Throughout all of the advertising of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the studio was really banking on Zendaya's character being a real hit with audiences. People were speculating and trying to figure out her character, most assuming she was playing main Spider-Man love interest Mary Jane Watson. However, it was soon revealed that Zendaya was actually playing a character named Michelle.
The studio thought her character was going to be such a success that Sony even released a trailer titled "Spider-Man: Homecoming 'Michelle' trailer." That's quite the gamble. After the movie was released, people seemed to (for the most part) enjoy her character as the bizarre girl who does what she wants without worrying about what others think of her.
However, the biggest reveal is at the end of the movie when she says that her friends call her "MJ," much like how people refer to Mary Jane Watson in the comic books. However, Kevin Feige has gone on the record saying that she is not Mary Jane Watson. He made that very clear in an interview with Den of Geek:
In setting up this will be a very different thing, she’s not Mary Jane Watson, that’s not who the character is. But giving her the initials that remind you of that dynamic certainly is intriguing about what could go forward.
But this reveal is obviously eluding to something. However, is this reveal such a great idea?
While the character of Michelle was entertaining and offered a few laughs, she's offers very little to the plot. She mostly just stands around, says a quippy line, and then the camera moves back to the real story. That wouldn't be much of a problem if that's what her character was suppose to be, but now Sony has teased her as Spider-Man's main love interest, the woman he eventually marries in the comic books.
The biggest problem is that Peter Parker and Michelle don't interact that much in the movie and share very little chemistry. There are small seeds planted for the possibility that these will eventually get together but nothing that'll make fan gasp out of shock that Michelle is really MJ.
The problem isn't that Zendaya isn't the traditional, white redhead from the comic books and original trilogy; the problem is that the movie never has a moment for just these two characters. The only indication that a relationship might blossom between these two is that Michelle gives Peter an "interested" look at the end of the movie. That's it, and it kind of comes out of nowhere.
It's fine if Sony decided to keep to the comic books and eventually make Mary Jane become Spider-Man's love interest, the problem is that the studio introduced it in such a bland and uninteresting manner. Zendaya did a great job with the character, but the movie doesn't do a lot with it. Her character's usefulness is on par with Darcy Lewis in the Thor films.
Yeah, she's there, she's quirky, and she can deliver a funny line every once in a while, but aside from that, that's all the character brings to the table. Sony could have taken Michelle out and the film would have lost nothing — that's how little the character of Michelle brought to the table. We can only hope that the sequel will bring more of a connection between these characters.
What did you think of the reveal of Michelle being MJ?