Excelsior! Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics legend and Spider-Man creator, has weighed in on the latest controversy, and thus another problem has been solved! Alas, if only it were that simple.
Disney channel star/pop singer Zendaya has been cast in Spider-Man: Homecoming (due out July 7, 2017). The official word is that she is a playing a character named “Michelle,” but reports have emerged that she will actually star as Mary Jane Watson, who in the comics is notably pale-skinned and redheaded, unlike the African-American Zendaya.
Certain fans of the original are reliably upset when adaptations do not keep iconic physical features of certain characters, and comic book nerds can be especially vitriolic in this regard. But Stan the Man would like people to focus on actual talent of being precious about keeping everything pure.
“If she is as good an actress as I hear she is, I think it’ll be absolutely wonderful,” Lee said, according to the Toronto Sun. He also noted the performance of Michael Clarke Duncan in the 2003 Daredevil film as an example of racially swapped casting that worked.
It will take a lot to convince some fans that this can be a good thing, but personally, with three different Spider-Men in 15 years, Zendaya as MJ sounds a whole lot more interesting than just casting a Kirsten Dunst clone.