After months of Zendaya's Spider-Man: Homecoming character being simply known as "Michelle," it was reported last week that the Disney Channel actress will actually be playing Mary Jane Watson, one of Peter Parker's chief love interest from the comics. This news was met with polarizing reactions online, with some approving of the casting and others...well, not so much. Now Marvel legend Stan Lee has chimed in, and he's all on board to see Zendaya's take on Mary Jane next year.
Speaking with The Toronto Sun, Lee, who co-created Mary Jane with John Romita Sr. and Steve Ditko in the 1960s, said that he's heard good things about Zendaya's acting, so he's eager to see who she'll do in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He said:
While Mary Jane Watson's inclusion in Spider-Man: Homecoming has yet to be officially confirmed, the news of Zendaya possibly playing her has sparked debate among fans and other interested parties. On one side, many folks are looking forward what Zendaya's take on the character will look like, and this casting adds another layer of diversity to the Wall-Crawler's first solo MCU movie. On the other side, you have fans who don't approve of Zendaya playing Mary Jane, whether it's because they don't care for the character in the first place or don't like how the actress isn't white like Mary Jane is in the comics, thus being construed as going against the source material. It's this specific aspect that's gotten a fair amount of attention, including Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn providing his take on the "controversy."
As far Mary Jane's rumored racial change is concerned, clearly it doesn't bother Stan Lee. He's just eager to see how his creations are portrayed by actors, regardless of skin color. In a separate interview, Lee specifically pointed out out how Michael Clarke Duncan played Kingpin "beautifully" in the 2003 Daredevil movie, despite being black rather than white. Like most folks, he just wants to see these characters' personalities and character traits adapted properly for the movies. Of course, it's not like Lee won't get to contribute to Spider-Man: Homecoming directly, as he'll likely cameo in it just like he has in nearly every Marvel movie before.
Mary Jane Watson was last seen in live action being played by Kirsten Dunst in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. Since Shailene Woodley's Mary Jane performance was cut out of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming is potentially serving as her re-introduction to the big screen for a new generation. Following on the heels of Captain America: Civil War, this new Spider-Man movie will follow Peter Parker's life in high school when he's not fighting super villains, so if Mary Jane is indeed in the movie, then we'll see her interacting with the eponymous protagonist within the classroom setting.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will spin its web in theaters on July 7, 2017.