When it emerged back in April that Disney Channel star Zendeya had joined the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming, it was reported that she would be playing a character named Michelle. No further details were given, and since there is no significant character in the comics by that name, it was expected to be a minor role.
But now word comes via The Wrap that it may be a fairly major role after all – according to "two individuals with knowledge of the project", the 19-year-old actress will be playing Peter Parker's longtime love interest, Mary Jane Watson.
"At least one recent draft of the script" drops several heavy hints to suggests that Zendaya's character is Mary Jane. Marvel and Sony Pictures (who are co-producing the project) have neither confirmed or denied the news, but The Wrap seems fairly confident on the matter.
Mary Jane is an important character for our friendly neighbourhood web slinger, eventually marrying Peter Parker. She has previously been played by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi's early noughties movies opposite Tobey Maguire. Shailene Woodley (Divergent) was cast for the recent Andrew Garfield iteration of the character, but her scenes were cut.
Zendeya (full name Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman) is not really known to audiences beyond those who watch the Disney Channel, having only appeared in TV films like Frenemies or the sitcom Shake It Up. But she is certainly about to become very well known.
Jon Watts (Cop Car) is directing the first Spidey film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Tom Holland (The Impossible) as the high school age web slinger, and Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark along for the ride. Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into cinemas on 7 July 2017.