Most Spiderman fans can agree that after the events of the universally disliked story arc “Spiderman: One More Day”, which bears the disappointing legacy of retconning Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s marriage out of continuity, the character of Mary-Jane Watson has served little to no purpose in Marvel Comics. She briefly gained her own set of powers during the “Spider-Island” story arc and appeared for a brief period of time in the ‘Superior Spiderman’ series, but besides that it is if she had ceased to exist further. That is, until Brian Michael Bendis brought Mary Jane back in the pages of ‘Invincible Iron Man’ series as Tony Stark’s personal assistant. Furthermore, current Spiderman writer Dan Slott used Mary Jane in his comic in a more heroic light by means of allowing her to don the Iron Spider costume to save Peter, Tony and many other heroes from the villainous Regent. Not only did this make for a fun story but it also showed something in Mary Jane: potential for becoming a hero. Unfortunately, her time in the suit comes to a grinding halt as not only does it get rendered useless in combat, but the following exchange occurs:
“Never again.” says Mary Jane Watson. I honestly don’t know if this was a decision by Slott or Marvel, but I feel that not letting Mary Jane keep the Iron Spider suit was a poor decision for several reasons.
1) Nothing interesting is happening with the character
Sure, Mary Jane is now working for Tony Stark and features in his series, but what else is she doing other that being a secretary? The book is still going to be heavily focused on Tony Stark. Well, it was until the new ‘Invincible Iron Man’ series was announced which focuses on Riri Williams instead of Stark. So what happens to Mary Jane now that the only series that she contributed to majorly has had a switch in focus? Is she still around, and if so, what will she do? The answer is easy: give her a series of her own. It doesn’t have to be big, it could be a small mini-series of 5 issues in order to test the waters, but she definitely shouldn’t be underused ever again. Mary Jane has appeared in many adaptations of the Spiderman mythos and has attracted a small yet proud fan-base over the years; reintroducing her with a superhero persona would be a great way to start making her more prominent in the female of the new Marvel universe. Plus, you have a new female lead, what’s not to love?
2) It makes sense from a story perspective
When you write a story set in a universe with years upon years of character interaction, relationships and history, you would naturally want to work your story into this lore in order to make it seem grounded and not out of nowhere. So when you have Mary Jane working for Tony Stark, a businessman and an Avenger with a plethora of enemies, it would make sense to present your secretary with a form of protection from harm. And naturally when your boss is Tony Stark you can expect that to come in the form of a suit of armor like his own. So giving Mary Jane the Iron Spider armor would make sense in this regard for many reasons:
- It was found in a box located in the Avengers Warehouse. It wasn’t being used for anything else. Why not donate it to someone in need?
- Mary Jane knows that Peter once wore the armor. Her now wearing the armor would making sense as the mantle is effectively being passed from one Spiderman character to the next, not to mention these characters had close relations
- She’s worked a suit of Tony’s design before. She’s not an amateur. Amazing Spiderman #15 goes as far as to list those exact instances in which she used a suit.
3) Marvel is pushing for representation
Marvel has been on a heavy diversity agenda in the past few years. They’ve introduced many characters of color (Kamala Khan, Riri Williams), characters of the LGBTQ+ community (America Chavez, Angela Odinsdottir) and many females characters have started to lead their own titles (Jessica Drew, Cindy Moon). So why not use Mary Jane, an existing character that is widely recognized and loved, in her own series as the Iron Spider. There’s no groundwork that needs to be set, no history that needs to be created and as previously stated it won’t feel forced. It would be a welcome back to a character long gone from the attention of Marvel readers everywhere.
But that’s just my two-cents on the matter. Maybe Marvel has plans for Mary Jane. Maybe they don’t. But I can say that if they don’t make use of this prime opportunity, then they are truly missing out.