Zendaya made her major feature-film debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is available now on DVD, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and it's kind of a big deal that she's now a part of this beloved superhero franchise. Fans were naturally so excited when it was announced that Z was a part of the cast and there has been much speculation about her character in the movie. British cutie Tom Holland took on the role of Peter Parker, you know the man with the web-slinging powers himself, and literally just about everyone thought the Disney Chanel starlet would be playing Peter's love interest, the one and only Mary Jane Watson. So that brings up to the big question...
As Z herself explained on Good Morning America, "It's always the question of my life right now. I keep trying to tell everybody my name is Michelle in the movie, that's what my name is. I'm not lying to you, I swear!"
So OK, her character's name is Michelle, but we don't know her last name yet, which means there is a chance she could be a Watson, at least in our minds! Although she's made it super clear she isn't Mary Jane, when it was first announced that she essentially could be, some rude people on the Internet decided they didn't like this and she soon found herself dealing with hurtful, racist messages, since this would be the first time a woman of color has portrayed the role. This is something Z couldn't be bothered with though, like the queen that she is.
"People are going to react over anything. But nothing [about who she is playing] is fact. It's like, you guys are just making [things] up at this point and then reacting to it. Whenever we were on set, one of us gets some random character name [on the call sheet]. [People were] like, "'Oh they must be so and so.' And we just crack up about it, because it's like, 'Whatever you want to think. You'll find out,'" Zendaya said to The Hollywood Reporter. "But of course there's going to be outrage over that because for some reason some people just aren't ready. I'm like, I don't know what America you live in, but from what I see when I walk outside my streets of New York right now, I see lots of diversity and I see the real world and it's beautiful, and that's what should be reflected and that's what is reflected so you're just going to have to get over it."
SPOILER ALERT: So while Z has said time and time again she plays Michelle, toward the end of the movie, there is indeed a scene that has everyone thinking otherwise. Michelle is on the academic decathlon team with Peter and when the apple of his eye Liz moves away, Michelle is then chosen as the new team captain. When she's talking to her teammates she says, "My friends call me MJ" and as any Spider-Man fan knows, that is Mary Jane's nickname. THE MYSTERY.
But two of the movie's producers, Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, spoke to IGN and confirmed that the nickname is more just to pay homage to the original Mary Jane character.
"Well, we never even looked at it as a big reveal necessarily but more of just a fun homage to his past adventures and his past love. She's not Mary Jane Watson. She never was Mary Jane Watson. She was always this new high school character, Michelle, who we know there's an "M" in Michelle and an "M" in Mary," Kevin explained. "So we're so clever and we thought, 'Wouldn't it be neat if her initials were MJ?' And then I think it leaked that she would be playing MJ and then it became a whole headache for Zendaya to have to navigate. It was never a big, 'Oh my God, it's a big reveal!' There are big reveals in the movie. That's not one of them."
"She is not going to end as being Mary Jane Watson," Amy added.
So Michelle's nickname is MJ, like Mary Jane's was, but that's it!
Zendaya wore barely any makeup in the movie, and doesn't wear any mega-glam looks like we're used to seeing from the starlet every time she slays the red carpet.
"She's a very interesting character, very different from anything we've seen before. She's very intellectual, very smart, which I think leads her to not really be able to socially interact with anybody her own age so she's a bit of a longer but I think she likes it that way. I like her outspokenness, her wittiness and quickness. But I'm definitely Michelle, I'm not lying," she said on GMA.
Since Mary Jane was one of the big loves of Peter's life, everyone is expecting him to have some sort of love interest in this movie. It's the character of Liz, played by Laura Harrier, who is the one who's caught Peter's eye, despite the fact that IRL, Tom and Z ave such a cute friendship that has naturally led to so many people shipping them.
And as the K.C. Undercover star pointed out though, Michelle is not about that dating life.
"No. My character is not romantic. My character is like very dry, awkward, intellectual and because she's so smart, she just feels like she doesn't need to talk to people, like 'My brain is so far ahead of you that you're just not really on my level,'" Zendaya explained.
But since we now know about her MJ nickname, and Mary Jane is one of the great loves of Peter's life, plus Liz is no longer in the picture, there is for sure a chance sparks might eventually fly between Michelle and Peter in the sequel, something Kevin kind of hinted at.
"Is she going to date Peter? Are they going to fall in love? She seems to be intrigued with him. There's a nice chemistry there. Who knows what will happen in the future films?" he said,
OK, so remaining coy, but Michelle does give Peter a longing look in their final scene together as he leaves the decathlon meeting to go attend to a call from Iron-Man, just some typical Spider-Man duties. So it will be interesting to see what happens next. The digital and Blu-ray bonus materials feature 10 deleted scenes, a gag reel seven featurettes for you to obsess over and dig deeper to see if there are any more hints that were dropped along the way about what's in story for Z's character Michelle in upcoming movies because you know they're just getting started.
So while her character might not have a crush on Spider-Man, the superhero means a little something extra to Zendaya. She revealed that her first ever date was to see the Spider-Man movie starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
"I'm not going to lie and tell you I was this comic book geek or anything because I wasn't. But when I got older, Spider-Man became my favorite. When the [Andrew Garfield] revamp came out, I was like 16, and I went on my first date, and it was [2012's The Amazing] Spider-Man, and I was obsessed with it," she shared. "Spider-Man is always the coolest because he didn't come from money. He wasn't born with his superpower. It kind of just happens to him and he's just a kid, and he's just trying to balance living life and being a teenager and like hormones and problems and issues while also like doing the most outrageous things. He's always been the most relatable."
Since she recently opened up about how she was in a four-year-long relationship, it's safe to say that the guy who took her on ts date turned into her boyfriend, so this character and the fact that she's part of this world now shows how she's truly come full circle. We'll just choose to believe everything she's told us about her character while we watch the DVD over and over again now. And Z wouldn't lie to us, right?
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This post was originally published on June 20, 2017 and has since been updated.