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.
“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.