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All of Spider-Man's girlfriends at Marvel, ranked from worst to best!

Who is Spider-Man’s one true love, and who was Peter Parker’s worst girlfriend? Let’s break it down!

The Many Loves of Spider-Man
Image credit: Marvel

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Who is Spider-Man’s greatest love? Is it his college sweetheart Gwen Stacy? Is it his former wife Mary Jane Watson? Is it his forgotten love Cissy Ironwood? Okay, probably not that last one, but Peter Parker has dated a lot of girls. The web-swinger has spent the last 60 years looking for love, and sometimes it’s been successful, while other times it’s been disastrous.

Popverse has recently gotten their hands on Peter Parker’s little black book, and we’ve decided to go through it and rank all of Spider-Man’s relationships. Which ones were true love, which ones were true duds, and who took the top spot? Let’s dive in…

How we came up with this ranking

This list is ranking each of the women based on two factors. The first factor is their romance with Peter Parker. The second factor is what they’ve contributed to Spider-Man’s world. They aren’t being ranked on their worth as characters, otherwise characters like Captain Marvel would have much higher spots. Don’t look at these placements as referendums on the characters, because this is meant to rank them based on their status as Spider-Man’s love interest.

Girl problems have been a part of Spider-Man’s life since his first appearance, so this list could’ve easily had over 100 entries. In order to make this reader-friendly and manageable, I’ve done some things to cut the list down. First, this list only covers Peter Parker’s love interests. That means no Miles Morales or Ben Reilly love interests. Second, we’re only dealing with mainstream comic book continuity. If you’re a fan of Indy from the MTV Spider-Man cartoon, I apologize.

Then there is the question of who qualifies as a love interest. I’ve included all of Peter Parker’s notable long-term relationships. To keep the word count manageable, I’m not including any one-off love interests from obscure minis, unless they were notable. For example, Sara Bailey was an obscure love interest from a mini, but she’s included here because Peter almost married her. That makes her notable.

I’ve included some characters that Peter never got around to dating, if the comics spent a significant amount of time teasing the possibility of a romance. Gloria Grant flirted with Peter once or twice, but the books never treated her as a serious love interest, therefore she isn’t on the list. Jean DeWolff was a supporting character who had a crush on Spider-Man, but it never felt like a serious potential love interest, so she’s not included either. In contrast, reporters like Joy Mercado and April Maye never dated Peter, but the books spent many issues teasing the possibility of a coupling, so they’re included.

In the end, most of it was at my own discretion. If you disagree with the criteria or have a raking of your own, feel free to share it in the comments!

23. Michele Gonzales

Michele Gonzales
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man: Extra #3 (2009)

Why is Michele Gonzales placed last on this list? Because everything about the Michele/Peter dynamic was uncomfortable to read. Michele was the sister of Vin Gonzales, Peter’s roommate. When Vin went to jail, Michele took over his lease, becoming Peter’s new roommate. They immediately got off on the wrong foot, with Peter meeting her when she accidentally walked in on him naked.

Michele viewed Peter as irresponsible and callous and had little patience for him. The two wound up in bed together after a night of drinking, but Peter’s initial confusion the next morning angered Michele. The shapeshifting villain known as the Chameleon masqueraded as Peter Parker and romanced Michele, forcing Peter to break up with her again. This only got her angrier.

After that, anytime we saw Michele she was either yelling at Peter, destroying his things, or selling his property for rent money. There was no warmth or heart to their scenes together. It was just always anger, which made for an uncomfortable reading experience. Don’t forget, these two were also roommates! Michele moved out in Amazing Spider-Man #648 and hasn’t been seen since. Truthfully, I don’t think anyone is nostalgic for this dynamic.

22. Dawn Starr

Peter Parker and Dawn Starr
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #204 (1980)

This one was so bad, it came close to taking the last place slot from Michele. Dawn Starr was an ESU student who Flash Thompson set Peter up with. At the time, Peter was in the graduate school program, which required him to teach some of the undergrad classes. When Dawn revealed that she was going to be one of his students, Peter was initially reluctant to take things further. However, a passionate kiss made Peter forget his morals.

Spider-Man later caught Dawn snooping in Peter’s office. Unaware that Spider-Man was Peter, Dawn tearfully confessed that she was stealing the answer sheet. Apparently, she was only dating Peter so she could get access to his test answers. As you can imagine, this ended the romance quickly. Peter has shown lots of bad judgement over the years, but dating a student? That’s something else.

21. Cindy Moon/Silk

Spider-Man and Silk can't keep their hands off each other
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2014)

Cindy Moon is a great character, so her low placement on this list isn’t a referendum on her, but rather the weird romantic dynamic between her and Spider-Man. Cindy was introduced in the 2014 volume of Amazing Spider-Man as another woman bitten by the same radioactive spider that gave Peter his powers.

Their shared spider powers caused an….interesting hormonal reaction whenever the two were close to one another. Whether it was their spider-sense, pheromones, or status as Spider-Totems (it’s a mystical thing), Peter and Cindy couldn’t keep their hands off one another. It took all the self-control they had to keep things professional…and at times they didn’t succeed.

Later stories moved away from this angle, and now Marvel mostly ignores it. Maybe it was supposed to be comedic, but it felt wrong. Silk is a great addition to the Spider-Verse, but her early tryst with Peter was gross and uncomfortable to read.

20. Lian Tang

Peter Parker romancing Lian Tang
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2015)

Lian Tang met Peter Parker during the period when he was leading Parker Industries. Lian was a designer at the company’s Shanghai branch, where she upgraded some of Spider-Man’s tech, including the Spider-Mobile. She hated Spider-Man, but that didn’t stop Peter from romancing her in his civilian identity.

The relationship fell apart after it was revealed she was in league with the villain group Zodiac. Lian gave away company secrets but regretted it afterwards. To be fair, she was doing this because her sick mother was being threatened.

Peter Parker dating someone when he’s the CEO of a company doesn’t feel like a ‘Peter Parker relationship.’ Due to this and her betrayal, I’ve given this romance a low ranking.

19. Sarah Rushman/Marrow

Spider-Man and Marrow on a date
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Cable #15 (1995)

What’s an X-Men character doing on this list? Good question.

Peter Parker ran into Sarah Rushman (Marrow’s human form) during a period where Mary Jane was believed to be dead. Feeling some chemistry between them, Peter awkwardly asked her out on a date. The night went well, with Sarah inviting Peter up to her dorm. Peter turned her down, because he wasn’t ready to move on from Mary Jane yet.

It was a cute dynamic but it never had the time to get off the ground. However, Spider-Man works best when Peter Parker is dating someone within his own universe. Hooking Spider-Man up with an X-Men character changes Peter’s world a little too much. Team-ups are okay, but anything long-term doesn’t feel right.

18. Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird

Spider-Man and Mockingbird
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Astonishing Tales #6 (1971)

Spider-Man and Mockingbird had worked together numerous times over the years, but their relationship took a turn when Bobbi Morse became the S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison to Parker Industries. The two began teaming up more often and it wasn’t long before a romance bloomed. After the fall of Parker Industries, Peter crashed at Bobbi’s house. However, they still had some boundaries, with Peter sleeping on the couch.

Bobbi and Peter amicably called it quits after realizing that they had nothing in common outside of their superhero activities. Mockingbird is an integral part of the Marvel Universe, and making her Spider-Man’s girlfriend feels weird. Ultimately, Peter Parker works best when he’s dating non-superhero characters (with the exception of Black Cat), which is one of the reasons why this is ranked so low. The other reason is the fact that Bobbi constantly acted like she was annoyed by Peter’s presence, which wasn’t a great way to endear readers to the relationship.

17. Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel

Spider-Man and Captain Marvel
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (1968)

Spider-Man and Captain Marvel have a deep history, dating back to when Carol Danvers worked for J. Jonah Jameson in her 1977 Ms. Marvel title. They grew closer when they served in the New Avengers team, and Peter started developing a crush. The two finally decided to go out on a date in Ms. Marvel #47 (2009). Things were awkward at first, but they eventually found their rhythm. However, there was no second date, and they settled on remaining friends.

It was fun to read the chemistry between Carol and Peter, but ultimately Captain Marvel is too cosmic for Spider-Man’s world. Peter Parker is a street level character, while Carol has phenomenal cosmic powers and is involved with intergalactic empires. Captain Marvel is one of the most important Marvel characters, but she doesn’t make a good girlfriend for Spider-Man.

16. Cissy Ironwood

Cissy Ironwood and Peter Parker
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Marvel Team-Up #80 (1979)

Peter Parker’s love life was pure chaos in 1979. Depending on the comic and the writer, Peter’s mind was on different women. He was ambiguously dating Betty Brant, who was separated from her husband. He was also trying to get Mary Jane Watson to reconsider his marriage proposal. To top it off, he had also met Black Cat, and it was clear there were some sparks there.

Is it any wonder Cissy Ironwood got lost in the shuffle?

Cissy Ironwood was Peter’s girlfriend in Marvel Team-Up. There wasn’t much to their relationship, because we barely saw it. In fact, she never even appeared in the other Spider-Man titles. Cissy and Peter broke up when she moved back to Montana after the death of her father. In Amazing Spider-Man #204 Peter reflected on the relationship, and he was less than kind. “Those meetings with Cissy Ironwood were about as boring as three-week-old bagels,” Peter mused.

Ouch.

15. Debra Whitman

Debra Whitman
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #196 (1979)

Debra Whitman was the secretary to Professor Sloan, Peter’s graduate school instructor. When Aunt May wanted to introduce Peter to her new fiancé Nathan, Peter asked Debra to be his date. More dates followed, but there were never any sparks. It was always clear that Debra was more into Peter than he was into her. Plus, he constantly left her behind to take care of Spider-Man things. Peter was oblivious to Debra’s struggles and barely made an effort to be present.

Debra eventually realized Peter was Spider-Man, but he was able to gaslight her into believing she was wrong. The relationship ended when Debra left New York to take care of some unfinished business from her past. However, there wasn’t much of a relationship to end in the first place.

When Peter was outted as Spider-Man during Civil War, Debra wrote a tell-all book where she accused Peter of ruining her life. She hasn’t been seen since.

14. Shay Marken

Shay Marken
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #47 (2024)

As of this writing, Shay Marken is the latest woman in Peter Parker’s life. Shay is a nurse at Ravencroft Institute. Anna Watson set Peter up with Shay, which is kind of weird because she’s Mary Jane’s aunt. To be fair, Mary Jane is with Paul Rabin now, so I guess Anna just wants Peter to be happy.

Peter wasn’t expecting the date with Shay, but he wound up enjoying it. They’ve seen one another since then, but it’s too early to get a solid read on their chemistry. For now, things are great, which is why she’s ranking higher than some of the other romances. However, nothing ever stays good with Peter Parker’s lovelife.

13. Caryn Earle

Caryn Earle
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Peter Parker: Spider-Man #30 (2001)

Caryn Earle was Peter Parker’s neighbor during a period when he and Mary Jane were separated. Caryn had a bubbly and carefree personality and was constantly oblivious to Peter’s nervousness. The two went out on a date to a carnival, and Peter was struck by how similar she was to Mary Jane. However, Spider-Man business forced him to call the date off early. Caryn stuck around as a supporting character, but she faded into obscurity after Peter and Mary Jane got back together.

There was some potential here, and it would’ve been interesting to explore more of Caryn’s personality. She was able to bring Peter out of his shell, and her presence always made the books more enjoyable.

12. Sara Bailey

Sara Bailey, Spider-Man's lost love
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #4 (2010)

Sara Bailey was a bank teller who was transported to the 19th century alongside Spider-Man and Wolverine. Believing that they were trapped in the past forever, Spider-Man asked Sara out, and the two developed a romance. After a few years, Peter made plans to propose to Sara. However, before he could pop the question, the Time Variance Authority returned Peter, Logan, and Sara to the present day.

While Spider-Man and Wolverine retained their memories from the adventure, Sara did not. Peter Parker was ready to marry this woman, but she had no idea who he was. Heartbroken, Spider-Man let Sara get back to her life as a bank teller.

It might be a forgotten romance from a satellite mini-series, but the tragic nature gets to the core of who Spider-Man is. That’s why it’s ranked higher than many of the others on this list. It’s a shame that nobody has ever followed up on this thread, because there is a lot of potential here. Imagine a story where Peter tries to get Sara to fall in love with him all over again.

11. Jill Stacy

Jill Stacy
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Peter Parker: Spider-Man #76 (1996)

Jill was Gwen Stacy’s cousin. Years after Gwen died, Jill moved to New York City and began attending classes at Empire State University. She became good friends with Mary Jane, but it took some time for Peter to warm up to her. Peter was initially uncomfortable around her due to her connection with Gwen, but he eventually got over it.

In the period following the 1998 Spider-Man comics reboot, Marvel began dropping hints that Peter and Jill might end up together. Those hints intensified when Mary Jane was presumed dead after a plane crash. At one point, Glory Grant and Randy Robertson set Peter and Jill up on a date, but neither of them seemed ready for it. According to Popverse’s exclusive interview with writer Paul Jenkins, Marvel editorial wanted to bring Jill and Peter together, but he resisted it.

When Mary Jane returned, all hints of a Peter/Jill romance were halted. Jill stuck around as a supporting cast member for a bit, but eventually faded into limbo. It’s odd that she never returned to address characters like Sarah Stacy or Ghost-Spider. Jill was an interesting supporting character, but I’ve ranked her lower on this list because of the ick factor in any potential Peter/Jill coupling. Most of the hints occurred while Peter and Mary Jane were still married, and at times the writing felt forced and wrong.

10. April Maye

April Maye
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #194 (1979)

April Maye was a reporter for the Daily Globe, the Daily Bugle’s rival newspaper. Peter briefly partnered with April when he went to work for the paper. However, Peter was preoccupied with other matters in his life, leading April to believe that he was callous and self-absorbed. Their partnership got off on the wrong foot, with April constantly berating Peter.

It’s clear that writer Marv Wolfman was setting them up for some sort of romance. There’s even a scene where April has a catty encounter with Mary Jane. However, Wolfman left Amazing Spider-Man before the relationship could be explored further. The Daily Globe was shut down in Amazing Spider-Man #210, and April hasn’t been seen since.

9. Marcy Kane

Marcy Kane
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Spectacular Spider-Man #32 (1979)

Read to the end of this entry, because you’ll never guess the twist.

Marcy Kane was Peter’s classmate at Empire State University’s graduate department. She was initially very cold towards Peter, believing he wasn’t living up to his potential and not taking his graduate studies seriously. Over time, her attitude towards him cooled and she began helping him with his studies. The two had a few study dates, which Peter tried to upgrade to romantic dates, but Marcy shot him down.

After years as a supporting character, Marvel Team-Up #134 (1983) revealed that Marcy had been an alien disguised as a human the entire time. No, I’m not making this up. Anyway, she went back to her home planet and left Peter’s life.

If it wasn’t for the weird alien retcon, this could’ve been an interesting romance.

8. Joy Mercado

Joy Mercado
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Moon Knight #33 (1983)

Joy Mercado was a Daily Bugle reporter who partnered with Peter Parker on various assignments. When Web of Spider-Man was trying to distinguish itself from the other Spider-Man titles, it began focusing on Peter’s globetrotting journalism adventures. Joy was by Peter’s side for many of these stories, and for a time it looked like a romance was brewing. There were scenes of Peter being dazzled by Joy’s beauty, and Joy acting a little flirty with Peter.

However, any potential for romance was cut short when Peter and Mary Jane got married. Joy stuck around as a supporting character but began to feel superfluous amongst all the other Daily Bugle reporters. With reporters like Ben Urich and Betty Brant around, what purpose did Joy Mercado serve? No longer needed as a potential Parker fling or Bugle reporter, Joy eventually faded into supporting character limbo.

7. Carlie Cooper

Carlie Cooper
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #545 (2007)

Carlie Cooper is a forensic scientist for the New York City Police Department. Carlie’s best friend Lily Hollister was romantically involved with Harry Osborn, which put her in Peter Parker’s social circle. Peter and Carlie were drawn to one another, but it took some time for them to get their relationship off the ground. After a few false starts and interrupted dates, Peter asked Carlie to be his girlfriend and she responded with a passionate kiss.

The romance grew until Carlie discovered that Peter Parker was Spider-Man. Carlie felt betrayed that Peter couldn’t trust her enough to be honest and ended the relationship. After a brief awkward period, she and Peter have settled into an amicable friendship. Since she knows Spider-Man’s identity, she’s been able to serve as an ally to Spider-Man when he needs police help or scientific resources.

Notably, Carlie was the first serious relationship Marvel put Peter in after ending the Spider-Marriage. For some readers, this immediately put Carlie in Mary Jane’s shadow. After all, how do you follow the biggest romance in the Spider-Man franchise? Carlie might have fared better had she been introduced in 1975 or 1985. However, I feel like she works better in the franchise with the role she’s in now.

Their current dynamic is interesting, because it’s kind of cool that Spider-Man has an ex-girlfriend on the police force that he could turn to for help. It’s something we don’t have from Spider-Man’s other exes, and it gives her a unique role. While Carlie hasn’t completely disappeared, her role in the franchise has shrunk as writers struggle to find something for her to do.

6. Rebecca London

Rebecca London
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 (2017)

Rebecca London is a stand-up comedian who Spider-Man saved from a mugging. She found Spider-Man’s humor charming and decided to ask him out. The two had a fun coffee date, with Spider-Man showing up wearing a suit jacket over his costume. The two kept in touch, but the relationship ended when Rebecca became involved with another comedian.

Rebecca only appeared in four issues, but I find their relationship more interesting than most of the others on this list. Usually, Peter dates normal women in his civilian identity, and costumed heroes while he’s in his Spider-Man identity. With Rebecca, he was dating a civilian in his costumed persona, putting him in uncharted territory. He didn’t know her long enough to reveal his identity, so they had to make up the rules as they went along.

Her role as a comedian also made her a perfect partner for Spider-Man. He needs someone upbeat like that in his life. Someone to match his banter and energy, rather than roll their eyes as his other girlfriends have done. Rebecca was also not afraid to break from the norm. For example, when Spider-Man asked Rebecca to hide a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in her apartment, she emphatically refused.

“I’ve got a rule for hanging out with you, the second I feel like I’m in danger, I’m gone. I’m not going to be the friend who gets kidnapped by a Lizard-Man or turned into a Goblin. Contrary to what we all just witnessed, I think you’re funny, and I enjoy hanging out with you, so don’t put me in a position to walk away from that,” Rebecca said.

This was refreshing and different from every love interest that came before. I wish we had seen more of it.

5. Liz Allan

Liz Allan
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)

Liz Allan has been part of the mythos since the first page of Amazing Fantasy #15. At the time she was just an unnamed blonde classmate, but after a few more appearances, she was finally given the name Liz Allan in Amazing Spider-Man #4 (1963). Her name is often misspelled as ‘Allen,’ even in official Marvel publications.

Liz and Peter’s romance never quite got off the ground. While he had feelings for her in high school, she preferred the company of jocks like Flash Thompson. She finally accepted a date from Peter out of pity, but he was forced to cancel it for Spider-Man related duties. Angered, Liz refused to give Peter another chance. Over time, Liz matured and began to see Peter for the intelligent and mature man he was, but by then he was already dating Betty Brant.

This resulted in the Liz/Peter/Betty dynamic, which was the very first (of MANY) love triangles in the Spider-Man saga. After graduation Liz gave up her pursuit of Peter and she wasn’t seen for years. She eventually rejoined the supporting cast and married Peter’s friend Harry Osborn. She and Peter have remained close over the years, with Peter acting as the godfather to her son Normie.

Liz is one of Peter’s oldest friends, and she has ties to many other characters. Plus, she’s a member of the Osborn family, which brings an interesting dynamic of its own. It would be interesting to see Marvel finally pull the trigger on the Peter/Liz romance. There is so much potential there.

(Oh, and Liz has a symbiote now)

4. Betty Brant

Betty Brant
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #4 (1963)

Betty Brant is Peter Parker’s first official girlfriend. She was J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary when Peter began working for the Daily Bugle. There is a common misconception that Betty is older than Peter, but in the letters page for Amazing Spider-Man #12 Stan Lee revealed that Betty was a few months younger.

Peter and Betty’s early relationship was plagued with the same problems that all the other Silver Age Marvel romances had. There was jealousy issues, misunderstandings, and Peter’s costumed identity getting in the way. Betty went on to marry reporter Ned Leeds while Peter moved on with Gwen Stacy. Despite the breakup, Betty remained a consistent supporting character.

In 1978 Marvel began a questionable storyline where Betty left her husband to begin pursuing Peter again. Peter was initially resistant, but there’s an ambiguous moment in Amazing Spider-Man #189 (1978) where it appears the two might have slept together. However, when Ned returned for Betty, things blew up in everyone’s face. Peter acted like a jerk, hoping it would help Betty and Ned fix their marriage, and the storyline was dropped.

(For what it’s worth, the marriage was only briefly fixed. A few years later, Ned left Betty after discovering her affair with Flash Thompson)

Since that storyline concluded, Peter and Betty have been strictly friends. However, Betty has made it clear on multiple occasions that she still harbors romantic feelings for Peter. The character has gone through a metamorphosis, going from a timid secretary to an aggressive reporter. She’s a nice link to Peter’s past, and when written well, their friendship can be refreshing. At this stage, any romantic encore would feel wrong, but their shared history is one of the most important parts of Spider-Man lore.

3. Felicia Hardy/Black Cat

Spider-Man and Black Cat
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #194 (1979)

I’ll be honest, I almost put Black Cat in the number two spot. That’s how hard the choice was. Felicia has had a huge impact on Spider-Man’s life, and the Marvel Universe as a whole. Initially, their relationship was similar to Batman and Catwoman. Black Cat was a thief who Spider-Man chased, and sometimes they flirted. He would ask her to go straight, and she would waffle. All that changed during Bill Mantlo and Al Milgrom’s run on Spectacular Spider-Man. The creative duo had Felicia give up crime and become Spider-Man’s fulltime crime-fighting partner.

The romance added an interesting twist to Spider-Man’s love life. Instead of hiding his life as Spider-Man, he could now share it with her. No more lying to run off and chase crooks. In fact, things went a step further when Spider-Man unmasked himself to Black Cat – something he had never done for any of his love interests before! This created another new dynamic. Felicia was crazy for Spider-Man, but found Peter Parker dull. This was the inverse of the dynamic we had seen with Spider-Man’s other girlfriends.

Their romance eventually ended, but Black Cat remained a close ally. She’s one of the few people who knows Spider-Man’s true identity, allowing her and Mary Jane to lean on each other when they have no one else they can talk to about Peter. Some comics portray her as still helplessly in love with Peter, while other writers make it clear she’s moved on. And of course, there have been a few romantic encores over the years.

Black Cat has become an iconic Marvel Universe character in her own right. She has starred in multiple comics of her own, proving that she’s a strong character outside of Spider-Man’s shadow. I’ve placed her on the number three spot of this list because she was different than any other woman Peter had ever dated, she’s grown to become a Marvel Universe icon, and she’s left a large impact on Spider-Man’s life.

2. Gwen Stacy

Gwen Stacy
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #31 (1965)

Before Spider-Gwen, and before Emma Stone, Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker’s college girlfriend. The original version of the character from Steve Ditko was more of an angry spitfire, but under John Romita she evolved into the gentle and loving character we know today. Peter Parker isn’t one to pick up on hints, so it took him a long time to realize that Gwen was into him, and even longer for him to make his move.

While flashbacks portray their relationship as idyllic, in reality they were often fighting and breaking up. That was the norm for Marvel romances in the Silver Age. Had Gwen not died, she and Peter probably would have broken up, and today she would be another ex-girlfriend supporting character like Betty Brant. Instead, the Green Goblin murdered Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #121, changing the course of not only Spider-Man history, but the superhero medium as a whole.

The death of Gwen Stacy is one of the most defining tragedies in Spider-Man’s life, second only to Uncle Ben’s murder. It’s hard to imagine how Spider-Man would look today without it. The death is such an eclipsing event, that it overshadows Gwen’s life. Until Emma Stone’s portrayal in the movies, and the arrival of Spider-Gwen in the comics, Gwen Stacy was more famous for dying than she was for any other story. If you need proof, just Google ‘Gwen Stacy 616,’ and count how many of images feature her in her death outfit.

Although Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider is a counterpart from another reality, she is part of Gwen Stacy’s legacy. Ghost-Spider has made Gwen Stacy a household name. In fact, a huge chunk of the film Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was devoted to an emotional Gwen Stacy plot. The character has become such a big part of Spider-Man’s world that major motion pictures are giving her the best scenes. It’s quite the legacy for a character who was killed in 1973.

1. Mary Jane Watson

Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker's first kiss
Image credit: Marvel

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #42 (1966)

Was there ever any doubt that Mary Jane Watson would top this list? She spent 20 years as Spider-Man’s wife, a title she still holds in some alternate continuities. In some realities, she’s the mother of his children. Mary Jane was initially a running gag in the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko run. She was a blind date that Aunt May wanted to set Peter up with, and Peter kept finding excuses to get out of. When he finally met her in the John Romita run (specifically Amazing Spider-Man #42), he was blown away by her beauty and carefree personality.

While Peter was serious and introspective, Mary Jane was rock ‘n’ roll personified. She acted like life was a nonstop party, and she wanted Peter along for the ride. While the two had some dates, Peter’s eyes were for Gwen Stacy. When Peter and Gwen became an official couple, Mary Jane stuck around as a supporting character. It wasn’t until after Gwen’s death that Peter and Mary Jane embarked on a serious relationship.

As the romance blossomed, Mary Jane matured, becoming more of a serious character. However, she never fully lost her party attitude. The two broke up after Mary Jane rejected Peter’s marriage proposal, and she left the books for a time. When she returned, she revealed that she knew Peter’s double identity, bringing new depth to their relationship. This was the stage where they become best friends, setting up their marriage.

To this day, the marriage is controversial amongst fans. Some believe it gave Peter the happy ending he deserved, while others believed it took away some of Spider-Man’s drama. In 2007, Marvel erased the marriage (via magic), sending Spider-Man back to bachelorhood. However, he and Mary Jane still enjoyed an on-again off-again relationship.

The two are currently separated, but honestly, I’m not bothered. I don’t think Peter Parker will be marrying Shay Marken or Carlie Cooper. Any girl that Peter dates is temporary until he and Mary Jane inevitably get back together.

If DC Comics ever tried to permanently put Superman with somebody who wasn’t Lois Lane, it would feel wrong. It wouldn’t work, because everyone knows Superman and Lois Lane are endgame. It’s the same with Spider-Man and Mary Jane.


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Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar
Joshua Lapin-Bertone: Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.
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