Going back to the moment that completely changed Peter Parker’s life in ‘Far From Home’ (2019), ‘No Way Home’ reveals how it’s not just Parker’s fate that has been altered in fact his friends and loved ones suffered the same plight. As he approaches Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to change things back to the way they were, Peter gets a lot more than he actually bargained for.
By the end of the movie, the story folds in a way that his initial wish to change things back to the way they were results in both MJ and Ned forgetting about him. This way Spider-Man is forced back to the life we first saw in Tobey Maguire’s trilogy. Sticking to the point, Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy are the only two characters that lie central to Peter Parker’s story- be it The Amazing Spider-Man or just Spider-Man.
Though MJ appears as the sole love interest of Peter in both Holland’s and Maguire’s universes, however, in Andrew’s version of Spider-Man it was Gwen Stacy who played the role of Peter’s partner. Going just by the movies, it is extremely difficult to assume who Peter Parker’s greatest love is. Thus, the answer to this infamous question lies in the comics.
Gwen Stacy VS Mary Jane (MJ)
In order to recognize who is Peter Parker’s greatest love, we have to trace back the appearances of both the characters throughout the comics, including their first appearances. The first proper appearance of Gwen Stacy is in The Amazing Spider-Man #31 (December 1965). Mary Jane Watson debuted earlier in The Amazing Spider-Man #25 (June 1965), but it was merely a simple cameo appearance. It wasn’t until The Amazing Spider-Man #42 (January 1967) that her identity was actually confirmed and explored. Thus this way, it was indeed Gwen Stacy that appeared first in the life of Peter Parker.
Peter met Stacy first while they both were undergraduates at Empire State University. Within that time, Aunt May was also hospitalized and so Peter didn’t have much chance to respond to Stacy’s advances. In order to make Peter jealous Stacy dated both Flash Thompson and Harry Osborn. Mary Jane appeared and Peter started dating her briefly. He actually like Jane’s outgoing and social appearance, however at this time he was still attracted to Stacy.
Gradually, Peter and Stacy began unfolding each other and they both appreciated each other’s intellect. They began dating briefly and Peter left Mary Jane whom he started seeing as a shallow and self-absorbed character. This proves that Peter developed feelings for Stacy first long before he even met Watson. However, due to his responsibilities, he hadn’t had much time to explore this relationship more.
Though Mary Jane was Peter’s love interest and later wife, Gwen Stacy was the girlfriend of Spider-Man in the comics. She is known for her brutal death by Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man #121, story “The Death of Gwen Stacy”. Her death also declared the end of the Silver Age of Comics. Stories published later revealed that her death had a profound effect on Peter’s life and that she holds a special place in his heart.
As for Mary Jane, Peter was first introduced to her by Aunt May as a potential date. However, Jane’s appearances in the comic frequently switched from being a party girl to a shallow person who was not committed to the idea of being with one man. But following the death of Stacy, their relationship accelerated and Watson ended up marrying Parker. As of the Spider-Man: One More Day story arc, the couple is no longer married.
Coming back to our initial question, who was Parker’s greatest love, the answer is quite complicated. Peter shared a close bond with both the characters and we all know that Watson was the one depicted as Parker’s love interest both in the comics as well as movies. But it is also very much obvious that he had feelings for both of them together and with Gwen’s death he had time to focus completely on Watson.
In the “House of M” storyline, possessed Scarlet Witch rewrites the history where the darkest desires of each character become true, whether they be their love or rivals. Though the story brings back the deadliest villains, it also gives our heroes a chance to be with their greatest love. Thus the character that appeared to be Peter’s love interest in this story was indeed his deepest love.
Many would assume that our hero would be living happily with Mary Jane Watson, however, the girl with whom Peter married and loved in “House of M” was Gwen Stacy. It was Gwen Stacy who appeared in the story, and Peter had a family with her, and Mary Jane was just an actress he met briefly. Thus, with this, the long-debated question of Marvel comics comes to an end and the result is perhaps the opposite of what people initially assumed. Marvel officially declared Stacy to be Parker’s greatest love.