In Spider-Man (2002) why does Spider-Man save Mary Jane first, choosing her over the 30-50 kids in the cable-car?

He eventually saves them both, but I'm just saying. What if he wasn't able to save them both?

  • Then presumably many or all of them would have died, and the movie would have had a very different plot. Might have been a better movie, who can say? Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 5:00
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    You appear to be asking two questions: "why does he save Mary Jane first?" and "what if he wasn't able to save them both?" Which one do you want us to answer? (spoiler alert: the second one has a fairly obvious answer)
    – Steve-O
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 5:02
  • If you're interested in the ethical issues, you might want to take a look at Derek Parfit's work - Reasons and Persons is nontrivial but ultimately gives a lot to think about - or else Peter Singer's. Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 5:27
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    There is an old adage, better to have saved the one you love and lost 30-50 random kids than the opposite of that scenario. Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 5:48
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    @PaulD.Waite I don't think you actually need to throw away the name in title, given this isn'T a particularly significant element in the plot Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


Peter saved them both because he could. He seems to have made a judgement that saving MJ wouldn't have affected his ability to save the cable-car.

The novelisation is a little clearer.

She plummeted, arms and legs pinwheeling, and suddenly Spider-Man was right there, tucking her under his right arm.

"Hold on!" he shouted, even as he fired a web line that snagged the underside of the bridge's center span, and Mary Jane thought giddily, He chose me! right before she was over-whelmed with guilt over the fate of the plunging cable car.

But Spider-Man wasn't done, not remotely.

Suddenly he released his web line, and there was the cable of the car whipping past them. She could barely see it, but Spider-Man homed in on it as if he had radar. He shifted Mary Jane onto his back even as he grabbed the trailing cable. She let out a scream as the two of them were yanked down, hard, hopelessly at the mercy of the tram's weight.

Then Spider-Man fired another web line at the underside of the bridge, and the white substance snared it, sticking with unbreakable adhesion. There below the span, the gondola slammed to a halt, bouncing up and down, kids and dads tumbling everywhere.

Spider-man: Official Novelisation

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    This excerpt needs more "Spider-Man" Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 14:04
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    @Gallifreyan - No-one has ever accused this book of being well-written. Then again, it's aimed at children and young adults so continually identifying who's doing what (and to who) is essential.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 14:07

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