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Why Gwen Stacy Was Peter Parker's Greatest Love

Gwen Stacy may not have been Peter's first girlfriend, but she was his very first love -- and possibly, his greatest.

Sometimes the first love isn't the greatest love; but the most memorable. Many people consider Gwen Stacy to be Peter Parker's very first love, but she wasn't. That honor goes to Betty Brant, who dated Peter Parker long before he met Gwen. But maybe fans remember Gwen as the first because she was so important in the very beginning; perhaps that's why so many fans look at Parker's relationship with Gwen Stacy with fondness, and as the characters first -- because it may not have been Parker's first relationship, but it was definitely Parker's first "true love."

Yet you can't bring up Gwen Stacy as Spider-Man's great love and not mention Mary Jane Watson. So, how does Gwen stack up to MJ? Both of these women have had a tremendous impact on Peter's life and on the man he is today, but which of these women is the love of his life? Personally, I think Gwen takes the cake; and in honor of her upcoming on-screen film appearance as Peter Parker's love interest, I'll delve into exactly why I believe Gwen Stacy was the greatest love of Peter Parker's life.

== TEASER ==

When we think of MJ, we think back to the moment when Peter Parker first opened his front door and set eyes on her; when he had just "hit the jackpot." He was smitten -- then again, who wouldn't be? At first glance Mary Jane Watson was something to behold. She is stunning. That's not to say that Peter didn't feel a little bit of what he felt with MJ, when he first met Gwen Stacy, though. Sure, Gwen was beautiful; but with Gwen, it was a relationship that went beyond the physical.

It was something that existed on a mental level; they connected in a very different way. Peter Parker was always considered something of a bookworm, and Gwen was where he met his match. I think that's what makes her relationship with Peter a little bit different. It's a romance that seems almost deeper because they have that in common. They are both two very intelligent characters, and could get along because of that.

Theirs was a love so deep that, I think, if Gwen hadn't died at the hands of the Green Goblin, Peter Parker would have married her rather than MJ. If you think back to the first few pages of SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, Parker hints at that very notion. Gwen was so important to Parker that he was "going to spend the rest of his life with her." That's a pretty big deal. You don't just choose any random person to spend the rest of your life with. And that's something that Mary Jane recognizes, too. On more than one occasion MJ has pointed out that she believes Peter loved Gwen Stacy, "maybe even more" than he loved her [MJ]. In the scene where Mary Jane is about to reveal Gwen Stacy's secret to Peter in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #512, she has tears in her eyes when she says that she didn't want to "destroy the memory of the one person you [Peter Parker] loved almost as much as me…Maybe more." I think Mary Jane knows and realizes that if Gwen hadn't died, she and Peter may not have gotten together after all. More importantly, Mary Jane may not have changed.

Characters die so often in comic books that readers often find themselves immune to their deaths. It's hard to feel something that's supposed to be so powerful when death is constantly being used as a plot device in some of our favorite books. Yet, when Gwen Stacy died, so did the Silver Age of comics. Hers was the first real, raw, unexpected death in comic books that made readers feel as if some of these characters are merely mortals. That they may be ageless, but they can die. And like death, it can come at the most unexpected moment. See, so much died with Gwen Stacy, and so much changed. Her death caused a ripple effect in the Marvel universe that not only changed the status-quot, but changed Spider-Man as a character. It wasn't just Peter, either. Gwen's murder changed Mary Jane. MJ was no longer the happy-go-lucky party girl that she had been; she learned from Gwen's death and realized that life is fleeting; she won't live forever, and our actions have repercussions. If Gwen hadn't died, MJ wouldn't have changed and she probably never would have married Peter.

Peter will always look fondly on the memory of Gwen Stacy as one of his first loves, but is she his greatest love of all? If Gwen hadn't died, would Peter have still married Mary Jane? What do you think? Who do you believe is the greatest love of Spider-Man's life, and why? Be sure to check out Tony's argument for why he believes Mary Jane is Spidey's greatest love, and let us know what you think in the comments below.

180 Comments Refresh
Posted by noj

This is more like it! Ever since I read Spider-Man Blue Ive thought that Peter's greatest love was Gwen

Edited by TheWitchingHour

Uh-oh, now there's trouble in River City...

Babs and G-man fight!!! Prove who Peter's greatest love is!!

Posted by B_Heart

Peter Parker doesn't need a love interest. He's got Aunt May for support and that's all the woman he needs. He just needs to be single for at least 10 years

Posted by Inverno

Well I don't think she is his greatest love because aparently she had a affair with Norman Osborn before he killed her and together they had kids that were artificially aged. Oh WTF and you people insist J.M. Straczynski is a good writer lol.

Posted by Scarlet_Rogue

Gwen is without a doubt Peter's first love, but Mary Jane is the greatest.

Posted by the_fallen11

This Article..... So. Much.

Posted by blazingwhale

doesnt anyone remember House of M? it gives everyone what they ever wanted...Peter had Gwen in this reality and when he came back you seen how he barely handled losing her again even though MJ was still there!

Posted by The Stegman
Well I'm definitely Team Gwen.
Posted by sentryman555

This article sounds more like how Gwen Stacy was an important character overall. Not really her being Peter's greatest love. The only real argument is she died and the rest is what could have been. You can't say Mary Jane admitted that Peter probably liked her more because Gwen Stacy admitted that Peter probably liked Mary Jane more. I don't really think her being as smart as Peter means they had a deeper love.

Posted by Hareil0079

This would almost sell me to start reading SM comics... almost

Posted by IronAngelX

Great article, really gets in depth. I don't know who I could choose between the two but I would almost have to say that Gwen is in the main storyline but I grew up on the Ultimate Spider-Man and so therefore I have a connection to the character that is Mary Jane.

Posted by JonesDeini

She smashed the Goblin...nah, yo.

Posted by Owie

Gwen was always too bland for me, and sleeping with the Goblin didn't help.  MJ all the way.

Posted by Mercy_

Conflicting articles...I love it.

Moderator Online
Posted by dru_zod2501

we'll never know. I'm glad Peter was able to move on and find love again, but there'll never be another woman for him like Gwen

Edited by animehunter

Although Gwen played a big part in Peters life as his first love and would have been his main love if she survived. I do not believe she would be the best person for him, she was more like a damsel in distress rather than someone who can support Peter when he needs it.

As for Mary Jane I believe she is definitely the right person for him, she is independent, strong willed and can take care of herself very easily, as well as be a very strong support for Peter.

for example - I doubt Gwen, compared to Mary Jane, would have be strong enough to cope with the events of the spider-Island incident, especially if she got spider powers.

Posted by BlueLantern1995

I tried making a article about this but didn't have scans or quotes to back me...THANK THE LORD someone went to defend Gwen as Greatest Love and had some stuff to back it with...This I'm keeping in my favorites as a defense article to fight off the Spider-Man/MJ as biggest love.

Posted by Teerack

I just hope she never comes back to life. Her death was to defining for Spidey. It be like if the punisher's family came back to life.

Posted by DMC

so even in the argument of "greatest love" death always wins.

Either way, I think you've got a point there Babs, I'm not that deeply versed in Spider Man lore.

Posted by ssejllenrad

I wanna see G-Man say

to this article. Nyehehehehe!

Edited by dannymalt

Marvel should do a "What If..." story about what Peter Parker's life would have been like if Gwen Stacey lived.

Posted by Oedipus_Rex

Who cares? Gwen's dead.

Posted by thveej

@JonesDeini said:

She smashed the Goblin...nah, yo.

Posted by animehunter
Posted by FoxxFireArt

Surprising to see another article focusing on the love life issue again, but it's nice to see a counterpoint to the previous one.

As to the idea of Mary jane thinking that Peter really loved Gwen more than her. That just seems like the idea most people deal with when they are the new boyfriend/girlfriend. "Does that person really care more about their previous loves more than I?" "Do they love me more or is that person with me becasue I'm available?" It's just human insecurity. It's also the question no one really wants to ask, because no one wants to find out that their worries are true.

I don't think I'll ever get over the creepy Gwen got knocked up by Norman Osborn plot they implanted into the story after the death.

Posted by savior0823

Definitely Gwen, they had a little bit more chemistry than when he was with MJ.

Edited by Suprman

For me, it's hard to say because that's a huge what if. I think that if Gwen lived they probably would have gotten together. They had such a strong emotional connection, and it's hard seeing anyone else getting in the way of that. I'm not saying Peter and MJ didn't have that too, but Peter and Gwen had that first. Like I said that's a pretty big what if.

Posted by aouric

Wow... I must say that this was one of my most favorite articles ever. Babs, I'v always wondered if there was some else that was closer to Peter than MJ! And you have a solid argument here, Now I'm wondering what G-Man will have to say.

Posted by JoseDRiveraTCR7

I thought Babs didn't read Spider-Man comics.

Anyway, I disagree. If you read Peter's relationship with MJ, they've gone through a lot more than Peter did with Gwen. The idea that Peter's relationship with MJ didn't reach an emotional or physical level shows that you don't read the books. A lot of times MJ was the only person Peter had to help and confide in. Also, Gwen was a Ex-beauty queen in her high school, so I'm sure her looks played as big a part as it did with MJ.

I feel the only reason people (most of whom haven't read any, if only a few, stories with Gwen in it) consider Gwen as Peter's greatest love is because she's been romanticized due to her death. Then you have the fact that Stan Lee wrote Gwen and MJ with the sexist Madonna/whore dichotomy, which when mixed with Gwen's death, puts her on a pedestal as a innocent virgin mary-like figure. When it comes to Gwen people project this image onto to her, make the good girl, the dream girl, that Peter should end up with. When it comes to MJ people view her as promiscuous, or as Spider-Bat put it, a "ho", that Peter should end up with and can never be turned into a housewife. Really, when it comes down to it, most people like Gwen more than MJ because they're sexist and they believe Peter deserve a step-ford wife.

Edited by War Killer

To me, Gwen was Peter's greatest love.

Posted by krspaceT

Just yesterday a MJ came today dueling articles day?

Posted by dadeisvenm

To me, Aunt May is Peter's greatest love. Compromised a lot for that old lady.

Posted by Vcurtz

I love Gwen and Peters relationship. I think they were connected in a very honest way, and I think if given the chance, they would have spent their lives together. MJ was the pritsy, popular girl who seemed very shallow. I love the thought of Gwen always having a peice of Peter's heart, and him always being somewhat in love with her. She was, after all, who the original writters had intended his constant love interest to be. Also, saying All that... Someone should do why Felicia Hardy/Black Cat should be his true love... Haha, even though I know she isn't... I still love their relationship, and how different she is compared to Gwen and MJ.

Posted by Zeeguy91

@Scarlet_Rogue said:

Gwen is without a doubt Peter's first love, but Mary Jane is the greatest.


Posted by zombietag

no way, pete and mj all day.

ps, what spidey fans arent pretending spider-man blue never happened?

Posted by SpidermanWins


Posted by doomsilver

That was very good. I grew up on the Spider-Man films, and I never liked the MJ in that. I know it has nothing to do with the comics, but I still didn't like her. Always liked Gwen though. She just seemed really cool. Until I seen her affair with Norman.

Posted by Nuec_Sol

@blazingwhale said:

doesnt anyone remember House of M? it gives everyone what they ever wanted...Peter had Gwen in this reality and when he came back you seen how he barely handled losing her again even though MJ was still there!

Good point. Didn't it also show that the they had kids too?

Posted by lrtaylor02

I started reading Amazing Spider-man from the first issue, and so far Gwen is my favorite. She was on the same wave length, intellectually, and she was always supportive and trusting of Peter. Yes, she was jealous of MJ for a bit, but she was never distrusting of Peter. They were so emotionally connected, but not in a creepy way like he and Black Cat. One of the things I loved about her is that when people called him a coward for disappearing, she still supported him. Maybe part of why I really like her is the contrast to Betty, who was constantly whining and complaining. I have the MDCU subscription, so unfortunately I'm missing a lot of the progression of his relationship with MJ post-Black Cat. But I really like her too. It's hard to say who is his greatest love. Gwen never knew he was Spider-man, so we never got to see if she would have been accepting of that given that she blamed Spider-man for her father's death. But, if Gwen hadn't died, we probably wouldn't have seen the transformation of MJ, and Peter's relationship with MJ probably wouldn't be what it is now. They each have made a unique contribution to his life, and his relationship with each woman was different. So I'll have to go with Aunt May as his greatest love. Side note: I know the whole Gwen sleeping with Norman Osborne thing, but as far as I'm concerned it never happened. We know that at the time he knew Peter was Spider-man and he wanted to destroy him. I think that's what makes the murder so shocking and compelling. So reduce it to cheapens her and it cheapens her death and just how evil he was. But, whatever....someone obviously thought it was a good idea...and I am but one person...

Posted by hunter5024

Gwen Stacy reminds me of my first girlfriend in so many ways that she'll always be my favorite over MJ.

Posted by darkwolverine

Gwen slept with Osborn, does MJ>Gwen every time.

Posted by Beast_in_the_Shadows

Sorry Babs, but I have to side with G-man on this one...

Posted by VercingetorixTheGreat

If Gwen hadn't hadn't done the deed with Norman I think she would be the best. But she did sleep with him and that makes MJ better

Posted by Jekylhyde14

I'm with Babs all the way on this one. It was always Gwen. I quote myself from my response to G-Man's article to back this up:

"I have a real soft spot for Gwen. I think it's important to keep Ms. Stacy's context in mind. Before Gwen, most of the girls in Peter's life treated him like a walking plague. Sure, there was Betty Brant but their relationship was a bit casual and awkward. Gwen really swept into the story as the first girl that really saw Peter as desirable for who he was. She was also smart and confident which made her his perfect match. For comic nerds, Gwen really embodied that moment when a girl actually looked past all the social stigmas attached to us and saw something worth working for. That's a really great feeling and every story with Gwen really drums that up. It will always be one of the greatest tragedies in Peter's life that she was killed before he could propose.

Don't get me wrong, I like Mary Jane a lot. But I like the Mary Jane that is wild and a free spirit. One of my favorite Mary Jane quotes kind of sums it up for me: "...I don't want to love (Peter). Can you dig it? I LIKE the guy too much for that kind of scene." (Amazing Spider-Man #131, pg.32). She knew that loving Peter and settling down with him would interrupt both their lives and adventures. And when they got married, what happened? Mary Jane's character was basically reduced to running up to Peter in lingerie and repeating how much she wished he didn't put himself in danger as Spider-Man. At least, that's what I remember about Mary Jane from growing up in the 90's (flip through issues from that era and I'll bet you'll find a scene like that). Their marriage was, mostly, a disaster with a lost child and many periods of estrangement. I think Mary Jane was right about it being a "death sentence." I hated OMD like everyone else but at least we have some of the old, fun-loving Mary Jane back. She works best as his closest friend/occasional romantic partner. If they marry again... let's let it happen a lot further down the line.

I do believe that Gwen was the one for Peter, though. She's the reason there will always be a grudge between Peter and Norman. Some comic analysts even believe her death killed the Silver Age of Comics (which I don't agree with but can see where they're coming from). Mark Waid's Spider-Man House of M gave us a glimpse of what could have been and it was fantastic. Gwen was the one."

Anyway, great article, Babs! Glad to see Gwen has so much support.

Posted by mewmdude77

@blazingwhale said:

doesnt anyone remember House of M? it gives everyone what they ever wanted...Peter had Gwen in this reality and when he came back you seen how he barely handled losing her again even though MJ was still there!

I always make this arguement!!! It's not that he wanted her to survive, he could have done that with her being alive but still married to MJ, but he was married to Gwen, and had children with her. Also, there was a what if Spider-Man where if Peter had saved Gwen, he would have asked her to marry him right after he saved her. That shows how much he loved her.

Posted by Yung ANcient One

 MJ was no longer the happy-go-lucky party girl that she had been; she learned from Gwen's death and realized that life is fleeting; she won't live forever, and our actions have repercussions. If Gwen hadn't died, MJ wouldn't have changed and she probably never would have married Peter.

Didn't G-Man talk about this?
II. Why doesnt anyone talk about Black CAT? 

III. If Gwen was still alive no one truly knows if they would still be together. I think maybe. I mean look at Cyke with Jean. Look at Henry and Wasp. Comic book writers want to tell a good story, so who knows what direction they would've taken. I don't want to hear that ALT reality crap. on AOA Wolverine is with Jean, and Sabertooth is a Sweetheart. On Superman Red S(U)N Lex is with Lois. ALT Realities hold NO WEIGHT to me.



Posted by JoseDRiveraTCR7

@blazingwhale said:

doesnt anyone remember House of M? it gives everyone what they ever wanted...Peter had Gwen in this reality and when he came back you seen how he barely handled losing her again even though MJ was still there!

It wasn't' everything they every wanted. It was their greatest desire, as in just one, and Peter's greatest desire was that his loved ones never died. House of M doesn't prove that he loves Gwen more, it just proves that if she didn't die they most likely would have gotten married.

Posted by KainScion

@Teerack: they did come back, but he killed them instantly.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Gwen Stacy was his first love. MJ quite possibly is his soul mate...but for me...this will always be the true passionate relationship that I would've preferred him to have:

Posted by Jotham

Very nicely written, and I completely agree.