Warning: This article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Remember in the run-up to Spider-Man: Homecoming, when there was all that speculation that Zendaya was playing Mary Jane Watson? The movie’s final scene confirmed that she kinda was but also kinda wasn’t, as the character — previously addressed as Michelle Jones — revealed she preferred to be called “MJ.” Far From Home then moved her into MJ’s traditional role as she and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker got together. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, she’s more Mary Jane-like than ever.
Warning: spoilers for the early scenes of Spider-Man: No Way Home to follow.
Specifically, No Way Home drops a small but significant revelation about MJ that further confirms her importance to Spidey lore. The movie kicks off with Peter and his loved ones being brought in by the Department of Damage Control after Mysterio publicly accuses Parker of killing him. During MJ’s interrogation scene, her full name is given as “Michelle Jones-Watson.” MJ reacts negatively to the name, revealing that she doesn’t like to go by Watson.
With this revelation of her double-barreled surname, NWH seemingly confirms that Michelle isn’t just someone who also goes by the nickname MJ but is a variant of Mary Jane herself. What’s more, MJ’s reaction to her other name perhaps links back to deleted material from Homecoming that would’ve outlined more about her personal life. Screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have confirmed that they wrote a couple of scenes where MJ was shown not to have anyone to meet her after school, with it implied that she’s from a troubled home.
It’s possible that MJ’s distaste for her Watson name in Spider-Man: No Way Home stems from her feelings about a neglectful parent, maybe her father. If that’s the case, it echoes the storyline of Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane in the original Spider-Man trilogy. She was similarly depicted as having a verbally abusive father. Again, this hints at the connection between MJ and the other Mary Janes out there in the multiverse.