Things have been mighty quiet on the Spider-Man front over the last few months, but it appears that’s about to change. While Marvel Studios and Sony already cast the film’s lead, Tom Holland, last year so he could appear in Marvel’s upcoming Captain America: Civil War, proper casting for the new Spider-Man film has begun, and Deadline has the word on the first addition. Actress and singer Zendaya has landed a key role in the film after quietly testing for the part with a number of other young actresses.
A veteran of the Disney Channel with roles in shows like Good Luck Charlie in addition to starring in her own series Shake It Up and K.C. Undercover, Spider-Man marks 19-year-old Zendaya’s first major feature film role, and she is certainly age-appropriate to star opposite 19-year-old Tom Holland, with Marvel and Sony aiming to properly tell a high school-set story for the young Peter Parker.
So who is Zendaya playing? Deadline notes that her character’s name is Michelle, which is either a red herring or she’s playing a new character to the series and not one of Parker’s standard love interests Gwen Stacey or Mary Jane [Update: A few readers have pointed out she could be playing Michele Gonzales, a character from the comics who becomes Parker’s roommate and love interest].
If Marvel and Sony really want to make their film and new Spider-Man stand apart from previous installments, especially so soon after the Andrew Garfield films, it actually might be a nice idea to hold off on bringing Gwen or Mary Jane into the fold until the second movie or so. Then again, it’s possible that Zendaya is playing one of these characters and Marvel is just being savvy, or—and here’s a change of pace—she’s simply playing a key character with zero romantic prospects whatsoever.
Also of note, and refreshingly so, THR’s Borys Kit reports that Marvel and Sony are looking to go “heavily non-white” in casting the supporting roles for this Spider-Man reboot. This comes as Marvel is introducing Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther in Civil War, with the studio landing Creed helmer Ryan Coogler to direct the standalone Black Panther for release in February 2018. With Spider-Man, we could be in for the most diverse Marvel movie yet and, hopefully, a sign of things to come.
Cop Car helmer Jon Watts is directing the picture from a script by Vacation writers/directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, which Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal are producing in a joint-venture with Sony Pictures. As part of the unprecedented collaboration, Sony will get his own standalone franchise while Spider-Man also appears in various Marvel Cinematic Universe films, like the upcoming epic Avengers: Infinity War. But Sony is also developing other Spider-Man films that are, for one reason or another, unconnected to this proper franchise, as we recently learned that the studio’s planned Venom movie is heating up again as its own separate franchise.
Expect more casting announcements for the untitled Spider-Man reboot soon as filming aims to get underway this summer. The film will open in theaters on July 7, 2017.