You know Zendaya right, the hip American actress, singer, dancer, and model – the girl from KC Undercover and late night acne medication sales rep? Yeah, her. Did you know she’s going to be starring in Marvel’s solo Spider-Man film in Spider-Man: Homecoming. OK, yes, most people following the production are well aware of her addition to the cast. However, what nobody knew, is what role she would be playing… until now. Speculation had led to her being a random high school girl, while others had her pegged as Michelle Gonzalez. The latter being a one night fling and former roommate of Peter Parker from the comics. Good guesses but, no.
Now, a month into the production, the veil of mystery has been lifted, and it’s a major character that some fans may find to be unexpected.
***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***
TheWrap reports that she is playing classic Spider-Man character, Mary Jane Watson. According to the wraps little birds, “At least one recent draft of the script has Zendaya’s character dropping several clues to her identity as Mary Jane.” At this time Sony and Marvel have not confirmed or dismissed
Mary Jane Watson was previously portrayed by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies starring Tobey Maguire. More recently, Marc Webb cast Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 starring Andrew Garfield, but her scenes didn’t make the cut.
In addition to Zendaya as Mary Jane, Spider-Man: Homecoming stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker, Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson, Laura Harrier as Liz Allan, Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, and Michael Keaton as the villain Jon Watts is directing from a script by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley
It’s curious as to why most of the cast and their roles have been announced, yet Zandaya’s was/is being held back. Perhaps Marvel was cautiously trying to avoid Internet backlash due to race. In the comics, Mary Jane – long time off and on again girlfriend to Peter Parker – has always been depicted as an America White girl with signature red hair. Now, if this report from The Wrap is to be believed, the latest film iteration is played by a person of color, obviously. The last time a classic Marvel character’s race was altered, was Jonny Storm played by Micheal B Jordan in the Fantastic Four reboot. Racists, unintentional racists (the people who say “I’m not racist but…”), and comic book purists are still arguing about that one. It’s funny, though, everyone got all upset about Micheal B Jordan as Johnny Storm, yet no one cared when Samuel Jackson played Nick Fury in The Avengers or Idra Elba as Heimdell in Thor, who originally were the some of the whitest characters in comics. Well, correction, some people did initially raise a stink but the performances of both Sam Jackson and Idra Elba won over audiences, when badassness stood victorious over racism and doubt.
Sure, fans get butthurt when characters they’ve been accustomed to seeing look certain way all through comic history, is given an ethnic update. People want to see what they know, there’s nothing wrong with that. It is different, and yeah, a raised finger (to say the least) is almost always going to be the first response/reaction. But all that gets put aside if the actor captures the essence of the character and, if lucky, managers to do more than just represent what’s familiar. Of course, there are those who refuse to be convinced. You know the types, the people who say “oh great, more forced diversity”. The same people who are in cahoots with the “So Black Panther as a white guy then, that’d be fair, right?” people.
Of course, there are those who refuse to be convinced. You know the types, the people who say “oh great, more forced diversity”. The same people who are in cahoots with the “So Black Panther as a white guy then, that’d be fair, right?” people. To that, it comes down to, yes a double standard, and just how obtuse/weird a racial recasting is. Twists/changes can be good, and other times they just can’t.