We are not surprised at the level of controversy and prejudice aimed at Marvel for its decision to cast Zendaya in the role of “Mary Jane Watson” in next year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Marvel’s latest attempt in diversifying in its cinematic universe is just the latest a trend the company is proudly boasting. Black Panther is coming in 2018, Captain Marvel is getting her own standalone film, and Wasp is joining Ant-Man in his sequel.
Marvel director, James Gunn, however, defends the casting decision. Explaining Mary Jane is far more than the color of her skin.
“All hell broke out” on the internet over the casting choice, Gunn said.even though most social media users were on Zendaya’s side.
While several hot-takers did question the character’s change of race — and the 19-year-old Disney star’s acting skills — it seems that all but a few social media users had Zendaya’s back.
“Since Mary Jane is being played by a Black woman, can MLK be played by a White man in a next movie about him?” one Twitter user wrote.
“People saying some are racist because they don’t want Zendaya as MJ, nah she’s just a bad actress, nothing to do w/ skin color or ethnicity,” another user added.
Gunn did not confirm Zendaya’s appearance in the role — still just speculation spurred by a report from The Wrap. But the director did want to clarify that people with race-based gripes “have lives that are too good.”
“People get upset when something they consider intrinsic to a comic book character changes when adapted for a film. I get this…,” he wrote.
“That said, I do not believe a character is the color of his or her skin,” Gunn continued.
It is “shallow,” he added, if a character’s main attribute is the color of his or her hair or skin.
“Whatever the case, if we’re going to continue to make movies based on the almost all white heroes and supporting characters from the comics of the last century, we’re going to have to get used to them being more reflective of our diverse present world,” he said.
Kudos to James Gunn and Marvel! We will be front row and center to see Spider-Man: Homecoming<