If there is any young actress working today who deserves to play a superhero in a Marvel movie, it is Zendaya. Instead, however, the MCU cast her as Peter Parker’s powerless love interest, Michelle “MJ” Jones, in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Of course, there is always the DCEU solution.
The multi-talented, 23-year-old former Shake It Up star, who most recently debuted her darkest TV role yet in the coming-of-age HBO drama Euphoria, has played a hero of sorts before. Her award-winning second Disney Channel series, K.C. Undercover, saw her play an ass-kicking, teenage secret agent in the title role, yet, that remains the extent of her heroic endeavors as a lead character.
Well, if there is no more room for Zendaya to become an Avenger, unless there are some secret plans to make to MJ the new Spider-Woman (which sounds pretty cool, actually), it sounds like it is time for her to take advantage of both of the big comic book movie universes. Seven characters whom the actress would absolutely kill as come to mind.
Zendaya has played a young woman who sort of gains magical powers in the Disney Channel original movie Zapped, a crimefighter in K.C. Undercover and a circus performer in The Greatest Showman. While none of these seem to have much in common with, there is actually a prominent DC hero who is, essentially, a combination of all: part-time magician and full-time crimefighting sorcerer, Zatanna Zatara, whom we can expect to see in HBO Max's upcoming adaptation of Justice League Dark. Not only would the actress' work on the HBO drama Euphoria be helpful to her landing the role (which she could bring some great depth to), it is also just fun to say "Zendaya as Zatanna."
Not to be confused with the Transformers character, Bumblebee is credited as DC's first black, female superhero (unless you count Wonder Woman's sister, Nubia), who initially took on her insect-like alter ego as a villainous disguise in order to make her Teen Titans member boyfriend, the Herald, look good in front of his teammates. In other words, this fellow Teen Titan, and eventual Doom Patrol member, has the potential to benefit from a stronger backstory. That being said, Zendaya is all about being an empowering role model, and the highly intelligent Karen Beecher, who designed her flying super suit herself, would be the perfect character through which she could transcend that persona into the DCEU.
Zendaya does not always seem to get the recognition she deserves for her effortless transition from playing a backup dancer on Shake It Up to saving the world on K.C. Undercover. Perhaps she could make a greater point of this achievement by playing a DC character with a similar backstory, such as former fashion model Mari McCabe, who becomes the superhero Vixen with the use of an ancient, enchanted totem that once belonged to her African warrior ancestor. Jada Pinkett Smith, a DC veteran from her villainous role on Gotham, has actually voiced interest in playing the role in a future Suicide Squad movie, but if something were to keep her out of the running for the Vixen's eventual cinematic debut, Zendaya would own it just as well, if not better.
There are plenty of superhero aliases who have always been associated with just one character, but Hawkgirl is a different story. As one of the earliest of DC female heroes, the winged warrior known for her use of primitive weaponry and a bird-like cowl has been the alter ego of several women over the years, the most current being Kendra Saunders, who was portrayed by Ciara Renee in the Arrowverse. I would say that, for a cinematic debut, Zendaya would make a great addition to the DCEU as Hawkgirl.
Some casual superhero movie fans may not realize that Superman's demise at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was inspired by an actual comic book event that would later see John Henry Irons take over for the Man of Steel as his alter ego, the aptly-named Steel. However, Irons was only the first of several heroes to use that moniker, with one of the others being his niece Natasha. Considering how little chance there is to see Zendaya play Tony Stark's successor, Riri Williams (a.k.a., Ironheart), in a movie, casting her as another young woman in a metallic suit for the DCEU would be the next best thing.
Despite my aforementioned admiration for how Zendaya helped develop her character on K.C. Undercover into a genuine ass-kicking avenger, the lighthearted Disney Channel role still leaves much to be desired, particularly a darker storyline. Well, few female heroes from the DC lexicon come with an origin as dark as Jill Carlyle, a lawyer who decides to take the law into her own deadly hands after a cursed pair of pistols turns into the latest Crimson Avenger. It is the kind of earnest, badass R-rated role it'd be great to see given to Zendaya, and one the DCEU could benefit from putting on the big screen.
It seems Matt Reeves' new reimagining of the Dark Knight in The Batman is aiming to break new ground by casting traditionally white characters with actors of color, such as Zoë Kravitz playing Catwoman and Jeffrey Wright starring as the new Jim Gordon, which means that his daughter, Barbara, would be black, too. Thus, if this reboot turns into franchise gold, Zendaya has the chance to be introduced as Barbra Gordon, she could eventually become Batgirl and subsequently star in her own movie. Seeing the former dancer play one of Batman's greatest allies sounds too good to be true, which is why it must come true.
What do you think? Does Zendaya have a shot at playing any of these badass ladies of the DC universe, or would you rather talk more about my Spider-Woman idea? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more updates on the Spider-Man actress, as well as plenty more hypothetical comic book movie casting calls, here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.