Last August the news hit that Zendaya would be starring opposite Tom Holland in Jon Watt's new Spider-Man adaptation.
Obviously, we as a people were shook when we heard this. Naturally, though, before Spider-Man: Homecoming actually hit theaters this past weekend, the question on every Marvel fan's lips was: Is Zendaya playing Mary Jane Watson?
Though her character was billed as "Michelle" from the start, that never stopped people from speculating (read: hoping) she would be playing Mary Jane, and that the studio's listing her as "Michelle" was just a sly way to keep the secret. Zendaya herself outright denied this in an interview with MTV earlier this year where she said,
My character is 100 percent Michelle. That's her name. I promise you I'm not lying.
Interestingly, though, anyone who has seen the film will notice that towards the end of the movie, Z's character Michelle says "my friends call me MJ."
MJ, huh? Curious. Very curious. For a character who was repeatedly said not to be Mary Jane Watson, it's suspect her nickname would be the exact initials of the character she is not supposed to be.
Last month, the big boss at Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, spoke with Den of Geek about Zendaya's character and even he denied the connection,
In setting up this will be a very different thing, she's not Mary Jane Watson, that's not who the character is.
He went on to tease us all when he explained the choice to nickname Zendaya's character "MJ," and hinted at her future,
[G]iving her the initials that remind you of that dynamic certainly is intriguing about what could go forward.
As interesting as this all sounds, and as easy as it would be to read further into this than we already have, I think we need to accept that Zendaya's Michelle is not Mary Jane.
Feige talked more about the character in his interview, though, and gave some background as to how she came to be in the film. He said,
Peter's had a lot of friends over the years in the comics, and a lot of schoolmates and characters he's interacted with. It wasn't just Mary Jane Watson; it wasn't just Gwen Stacy; it wasn't just Harry Osborn. So we were very interested in the other characters, and that's where Liz came from and that's where the version of the character Michelle came from.
Maybe not what we wanted to hear, but that pretty much sums it up. Regardless, it's still neat how Homecoming gives Mary Jane that little nod at the end. My spidey-senses are saying maybe this means Zendaya will be returning for future Spider-Man films. I guess we can hope.