James Gunn has defended Zendaya Coleman’s casting in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film’s producers have been heavily criticized for asking the 19-year-old actress to star as Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming movie and now Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has offered his thoughts on the matter.
He wrote: “For me, if a character’s primary attribute – the thing that makes them iconic – is the color of their skin, or their hair color, frankly, that character is shallow and sucks. For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she’ll work. And, for the record, I think Zendaya even matches what I think of as MJ’s primary physical characteristics – she’s a tall, thin model – much more so than actresses have in the past.
“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.”
The 46-year-old filmmaker went on to criticize those who counted Coleman out instantly because of her race.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, he added: “A rumor broke out that the character of Mary Jane was being played by a young black woman, Zendaya, and all hell broke out on the Internet (again). I tweeted that if people find themselves complaining about Mary Jane’s ethnicity they have lives that are too good …
“I got a thousand or so responses to my tweet. Most of them were positive. Some folks disagreed – they thought the character should look like what she looks like in the comics – but were thoughtful. And a handful were flat out racist. I can’t respond to the racists – I’m not ever going to change their minds.”