medicines and the Hellfire Gala. Spider-Man rescued her and she told him that she couldn’t be with him. During a strange disturbance, Mary Jane inadvertently revealed to Felicia that she had superpowers from a bracelet that she wore that acted like a slot machine, giving her random powers based on the luck of the draw. The pair were soon relocated to Belaco’s realm of Limbo where he made them steal the Soulsword. While there, Felicia’s luck powers saw Mary Jane’s as a threat, since Felicia was dating Peter and saw her as a threat to their relationship, and Mary Jane’s powers flipped, turning unlucky and leaving them in the lurch. Though they were soon saved by the demon S’ym, who revealed Belaco’s plan once they had acquired the sword: he would kill whomever the sword bonded to. Once the trio obtained the sword, Mary Jane and Felicia both bonded to it, undoing Belasco’s plot, and left the sword with S’ym. They returned to Earth where Mary Jane introduced Felicia to her family.
Soon, Ben Rabin returned. Mary Jane fought Ben alongside Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, and Norman Osborn, AKA Gold Goblin, but their efforts couldn’t prevent Ben from magically erasing Mary Jane and Paul’s children. In the battle, Ms. Marvel was lost as well, but the villain was defeated thanks to her sacrifice. Mary Jane mourned her kids and after Felicia encouraged her to use her powers again, she took her advice, using the moniker Jackpot.