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Why Spider-Man's Mary Jane Watson Is So Different In The Movies And Games

Mary Jane in Marvel's Spider-Man video game for PS4
(Image credit: (Marvel))

Back in 2018, Marvel and Sony teamed up with Insomniac Games to swing in a new experience for Spidey fans. Marvel’s Spider-Man was a massive hit that sold 3.3 million copies in its first three days alone before becoming the best-selling superhero game of all time. The video game revolved around Peter Parker of course, but also featured an updated Mary Jane Watson fans of the comics and movie franchise hadn’t seen before.

In Marvel’s Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson is a reporter for the Daily Bugle who assists Peter Parker with his missions in the game as he confronts New York City’s criminal underbelly. Vice President and Head of Creative at Marvel Games Bill Rosemann said this about the decision to switch up Mary Jane Watson’s arc:

We wanted to make sure that Mary Jane was the hero of her own story. In the comics, she had run night clubs and been an actress, and that’s a little difficult to relate to. We thought, what if we made her a reporter for the Daily Bugle? It had never been done before, but it felt right. It gave her a reason to be in these dangerous situations, and it fed into the worlds-collide storytelling.

It was always a bit curious how Mary Jane always got herself in the line of fire in past Spider-Man iterations. If you recall Kirsten Dunst’s MJ from Sam Raimi’s trilogy, she gets saved by Spider-Man again during the World Unity Festival and is mainly in danger because of her association with Harry Osborn. Later, when the iconic upside down kiss happens in a New York City alleyway, she’s just walking down the street when a group of thugs comes after her.

The early 2000s' MJ plays very much into the “damsel-in-distress” archetype that just doesn’t translate as well today. Zendaya’s own portrayal in as MCU's version of the character plays a much more active role in the franchise, especially in Spider-Man: Far From Home. This MJ actually figures out Tom Holland’s Peter is Spider-Man long before he lets it slip, and she’s smart enough to keep up while he fights the bad guys.

Bill Rosemann’s words to Den Of Geek show an effort to modernize Mary Jane to bring more realistic female characters – especially to a video game landscape that has famously over sexualized its female characters. Marvel Games is currently hard at work on Marvel’s Avengers, an ambitious project that will star the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Ms. Marvel.

As for Spider-Man on the big screen, Tom Holland is set to return to the role for a third movie in July 2021. The Onward actor recently announced he’s set to start shooting the project in Atlanta in July, however the production of his own step into the video game world with an Uncharted movie (which Holland was going to film before jumping back to Spider-Man) has been delayed due to coronavirus concerns.

Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more Spider-Man news!

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.