While not 100% confirmed, many sources have already stated that Zendaya will be in fact playing Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming. Many people have asked me about my thoughts on this and to put it plain and simple – I think this is the best casting decision that could possibly come out of a Marvel movie. Marvel has been known for playing it safe in their movies so taking a risk and casting a black woman to play Mary Jane is a very welcome addition in terms of representation and diversity.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will most likely be a huge success and having Zendaya be the lead gives young black girls a character they can relate and look up to. While many criticisms point to Zendayas hair not being red, its important to remember Kirsten Dunsts hair was not naturally red either. When nerds like to criticize characters being race-changed, I always like to ask, Is that how you felt about Samuel L Jackson playing Nick Fury(An originally white character)? What about Idris Elba as Heimdall? Did Ben Urich in Daredevil decrease as a character in any way because they cast a black man to play him? There is nothing about Mary Janes character that explicitly made her white. Actresses like Candice Patton, who portrays Iris West on The Flash prove that changing a characters ethnicity for the improvement of diversity does not in any way impact the character or the overall story. Instead what it does is increase the amount of realism we see in a story. After all, Spider-Man is the story about a kid from queens, a highly diverse city filled with a multitude of different cultures. Zendaya helps represent that.
I believe Zendaya can add a new kind of depth to the character of Mary Jane that we have never seen before, and is the perfect actor to stand beside Tom Holland as Spider-Man, who proved himself in Civil War. Together, the two can prove to be a power couple of sorts. As long as Zendaya is able to embody the character of Mary Jane, a would-be actress/model who does not need superpowers to defend herself, which I know she can and slay while doing so, her race should never be an issue. As a long time Spider-Man fan, I am really excited to see Zendaya play one of it’s most important characters.