This image adorned a special commemorative bag that Mets/Spider-Man fans received on the big day.
Comic book fans will well remember the 1987 storyline in which Peter Parker/Spider-Man married Mary Jane Watson. Pete’s proposal to Mary Jane occurred in The Amazing Spider-Man #290, and the marriage took place in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21.
It was a controversial storyline. David Michelinie, the writer who executed the script based on a story by editor-in-chief at the time, Jim Shooter, in 2007 commented that he disagreed with the move: “I didn’t think they actually should [have gotten] married. ... I had actually planned another version, one that wasn’t used.” In a storyline called “One More Day” published 20 years later, editor-in-chief Joe Quesada contrived to “erase” the marriage, saying, “Peter being single is an intrinsic part of the very foundation of the world of Spider-Man.”
Be that as it may, in 1987 the Spider-Man wedding was such a big deal that … it just could not be contained in the 2-D medium of comic books! Or at least so thought the PR people at Marvel, and probably Stan Lee himself—as we shall see. On Friday, June 5, 1987, Spider-Man and Mary Jane were actually married at Shea Stadium before a sellout contest between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Update: This incident is covered in the PBS special Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, which aired on October 15.)
Fans at the game received this swell heart-shaped Spider-Man pin as well. Or is that a patch or even a… cookie?
The wedding—or, if you like, “stunt”—was a news story of note. Not only did it receive coverage by the likes of AP and Good Morning America and who knows who else, but the lofty New York Times itself actually ran a tongue-in-cheek announcement in its “Weddings and Celebrations” section, in which they printed Mary Jane’s admission that she is a total slut:
Spider-Man To Wed Model
by Michael Gross
Friday night at Shea Stadium, Mary Jane Watson—an actress, model, and computer businesswoman—will be married to the Amazing Spider-Man, a superhero also known to comic-book cognoscenti as Peter Parker, a freelance photographer for the mythical Daily Bugle in Manhattan. Stan Lee, publisher of Marvel Comics and creator of Spider-Man, will officiate.
The mock ceremony, to promote a special wedding issue of the Amazing Spider-Man comic book, which goes on sale next Tuesday, will take place at home plate in front of more than 45,000 fans just before the New York Mets play the Pittsburgh Pirates.
All this is something of a fashion event. Ms. Watson’s wedding gown was designed by Willi Smith. The form-fitting white lace, satin and tulle gown was the designer’s last project. Ms. Watson’s wedding ring will feature a black widow spider setting.
Ms. Smith—whose image appears several times in the special comic book—also designed the groom’s black tail coat, which is buttoned with the masks of Comedy and Tragedy. Spider-Man reportedly gained superpowers as the result of a bite by a radioactive spider.
The couple, played by models, will be attended by other models portraying the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Ice-Man, Fire-Star, Green Goblin and Dr. Doom.
At the final fitting of her gown, Ms. Watson (actually Tara Shannon, a model) said the wedding had to be held in Shea Stadium to accommodate all her previous beaus. This might explain Spider-Man’s recent behavior. ”He’s been pacing the ceiling for weeks,” she said.
Here were the wedding vows, delivered and presumably written by Stan Lee—you have to hand it to him, they’re pretty good:
“Do you, Spider-Man, being of sound mind and superbody, take Mary Jane to be your lawfully wedded bride, forsaking all other superheroines? Do you promise to never leave footprints on the walls or ceilings, or cobwebs in the corners? And do you agree to pinch-hit for the Mets if they ask you?”
“Do you, Mary Jane Watson, being of sound mind and spectacular body, agree to forsake other masked Marvelites, to never, ever swat a spider and to hug, comfort, and kiss away any bruises incurred after a long day of bashing bad guys—and to stay out of the Mets’ locker room?”
Rather than say “I do,” Lee, Spidey, and Mary Jane all intoned the words “I thee web.”
In the AP report on the wedding, Mary Jane, asked about the possibility of having children, is quoted as saying, ‘‘As long as they are healthy, have two arms and eight legs, I’ll be happy.’‘
Actor Stephen Vrattos, who was the man in the costume for the photo shoot that produced the commemorative poster above featuring Spider-Man and some of his Marvel superhero friends alongside Mets players Roger McDowell, Darryl Strawberry, Wally Backman, and Lee Mazzilli (he was not the man in the Spidey costume for the wedding), reminisced:
Trudy, aka Firestar, had her hands full trying to politely shake off the roaming hands of Roger McDowell who followed her like a stray puppy and persistently tried to pick her up. There is a reason why the former pitching ace has the biggest grin in the poster.
McDowell seemed to be the only Met enjoying the situation—albeit for reasons other than comic-book appreciation. Mazzilli, Backman and Strawberry only ceded their looks of scorn to smile when the photos were being taken. And if you look closely at their visages on the poster, you’ll notice those smile are forced. Perhaps they thought we couldn’t hear clearly in the costumes, because their under-the-breath grumblings about having to participate in the shoot were easily audible.
Vrattos describes this crazy event in exhaustive detail here. Be sure to click through, because there are tons of amusing pics and anecdotes.
As it happened, Spidey’s wedding also coincided almost perfectly with the Mets’ finally getting their act together in the 1987 season. People forget, but from 1984 to 1988, the Mets were the shit—they, not the Yankees, were the talk of New York City during those years. They were exciting, they were controversial, and they generally kicked ass. The Mets had won the World Series the year before, but in the spring of 1987, their star pitcher Dwight Gooden tested positive for cocaine use and entered rehab, causing him to miss a good chunk of the season. His first start in 1987 was that very same day, June 5. The Mets, who were a foregone conclusion to run away with the National League East, were stumbling along at just 25-25 entering the game. Gooden pitched a solid 6.2 innings to win the game 5-1—Gooden won a fairly astonishing 15 games the rest of the way (in only two-thirds of a season, remember), and the Mets went 67-45 after Gooden’s return, only to finish second behind their hated rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Here’s a Good Morning America report on the wedding with a quick clip of Entertainment Tonight’s John Tesh at the very end:
Here’s an old Spider-Man bit from The Electric Company in which Spider-Man takes on “The Wall” while attending a Mets game (since the Mets are in the field during the top of the 6th, the game must perforce be taking place at Shea)—as a special bonus, the umpire is played by none other than Morgan Freeman.
Thanks to Rachel Jensen!