Despite bearing little similarity to the various adaptations of Mary Jane Watson that came before, Zendaya’s take on the MCU’s MJ is just as refreshing as she is charming. The awkward, serial killer obsessed teenager hides her vulnerability through sarcasm and pessimism, a far cry from the party-going supermodel of the earliest days of the Spider-Man comics. Yet, Spider-Man: Homecoming almost delved deeper into her backstory, one familiar to most fans, but it all wound up on the cutting room floor.
While promoting Spider-Man: Far From Home, writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers revealed that the earlier 2017 flick almost peaked into MJ’s home life, including a scene that was shot yet excised from the theatrical release and Blu-ray:
“There was a moment when they come back from Washington in Homecoming — I don’t think it made it into the movie — where you get the sense where she clearly doesn’t have someone there to pick her up and meet her at the bus and May and Peter offer to give her a ride home.”
“You get a sense maybe there’s some sad home life going on, and I think it’s alluded to in some of the things that she says in this movie. With all that stuff, you never want to lean too hard into it. You want to tell a story with as few words as possible. I think we kept it kind of small and as nuanced as we could.”
MJ is a strong resilient character that doesn’t ask for help, so even though this scene could’ve explained her cold demeanor and self-dependency, its inclusion honestly sounds like overkill. McKenna and Sommers are correct in thinking that audiences can pick up on her troubled home life even if they’re unfamiliar with the backstory, and a large part of that is because of Zendaya’s aloof performance.
Spider-Man: Far From Home sheds a bit more light on MJ’s vulnerability as well, and also gives her somewhat of a hero moment when she helps Peter crack Mysterio’s evil plan – even if it was all by accident. More importantly, the character also shows an emotional maturity by revealing her feelings for Peter Parker in FFH’s finale, and showcases both her trust in Spidey’s heroics and her responsibility to the greater good.