Former Disney star Zendaya (Coleman) has been cast as Mary Jane Watson in the next Spider-Man movie, titled Spider-Man: Homecoming. The news leaked on Thursday, allegedly coming from sources with intimate knowledge of the project.
Zendaya, 19, will be starring alongside British actor Tom Holland, who’s playing Spidey/Peter Parker this time around. Watson is Parker’s love interest, and was played in the previous Spider-Man films by Kirsten Dunst.
Of course, the internet reacted to the re-casting of Mary Jane, who has traditionally been a white, redheaded girl-next-door type in both the movies and original Marvel comic books.
(Interestingly, both of Parker’s love interests in Homecoming will be women of colour. He spends much of the movie pining for popular classmate Liz Allan, who will be played by Laura Harrier.)
Some people were overjoyed at the news, while others were upset at the casting choice. Many Twitter users seemed upset that Watson wasn’t going to be a redhead (not realizing that black people, too, can have red hair).
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has really been upping its diversity in movie casting, most specifically with black women as leads: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will feature Zoe Saldana, Thor: Ragnarok is adding Tessa Thompson as Thor’s new love interest, and Black Panther stars Lupita Nyong’o.
Reports say that the new Iron Man will be a 15-year-old black woman as well.
Marvel has not publicly commented on or officially confirmed the casting.