Zendaya’s MCU Character is Not Mary Jane Watson — and That’s a Good Thing
That said, while the MCU is massive in its own way, the comics are a different beast, and there are a lot of stuff from the comics that haven’t made it onto the screen yet. But Spider-Man is an exception since he is so popular that there were five non-MCU Spider-Man movies before Marvel finally got him back.
However, since there have been so many Spidey movies, fans are getting sick of seeing the same stories over and over again. That’s partially why Zendaya’s MCU character not being Mary Jane Watson is ultimately a good thing.
Who Zendaya really plays in the MCU
In the MCU Spider-Man movies, Zendaya plays a character named Michelle Jones, but everyone calls her either Michelle or MJ. In the movies, she’s portrayed as a bit of a nerdy loner, as she, along with Peter Parker, is part of their school’s academic decathlon team. She’s also a bit awkward and quirky, as she makes a few sarcastic jokes here and there. And of course, since she’s played by Zendaya, she’s also black.
While the hints and clues were all there, Marvel took its time in revealing the fact that her character was going to be Peter’s love interest. For the majority of Homecoming, nobody called MJ by her name.
At the end of the movie, a teacher calls her Michelle, and she then replied that her friends call her MJ. For fans, MJ stood for Mary Jane, as in Mary Jane Watson, and thus, it signaled the fact that she would be Peter’s love interest.
How MJ is different than Mary Jane Watson
As fans on Reddit discussed, there are many differences between MJ and Mary Jane. Of course, since the comics are so vast, there have also been many different interpretations on Mary Jane.
However, more often than not, Mary Jane is portrayed as being a redhead, having an outgoing personality, and generally speaking, not very nerdy.
Obviously, MJ is different than all of that. But, with that said, there are some interpretations of Mary Jane that have some similarities with MJ. For example, there have been interpretations of Mary Jane where she was a nerdy character.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, however. MJ doesn’t have much screen time in Homecoming, but she has a much larger role in Far From Home. Her character will definitely change and develop, so there’s a chance that MJ will become more similar to the Mary Jane that many Spidey fans are familiar with. Regardless, many fans are fine with this new take on Peter’s love interest.
Why Zendaya not being Mary Jane Watson is a good thing
As Marvel fans on Reddit said, Spider-Man’s story has been told so many times that many aspects of his story have been done to death. For example, Sony tried to make two Spider-Man trilogies, and in each one, Sony decided to show Uncle Ben’s death. Marvel didn’t want to repeat Sony’s mistakes, so for Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel decided to not show Uncle Ben’s death at all.
This was probably the same reason why Marvel decided to create a new Mary Jane for the MCU. Mary Jane has been done already, as has Gwen Stacy, who is Spider-Man’s other major love interest. Doing the same characters again would just feel boring, so Marvel decided to allow Zendaya to breathe new life into her.
And plus, with a new character, Marvel has more freedom to do what it wants with her and Peter’s relationship. This opens the door, creatively speaking, and it means that fans won’t know what’s coming in the next few movies.