Stan Lee Responds to That ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Mary Jane Rumor
Late last week a pretty substantial rumor surfaced suggesting that Zendaya’s secret role in Spider-Man: Homecoming is actually Mary Jane Watson. While neither Marvel nor Sony have confirmed or even responded to those rumors, it elicited an unfortunately predictable reaction from several fans who were unhappy that a woman of color would be playing a character traditionally depicted as a white redhead. James Gunn already weighed in with his thoughts, and our own Matt Singer wrote an excellent piece on the matter, and now Stan Lee himself has offered his reaction to the recent casting rumor.
The Toronto Sun caught up with the iconic comic-book writer and creator of Spider-Man to ask his opinion on Zendaya’s potential casting as Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming reboot. Lee’s response was short but enthusiastic:
If she is as good an actress as I hear she is, I think it’ll be absolutely wonderful.
So there you have it, from the man who created Spider-Man. I’d love to believe that Lee voicing his support of Zendaya as Mary Jane would be enough to satisfy fans who are outraged about the casting, but as has been proven time and again, there’s a certain sense of entitlement in some corners of fan culture. Even Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray couldn’t persuade outraged Ghostbusters fans to get on board with the reboot.
But as Lee points out, this isn’t the first time a person of color has played a traditionally white role in the Marvel universe: “In the Daredevil movie, the Kingpin — who had been white in the comics — he was a black man [Michael Clarke Duncan] playing the role, and he played it beautifully.”
And Zendaya isn’t the only one with a race-swapped role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tony Revolori is playing Flash Thompson (an even bigger departure from the typically muscular jock) and Jacob Batalon is playing Ned Leeds. In other corners of the MCU, we have Tessa Thompson playing Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo in Doctor Strange. Last year, Michael B. Jordan’s Johnny Storm was one of the very few enjoyable parts of Fantastic Four — though his casting initially sparked similar controversy.
Even Marvel comics have grown more diverse in recent years with Miles Morales as Spider-Man and Riri Williams as Ironheart, the new Iron Man, and we’re only going to see that diversity increase from here — so maybe it’s time to get used to it.