When the casting for Spider-Man: Homecoming was first announced, speculation over who would play Peter Parker’s main love interest, Mary Jane Watson, was heavy. With the news that Zendaya has joined the cast, the typically red-headed Ms. Watson will not be played by a Black woman for the first time.
In an exclusive report from TheWrap, Zendaya, a 19-year-old Disney star of mixed parentage, will play opposite Brit actor Tom Holland’s Parker. It was first announced the actress was playing a bit role in the film as a character named Michelle, but it appears that was a ruse to throw folks off.
At least one recent draft of the script has Zendaya’s character dropping several clues to her identity as Mary Jane, one of the most familiar love interests in the Marvel superhero’s universe — and played by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi‘s 2002-07 movie trilogy starring Tobey Maguire as the webslinger.
Zendaya, the star of the Disney Channel series “Shake It Up!” and “K.C. Undercover,” was cast back in March to play a “key role” as a character named Michelle.
At the time, no further details were provided about her character or whether it would the romantic lead opposite Holland — who made a sensational big-screen debut as Spidey earlier this year in Disney/Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War.”
Director Jon Watts said to the Daily Beast earlier this summer that he wanted to focus on the diversity of Parker’s Queens neighborhood and wanted his casting to reflect that tapestry. There was also the fact that Parker’s Aunt May would be played by Marisa Tomei, which was met with largely favorable reviews. Donald Glover is also part of the cast along with veteran actor Michael Keaton playing the super villain, Vulture.
Naturally, there has been some fanboy pushback that borders on both the racist and sexist lines. There was also several moments of praise. We’ve collected some of those reactions featured below and on the following pages.