stacie marie

Zendaya is probably Mary Jane or a Mary Jane adaptation part II

This is Mary Jane’s first ever appearance.

Notice the characters involved. The blonde is Liz Allen. The brunette is Betty Brant. Their are reasons why we aren’t getting a Betty Brant romance because usually when she is introduced, she is older than Peter and now of days it is taboo for adults to date teenagers. Peter tries, but Betty has always been an adult(except for the Ultimate Universe when she is too sleezy and stuck up that she would do anything for fame.) You don’t see Mary Jane’s face. They build it up as, “Oh my god, she is so pretty.” 

This is called anticipation. A lot of super hero movies introduce the female lead as an object of the main character’s desire if not already involved in the hero’s life. Mary Jane does not start out that way. She was introduced without Peter knowing her, but about her.

You want to know how dedicated Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were to her “real debut.” These panels came from Amazing Spider-man #25. She was finally introduced Amazing Spider-man #42. She was mentioned in Amazing Spider-man #15. Comic books were released every month. They centered a debut and anticipation of a character nearly 2 and a half years worth of anticipation and build-up.

Zendaya’s character “Michelle” is not apparent in spite being one of the most well known actresses in this movie. Michelle is the only character without a last name. We first see her after Peter starts swooning over Liz Allen and the trailer is not being subtle about it. It is literally right after we see Liz Allen. 

“But why are they keeping it secret then or why doesn’t she have red hair?”

Because people honestly think that what made Mary Jane so great was her red hair and green eyes. That she was a model. That she was gorgeous. But so was literally every other super hero love interest. What seperated MJ aside from her introduction from Iris West, Lois Lane, Batman’s literal graveyard of dead romantic leads is that MJ had depth.

From the very beginning, MJ had this lively personality and was fun compared to ultra-serious Gwen Stacy or popularity Alpha female Liz Allen. What made her substantial was that she was different from the get-go. What made her memorable is that as soon as you pinned Mary Jane as the party girl who does not care about drama going on, she flips the script again.

She was one of the first female leads in comics that actually show depth. The first in Marvel? Gwen Stacy. 

Spider-man used to have the most complex female characters for awhile. Like Gwen Stacy had sex with several people before she slept with Peter and no one thought less of her for it or shamed her. She also had a hot and cold relationship with Peter because she was annoyed with how much you can count of Peter being late or disappearing all the time. Gwen also had a bad habit of using sex for solace due to her boyfriend Pete being distant, Harry, her ex having a drug problem, and her dad dying. She was a human being with flaws.

Mary Jane Watson, however, was probably the most interesting. Beneath the party girl veneer, Mary Jane lived in an abusive home. She inherited her love of literary work and plays from her abusive father who was a college professor and a failed writer. She delved into romantic stories such as Romeo and Juliet to escape from the hell of her home and became the party girl to shrug off the stress in her daily life. Mary Jane, the party girl, was a facade. Who she really was is the fragile girl so deeply affected by witnessing an abusive marriage that she had commitment issues and refused to be tied down for fear that what happened to her mother would happen to her.

Yes, giving MJ depth and character is what made her iconic.

How this relates to Zendaya’s “Michelle” is that you can’t use this trope anymore. What made MJ significant back in the 60s will not fly here because that is a dime a dozen. There are no bullies like Flash Thompson and Cheerleaders aren’t as revered anymore.

As someone who has to adapt a story that does not fit in the times, what would you do? 

I would keep the same structure. MJ’s iconic introduction needs to remain in tact because what made her significant was drowned out in the first series. So instead of keeping it unknown to Peter on who she is, keep it from the audience as well. And to do that, you have to introduce the character without actually “introducing” her. MJ’s party girl facade will not fly in the 21st century in a world where Cardi B and Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj are like revered and celebrated for being that.And it would be way too obvious if Zendaya had red hair because people associate that with MJ and really, MJ does not have to a red head because red headed romantic leads in comics are so overdone.

The structure of Mary Jane and Peter Parker romance resembles Romeo and Juliet in the beginning. Like Peter, Romeo is fixated on Rosaline as a lone interest. You never meet Rosaline in the play and Liz Allen is a really obscure Spider-man character. As soon as he sees Juliet, Romeo becomes fixated on her. When he meets MJ, Peter does not necessarily drop everything and sprint to the alter, but he does show interest or as much interest as he does in her as he does long running Gwen Stacy.

The structure is this:

-introduce a faux lead to make audience care focus on the faux lead

-keep real lead out of focus

-then make the real lead the real interest

So I am hiding obvious tells from the audience while still keeping her character known? Men associate MJ with being impossibly curvaceous. I remember when Kirsten Dunst got the role and immediately comic book fanboys said that she was not endowed enough or something along the lines of that.

 I would be extremely subtle about it without it coming out of nowhere.

I would make Zendaya’s character seen and heard, but not apparent. Zendaya is gorgeous. Okay, no make up for the role. She is still gorgeous to me, but dudes are stupid and won’t pay any attention to anybody unless she is gussied up. Mary Jane is an actress. Well actresses do read a lot and tend to read up on obscure roles as research. Give her  a stack of books and novels of old novels that were adapted into classic, but obscure films.

I already went over 2 of the books in the stack. A Woman in the Dunes is the second book from the bottom of the pile. The third book is the Wings of the Dove. Both are classic movies with prominent female leads. 

The book on the bottom is Democracy which threw me off, but I finally found that there is a novel called Democracy that follows a woman dealing with politics. So, that is right up MJ’s alley?

But why complex female leads?

MJ as an actress resented that her talent was not being used properly and was routinely casted for her looks alone. She always desired complex leads. She wanted a challenge, as any actress worth her salt would.

I cannot figure out what the book she is holding is(looks like a notebook) and the book on top is due to her coffee blocking it.

So we have trendy, hipster MJ or MJ-esque character. Instead of having a bodacious bombshell, we have nerdy, exhausted Mary Jane who really looks like she needs a nap. I really do believe that this is Mary Jane or her adapted substitute. She is still MJ in spirit and character, but not the one we are most familiar with. 

I’ve read every single Spidey issue to this point and I can’t for the life of me remember Cissy Ironwood.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16
1982
John Romita Jr, John Romita Sr,
and Roger Stern

Some of the current Spider-people of the Marvel Multiverse.

So I did this a little while back for some of the different recent DC speedsters in current continuity so here’s the same but for Spider-people and Marvel. The focus being on the ones in current circulation and there are definitely a lot I missed off but I think I got a lot of the main ones.

1. Peter Parker/The Amazing Spider-Man

2. Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man

3. Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099

4. Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman

5. Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman

6. Cindy Moon/Silk

7. Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider/Spider-Man

8. Otto Octavius/The Superior Spider-Man

9. Kaine Parker/Scarlet Spider

10. Mary Jane Watson/Spinneret

11. Annie May Parker


And those were all the ones I cared enough to hunt through the comics I have to find pics for. Obviously there’s a lot more Spider-people in general (Spider-Man Noir, how I love thee) but, as I said before, these I think are most of the ones important in current continuity. Though I will admit that I have not read any Spider book outside of Renew Your Vows (which is amazing) in some time.