When Zendaya was announced as the female lead in the upcoming film Spider-Man: Homecoming, Sony and Marvel were unusually quiet about the unspecified casting. At the time, reports swirled that the former Disney Channel star would be playing a character named Michelle, but now it appears that "Michelle" was just a cover for something bigger and slightly more iconic: Mary Jane Watson.
TheWrap reports that Zendaya will be playing Peter Parker's most famous love interest, Mary Jane, in Homecoming — a role previously inhabited by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi's original film trilogy starring Tobey Maguire as the web-slinger. Although in Homecoming, the object of teenage Peter's (Tom Holland) affections will be another classmate: Liz Allan (Laura Harrier).
According to Vulture, Zendaya's reveal as M.J. was intended to be a major twist towards the end of the film. Per the site's source, at some point in the movie, she invites Peter to "call her M.J."
The Homecoming footage shown at San Diego Comic-Con in July has yet to be released, but those who were in attendance have described it as John Hughes meets Freaks and Geeks, and Zendaya's character in particular seemed to be channeling Linda Cardellini's Lindsay Weir with her thrift store duds and DGAF attitude. So expect an exciting new take on the iconic character.
"Everyone is so much like their characters," Zendaya told MTV News at SDCC. "My character is super dry and awkward. It's great because it's who I am in real life, so I don't feel like I have to act too much."
Honestly, we're here for a "super dry and awkward" Mary Jane. Seeing as Spider-Man: Homecoming is Peter's third big-screen origin story, we appreciate that Marvel and Sony are shaking things up — not to mention that Zendaya's casting is monumental in its own right. This is the first time Mary Jane will be played by a woman of color on the big screen — that's an important step toward diversity for the studio.
Many fans had hoped that this teen iteration of Spider-Man would star biracial web-slinger Miles Morales, and while Marvel Studios instead gave us another white Peter Parker, at least the studio is on a streak with casting black female leads in iconic roles. Tessa Thompson joined Thor: Ragnarok as badass warrior (and Thor's onetime love interest) Valkyrie, while Marvel's Black Panther stars Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o in a major role. And over in the DC Extended Universe, Kiersey Clemons landed the role of Barry Allen's lady love, intrepid reporter Iris West in the anticipated Flash movie.
And if you have a problem with any of that, haters to the left.