Earlier this year, Disney Channel actress Zendaya joined Spider-Man: Homecoming for an important role, but her character was only identified as "Michelle" at the time. Understandably, many fans assumed this was a pseudonym, and have been trying to figure out who the actress is actually playing. Now there's word that Zendaya may actually be playing one of Peter Parker's most famous love interests: Mary Jane Watson
While they couldn't provide any details about her exact role in Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Wrap is reporting that Zendaya will play Mary Jane, with at least one draft of the movie supposedly dropping clues to her true identity. If this report is true, that makes Mary-Jane the latest supporting characters from the Spider-Man cast to be included in the Web-Slinger's first MCU solo movie. Other friendly faces (for the most part) include Flash Thompson, Liz Allan, Ned Leeds and, of course, Peter Parker's Aunt May.
Mary Jane Watson was introduced to the comics in 1965's The Amazing Spider-Man #25. Peter dated her on and off in those early years, but she didn't become a major love interest until the years after Gwen Stacy's death. Peter and Mary Jane eventually married in 1987's The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, but the events of 2007's One More Day erased their marriage from continuity. Outside of her relationship to Peter, Mary Jane has made a name for herself as a model and club owner, and nowadays in the comics, she's a supporting player in Iron Man's adventures.
Outside of the comics, her most-well known appearances were in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, where she was played by Kirsten Dunst. Divergent star Shailene Woodley did play her in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but her scenes were cut from the final product. She was also an important character in the '90s Spider-Man animated series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man and the video game Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, to name just a few.
Given how "important" Zendaya's role in Spider-Man: Homecoming was said to be, many suspected that Mary Jane Watson was her character's true identity, and now there's more evidence pointing to this being the case. Like the movie's young actors, we'll see her attending high school with Peter Parker, but it remains to be seen how involved she'll get with his Spider-Man life. Mary Jane eventually learns Peter is the Wall-Crawler in most stories, but in the MCU, will the discovery happen in this movie or a sequel? At the very least, Zendaya's character was previously described as "bookish, but quippy," so at least she'll give Peter a run for his money intellectually.
Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into theaters on July 7, 2017.