MJ came from a severely troubled family. Her father, a professor and frustrated writer, took it out on his family in the form of spousal and child abuse. To cope with her hellish family life, Mary Jane kept up a facade as a superficial party girl to avoid the embarrassment, which may have cast her as a forerunner to the archetype of a wily, feisty red head.
The parents eventually divorced. Mary Jane and her sister lived with her mother but often stayed with relatives. Her favorite was her Aunt Anna, who lived next door to the Parkers.
At first, she was unimpressed by Peter, a bookish nerd. That opinion changed dramatically on the night of Ben Parker's murder, and Mary Jane saw Peter become Spider-Man for the first time.
A gorgeous, green-eyed redhead, she has been the primary romantic interest of Spider-Man's alter ego Peter Parker for the last twenty years, although she initially competed against others for his affection, most prominently Gwen Stacy.
Mary Jane's name was first mentioned in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #15 (August 1964), but she was originally an unseen character. The early issues of Amazing Spider-Man featured a running joke about Peter dodging his Aunt May's attempts to set him up with "that nice Watson girl next door", whom Peter had not yet met and assumed would not be his type, since his aunt liked her. (In the Parallel Lives graphic novel an identical scenario is shown between Mary Jane and her Aunt Anna.) Mary Jane made her first actual appearance in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #25 (June 1965); however, in that issue, her face was obscured. It is not until Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #42 (November 1966) that her face is actually seen. In that issue, on the last page, Peter finally met her, and he was stunned by her beauty even as she spoke the now-famous line: "Face it, Tiger... you just hit the jackpot!"