Godzilla2014 wrote:Hello Magister J.R. Fettinger,
Like you I prefer Mary Jane over Gwen and I realize that your awesome series Why Did It Have To Be You, Mary Jane (as well as the article DeFlowering Gwen) discuss Gwendolyn and her relationship with Peter Parker, but there are a whole bunch of questions about her that I ponder even though I kinda hate her that could benefit from your analysis. Mainly these:
What caused her to transform from Ditko's Liz Allen ripoff to Romita's good girl to whiny little daddy's girl in the context of the story? Would there still have been room for Mary Jane with Gwen's more interesting incarnations?
What the hell made Gwen Peter's first true love?
Why couldn't she connect the dots and at least suspect Peter might be Spider-Man? Why didn't this brainy beauty queen just dump his ass after she thought he was a coward who kept major secrets from her and didn't call?
Where was there relationship headed had Green Goblin not interfered? Would she have married Peter? If so, then what would she have been like as Mrs. Parker? Where would MJ be if Peter had married Gwen?
Is Mary Jane truly his second choice or has Gwen been over-romanticized because of her death? If the choice were up to him, who would he choose?
Why did she leave the children she planned on raising with Peter in Europe when she returned?
I admit this last one seems a little wierd, but this is one that I have seen debated over and over again: Did Peter and Gwen have sex? Which is the more credible story: Spider-Man: Blue or Sins Past?
These questions have been burning in my mind, and with your analytical skill demonstrated in your articles really makes me wonder what your thoughts are on these subjects?
Thank you for the compliments. At the present time a Gwen essay is not in the works as I'm collectively working on some other articles (yes, really) - and also because Friend of the MadGoblin's Ward and Spider-Man Crawlspace Bertone Beatle did his own series on Gwen and I'm loathe to replicate another's work - at least until I think it's safe.
But let me take a quick stab at your questions with these very inadequate answers:
Outside of the context was that Romita, Sr. brought a romance artist senitment to the stories, unlike Ditko's cynical "everyone's an asshole except the hero" approach, and Stan's increasingly formulaic writing and lack of knowing just where to hell to go with the story (that and his other responsibilities at Marvel). Inside the context, her pregnancy by Norman Osborn made her EXTREMELY moody, what with being an ordinary woman carrying twin superhumans (think about how that will mess up your biology), finding out that the father of her children was an evil, evil man, worrying about what Peter would think if he found out, and later, dealing with her father's death, which would have shattered her emotionally without the "Norman" problem.
Yes, because if Gwen had continued being the smart science major, she could have been the woman Peter felt could satisfy his need for intellectual companionship, yet MJ would have been the woman more able to meet his emotional needs and get him out of his shell and experience other things.
For better or for worse, Gwen was attracted to intellectually powerful, yet emotionally distant men. If she were on the starship Enterprise, she would have fallen for Mr. Spock over Captain Kirk (it all goes back to Star Trek, you know). Peter was also a VERY late bloomer. In high school he liked Betty Brant quite a bit, but it was more of a "high school sweetheart" thing and he was probably nowhere near thinking about what happened after he got to first or second base. When he got to college and continued to mature emotionally and physically, he sensed, maybe more subconsciencely at first, Gwen's attraction to him, and hell, she was probably the first woman to really turn him on sexually.
Being only 18 or 19, and with all of her other baggage, she probably couldn't see too far beyond her own needs and therefore wasn't able to put together the Peter Parker Puzzle. And she, like many other people, probably had an image of the type of man that a butt kicking, knuckle busting costumed vigilante like Spider-Man "really" had to be, maybe influenced by JJJ's editorials, and a skinny, science geek just did not fill that bill. Even MJ, who actually saw "Peter go in and Spider-Man go out" during the events of Amazing Fantasy #15 had a hard time reconciling the thrill seeking superhero with the nerdy little boy she first saw next door when he was 13 and she was 12 (I think those were the ages at the start of Gerry Conway's Parallel Lives).
Her dad seemed to really like Peter Parker, and she knew that Captain Stacy was a damn good judge of character and wouldn't have let any ordinary bum near his little girl. Plus, she could sense that there was something special about him, something worth the trouble he gave her, but various things precluded her from figuring it out.
In the real world, Peter would finally have told her that he was Spider-Man - in the comics world of the '70's though - who knows? And they would have married. But would they have stayed
married? As daughter of a policeman, she would know better than many women what living with a hero would have been like and maybe could handle that part of it better than MJ. But would being married to Spider-Man have given her that thrill of being on the edge of danger that I believe it gave to Mary Jane? MJ would have gone to California anyway and hung out with himbos, ultimately becoming miserable, knowing that they were vacuous body bags compared to Peter Parker. But she would have convinced herself that she was better off not dealing with his particular "issues."
Gwen has been overromanticized because of her death, yes. MJ was not sloppy seconds, but Peter would have been so committed to his relationship with Gwen that he would simply have never known, nor really have been curious about, what it would have been like to get seriously involved with Mary Jane Watson. Remember, as far as he knew at the time, she was a babe, but an air headed one at that. "Pretty as a pumpkin seed but just as shallow" I believe his original impression of her was. And he probably thought even less of her for what he perceived was her coming onto him during the infamous "Drug Issues," right after Gwen bailed for Europe.
Because knowing that she was going to confront both Peter and Norman Osborn about the babies for two very different reasons was really screwing with her and she felt that she could deal with the men easier if she were solo than if she had the babies in tow. Also, she wanted them far away from Norman Osborn in case something went wrong. She didn't know Norman was the Goblin, but she was becoming aware that he was a very dangerous man.
Oh shit - I really don't know. JMS says they didn't have sex, which would be considered canon, and frankly, I did not like Spider-Man: Blue much because I thought it was a stretched out "Ben-dissed" rehash of stories told more succinctly nearly four decades earlier. And lots of fans like to think that Peter first had sex with MJ between ASM 149 & 150. After all, which woman was on his mind when he thought that Smythe was going to kill him in 150? But because the stories were originally written by a middle aged man in the 60's & 70's (before 20 year old Gerry Conway killed her off) I doubt that Peter and Gwen would have had sex in the original context of the times. If they were written today by someone else, they probably would have been regularly heatin' the sheets. But would that have been in character for either Gwen or Peter as we knew them? I don't know, that really can't be answered quickly, and frankly, I think way too much time is being invested in thinking about Peter Parker's sex life. I mean - really - gross.