Zendaya Was Really Surprised About Her Spider-Man: Homecoming Role

Zendaya in Homecoming

Given the shocking events of Avengers: Infinity War, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in flux. Marvel studios hasn't revealed a release schedule after Avengers 4, but the first blockbuster to arrive in the new set of films will be Spider-Man: Far From Home. Jon Watts' second Marvel movie will bring back Peter Parker and his friends and family--despite Thanos' finger snap of death. Chief among them is Zendaya's Michelle "MJ" Jones, who is presumably being set up as a love interest for the young protagonist. But despite her already long career in the business, Zendaya was surprised to land the role in Homecoming, mostly because she assumed she'd have to campaign to play MJ as an actress of color. As she tells it,

At first I thought I would have to because you're kind of used to the notion that, OK, even though the character is fictional and could be anybody, they probably are going to go with the standard of what they want and what they've always had. I definitely went into it like, 'Hopefully they'll'---as they call it in the industry--- 'go ethnic.' I remember making the decision to straighten my hair. I didn't know that they were going to be more diverse in their casting. I didn't know that I was walking into a situation where they were already breaking the rules. You get so used to having to break the rules for people.

Zendaya seems to understand the pressure and iconography around comic book properties, as well as the potentially toxic fandom. Mary Jane Watson is typically portrayed a red headed caucasian girl-- and one far more perky than Zendaya's Michelle ended up being. But luckily for the Greatest Showman actress, Spider-Man: Homecoming was already planning on a diverse cast, and therefore a more accurate portrayal of New York City's melting pot.

Zendaya's comments to Marie Claire show how methodically the young actress plans her acting projects. Getting a legitimate role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe can greatly help an actor's visibility, opening up more opportunities for the future. Zendaya not only landed a part, but one that will be expanded in sequels. Her version of MJ is like nothing we've seen in Spider-Man media and lore, and has the potential to take truly unexpected turns narratively.

Overall, it should be fascinating to see how Spider-Man: Far From Home manages to function, given the events of Infinity War. Thanos was able to wipe out half the galaxy with the snap of his finger, and it's unlikely that all of Spider-Man's characters survived. The pressure is on for Jon Watts to deliver a project that keeps the shared universe moving, while also adding much needed levity after whatever chaos ensues in Avengers 4.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is currently set to arrive in theaters on July 5, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.