Spider-Man Fans Can’t Get Enough of Peter and MJ’s Awkward ‘Realistic’ Encounters in the MCU

Peter Parker and MJ have been a romantic staple of Spider-Man’s story for years. What started with Mary Jane Watson in the 1960s comics continues today with the similarly named but different character MJ played by Zendaya.

When we last left the couple, they were quite literally hanging by a thread, and then Spider-Man: Far From Home left the audience hanging by a thread when Peter Parker’s secret was outed. These are not concerns that most teen couples deal with, but fans love how they can still relate to the awkwardness in their relationship. 

What do fans say about Peter Parker’s crushes?

tom holland on the red carpet
Tom Holland | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney

On Reddit, a fan posted a pair of scenes from Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home that show the endearing awkwardness between Peter and his crush.

That awkwardness persists whether they’re talking about their feelings as in a Homecoming scene, or whether Peter is really Spider-Man, as shown in the Far from Home scene. Even when the situation is extraordinary, it’s human.

One fan said, “Among other things, this is probably my favorite difference in the MCU Spider-man. He’s actually believable in age and in demeanor of a high school student. He’s not 30 damn years old like Tobey Maguire was.” The fan is actually close – Maguire was 27 when his first Spider-Man movie came out in 2002 and he was still playing a high school student. 

In the Homecoming scene with Liz Toomes,  she says she realizes he has a crush on her, and when Peter wonders how, she responds, “You’re terrible at keeping secrets.” He responds, “You’d be surprised.” But MJ is far from surprised in Far from Home when Peter tries to cover his tracks after he realizes she knows he’s Spider-Man. This may or may not bode well for the future. 

Which MJ is Zendaya?

Before Spider-Man: Homecoming came out, it was revealed that Zendaya’s character was called MJ. This led some fans to believe that she was Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker’s flame-haired love-interest in the comics who eventually becomes his wife. She was played by Kirsten Dunst in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. 

The first Tom Holland movie was a little vague on this point, although it was clarified that for Zendaya’s character, the MJ stands for her full name, Michelle Jones.

According to CinemaBlend, Kevin Feige said, “Well, we never even looked at it as a big reveal necessarily but more of just a fun homage to his past adventures and his past love. She’s not Mary Jane Watson. She never was Mary Jane Watson. She was always this new high school character.”

That’s arguably for the better, because one criticism of the Sony Spider-Man movies is that they keep repeating story beats the audience already knows. For instance, fans and critics alike opined that we didn’t really need to see the origin story played out again in The Amazing Spider-Man. That may be a key reason those movies didn’t catch on the way the Raimi movies or the MCU movies did. 

What does the future hold for Peter and MJ?

At the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter took MJ for a memorable ride on his web, finally feeling comfortable that she knew his secret. Alas, that comfort didn’t last very long at all, because almost immediately after he drops her off, J. Jonah Jameson spills the beans to the world that Peter Parker is Spider-Man – right after making it look like Spider-Man killed Mysterio. 

The fallout from this will surely be addressed in Spider-Man 3, but the future of that film is uncertain just as Peter Parker’s future is. It was supposed to come out in July of 2021, but due to the pandemic, Disney/Marvel pushed back its whole Phase 4 slate so that it now starts late this year and ends in early 2022. 

Sony distributes the Spider-Man movies, and that studio has not announced a new date for this third Spider-Man movie, which was supposed to start filming in July. It’s a good bet that the start date — and the release date for the movie, will both be pushed back.