When word got out last week that Disney star Zendaya might be portraying Mary Jane Watson, many commentators flocked to the news with a negative point of view. Citing MJ’s traditionally being a white, red-headed woman, they felt that Zendaya being of partial African-American descent did not fit the mold for the character. While no one from Marvel has officially commented on whether this new casting information is accurate, people within the Marvel fold have spoken out against Zendaya’s detractors. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn came to Zendaya’s defense, citing her talent and that her tall, model-like looks are very much in line with Mary Jane’s character. And now MJ’s co-creator, Stan Lee himself, weighed in on the controversy when speaking to the Toronto Sun.
“If she is as good an actress as I hear she is, I think it’ll be absolutely wonderful.”
Furthermore, Lee also dismissed critics who complain of “race-bending”. Reaching back into the early superhero movie catalog by referencing the late Michael Clarke Duncan‘s take on the Kingpin alongside Ben Affleck in 2003’s Daredevil.
“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,”
While some fans desire a more literal translation from page to screen, Lee doesn’t seem to see the need to hew so closely to what’s come before. It appears that for him what really matters is if an actor can bring the heart of the character to life.
“The colour 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 concluded.
Having co-created characters like Robbie Robertson, The Falcon, and The Black Panther, at a time when there were few if any characters of color, Stan Lee tried to create a more inclusive comics universe. So it’s not all that surprising that he fails to bat an eye at these casting decisions . But will Lee’s seal of approval be the final word on this controversy? For some, likely not. But for this Marvel fan, it’s “Nuff said”.
Source: Comic Book Resources.