The hottest button to push in fandom these days is the subject of Spidey and Mary Jane’s relationship following ONE MORE DAY. G-Man and I were talking about this recently and I'll admit that it does feel kind of weird to see Peter making out with that Carlie girl or pining after Ms. Marvel because he's been married to MJ for about as long as I’ve been alive.
But I realize that Spidey's been around for a lot longer that.
Wrapping my head, as a fan, around the recent announcements that Emma Stone's going to be playing Gwen Stacy in the reboot movie, and that she'll be the only love interest there, got me to step back and look at the situation a little more holistically. Spidey got married in ’87, a full 25 years after he'd been defined as an in-over-his-head bachelor with girl problems. Doing the math, that means he's still only been a married man for less than half of his existence in print.When you’ve got decades and decades worth of continuous plotting, a lot of questions about what defines a character depend on when you look at him. For instance, a lot of you might say that Batman never-ever kills. How, then, do you reconcile his first appearances where he’s snapping crooks’ necks or dropping goons off buildings? Maybe those aren't consistent with later characterizations, but that's how Bob Kane envisioned the character. Who or what is the better authority on Batman? The creator? Or the majority of his appearances? == TEASER ==
Getting back to girls, I figure Spidey's somewhere between Superman and Batman when it comes to his M.O. Supes has been with Lois Lane, in one way or another, since day one; since ACTION COMICS #1. But Batman… he’s almost like Bond. You notice how he's got a different love interest in every movie? If fans wanted a definitive Batman story, they'd say that the Joker would have been to be the villain and the supporting cast would have to feature Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and the like, but there would be some disagreement about who Bruce should get puppy-eyed over. Would it be Julie Madison? Maybe Catwoman, instead? Vicki Vale? Talia al Ghul? Silver St. Cloud? What about the movie-only flames like Rachel Dawes, Chase Meridian or the Phantasm?The answer depends on when you read or watched Batman.
Spidey, similarly, was juggling girls long before these latest ASM arcs: MJ, Gwen, Black Cat, a couple girls he dated briefly in college and, if you go all the way back to the start... Betty Brant, who was Peter's girlfriend in the earliest days of the comic. I wonder if fans at the time might have been as peeved when she and Peter broke up, only for him to basically go to Gwen immediately. It's hard to tell, for sure - - there weren't message boards back then.
Maybe it’s just because Elizabeth Banks is hot, or maybe it’s because UNTOLD TALES made an impression me, but I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of her and Peter being a couple. Simply in story terms, a teen superhero dating the older secretary of his boss just seems juicier than the classic Archie dilemma of deciding between with his class' good girl or bad girl. I don’t have the original issues, so I don’t know how much of an age difference there was supposed to be between them. She could’ve been 18 or 19 and working at the Bugle instead of going to college. Or maybe it was just the 60s and it just wasn’t considered as weird for a high schooler to be dating a post-grad young adult.
Anyway, my point with all this is that a lot of radical plot developments seem different when looked at in the context of a character's grand scheme. It's sort-of similar to to editorial G-Man did recently about mysteries in comics. Think about Wolverine. Him getting his adamantium ripped out in FATAL ATTRACTIONS was hugely controversial and we got seven years of "bone claws" before the metal got put back in him in THE TWELVE. That felt like a long stretch, at the time, but it seems pretty insignificant, now, when you consider the totality of the character.So, maybe this Spidey/MJ break-up will last. Maybe they'll get back together eventually. Or maybe it'll go on for so long that fans will start looking at the time they were married in the same way that they probably look at the time Wolvie was adamantium-less - - an unusual blip on the schedule.