As one of the biggest superhero tentpoles currently in production, rumors emerging onto the interwebs regarding Spider-Man: Homecoming is nothing new – but only a few days ago, one purported tidbit in particular resulted in a fairly asinine blowback.
It centered on the identity of Zendaya’s character in Homecoming, with said report appearing to confirm that the singer-songstress is actually playing Mary ‘MJ’ Watson in Marvel’s reboot, as opposed to the role of Michelle Gonzales that many had assumed. Without her signature red hair and pale complexion, a vocal minority took umbrage with the as-yet-unconfirmed casting.
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Offering his own two cents on the matter, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to Facebook to shut down those who have taken issue with the report, though admitted that he doesn’t actually know whether Zendaya is indeed playing Mary Jane or not.
Yesterday, a rumor broke out that the character of Mary Jane was being played by a young black woman, Zendaya, and all hell broke out on the Internet (again). I tweeted that if people find themselves complaining about Mary Jane’s ethnicity they have lives that are too good. (For those of you who think this means I’m confirming that Zendaya IS playing MJ, realize that although I’ve read the Spidey script, and I’ve met the actress in question, I have no idea what her role is. There’s a good chance someone told me at one time or another, but, if so, I can’t remember. I’m going to find out when I go into Marvel this afternoon, but I feel free to speak until that time because it’s about the concept about a black woman playing Mary Jane, not the actuality or hypothesis of it.)
For me, if a character’s primary attribute – the thing that makes them iconic – is the color of their skin, or their hair color, frankly, that character is shallow and sucks. For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she’ll work. And, for the record, I think Zendaya even matches what I think of as MJ’s primary physical characteristics – she’s a tall, thin model – much more so than actresses have in the past.
Also starring Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Logan Marshall-Green, Donald Glover, Kenneth Choi, Hannibal Buress, Michael Mando, Bokeem Woodbine, Abraham Attah, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Garcelle Beauvais, Tiffany Espensen, Zendaya and Angourie Rice, Spider-Man: Homecoming scurries into theaters on July 7, 2017 and, if a leaked casting docket is to be believed, we already know who is on board to play The Shocker.