Actress Zendaya is reportedly the new face of Spider-Man’s love interest in the upcoming reboot of the franchise. The Disney Channel star’s mother is white and her father is Black. She will replace the typically white and red-haired woman who usually depicts the character, Mary Jane Watson.
TheWrap reported Zendaya joined “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in March. She will play opposite British actor Tom Holland as the titular character, also known as Peter Parker. Her “key role” as a character named Michelle is thought to have been a pseudonym. Using an alternative name for a character is common practice for superhero flicks.
In the past, white actress Kirsten Dunst famously played Mary Jane alongside Tobey Maguire in the 2002-2007 “Spider-Man” franchise. Then, Emma Stone scored the role next to Andrew Garfield in the “Amazing Spider-Man” series that got the ax after its 2014 sequel failed.
For the latest franchise, director Jon Watts told The Daily Beast he wanted the heroic teenager’s surroundings to reflect the real-life diversity of Queens, New York.
“Peter Parker goes to high school in Queens, and Queens is one of—if not the—most diverse places in the world,” he said in June. “So I just wanted it to reflect what that actually looks like.”
White fans questioned the casting of the “K.C. Undercover” actress for the role.
Jason Snider wondered about one of Mary Jane’s most notable traits.
@DakotaCrimley thought the character’s race did not need to change.
Last Time I Checked, Mary-Jane Watson Was white Not Black….If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It
— MrsChrisBreezy (@DakotaCrimley) August 19, 2016
Jason Bergkamp took the new portrayal a step further and revised history.
Tez criticized the casting for “jumping on a PC bandwagon.”
The fact that Mary Jane is black doesn't bother me. But the fact that instead of creating a new black character they jump on a PC bandwagon
— Cxrtez 🤴🏾 (@CerebralCortez) August 19, 2016
Many rejoiced in the news.
@ILLCapitano94 celebrated the move since many Black characters are whitewashed in movies.
@VickyDoe called it “iconic.”
Zendaya is perfect. Zendaya as Mary Jane Watson? Iconic.
— Money Making Vick (@VickyDoe) August 19, 2016
While user Pretty Brown & Nerdy said it was a win.
— Pretty Brown & Nerdy (@PBNtweets) August 18, 2016
And @graffitibridges reacted to white fans’ irritation this way.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” will open in theaters July 7, 2017.