Although almost every non-powered New Yorker received powers, MJ was key toward the end of the arc, defending Spider-Man from attack while he saved the day. This stint with a superheroic MJ comes after writers hinted that she was the Initiative hero named Jackpot during a previous storyarc. Even Ultimate MJ got some temporary powers from ingesting the Oz serum, transforming her into a red Goblin creature. I find the concept of a powered MJ interesting because, since she's no longer the "official couple" pairing with Spider-Man, it would be a great way for Marvel to make use of this incredibly well-known property. Mary Jane Watson is a very well known character because of the film franchise and cartoons, so why shouldn't they use this former love interest as a full-fledged superhero to sell some books?
This wouldn't be the first time a company has toyed with giving supporting cast members and/or romantic interests superpowers or heroic identities. Harry Osborn has had stints as the villainous Green Goblin as well as the heroic American Son. Flash Thompson is kicking all kinds of butt over as the new Venom. In the Superman camp Jimmy Olsen would frequently gain and lose superpowers and Lois Lane would also gain powers from time to time. Both concepts were explored in the excellent All Star Superman volume. Heck, even high school sweetheart Lana Lang became a supervillain for Supes. Similarly, Carol Ferris is now officially a Star Sapphire to Hal Jordan's Green Lantern.
Some examples are even of characters that are fairly well established these days. Ultimate Wasp might be a mutant, but the regular old Janet Van Dyne was given her powers by Hank Pym (whose true superpower seems to actually just be "inventing superpowers," which is awesome). Similarly, Carol Danvers could have simply been the Steve Trevor to Captain Marvel'sWonder Woman, but instead she was given powers and is now arguably more iconic as Ms Marvel than he ever was as Captain Marvel.
So what do people think of this type of maneuver? Is it a legitimate progression for supporting cast members--especially love interests--once their time as the girlfriend/boyfriend du jour is over? Or would you rather see original characters take up new mantles/powers instead of recycling old love interests?
Personally, I say go ahead and give 'em superpowers. A character like Lois Lane or Mary Jane is well-known enough on their own at this point that it's silly not to try and capitalize on that. It certainly beats killing em off or making deals with the devil just to get 'em out of the way for the next flame.
Here are some other "love interest" characters that I think could potentially make the move to standalone heroes:
- Gwen Stacy: Hey, clones count. I'm sure Jackal can give her some powers next time he gets the itch to remake her.
- Betty Brant: If Flash gets to be the new Venom, can she be the new Carnage?
- Steve Trevor: Hey, it's not all girls.
- Linda Park: Give her superpowers, then bring back Wally West and have Linda give him superpowers.
- Iris West: She's a time traveler after all. Give her some future toys like Booster's and there you go.
- Vicki Vale: She's well-known enough from the first Batman film, why not?
- Mariko Yashida: She's already Sunpyre in another universe.
What does everyone else think? What love interests, if any, would you want to see get promoted to super-powered hero?