This past week, rumors swirled around a major role in Marvel’s upcoming reboot of one of its most beloved heroes, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Specifically, the rumors say that singer/actress Zendaya Coleman — who has been confirmed for a role only known as “Michelle” — will be portraying Peter Parker’s decades-long love interest, model, actress, and singer Mary Jane Watson. Zendaya, an extremely successful talent triple-threat in her own right, would arguably be perfect for the role, but a certain subset of fans do not agree.
Too predictably, Twitter’s most entitled fans began a loud protest, trending “Mary Jane” for most of Thursday. Among those to stand up against the hatred was Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who first took to Twitter and told those who found the time to complain about it they they “have lives that are too good.” Hammering it, home, Gunn then went to Facebook to explain his intentions:
Gunn, who is currently working on post-production for the second Guardians of the Galaxy, stood up in defense of the (still unconfirmed) casting. Instead of directly addressing the haters, Gunn opted to explain his idea of what a perfect casting meant. “[I]f 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,” Gunn said. “For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she’ll work. 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.”
Gunn clarified that while he supported diverse casting, he wasn’t completely sure whether or not Zendaya’s role as Mary Jane was confirmed yet. “I’ve read the Spidey script, and I’ve met the actress in question, I have no idea what her role is,” wrote Gunn. “There’s a good chance someone told me at one time or another, but, if so, I can’t remember. I’m going to find out when I go into Marvel this afternoon, but I feel free to speak until that time because it’s about the concept about a black woman playing Mary Jane, not the actuality or hypothesis of it.”
For what it’s worth, Zendaya has been having a blast on set, sharing videos (limited, to avoid spoilers) through her own networks and through friends’ channels.