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Photo via Spider-Man: Homecoming

Marvel producers reveal the truth about Zendaya’s name in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

We finally know the truth about Zendaya's role in 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Published Jul 10, 2017   Updated May 23, 2021, 12:28 am CDT

Months before Spider-Man: Homecoming came out, rumors swirled that Zendaya was secretly playing Spidey’s longtime love interest Mary Jane Watson. This created some buzz for a couple of reasons: internet racists were mad about a black actress playing MJ, and fans were curious why her role was a secret. The film’s publicity materials referred to Zendaya’s character as Michelle.

The movie didn’t clear up the truth about Michelle’s identity, because in her final scene, she asks her friends to call her MJ. Does that mean she was secretly Mary Jane all along? If so, that’s quite a leap from MJ’s usual characterization as a perky model, since Michelle is a sarcastic, politically-aware social outcast.

In a post-movie interview, producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal cleared the air. Apparently, Michelle is not Mary Jane.

“We never even looked at it as a big reveal necessarily but more of just a fun homage,” said Feige. “She’s not Mary Jane Watson. She never was Mary Jane Watson. She was always this new high school character, Michelle.” Unfortunately, the “MJ” line leaked long before the film came out, causing a geek media frenzy that Feige describes as “a whole headache for Zendaya to have to navigate.”

Pascal said that Michelle will never become Mary Jane Watson, but didn’t rule out the possibility of Michelle being Peter Parker’s love interest in future movies.

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*First Published: Jul 10, 2017, 8:55 am CDT