“It was sort of dirty pool because I knew One More Day was coming. But I took the shot and it was great. I don’t know if Peter Parker was the best marvel character to be married, and I understand both sides of the argument. When his marriage with MJ worked, it worked very well, but sometimes it seemed like people didn’t know what to do with MJ. Way too often MJ would be relegated to hostage or obstacle. Too seldom did she play the role of supporter, friend or nurturer. I thought it was possible to do all of that, and maybe it’s a cheap shot, but I took it.”
Q: Is it bittersweet playing Gwen Stacy knowing that, ultimately, Mary Jane is gonna come into Peter Parker’s life?
Emma Stone: Gwen Stacy’s whole story is tragic, so that’s tough. But I love Mary Jane so much, as a fan. I mean, I love that character. So if I could play both, I would love to.
If the next two years are prepping plenty of breakout moments for any young actor or actress to be launched as a household name, it has to be Shailene Woodley. Though she impressed many with her Oscar-nominated performance in The Descendants, Woodley will not only bid farewell to her ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager this March but she will also start production on a popular literary series brought to life, star in one of the hottest entries into this year’s Sundance Film Festival but most importantly start filming her role as the new incarnation of Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Though little is known about how small or large her role will be in the upcoming follow-up, the cameras begin to roll in just a matter of weeks with plot details mostly being kept quiet. Now, Woodley discusses what it’s like being a part of a major comic book character while also tackling the subject of likely stealing the heart of Peter Parker.
NEWSARAMA: One recent development I wanted to talk about is the renewed focus on Mary Jane. She’s been back for a while now, but in recent issues she’s gotten much more of a spotlight [… I]n “Spider-Island,” she was pretty much the second lead after Spidey.
DAN SLOTT: Yes. There was a point where we just knew if MJ was on screen, anybody who was a love interest was going to come in second best. People are so invested in Mary Jane, and she’s such a part of the legacy.
We also knew, going in — I think it might have even been Tom Brevoort, who said, “Whoever we bring in to be the girl after Mary Jane, everyone will hate her. There’s no way you’re going to make everyone like this character. She is the replacement. She is the next girl.”
Part of the deal was, I knew the break-up [between Peter Parker and Carlie Cooper] was coming at the end of “Spider-Island.” So the second that was on the radar, it was like, “OK. What’s next?” So, yeah. There’s more stuff coming with Mary Jane.
NRAMA: Even the most recent issue, Amazing Spider-Man #675, ends with a conversation between MJ and Carlie.
SLOTT: I like where Carlie’s character has gone now. Because when you think about these great urban vigilante characters, you always get this fun relationship with, “How do they interact with the police?” There’s Batman and Commissioner Gordon. We’ve seen Spider-Man and Captain Stacy, and we’ve seen Spider-Man and Jean DeWolff. And now we’ve seen Spidey and Yuri Watanabe, but she’s written out for a while. I like this new chemistry, which is, the person you know on the force is your ex-girlfriend. You’re not going to see that with Batman and Gordon.
"Every time I need to deal with a cop, it’s going to be my… ex-girlfriend. Wonderful." Which gives this really nice flavor to it.
A few tidbits from New York Comic Con:
- According to Ugo.com’s writeup, MJ was name-dropped as “play[ing] a ‘huge’ role in Pete’s life.”
- Given the reappearance/restoration of a certain character last issue and subsequent interview with Chris Yost about the new Scarlet Spider series, we can assume by implication that MJ will not be the new Scarlet Spider. Jury’s still out on what will happen to her powers — at this point I think she’ll lose them at the very end of Spider-Island after a couple issues of kicking butt.
- Some behind the scenes info about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark:
The relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson was also really big part of the changes they made. Originally, the show focused on a love triangle between Peter, MJ and the entity called Arachne, but the writers felt they needed to get more focus on the core love story and develop it earlier. After debating whether MJ should be dating Flash Thompson at the stories start, they decided to drop him so the leads could share a kiss in the first act. They weren’t sure when the pair went from romantically interested to dating, but then as Aguire-Sacasa noted “Then we had a scene where they’re kissing on a balcony, and well…they have to be dating if they’re kissing on a balcony.”These changes also resulted in one of MJ’s solo numbers being changed to a duet with Peter (source) — which song is unmentioned, but probably “No More,” as it’s the only song they sing in the first act without other characters.
A quote from Kurt Busiek on the Kent-Lane marriage recently made the Tumblr rounds, which inspired me to look back at some of the things he’s said about Peter and MJ being married.
Here’s what Kurt Busiek on the Spider-Marriage, in 2008. (Content notes: some ableist and sexist colloquialisms.) My commentary follows.
My basic argument against the idea is that it breaks the Spider-Man concept without replacing it with something that’s as good or better than what was there before. Every series has a core idea, an engine that makes it go, and if you mess with that engine, you have to make sure you’re improving it, rather than pouring sugar into the gas tank in the name of change. […]
[Description: Still of Ann-Margret as Kim from Bye, Bye Birdie (1963) — a white teenager with brown/auburn hair, wearing a bright yellow blouse and orange skirt, sprawled on her bed with the receiver of her baby blue phone pressed to her cheek. She’s smiling, and has dimples like the comics character she inspired.]
TOM DEFALCO: You were the first artist to show us what Mary Jane Watson looked like. How did you design her?
JOHN ROMITA, SR: When we started to plot her first appearance in Amazing #42, Stan wasn’t sure if she should be beautiful or hideous. I was recently looking through the volume of Essential Spider-Man that reprinted some of Ditko’s issues and they referred to Mary Jane was beautiful. Stan has a terrible memory and obviously forgot. It’s a good thing we didn’t make her hideous, because we would have looked really foolish. Anyway, once we agreed on making her beautiful, we had the problem of trying to make her look really spectacular. Stan wanted her to look something like a go-go girl. I used Ann-Margret from the movie Bye Bye, Birdie as a guide, using her coloring, the shape of her face, her red hair and her form-fitting short skirts. I exaggerated her dimples and the cleft in her chin.
— Tom DeFalco interviewing John Romita, Sr. for Comics Creators on Spider-Man, 2001.
(Photo via cyberweasel.)
It was sort of dirty pool because I knew One More Day was coming. But I took the shot and it was great.
I don’t know if Peter Parker was the best marvel character to be married, and I understand both sides of the argument. When his marriage with MJ worked, it worked very well, but sometimes it seemed like people didn’t know what to do with MJ. Way too often MJ would be relegated to hostage or obstacle. Too seldom did she play the role of supporter, friend or nurturer. I thought it was possible to do all of that, and maybe it’s a cheap shot, but I took it.