WARNING: Do not read this if you haven’t watched Spider-Man: Homecoming yet.
One moment in Spider-Man: Homecoming that has been drawing a lot of attention is when Peter Parker’s classmate Michelle (played by Zendaya) reveals that her nickname is “MJ,” which of course are pretty loaded initials in the Spider-Man universe. MJ, of course, is the same nickname as Peter’s most popular love interest and future wife in the comics, Mary-Jane Watson, which has led many (myself included) to assume that Michelle is in fact the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Mary-Jane.
However, according to the film’s producers, this isn’t necessarily the case.
In an interview with IGN, Spider-Man: Homecoming producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal were quick to point out that just because Michelle goes by “MJ,” it doesn’t mean that she is the same character as Mary-Jane Watson.
“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.”
“She is not going to end as being Mary Jane Watson,” added Pascal.
Feige then went onto to explain that even though Michelle isn’t the MJ fans are familiar with, she may still end up being a love interesting for Peter. “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?”
While I appreciate the producers clarifying the whole “MJ” debate, I don’t really buy Feige’s claim that he never considered Zendaya’s line to be one of the film’s “big reveals.” Those are loaded initials in the Spider-Man universe and when you have a female character basically winking at the camera and saying that her friends call her MJ, you should probably expect that fans are going to latch onto the idea of that person being Mary-Jane, especially when that character has yet to be introduced in this particular story. As things stand, Zendaya’s Michelle is now associated with Mary-Jane whether Feige and Pascal like it or not, and introducing the “real” Mary-Jane at a later date will only make the MJ reveal here seem even sillier and pointless than it already is.