“I hate when people say that MJ was just Peter’s rebound girl after Gwen died. It’s an insult to both MJ and Peter Parker.”
Whenever a fan or creator argues that Peter just settled for Mary Jane and still loves Gwen more, even after settling down with MJ and (in the case of AUs like Universe X) having kids, I honestly wonder what that person gets out of Spider-Man as a narrative. To me, despite the trauma of his origin, Peter Parker is a fundamentally optimistic character — he gets knocked down, he gets up again. He screws up, again and again, but he keeps trying. He loses people, but he builds new relationships and learns to love again. I’m not part of the school of thought that says Peter should always be a miserable screw-up or he’s not relatable.
Peter loses his lover Gwen; MJ loses her best friend. They grow and heal together and eventually fall in love with each other: that’s life-affirming. Peter loses his lover Gwen; MJ loses her best friend. They glom on to each other in a co-dependent relationship and Peter never moves on, while MJ always lives with being second-best: that’s soul-crushing dysfunction.
Readers who interpret Peter/MJ the second way aren’t “bad fans” because they disagree with me, but that interpretation is such a reversal to how I understand Spider-Man as an entire piece that I can’t quite wrap my head around it.
Wrote this in a haze of insomnia last night, and surprisingly, it still makes sense! (Mostly.)