Since his debut in 1962, Spider-Man has been the icon of Marvel Comics. Fans have loved seeing Peter Parker go from high school wimp to an established hero. He’s seen a lot of changes over the years as Marvel has allowed Peter to grow up into a magnificent hero. He’s been a struggling student, a teacher, a rich businessman, a photographer and more. He’s even joined the Avengers and Fantastic Four. A key aspect has been Peter trying to balance his responsibilities as a hero with having a regular life as a student. It doesn’t always work out as more than once, Peter has had to put his costumed life ahead of being happy for himself and others. That includes his various relationships.
His relationships run a pretty impressive gamut as there are scores of heroes (like Captain America and Daredevil) that Peter works with a lot. There’s also a very impressive list of ladies that Peter has had relationships with. There are also some figures who are very good friends to Peter and helped shape his personal life well. The foster parents he grew up with helped shape Peter’s life while one guy has seriously affected his life, and his decision to become Spider-Man. There’s a lot of people in the Marvel Universe that Spidey has had as either friends or romantic interests. However, a few really do stand out from the bunch, in that they have shaped his life. Here are 15 big relationships in Peter Parker’s life that have made him the Spider-Man we love and know today.
Original Sin was a big Marvel event where a blast from the late Watcher’s eye causes various heroes to discover secrets of the past. For Peter, it was finding out that someone else had been bitten by the same radioactive spider as him. This was Cindy Moon, a fellow student who was convinced by the mysterious Ezekiel that she would be hunted by the twisted Morlun.
Cindy thus spent over a decade locked in a secret chamber, learning how to use her powers and hiding from Morlun. Peter broke her out and circumstances caused them to have a short-lived relationship. It turns out Cindy’s pheromones attracted Peter to her. It was a brief bit as they both embarked on new super-hero lives separate from each other. However, the connection between them thanks to that spider bite does make Cindy an important figure in Peter’s life.
14 THE HUMAN TORCH
In the first issue of the Amazing Spider-Man, Spidey decides to break into the Baxter Building to “prove” himself to the Fantastic Four. When he learns they don’t pay a salary, Spidey leaves but not before tangling with the Human Torch. This sets up a years-long friendly rivalry between the duo. Johnny Storm actually attended the same college as Peter for a bit as they would clash a bit. They work together a lot in various adventures while also pulling huge pranks on each other. From creating the Spider-Mobile to Johnny’s “costume” for Pete, the two enjoyed ribbing each other.
But their friendship is for real. When Johnny appears to sacrifice himself, Peter took his place in the Fantastic Four. Johnny turned out to be alive and he and Pete would become roommates for a time. Even in the “Ultimate” universe, the friendship of the duo is as tight as it can be. Beneath their bickering, Peter and Johnny are very good friends who can always count on each other.
13 BEN REILLY
The infamous “Clone Saga” isn’t remembered very well by Spider-Man fans. As time has gone on, some have come to appreciate the character of Ben Reilly. A clone of Peter created by the Jackal, Ben was believed to be dead. However, he actually spent years traveling the country and became a hero in his own right. He would take on the mantle of the Scarlet Spider and he and Peter got along well as “brothers.” Ben briefly thought he was the true Peter and took over as Spider-Man. That turned out to be false and Ben seemed to perish while fighting the Green Goblin.
The Clone Conspiracy arc revealed Ben had been reborn. He was now a darker figure obsessed with “perfecting” the world with clones. He and Peter battled it out with Ben managing to escape. He’s now back as the Scarlet Spider and tried to redeem himself. In many ways, Ben is a reflection of what Peter could have been and thus ranks as an important part of his life.
12 CARLIE COOPER
This may be a bit of a controversial choice but it should be remembered. Police forensic scientist Carlie Cooper first got involved with Spider-Man when he was being framed for crimes by some corrupt cops. Carlie proved his innocence and Peter started to date her. It got pretty serious to the point where Carlie was soon involved with Peter to the point of Mary Jane even saying she was a keeper. It took a turn when Carlie was affected by the “Spider-Island” storyline. She figured out Peter was Spider-Man and not happy about being kept in the dark.
Some fans disliked the character and how the writer Dan Slott pushed her so hard on fans. When Doctor Octopus took over Peter’s body, Carlie was the only person to figure that out rather than Aunt May or Mary Jane. She would be turned into a goblin-like creature by Norman Osborn before Peter cured her. Afterward, Carlie decided to leave New York, telling Peter she cared for him but couldn’t handle his other life. While some fans weren’t happy about the way Carlie was pushed so much, she still ranks as an important figure for Peter.
11 IRON MAN
For a long while, Spider-Man and Iron Man didn’t interact too much. After all, Tony Stark is a multi-millionaire businessman and Avenger while Peter was the street hero. When Spider-Man finally joined the Avengers, Tony was struck by Peter’s amazing scientific genius. He let Peter and MJ stay in Avengers Tower and encouraged Peter to work with him. Peter soon saw Tony as a mentor to the point of Tony developing an “Iron Spider” suit.
It ended badly when, in Civil War, Peter didn’t like Tony’s stance in the conflict. Things have gotten better between them as Tony has even aided Peter with his company. They continue to work together to save the world as Tony admires Peter’s spirit and humor. Out of all the Avengers, Iron Man is the one Peter gets along with the best despite some issues. In the MCU, they have a father-son bond.
10 KITTY PRYDE
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Peter was feeling hurt after he and Mary Jane broke up. He ended up on an adventure with the X-Men where he and Kitty Pryde connected. Kitty asked him out on a date and Peter accepted. Before long, the two were in a pretty good relationship and had great chemistry between them.
Their dates tended to be them swinging around the city or involving themselves in the occasional super-villain battle. Kitty didn't have any hard feelings when he got back together with Mary Jane, and even after the fact, she still made sure to help Peter whenever he needed her.
9 BEN PARKER
In some ways, it’s one of the most important relationships in Peter’s life. Ben Parker raised his nephew like a son and would instill the values that would dominate Peter’s life. Peter loved him dearly as Ben taught him decency, honor and the responsibility to help others. One of Peter’s first goals, when he became Spider-Man, was to make money to pay back Ben for all the help he’d given Peter. This led to the moment that would change his entire life: When a thief raced by him, Peter did nothing to stop him, figuring it wasn’t his problem.
Coming home, Peter discovered Ben had been taken out by a burglar. He hunted the man down only to realize it was the thief he’d let go before. That instant taught Peter his iconic lesson of “with great power comes great responsibility.” His guilt over how he could have prevented Ben’s passing is what drives him today. Peter does his best to make his uncle’s memory proud and make up for his mistake.
8 BETTY BRANT
Peter first met Betty when she was the secretary to J. Jonah Jameson. She was basically his first love. They would banter back and forth when Peter was at the office looking for work. They dated for a bit and it was clear Betty liked him a lot. However, Spider-Man once more interfered with Peter’s life and it prevented them from going further.
Betty would end up marrying Ned Leeds who later embarked on a criminal career of his own. This led to her joining a cult and she ended up having a nervous breakdown. Thankfully, she’s come out stronger for it and she and Peter once more good friends. As one of the best supporters for Peter’s life, Betty naturally has to rank high on the relationship list.
7 HARRY OSBORN
Harry Osborn was Peter’s first friend in high school. While most put Peter down as a loser, Harry supported Peter and they soon became best buddies. Harry noted how his businessman father, Norman, was always too busy for him and thus enjoyed the nice life Peter had with his aunt. This would set up the big revelation that Norman was none other than the Green Goblin. When Norman appeared to have passed, Harry snapped and briefly took up the Goblin role himself.
He would end up settling down with Liz Allan and they had a son. But the Goblin curse once more took hold, and it drove Harry mad and led it to his apparent passing. He would return alive and well and he and Peter restarted their friendship. Harry has made it clear he loathes his father and that he is trying to be his own man. He continues to support Peter.
6 FLASH THOMPSON
Showing up in the very first Spider-Man story, Flash Thompson was an arrogant jock who was the most popular kid in school. He constantly put down Peter and enjoyed shoving him around. Ironically, Flash was Spider-Man’s biggest fan. In college, Flash apologized for his bullying, explaining he’d always secretly been jealous of Peter’s smarts. The two thus became good friends, and Flash was always ready to help out Spider-Man.
Flash later joined the army where he lost his legs in combat. He agreed to a government project to join the Venom symbiote as a special agent. He and Peter clashed a couple of times but worked together just as well. Flash finally figured out who Peter was just before he sacrificed himself to stop a Carnage-controlled Norman Osborn. Peter gave a warm eulogy at the funeral that called Flash a greater hero than Peter himself could hope to be.
5 BLACK CAT
The daughter of a high-class thief, Felicia Hardy followed in his footsteps. She and Spider-Man at first fought but Felicia came to enjoy their fun games. Soon, a romance blossomed and Peter even revealed his identity to her. This led to the bizarre twist that while she was in love with Spider-Man, Felicia literally could not stand to look at Peter.
This naturally caused friction in their relationship, not helped by Cat going back to her criminal life. She was insanely jealous when Peter married Mary Jane but eventually accepted them. An encounter with Doctor Octopus in Peter’s body led to Cat feeling angered at “Peter” for attacking her. She thus fully embraced her criminal roots to the point of becoming a mob boss.
4 J. JONAH JAMESON
The hard-bitten newspaper publisher plays a huge role in Peter’s life. When Peter needed to make money, he decided to sell photos of himself as Spidey. Seeing how J. Jonah Jameson disliked Spidey, Peter started to work for him. Over the years, Jonah made it clear he despised Spider-Man and would constantly blast out headlines calling him a menace. He went out of his way to make Spidey look guilty of any crime and his temper drove everyone around him crazy. But Jonah did have a good heart buried under his exterior and did love the paper. He even liked Peter personally.
A major turn recently was Peter finding Jonah seriously down on himself after a personal tragedy. Peter thus unmasked and Jonah was naturally shocked to realize he’d been paying Peter to take photos of himself all these years. However, Jonah has been a surprising help to Peter since and supportive of Spider-Man. Whether a hard-nosed boss or an odd help, Jonah has helped majorly shape Spider-Man’s career.
3 GWEN STACY
She’s still the woman who holds Peter’s heart in so many ways. A gorgeous blonde student, Peter was drawn to Gwen Stacy early on. They had a hot and cold relationship for a bit as Peter’s crime-fighting life would always interfere. It got worse when Gwen blamed Peter for the death of her policeman father. In reality, the man had passed away knowing Peter’s secret and urging him to keep Gwen safe. They still were a great couple and it seemed they were destined for marriage. Which was why fans were heartbroken when Gwen perished in a fall thanks to the Green Goblin.
She’s lived on in Peter’s memory and still remains strong for fans. She returned as a clone for a rather complicated life. There’s also “Spider-Gwen,” a version of her from an alternate reality that’s become a highly popular character. But the true Gwen is gone and Peter still hasn’t gotten over that to show how important she was to his life.
2 MAY PARKER
She truly is one of the most important figures in all of Peter’s life. When his parents died when he was a child, May and her husband Ben took Peter in to become his foster parents. For a long time, Peter had to take care of her. She also hated that “horrible Spider-Man” so Peter had to keep his true life quiet for her own good.
But May always gave Peter support and some advice when he needed it. She inspired him as a hero in so many ways and the “Ultimate” universe made her even more supportive of her nephew. A big turn in 2001 was May finally finding out Peter’s secret. Rather than horrified, she loved her nephew even more for how he’d been helping people all this time. She became a strong supportive figure to him and helped him balance his life.
1 MARY JANE WATSON
It’s one of the best long-running gags Stan Lee ever did. For several issues, Aunt May wanted to set Peter up with her neighbor’s niece. Peter resisted, convinced the girl had to be homely. She would be shown with her face hidden and in one scene, Liz and Betty both gape at her. Finally, she showed up to reveal herself as a stunningly gorgeous redhead who grinned “Face it, tiger…you just hit the jackpot!” From that instant, Mary Jane Watson was a fan favorite with her fun attitude and terrific persona.
It took a while but finally, in the 1980s, Peter and MJ got together. The key point was MJ revealing she’d known about Peter’s secret identity for years and kept it quiet. Their marriage was a huge moment and they made a great couple for some time. This led to controversy with their marriage wiped out of existence yet they just couldn’t quit each other. The current title has them back together again and showing that, no matter what, Mary Jane is always the woman who has Peter’s heart.