Marvel and Sony have been a bit secretive about a few of the characters in Spider-Man: Homecoming — particularly the one played by Disney Channel star Zendaya, who is simply credited as “Michelle.” But according to a new report, Zendaya’s role is no longer a secret, as the true identity of her mysterious character in the reboot has been revealed. SPOILERS ahead.

According to a new report from The Wrap, Zendaya is actually playing Mary Jane Watson, the love interest of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. This lines up with what we’ve been hearing but were unable to confirm for the last few months. So, why the spoiler warning and the big secret?

Per The Wrap and other sources, Zendaya’s character isn’t going to be very explicit about her real name through much of the film. Instead, she’ll drop some subtle clues here and there before ultimately revealing that her name is M.J. — which is meant to be something of a delightful surprise for fans.

As to why Marvel, Sony and director Jon Watts have been so secretive about Zendaya playing Mary Jane…well, that probably has something to do with the casting, unfortunately. I hate to be presumptuous, but let’s be real for a minute: Fans haven’t been particularly open-minded when presented with the possibility of casting a person of color as a character traditionally depicted as white in the source material (ditto for gender-swapping, as we saw with the totally insane sexist meltdown over Ghostbusters).

It’s totally possible that Watts, et al. think that after 90 minutes, audiences will be so enamored with Zendaya that by the time they discover she’s actually Mary Jane, they’ll find her too charming to care about something as inconsequential as skin color. Still, the fact that Sony and Marvel felt it necessary to keep the role a secret feels kind of disappointing. Hopefully someone will offer an official confirmation / statement to address this decision relatively soon.

Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters on July 7, 2017.


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