Last week rumors began circulating that former Disney TV star Zendaya would be next in line to play Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures' joint release of "Spider-Man: Homecoming." The fan world immediately began buzzing about the casting choice, which if proven true, marks the first time a black actress will portray the character. Much like the current Marvel comics' newest Civil War storyline, the debate is heated on both sides of the aisle, so Mary Jane's creator himself, Stan Lee, stepped in to offer his two cents to the Toronto Sun.
"If she is as good an actress as I hear she is, I think it'll be absolutely wonderful," the 93-year-old Lee said in the interview.
Zendaya, who got her start on Disney's "K.C. Undercover," was reportedly set to play a new character referred to as "Michelle," before a new report confirmed the character was actually Mary Jane Watson. If Mary Jane is her real role, she would be taking over from Kirsten Dunst, who was the last actress to portray the typically red-headed love interest of Peter Parker in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy. Shailene Woodley filmed a scene as Mary Jane for "Amazing Spider-Man 2," which was inevitably left out of the final cut of the film.
Lee cited past casting for his other Marvel creations as proof that race shouldn't be a necessary factor in choosing performers.
"In the "Daredevil" movie, the Kingpin - who had been white in the comics - he was a black man playing the role, and he played it beautifully," Lee said in an interview with Postmedia, referring to the late Michael Clarke Duncan's take on the character.
"The colour of their skin doesn't matter, their religion doesn't matter. All that matters is that this the right person for the role," Lee concluded.
Audiences will get to see Zendaya as Michelle or Mary Jane when "Spider-Man: Homecoming" hits theaters on July 7, 2017. The film is also set to star Tom Holland, Robert Downey, Jr., Donald Glover, Marisa Tomei and Michael Keaton.