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.