Only a few years ago, West Side Story cast member Rachel Zegler was just an average teen with an exceptional singing voice known only to her family, friends, and YouTube followers. Now, she is one of the most talked about actresses in Hollywood, having made her debut as the lead of one of the most acclaimed 2021 movies directed by one of the most celebrated filmmakers in cinematic history, Steven Spielberg. It probably comes as no surprise that superhero movies are already in her future.
It is actually Shazam!: Fury of the Gods - one of the most anticipated upcoming DC movies - that the 20-year-old is slated to appear in. However, because Disney has already cast her in the title role of their upcoming live-action Snow White remake, I would have expected her to secure a role in the Marvel movies first. Well, she would not be the first one to make such a transition and, if and when she does, I have a few Marvel characters in mind.
Rachel Ziegler’s role in the Shazam!: Fury of the Gods cast, which also features Zachary Levi returning to the role of Billy Batson in his super-powered grown-up form, still has yet to be officially revealed. However, as her Academy Award-winning co-star, Helen Mirren, hinted to The Associated Press, the actress will be one member of a trio of goddesses, which is not the kind of role that gets offered to performers of her age very often. The early experience in godliness she will garner by starring in this DC sequel gave me an idea for a Marvel character that might perfectly suit her.
Coincidentally, Marvel Comics also has a trio of goddesses who exist in another area of the Marvel Multiverse, known as the Goddesses of Thunder, who also happen to be Thor’s granddaughters from the future. The youngest of the electrifying entities is Atli, whose hot-tempered attitude makes her an especially concerning threat with her weapon of choice - a Jarnbjorn. Because the Thor movies could always benefit from a little more feminine energy, even after Natalie Portman takes over in Thor: Love and Thunder, these sisters could be an exciting addition, especially with Rachel Zegler showing her darker side as Atli.
Of course, a skill that Rachel Zegler had already undeniably mastered even before her acting career took off with the West Side Story remake is singing. Her stunning voice became an especially popular topic of conversation in 2018, when she posted her cover of “Shallow” - the Oscar-winning centerpiece track from A Star is Born - on YouTube, which has since been viewed more than 3 million times. Having pipes strong enough to be a pop star makes her a perfect candidate to play the biggest pop star in the Marvel Universe.
Technically, Dazzler (whose Hannah Montana-esque double life as a recording artist was conjured in collaboration with a real record label) has already had her live-action, cinematic debut with a brief cameo in Dark Phoenix in 2019. However, I know there are many fans who would love to actually see her in action, fighting alongside the X-Men with her ability to convert sound into energy on the big screen. If that is part of the plan for Marvel Studios’ X-Men movies reboot, it would be an especially inspired idea to cast a truly talented star like Rachel Zegler as the fan favorite singer/superhero.
Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story has received praise for various reasons - one of them being its more authentic representation of Latinx culture than the original 1961 film, which starred the non-Latina Natalie Wood as the Puerto Rican Maria. Rachel Zegler, who is of Colombian descent, has been proudly outspoken about what her casting as the famous character means in light of the more recent push for diversity in Hollywood, especially with Latinx characters. If Zegler would be interested in helping to widen the spread of representation in the MCU specifically, I have a great character in mind.
The first Mexican-American woman to join the Avengers was Bonita Juarez, who gained the ability to shoot flames and fly at superhuman speed after becoming exposed to a radioactive meteorite. Whenever she is ready for action, a large, bright mass of energy shaped like a bird (which she may or may not be creating) appears, hence the name “Firebird.” If not in her own movie, I think that a fun way to introduce her into the MCU could be on an episode Disney+’s upcoming She-Hulk TV show, since a 1981 issue of The Incredible Hulk was her Marvel Comics debut.
Hollywood has also seen a larger quantity of female-driven superhero movies in recent years, such as DC’s Wonder Woman and the upcoming Batgirl movie or, in the MCU, Captain Marvel and the Elizabeth Olsen-led WandaVision miniseries on Disney+. As for Sony’s universe of Spider-Man characters, actor turned filmmaker Olivia Wilde has been tapped to make what is reportedly a Spider-Woman movie, but which iteration of the female webslinger the film will focus on still has yet to be confirmed. While some fans hope for Jessica Drew, I actually think it would be especially cool to see a Gwen Stacy movie, and the idea of casting Rachel Zegler is just one reason why.
While this would not actually be Gwen Stacy’s live-action, big screen debut (Bryce Dallas Howard played her in Spider-Man 3 before Emma Stone succeeded her in the Amazing Spider-Man movies), she has only appeared as Spider-Woman in the animated, Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, as voiced by Hawkeye’s Hailee Steinfeld. I don’t know about you, but that only increased any desire I had to see her superhero alter-ego in a live-action setting, and Rachel Zegler would be among my top choices. Reason being: at 20 years old, she can still pass for a teenager easily, and Gwen is a hero born from tragedy - a theme the actress experienced from her role in West Side Story.
On the other hand, I could totally understand if Rachel Zegler would rather move on from more somber storytelling and try to bring more positivity into her future acting roles. I mean, her Snow White movie casting provides some pretty telling evidence that this might be the case. Luckily, there is one character who is young, bubbly, and extremely resilient whom the actress just might be the absolute perfect choice for in that regard.
Fans have been hoping to see Squirrel Girl - a teenage fan favorite with a meek, affable personality and characteristics that resemble the eponymous furry creatures - join the MCU for a long time now. Why? Because she is the Marvel Universe’s ultimate example of looks being deceiving, due to her nearly unblemished fight record against countless villains, including Thanos. I know I speak for many when I say that seeing such a conflict on the big screen would be a dream come true and, likely, a proud moment for Rachel Zegler to be the one who brings it to life.
Her career has only just begun and, yet, Rachel Zegler has already reached a point at which the possibilities for what she will do next are endless. That being said, maybe one of my Marvel character predictions will come true.
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 just about any article related to Batman.
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