Zendaya’s character in the movie Spider-Man: Homecoming caused much debate among fans – is she or isn’t she Mary Jane Watson? Well, let’s look at the facts.
“She’s not Mary Jane Watson; she never was Mary Jane Watson.” Explained, Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige. He also said that it’s more of a homage to the iconic Spider-Man character than an entirely new twist on it.
In the film, Zendaya (as Michelle Jones) is called by her friends MJ, the same initials as Spidey’s original love interest Mary Jane, so what’s the truth here? Let’s find out here!
Who does Zendaya play in the MCU?
Having Zendaya plays the iconic Mary Jane Watson in the MCU Spider-Man movies is excellent.
Rather than simply rehashing the classic comic character, Marvel has elected to update it with a talented actress who brings her unique energy and tone to the role.
In Homecoming, she portrays Michelle Jones – or as everyone calls her, MJ – as an awkward, quirky loner who is part of the school’s decathlon team alongside Peter Parker.
By casting Zendaya, it also gives us our first black version of MJ on screen – something which many fans of Spider-Man may have wanted to see for a long time now.
Given that the hints and clues are all there pointing towards her becoming Peter’s love interest in future movies, it is no surprise that for most of Homecoming, nobody mentions her name, instead opting to call her simply ‘MJ.’
For longtime fans, this hints at who she is – Mary Jane Watson.
It looks like Zendaya will be playing Mary Jane in this series while giving it a much-needed makeover that stays true to its core characters while adding some modern flair at the same time.
What differentiates MJ from Mary Jane Watson?
The traditional depiction of Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man stories is often characterized by red hair, an outgoing personality, and usually not being particularly nerdy.
But Zendaya’s portrayal of MJ in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home diverges from this to significant effect.
MJ doesn’t have much screen time in Homecoming, but she has a much more significant role in Far From Home.
Here we see her character growing and developing with each new scene, so while there are still a few parallels to the traditional Mary Jane Watson interpretation (such as her being somewhat nerdy), MJ ends up being something unique and entirely different from the M.J. fans know and love.
This departure from a typical Mary Jane Watson portrayal is one of the best things about Zendaya’s character for one reason: it keeps things fresh and exciting for longtime Spidey fans.
We get the joy of learning more about who MJ is over time, while remaining taken aback by her differences from other traditional interpretations of the same character.
Why is it a good thing that Zendaya is not playing Mary Jane Watson?
Having Zendaya not play Mary Jane Watson is good for Marvel’s Spider-Man.
This means that the creative team has more freedom to do something new and exciting with her and Peter Parker’s relationship in the Spider-Man Universe.
There’s no need to bore fans with a character who has been done many times before, so having Zendaya portray someone new makes perfect sense.
Also, by making Zendaya’s character different from the usual Mary Jane Watson, viewers will only know what to expect in future movies.
There can be more twists and turns as opposed to following an already-established narrative that didn’t bring much creativity to the table.
It might seem like a slight difference, but it can significantly impact viewer excitement and story development.