(Featured photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment)
A few days ago, it was reported that Zendaya’s character in Spider-Man: Homecoming is actually going to be Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) love interest. All this brouhaha about Zendaya playing Mary Jane had me thinking. Are the people opposed to this just plain racist, or are some just resistant to change?
I grew up reading Spider-Man comic books, and I’ve gotten used to how things and people look like in the panels. Watching Spider-Man (2002) was not only one of the best movie experiences a fan like me could have but also one of the most satisfying moments in my life. However, I was not pleased with the Green Goblin tech suit. I would have preferred the clownish green suit with the purple hat. At the time, I wanted the adaptation to be as close to the comic books as possible, not realizing that the original costume would have been extremely ridiculous to look at onscreen.
Going back to the issue of Zendaya being cast, I think some of the people who don’t agree with the rumored casting are just upset that Spider-Man: Homecoming will not be following the comic books to the letter. Personally, I’ve grown up enough to not resist change but to welcome it. If the Marvel and Sony think Zendaya is the perfect choice for the part, then I don’t think we should have a problem with it. James Gunn said it best in his Facebook post about how MJ’s character is still the same so people should chill out about the casting news.
We must understand that most of the Marvel characters we’ve seen in film right now were created in the 1960s, and multiculturalism wasn’t really prevalent. There wasn’t much representation and so almost all heroes ended up being white. The argument to instead just create new characters with a different ethnicity has a point, but is highly problematic. Sure, you can create a new character, but it will not have the same impact (right away) as a character who’s been around for decades. In the future, there will come a time when we will have enough characters to represent all types of people. For now, we should be open to interpretations different from what we’ve imagined. I know the Internet is a vile place full of highly-opinionated fans who will never agree with this, but this is where I stand.
Kirsten Dunst wasn’t a perfect Mary Jane, but I loved Spider-Man a lot and so she became my first celebrity crush. Was she a natural redhead? NO. Was she playful enough? NO. Basing from how Zendaya is described, it seems her personality is even a better fit for MJ. Therefore, if Dunst can pull it off, Zendaya surely can.