SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers ahead from "Spider-Man: Homecoming."
Not too long ago, more rumors came out, supposedly from the junior novelization, that Michelle's last name was Toomes, meaning she was the daughter of Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture. That turned out to be close, but not quite, since it was Liz -- Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) homecoming date -- who was the daughter of Adrian Toomes.
It wasn't clear for most of the movie why they even needed a known star with a big fan base for Michelle, since she was such a side character (despite making the poster). Then she ended the film by saying her friends call her MJ. As Collider noted, there was even a tiger image behind her when she said it, which seemed to reference Mary Jane Watson's famous line, "Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot."
But Den of Geek talked to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and "Homecoming" director Jon Watts, and Feige insisted Michelle is not really that MJ.
"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. Clearly, she says she's not obsessed with him, she's just observant. But she's there. And to have fun with that while at the same time having it be different characters that can provide a different dynamic [is the point].
Peter's had a lot of friends over the years in the comics, and a lot of schoolmates and characters he's interacted with. It wasn't just Mary Jane Watson; it wasn't just Gwen Stacy; it wasn't just Harry Osborn. So we were very interested in the other characters, and that's where Liz came from and that's where the version of the character Michelle came from."
IGN talked to Feige and Sony's Amy Pascal, who also confirmed Michelle is not quite MJ.
Feige: "Well, we never even looked at it as a big reveal necessarily but more of just a fun homage to his past adventures and his past love. She's not Mary Jane Watson. She never was Mary Jane Watson. She was always this new high school character, Michelle, who we know there's an "M" in Michelle and an 'M' in Mary. [laughs] So we're so clever and we thought, 'Wouldn't it be neat if her initials were MJ?' And then I think it leaked that she would be playing MJ and then it became a whole headache for Zendaya to have to navigate. It was never a big, 'Oh my God, it's a big reveal!' There are big reveals in the movie. That's not one of them."
Pascal: "She is not going to end as being Mary Jane Watson."
Feige: "She's not Mary-Jane Watson. Is she going to date Peter? Are they going to fall in love? She seems to be intrigued with him. There's a nice chemistry there. Who knows what will happen in the future films?"
So she's not MJ but she has her initials and might end up dating Peter Parker at some point in the next two Spidey movies. Sounds like she's still their version of Mary Jane Watson, just a stand-in/replacement/twist. There's nothing bad about that, but why be so coy and insist it's not a "big reveal"?
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