IN DEFENSE OF ZENDAYA
I’m not going to pretend to know much about Zendaya. The only reason I know her at all is because of my daughter who watches her in KC Undercover on the Disney Channel. But this uproar that stems more from racial reasons (her father is African-American and her mother is Caucasian) than anything else is just plain silly and insulting. I consider myself a comic book purists but more so in keeping the ideals of each character and their origins faithful to the original source material. Yes, there will be some tweaks to modernize these characters but in the end, Superman is still an alien from Krypton, Batman’s parents are still murdered and Spider-Man is still bitten by a radioactive spider and they always put the good of humanity ahead of themselves. So why is there such a controversy over this casting? Why so many naysayers? If the answer is because Zendaya just doesn’t look like MJ, who happens to be white with red hair and a fiery attitude to match, then where was this same controversy or outcry when 51 year-old Marisa Tomei was cast as Aunt May?
I have been reading Spider-Man comics and have seen every cartoon version created for the majority of my life. And there has NEVER been version of Aunt May that looked like Tomei. But because she’s a younger and sexier May, no one bats an eye. In fact, Marvel was applauded for giving this important character in Peter’s life a bold, new look. So again, why is this casting looked at negatively? What is the reason behind it? The answer is, there is no real reason. To be fair, I have no idea how good Zendaya will be in this iconic role but neither does anyone else. I’ll judge her performance based on her acting ability and her on screen chemistry with Holland, nothing more, nothing less. Marvel for nearly a decade now has been outstanding with its casting choices whether on the big screen or in their television properties. I expect nothing less from this casting as well.
Here is some food for thought, both Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans were not exactly welcomed with open arms but the comic book fandom when they were first cast and now we can’t even imagine anyone else playing Iron Man or Captain America. Will we look at Zendaya the same way in the years to come? It’s pretty doubtful but I would like to give her a chance. I hope she shines brightly and gives the character the justice it deserves.
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight