Around August of 2016 it was announced that actress Zendaya Coleman would be playing the role of Michelle aka MJ in the upcoming Marvel Studios/Sony collaborative effort Spider-Man: Homecoming. For many, it was a reason to rejoice.
However, we live in the age of the digital troll and the contrarian malcontent.
Quickly after the announcement was made, there was all sorts of hot air being blown about the ethnicity of Zendaya relative to the original source material on the character Mary Jane Watson, who is depicted as a redheaded woman of White parentage. But with the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming just a day away, it was interesting to hear Zendaya discuss what the overall experience was like for her after the fact.
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It was incredible! she exclaimed at the film’s press junket. I did a lot of things with my little crew but this is my first big movie. So, I was terrified. I suppressed it very well, but its amazing to be here. It still feels like a bit of a dream. I dont know when its going to feel real, but it doesnt feel real right now. I dont mind living in this dream. I think I enjoy it here.
Mary Jane Watson is one of the most celebrated fictional love interests in all of American pop culture. But Mary Jane Watson wasnt mentioned until Amazing Spider-Man #15, didnt actually appear until issue #42 and it wasnt until Spider-Man Annual #21 that they actually tied the not. So, basically, it was 21 years before the couple met and actually linked up. She was actually Harry Osbornes girlfriend throughout many of those early issues.
Unlike past Spider-Man offerings that tried to make Parker more adult, Spider-Man: Homecoming lets Spider-Man be a kid. Thus, all of his supporting characters were young as well. In the film, Mary Jane and Peter Parker barely know each other and MJs acerbic sarcasm and dry humor find their mark upon Peters forehead time after time. There was no love involved, only boiling hot sarcasm. She seemed more like a malcontent from the ’80s cult classic The Breakfast Club than a comic book love interest.
It was definitely and inspiration there because I didnt really know what kind of character I was playing until I showed up because it was all top secret, you know what Im saying? explained the young actress. I read the script and was like Okay, shes interesting. Its gonna be fun. Then I met with John and he had so many different references and that was definitely one of them. Just kinda making that distinction was kinda fun and different.
A constant theme in the movie was to the fight remain true to oneself. That theme permeated the press conference as well as Zendaya, and her co-stars, imparted wisdom to listeners regarding remaining who they want to be.
Like embracing the weird, which is kind of like what weve been talking about this whole time to young people,” said Coleman. “Its okay to be weird. That is okay! And its okay to be who you are. If they make things awkward and uncomfortable for themselves, but as long as youre cool, thats the most important thing. I love that shes outspoken, I love that she says what everybodys thinking but she just doesnt care. I think that a lot of young people should have that more. It was fun playing that dry version of myself.