Rumors are flying hot and heavy that Zendaya Coleman is going to play Mary Jane Watson in the new Spider-Man film coming out next year. My first reaction was “who in the hell is Zendaya Coleman?” You see, as a 43 year old man with no kids, I’m pretty sure that if I DID know who she was, I would be on some kind of government watch list. But I digress…
Actual photo of the author
I grew up as a Marvel kid. My dad grew up when the Silver Age kicked off, so when I showed an interest in comics he steered me to what he knew, and as a bonus he went to my grandparent’s house and dug out a couple big boxes of comics from when he was a kid. It turns out his favorite superhero was Spider-Man, and after reading a couple Lee & Ditko classics, I was hooked too. There’s no secret to Spidey’s appeal: at heart he’s a goofy, nervous kid who doesn’t fit in, but when he puts on the red & blue tights he gets to forget all of that and be a hero. It didn’t hurt that Peter Parker wound up dating Betty Brant, Gwen Stacy, and Mary Jane Watson (awkward, nerdy guys scoring hot women has a way of giving other awkward, nerdy guys hope). While my dad’s old comics were filled with Peter dating Gwen, the comics I was buying with my allowance and lawn mowing money had him w/MJ and that is the relationship I think of when I think of Spider-Man, so you would expect me to have a strong opinion on who is playing MJ, now that Spidey is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Well, here it is:
I’ve never seen anything with Zendaya in it other than a makeup commercial. I have no idea if she can act or not. I do know that if you put out a casting call for “aspiring supermodel” (aka what MJ aspired to and actually became in the comics) she would fit the bill. I know that there was outrage over Ben Affleck playing Batman, and Heath Ledger playing the Joker, and even back in the halcyon days before the internet there was plenty of hate over the idea of Michael Keaton playing Batman. All of this outrage was proven wrong when all three actors did a phenomenal job in the roles (the lesson, as always, is that Batman fanboys are WAY quicker to anger than other fan bases). And for all of the bitching about her playing MJ because she is black, well, I know there is a black Spider-Man in the Marvel Comics’ universe so why should I give a damn if MJ is black? I know Zendaya can pull off red hair, which is not a requirement for playing MJ, but it is a nice touch / homage to the original interpretation of the character.
Looks pretty supermodel-ly to me…
More importantly, I know that Tom Holland was the Spider-Man AND the Peter Parker that I have been waiting to see on the big screen since I was 5, and to be perfectly honest that is way more important than MJ.
I’m gladdened to hear that Stan Lee and James Gunn are defending the casting choice, but to be honest I don’t care how they feel about it, or anyone else for that matter. All I care about is Sony and Marvel Studios getting it right and making the characters I’ve cared about for almost 40 years come to life and draw me into the story. As long as they do that all the rest of the noise will fall off like the useless detritus it is.