UPDATE: With the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, we have official confirmation of Zendaya's true character in the MCU. Original story as follows:
Spider-Man recently began his new journey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and so far his new home has brought out a few new qualities to the character. Marvel and Sony went very young with casting Tom Holland in order to keep Peter Parker in high school for an extended period of time, and they quickly laid the foundation for Tony Stark to act as his mentor. The studio will also pit him against Vulture for the first time on the big screen, but when it comes to a love interest for the young hero, the studio has yet to play its cards.
When Zendaya initially joined Spider-Man: Homecoming, she was reported to be playing fellow high school student Michelle. Then, one report revealed that she is secretly playing Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man's longtime love in the comics. After months of fan discussion over the rumored casting, Zendaya herself said she is not playing the love interest and is has once again publicly stated she is not M.J.
ET Online interviewed Zendaya and asked her about these reports, but the actress is doing the best she can to put a stop to these rumors. Here is what she said:
"Well, I'm not Mary Jane unfortunately, but I am in the movie which is exciting. My character's name is Michelle, if that's what everybody wants to think. I'm gonna let people think whatever they want to think."
There are a few ways to look at Zendaya's comments. First and foremost, her continued statements denying these rumors make it seem more likely that she is actually just Michelle. Should this be the case, it could still point to her having a prominent role in Homecoming and future Spider-Man films, but as Peter's friend and not girlfriend.
On the flip side, while Zendaya is saying the right things, she continued to wink at the camera during her statements, which only raises even more questions. Such small gestures seem destined to raise questions. However, director Jon Watts has also said that Zendaya is playing Michelle, and that name was also listed on all the call sheets.
Keeping the identity of who the actor is playing is a risky game, one that Hollywood learned a lesson on with J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness, which insisted time and again that Benedict Cumberbatch wasn't playing Kahn. Such secrecy didn't do the film any favors and the project would have likely been better off simply confirming the appearance of the character up front. This may not be the case with Spider-Man: Homecoming, but fans will have to wait until the first trailer is released to know for sure.
Source: ET Online
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