Just a couple of days ago a rumor surfaced that Spider-Man: Homecoming would have star Zendaya in the role of Mary Jane Watson, and of course the haters came out in force. With superhero movies it seems that a certain segment of fans get upset when any aspect of their favorite character is altered, but when it's their race they get downright volatile. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn tweeted about the heated fan reaction and has been deluged with comments from those on both sides of the conversation. So he decided to address the issue in full in a lengthy Facebook post aimed squarely at those who are pissed. Here is just a little of what he had to say...
"...I do not believe a character is the color of his or her skin. When Michael B Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm I didn’t understand the uproar. The primary characteristic of Johnny was not, to me, that he was white, or that he had blonde hair, but that he was a fiery, funny, big-mouthed braggart of a hero. I was happy that he was going to be played by one of the finest and most charming young actors out there."
"Yesterday, a rumor broke out that the character of Mary Jane was being played by a young black woman, Zendaya, and all hell broke out on the Internet (again). I tweeted that if people find themselves complaining about Mary Jane’s ethnicity they have lives that are too good."
Gunn added that he doesn't know for certain what Zendaya's role is; he was just talking in general about the response to her playing MJ. He continued...
"For me, if a character’s primary attribute – the thing that makes them iconic – is the color of their skin, or their hair color, frankly, that character is shallow and sucks. For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she’ll work. And, for the record, I think Zendaya even matches what I think of as MJ’s primary physical characteristics – she’s a tall, thin model – much more so than actresses have in the past."
"Whatever the case, if we’re going to continue to make movies based on the almost all white heroes and supporting characters from the comics of the last century, we’re going to have to get used to them being more reflective of our diverse present world. Perhaps we can be open to the idea that, although someone may not initially match how we personally conceive a character, we can be – and often are – happily surprised."
The uproar tends to be louder when an African-American takes over a character traditionally seen as white. In the comics this has been a problem for a while, but it's a relatively new phenomenon for superhero movies, from Idris Elba as Heimdall to Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm and now this. One can only imagine what the response will be if Mackie's Falcon becomes Captain America. Somebody might *gasp* start an online petition or something.