Rumor has it that actress and musician Zendaya will be playing love interest, Mary Jane in Marvel’s coming film, Spider-Man Homecoming. Some fans are not responding positively to this potential Mary Jane. The main complaint seems to be directed at Zendaya’s skin color. Her rumored role in the film would cast a black actress in a role that’s traditionally been portrayed by a white woman.
Taking to Twitter to voice his concern, one fan tweeted,
Since Mary Jane is being played by a Black woman, can MLK be played by a White man in a next movie about him?
— Jason Bergkamp (@keksec__org) August 19, 2016
In a response to comments on the race of both the actress and the fictional character, Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn did not confirm nor deny Zendaya’s appearance in the role. He did have this to say about the potential casting choice:
“People get upset when something they consider intrinsic to a comic book character changes when adapted for a film. I get this…That said, I do not believe a character is the color of his or her skin…I can’t respond to the racists – I’m not ever going to change their minds. But for the thoughtful majority of you out there: For me, if a character’s primary attribute – the thing that makes them iconic – is the color of their skin, or their hair color, frankly, that character is shallow and sucks. For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she’ll work.”
However, Gunn did voice his approval of the rumored portrayal. “And, for the record, I think Zendaya even matches what I think of as MJ’s primary physical characteristics – she’s a tall, thin model – much more so than actresses have in the past.”
At this time, there is no confirmation of Zendaya taking on the role of Mary Jane. The rumors are speculation spawned from a report from The Wrap. Announced cast members include British actor Tom Holland, in the role of Spider-Man, and actress Marisa Tomei, who will play Aunt May Parker. Spider-Man: Homecoming is set to be directed by Jon Watts and will debut in theaters in July 2017.