Recently it was reported from various news outlets that Zendaya’s role in the forthcoming Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) would be none other than Spidey’s most famous love interest Mary-Jane Watson, and, as expected, various facets of the internet exploded into a barrage of hate over the casting, primarily due to the fact that they see their version of Mary-Jane, a white redhead, being altered from her comic-book counterpart in the ever increasing perception of political correctness in Hollywood blockbusters.

The changing of ethnicities is nothing new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a similar debate raged when Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall in Thor (2011), and it will no doubt continue into the future, particularly as Marvel seeks to have their movie properties reflect the ever changing cultural and ethnic dynamics of a vast multicultural world; a sharp contrast to their source material, of which the vast majority reflects the practices and stereotypes of its period of creation, primarily white-America of 1960’s and 1970’s. 

For me personally, I see no problem with the casting.  I’ve heard on good authority that Zendaya is a perfectly good actress, and I’m sure she’ll do great in the role, particularly when her only competition in defining the character comes from Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal in Sam Rami’s Spiderman Trilogy, of which I was never a fan.  

However, I do wonder why they chose (if the rumour is indeed true) the role of Mary-Jane for Zendaya to play?  From what I’ve seen and heard of the character of Mary-Jane, nothing about her is sufficiently important or iconic (apart from her look) to warrant her inclusion at the expense of a bombardment of racist abuse for a nineteen year actress who has done absolutely nothing to warrant it.

Apart from serving as a wink and nod to fans of Spiderman’s history, who recognise her character’s name from decades of Spiderman comics and television, I wonder what purpose her identity as Mary-Jane will have, if any, on her character in the movie.  I have no doubt that this version of the character will stray so far from the source material that it will be entirely unrecognisable, so I’m curious as to why they chose to make her Mary-Jane in the first place?

Wouldn’t it have been better to create an entirely new character for Zendaya to play, free from the weight of unmanageable expectations; a black heroine in her own right who isn’t tied to the legacy of her white comic book counterpart?  This would have avoided the inevitable controversy her casting was bound to cause among comic-book diehards; Remember, in 2012 when Shailene Woodley was cast as Mary-Jane in The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014) there were naysayers because of her alleged "lack of attractiveness", so Marvel knew that this departure from the character’s origins was bound to stir up dissent even more so then before.

Despite all this uproar, I have no doubt that when Spiderman: Homecoming opens next summer the only talk will be regarding whether the movie is any good or not.  Questions of racial identity will fade from discussions, in much the same way they did when Thor opened in 2011.  We can all cross our fingers in the hope that Marvel Studies' version of the Spiderman Universe, with all its supporting characters, will be the hit we so desperately need after the shambles of the Sony Spiderman reboot.

Who am I?

My name is Stuart Kilmartin, and I hail from Galway, Ireland.

I studied English Literature at NUI Galway (B.A. & M.A.).  Spent many a moon reading Edgar Allan Poe & I can recite Ozymandias, by Percy Shelley, word for word; it's irrelevant, but I'm proud of it.

Deep-rooted passion for all things film and television.  For those who say David Lynch is too obscure, I agree; and yet, I love him.

I started this blog with the intention of getting my thoughts out there and to gain more experience in entertainment writing; and to prove that all those years watching movies weren't time wasted.

I've been writing for over a year now, and I've collaborated with ComicBuzz & Headstuff, where I've had a number of pieces published.  Check out some of my other published work here  http://comicbuzz.com/author/stuartkilmartin/ or https://www.headstuff.org/author/stuart-kilmartin/ 

Get in Touch!

If you found any of these articles interesting or insightful, feel free to email me at pipinghotproductions@gmail.com.

I would absolutely love any feedback you may have relating to any of my articles.

If there are any suggestions for future topics, please tell me. I'm always looking for new material to write about.

 

 

 

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