Stan Lee Defends Zendaya in 'Spider-Man': 'I Think She'll Be Absolutely Wonderful'
Stan Lee has heard some of the grumbling about Zendaya's reported casting as love interest Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the web slinger's co-creator has a simple message for the haters: settle down. Speaking to the Toronto Sun, the comic book legend said those who are judging the 19-year-old Disney singer/actresses' reported role opposite Peter Parker (Tom Holland) on the basis that the character has traditionally been depicted in comics as a redheaded white woman are missing the point.
"If she is as good an actress as I hear she is, I think she'll be absolutely wonderful," Lee told the paper. "The color of their skin doesn't matter, their religion doesn't matter, all that matters is that this is the right person for the role." Lee said it's totally fine for characters to be transformed when they move from the page to the movies, noting that late black actor Michael Clarke Duncan was cast as Kingpin in the 2003 Daredevil movie. "In the Daredevil movie, the Kingpin – who had been white in the comics – he was a black man playing the role, and he played it beautifully,” Lee said.
Zendaya has also gotten props from director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), who posted a Facebook message on Friday in support of the casting. "I do not believe a character is the color of his or her skin," he wrote. "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." Reps for Zendaya and Sony Pictures have not commented on what role the actress will play in the film.
Homecoming is slated to hit theaters next July.