I have a friend that, as another of my friends pointed out (who is also friends with him), suffers from Mary Jane Watson Syndrome.
“Mary Jane Watson Syndrome?” you may ask. “That’s not in the DSM-IV.”
You’d be the wrong kind of nerd for asking that question, but it is true. The Mary Jane Watson Syndrome, as explained by my friend (about my other friend):
He likes to make people think he’s doing better than he’s actually doing, because it’s too embarrassing. Like in the first “Spider-Man” film, when Mary Jane runs into Peter for the first time in New York, and she tells him all the wonderful things she’s accomplished. Then the short order chef comes out and exposes her lie…
It’s the Mary Jane Watson Syndrome.
Poignant, geeky, and spot-on, for sure. But it got me wondering – are there other conditions that could be defined by the ladies in superhero films? I mean, they typically aren’t written as the most stalwart of women. Otherwise, who would be left for the hero to save if there were no damsels in distress?
(more after the jump)
Actually, I might have to break the Mary Jane Watson Syndrome into two Types. Type I would be as detailed above. Type II would be diagnosed as this: Suffering from a case of boy-craziness, this type will jump from one guy to the next, as if the individual was Super Mario hopping platforms to get to Donkey Kong… except there is no Donkey Kong.
MJWS-Type II is best illustrated by MJ’s boyfriend list through all three films: Flash Thompson, Harry Osborne, John Jameson, and Peter Parker. Also, she wanted Spider-Man. Textbook Type II.
Next, we’ll deal with the Elektra Complex. No – it’s not about a woman with daddy issues (that’s the Electra Complex). This one is about a woman with co-star issues. Anyone suffering from this condition cannot separate the real world from fantasy – if this person’s character is supposed to love another actor’s character, this person will fall in love with that actor.
Jennifer Gardner (Elektra) worked with Scott Foley on “Felicity” and they ended up married. Jennifer then worked with Michael Vartan on “Alias” and divorced Foley to get with Vartan. Finally, she worked with Ben Affleck on “Daredevil” while he was still engaged to Jennifer Lopez. They hooked up after his split was official and they ended up married. Do you see?
The third condition is actually quite common: the Pepper Potts Presumption. This is a condition that causes a normally intelligent person to become as dumb as a bag of bricks when faced with ridiculous situations.
Case study: In the film, “Iron Man,” Pepper manages industrialist Tony Stark’s life down to the smallest of details, and she does so with wit and grace. She even steals data off of a laptop coolly, right under villain Obadiah Stane’s nose. But then she gets all weird and googily-moogily when S.H.I.E.L.D. breaks into the Iron Monger’s work area (“Oh, is that little thing gonna open the door… eek!” [not verbatim, but you get the gist]). Or when Stark and Stane are doing battle not far from where she’s at, why doesn’t she flee? And how difficult is pressing a button! Frustration for others is at the core of PPP.
This next condition is treatable in sequels, and not a problem in earlier versions of “Superman.” The Lois Lane Disorder deals with age in relation to reality. (You thought it was about Margot Kidder running half-naked through backyards, right?) A person suffering from LLD is not wise beyond his or her years – the character the person is playing is simply beyond the person’s years.
Kate Bosworth was 23 when she played Lois Lane in “Superman Returns.” The boy playing her and Supe’s son was 5. She also happened to be playing an award winning news writer for the largest paper in Metropolis. Wha–? At the ripe age of 18, all the stuff that happened in “Superman 2” happened to you? Doubt it. Also suffering from LLD – Jessica Alba as Sue Storm in the “Fantastic Four” flicks. (She and co-star Chris Evans were born two months apart, thus rendering the Invisible Woman and the Human Torch as practically twins.)
The last one is an easy one. It’s a form of split personality called the Rachel Dawes Effect. When a person gets involved in a cult that forces them to make a crappy film like “Mad Money,” as opposed to sticking with a career-building mega-blockbuster such as “The Dark Knight,” that person will be replaced, and most people won’t notice or care.