Why Zendaya’s MJ Should Not Appear in the MCU Movie

Why Zendaya’s MJ Should Not Appear in the MCU Movie

Zendaya‘s Michelle Jones-Watson has been in every live-action Spider-Man film since Spider-Man: Homecoming. While there was some initial backlash over Zendaya’s casting (primarily due to the color of her skin, via NBC News), the character has been quickly embraced by the fans. With Zendaya’s talent, star power, and her chemistry with Tom Holland, it has come as no surprise that fans want to see her in the next Spider-Man film. But with how the trilogy just ended, would MJ’s return really be right for the upcoming Spider-Man 4?

Update October 30, 2023: This article has been updated with more information including rumors of Zendaya’s return in Spider-Man 4 as well as possible storylines the MCU could adapt.

Spider-Man 4 is already a hot topic among Sony and Marvel Studios and might even be in the early production. Unfortunately, there is no news about a release date yet, but due to the actors’ strike and production delays, we might be looking at 2025 at the earliest. It is heavily rumored that Zendaya will return for this upcoming movie, which is really no surprise since the actress continues to take the world by storm, with millions of fans in awe of her talent. However, not everyone is happy about the possibility of Zendaya’s return. It might be wise to keep Peter Parker and MJ separated a bit longer before bringing them back together. Here’s why Zendaya’s MJ should not appear in the fourth MCU Spider-Man film.

Peter Needs to Face the Consequences After No Way Home

Marvel Studios
Sony Pictures

Peter Parker was in for a rude awakening all throughout Spider-Man: No Way Home. While Aunt May was the only one who died, Peter still lost all the people closest to him when they forgot about his existence as a result of Doctor Strange’s spell. MJ was one of those people, and their romantic relationship, or any kind of relationship, came to an end. Despite MJ telling Peter to find her, Peter decided to leave her alone after realizing that it was the best way to keep her safe. After getting to know Holland’s Spider-Man, it is safe to say that this difficult choice came as no surprise.

Peter continuously made it clear, through words and action, that the safety of his loved ones (or even strangers) is of utmost priority, and he is willing to put his own desires on hold. As said by Aunt May in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, “Sometimes to do what’s right, we have to be steady and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.” Backtracking on a major decision is an aspect that hurt The Amazing Spider-Man series, as after Peter Parker promised Captain Stacy, he would stay away from Gwen, he breaks it before the end of the movie only for them to break up at the beginning of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Related: Here’s Why Zendaya’s MJ is the Best Leading Lady of All the Spider-Man Franchises

The life of Spider-Man has consistently put people in harm’s way, as far back as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Liz’s father, the Vulture, threatened to kill Peter and everybody he loved. Then, during Spider-Man: Far From Home, Mysterio was present at nearly all the destinations on Midtown’s summer trip to Europe. Had Peter failed to defeat either of those villains, MJ would have died. She also would have died had Peter 3 (Andrew Garfield) not saved her in No Way Home.

As Peter has been portrayed to be someone who is very caring, it would be out of character for him to reunite with MJ so soon. It doesn’t make sense for Peter to attempt to rekindle his relationship as he faces new and deadlier foes. From a narrative standpoint, it would be ideal for Peter to fully feel the consequences of the life he has chosen to lead, and it would also create more suspense for the viewers.

Peter Needs To Learn Who He Is Without MJ

Zendaya and Tom Holland in No Way Home.
Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures

After appearing in every Spider-Man film in the MCU thus far, it might be time to explore Holland’s Peter Parker without MJ in his life. MJ was a central focus in Far From Home and No Way Home, which, from a romantic point of view, was an entertaining and exciting aspect of the movies. However, when solely looking at Peter Parker’s character development (aside from his love life), less spotlight on MJ might have given him more space to grow even more as an individual.

It would be interesting to see Peter try to move on from her in an upcoming sequel in order to get to know him without being distracted by impressing his love interest. Both Peter and MJ were 17 or 18 at the end of the Homecoming trilogy, so they still have much growing up to do when they are not around each other. Without MJ, Happy, May, or Ned, Peter has been put in a brand-new situation where he has to figure out who he is for himself. If Sony and Marvel Studios were to immediately send Peter back to the people he is familiar with, that would be a mistake, which could cause a serious backlash.

Related: Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen Still Teases New Trailer Release Date for Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man has often operated alone in Marvel Comics, being portrayed more as an individual hero than a permanent member of any specific team. However, during his time as a hero, he has received much-needed guidance and support from his friends. If Zendaya’s MJ did not return for Spider-Man 4, her absence would be strongly felt by both Peter and the audience. That kind of response is something you want when telling a story about moving on and forging new beginnings since it would work as the perfect foundation for authentic development.

Enter Gwen Stacy

emma stone gwen stacy

Allowing Peter and MJ some time apart could allow Peter to be involved in other romantic relationships from the comics, most notably with Gwen Stacy. Gwen was previously portrayed on-screen by Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-Man 3 and by Emma Stone in both The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Spider-Gwen (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) says that in every universe, Gwen Stacey falls for Spider-Man, suggesting she is a canon character. Introducing Gwen Stacy to the MCU not only allows them to bring in one of Peter Parker’s biggest romantic partners aside from Mary Jane, but the MCU could do something drastically different with the character.

For years, Gwen Stacy was defined by her death in The Amazing Spider-Man #121. “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” is one of the most iconic comics of all time and is about a tragic character who dies to further Spider-Man’s journey. This was the path The Amazing Spider-Man film series followed. Yet in 2014, the same year The Amazing Spider-Man 2 adapted the death of Gwen Stacy storyline, Marvel introduced a variant of Gwen known as Spider-Gwen for their comic book series, Spider-Verse.

Since then, Spider-Gwen has become a fan-favorite character in her own right and even stars in the popular Spider-Verse film series, which has made her one of the most popular heroes in Marvel. Now, Gwen is not just a character doomed for a tragic fate but can be a hero in her own right. Marvel Studios could use the absence of Zendaya’s Mary Jane to introduce Gwen Stacy and also allow her to become Spider-Gwen in the MCU. That means the MCU could forge its own path from the main Marvel continuity but also the comics, where two spider heroes are operating in New York City. This has worked out in Insomanic’s Spider-Man video games that see Peter Parker and Miles Morales operating together, so the MCU could do something similar with Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen.

Save MJ’s Return for Later

Peter and MJ kiss in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Sony / Marvel Studios

In many ways, the romance between Peter Parker and MJ parallels the romance between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. Both were couples who were in love but were ripped apart by tragedy as the hero had to put his own needs before those of himself and his romantic partner understanding that. Allowing Peter Parker stories without MJ for a while is good because it allows the audience to miss them, and allowing them to reunite will be all the greater.

There is a reason the final shot of Avengers: Endgame is a romantic dance between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. After eight years of audiences following these characters, they have earned their happy ending. MJ and Peter should not be reunited until Avengers: Secret Wars. Either in a new reality created by Kang or once everything is reset and restored, part of the newly rebooted MCU could be MJ remembers Peter, and the two can have a happily ever after. Time makes the heart grow fonder, and that is what it should be for Peter Parker and MJ’s romance.


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