In recent days, actress-singer Zendaya has come out to deny that she's playing the love interest in Spider-Man: Homecoming. This comes months after a rumor hit the web that she was playing Peter Parker's most iconic paramour, Mary Jane Watson. I've debated with Mario and Jammer on the LOS FANBOYS Podcast whether or not she really is playing MJ or not, and now I'm starting think they're right: She's not.
To recap, regarding Zendaya's character, all we really know is that her name is supposedly Michelle, and now we have a description of what she's like.
While talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Zendaya gave this description for Michelle:
"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.' So she comes off very weird. But to me, she is very cool because she’s deep. She’s always thinking about something, always reading."
There are not a lot of portrayals in Spider-Man lore of a "weird" Mary Jane, even in occasions where she's dressing like a social outcast. What's described above sounds more like the geeky sidekick from a CW superhero series.
So, Zendaya isn't playing Mary Jane- or any kind of love interest- in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and so I've done some digging to find out who is!
I've heard from sources close to the project that Tom Holland's Peter Parker has actually got the hots for Liz Allan - played in the movie by Laura Harrier (One Life to Live).
The romance would be pretty comic book-accurate from the original Spider-Man run when Peter was attracted to the popular Liz Allen, but she was dating Flash Thompson. In Spidey lore, there's a whole plot line where Peter tutors Liz, who's part of the cool kid clique at his high school, and while she initially treats him like a nerd...she eventually falls for him, leaves Flash, denounces the cool kids, and goes to be with Peter the lovable underdog.
I don't know about you, but that sort of subplot sounds like something straight out of one of John Hughes' 80s teen dramedies...which is exactly what several people connected to this project have said is a huge inspiration for Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Between Harrier's Allan being Peter's love interest, Zendaya revealing she really is playing a girl named Michelle- not Mary Jane- and the recent confirmation that Michael Keaton is playing Vulture, the pieces are really starting to fall into place in terms of who's playing who in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
What do you think of Homecoming exploring this all-new cinematic romance for Peter? In the past, we've been treated to his most famous loves: MJ and Gwen Stacy. Personally, I'm glad they're not going to either of those characters for this Marvel/Sony reboot. Peter's going to be young in this series, and they want to give him a place to go, so starting with a lower-tier love interest like Allan and then working our way up towards MJ makes a lot of sense.