Hello, fellow moviegoers!
In case you haven’t noticed, comic-book fans can be the hardest to please when it comes to making movies. Many fans are very quick to react negatively when something isn’t exactly the way they want it to be. While yes, sticking to the original source material when adapting something to the big screen could very well be the way to go, there is a lot more that goes into making these movies than what was on the page.
Fans were upset to see tattoos on Jared Leto’s Joker. Fans were upset when Johnny Storm was African-American in Fant4stic. Fans were upset when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. Now, there is another potential casting in the new Spider-Man: Homecoming film that has people, once again, up in arms.
The lead cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming is perhaps one of the most diverse in a superhero film yet. Tom Holland reprises his role from Captain America: Civil War. Also returning from Civil War is Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. New to the MCU in Homecoming is Michael Keaton, Tony Revolori, Laua Harrier, Jacob Batalon, Donald Glover, and Zendaya.
Keaton will be portraying the antagonist The Vulture, Revolori will be Flash Thompson, Harrier is Liz Allan, Batalon will be Ned Leeds, and Donald Glover is in an unspecified role that is rumored to be Miles Morales. It is an extremely diverse cast, which makes sense if you’ve ever been to New York. However, there is one character in particular that I want to talk about, and that is the one Zendaya will be bringing to life.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly at Comic-Con, director Jon Watts confirmed she would be playing a character by the name of Michelle. Many naturally assumed she would be playing Michele Gonzales, a character from the comics and potential love interest for Peter Parker. However, if a recent report from The Wrap is to be believed, then she will not be Michelle, but rather iconic Spider-Man character Mary Jane Watson.
As the internet often does, it imploded when this report came out. There was an immediate debate about the casting. Some said that the classic Mary Jane design (Caucasian with red hair) was essential to who the character was. Others argued that Zendaya would be great as long as she captured the spirit of the character.
Personally, I agree with the latter. The ethnicity or hair color of Mary Jane Watson isn’t what makes her who she is. It's the personality of the character that defines them. In fact, I would argue that a majority of characters could be played by anybody of any different race, as long as they portray the personality well. Obviously there are a few exceptions to this rule, such as Black Panther, but for the most part, race is irrelevant. However, this is about more than Zendaya playing Mary Jane; this is a much, much larger issue.
This isn’t the first time that a major comic-book character has had their ethnicity changed for the big screen. In fact, it’s a fairly common thing. Most recently, the character of Deadshot in Suicide Squad was portrayed by Will Smith even though the character is white in the comics, and Smith’s performance was arguably the best part of that film. Also in recent memory, Johnny Storm was played by Michael B. Jordon in 2015’s Fantastic Four, Iris West is currently being played by Candice Patton in the Flash TV show, Perry White is played by Laurence Fishburne in the DCEU, and Electro was played by Jamie Foxx in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Even Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman had Harvey Dent played by Billy Dee Williams!
Changing the ethnicity of a character is nothing new. Honestly, I cannot understand why some people get as upset by this as they do. Casting a character should be based on the acting ability of the person auditioning, not if they look like the character from the comics. If an actor/actress can truly capture the spirit of a character, then they should get the part. It’s nice to see that some studios are finally starting to realize this.
I haven’t seen Zendaya act in anything before, but I’m sure that she’s a good actress. She had to have brought something special to her audition if it convinced Marvel Studios to cast her as the love interest to their most popular character. People need to stop having these knee-jerk reactions to every bit of casting in a major Hollywood film. Diversity in a film is a good thing, it’s more representative of the world we live in. It’s hard to be fully immersed in a film when it's just white people walking around everywhere. That's not the world we live in. Diversity is part of what makes the planet as amazing as it it, why do some people want that to go away in their movies?
So what do you think about Zendaya possibly playing Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming? Would you rather they went with somebody else? Let me know by commenting on this post! Also, if you enjoyed this article, share it on Facebook and Twitter. It really helps! Don’t forget, I post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so check back then for more movie reviews and miscellaneous movie thoughts!
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