Is Peter Parker about to hit the jackpot?
TheWrap is reporting that the upcoming Jon Watts film Spider-Man: Homecoming has cast Zendaya as Spider-Man's best friend, love interest and occasional wife Mary Jane Watson. Zendaya's involvement with the film was first revealed in March, although she was originally reported to be playing a new character named Michelle.
TheWrap cited "two individuals with knowledge of the project" as sources confirming Zendaya's actual character, with "At least one recent draft of the script has Zendaya’s character dropping several clues to her identity as Mary Jane."
Zendaya joins Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Michael Keaton, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, Laura Harrier as Liz Allan, Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson, Bokeem Woodbine, Marisa Tomei as May Parker, and Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man.
Zendaya (full name Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman), 19, is an actress, singer and dancer best known as Rocky Blue on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up. She also appeared in the TV movies Zapped and Frenemies, Dancing with the Stars, and episodes of A.N.T. Farm and PrankStars.
Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr., Mary Jane Watson was first mentioned in 1964's The Amazing Spider-Man (vol.1) #15 but didn't fully appear until #42 two years later. The character was introduced as a running joke about Peter dodging his Aunt May's attempts to set him up with "that nice Watson girl next door", whom Peter had not yet met and assumed would not be his type, since his aunt liked her. Peter finally met her, and was stunned by her beauty as she spoke the now-famous line: "Face it, Tiger...you just hit the jackpot!"
Following the death of Peter's girlfriend Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane and Peter become very close friends. Eventually, upon realizing the feelings that they share for one another, they decided to take their relationship to the next level. Their relationship had a few initial hurdles, such as M.J.'s hot temper and Peter's activities as Spider-Man. Despite loving Peter, Mary Jane didn't want to be tied down, and when she allowed the relationship to progress too far, she was left with a difficult decision when Peter proposed to her. After taking a short time to consider, she turned him down. After a series of traumatic experiences involving Peter's absences and his costumed alter ego endangering his Aunt May, an emotionally drained Mary Jane left New York for several months.
In the days following Ned Leeds' murder at the hands of the Foreigner, Mary Jane returned to Peter, presumably to patch things up, but Peter surprised her with a second proposal of marriage, which Mary Jane again turned down. She returned to her family to settle old debts with her father, with Peter following her. After aiding her sister in having her crooked father arrested, and helping Peter against a Spider-Slayer, Mary Jane had an epiphany on their relationship and agreed to become Peter's wife. The two were married in 1987's Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21.
In 2007, the marriage was negated, per the directive of Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, in the controversial "One More Day" storyline. Peter was forced to decide whether he would accept Mephisto's offer to save Aunt May in return for wiping the knowledge and memory of Peter and Mary Jane's life together as husband and wife from the face of reality. This would leave only a single, subconscious piece of their souls to remember, allowing Mephisto to feast on the pain exhibited by those vestiges for eternity. Mary Jane accepted Mephisto's offer, but only with the caveat that Mephisto promised to restore Spider-Man's secret identity that was revealed during the events of Civil War. She also asked to put his life back as it was, for a chance at happiness. Mephisto accepted these terms, and in the revised timeline, which began at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man #545, and was further explained in the following issues, Mary Jane and Peter were never married, but instead "dated seriously for years."
Zendaya will be the third actress to portray Mary Jane Watson in live-action, after Kirsten Dunst in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, and Shailene Woodley in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, although Woodley's scenes were cut from the film. The character has also appeared in various animated projects, including 1967's Spider-Man (voiced by Peg Dixon), Spider-Man: The Animated Series (voiced by Sara Ballantine), Spider-Man Unlimited (voiced by Jennifer Hale), Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (voiced by Lisa Loeb), The Spectacular Spider-Man (voiced by Vanessa Marshall), and Ultimate Spider-Man (voiced by Tara Strong).
Spider-Man: Homecoming is currently scheduled to be released in theaters on July 7, 2017.