Why Spider-Man’s Zendaya Wants To Play A Supervillain

Zendaya as MJ in Far From Home
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Over the past few years, Zendaya has become a household name and bonafide movie star. This is partly thanks to her Emmy winning work on Euphoria, and also because of her ongoing role as MJ in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man franchise. And while we’ve seen her be a friend and love interest to Peter Parker, Zendaya recently explained why she wants to play a supervillain. Are you listening, Kevin Feige and company?

During Jon Watts’ Spider-Man trilogy, we watched as Zendaya’s MJ became a bigger character in the shared universe. Fans were relieved when MJ was saved by Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker in No Way Home, and are eager to learn if/when she’ll return to the big screen. The Greatest Showman actress recently spoke to Elle about the comic book genre, and why she’s ready to enter her villain era. In Zendaya’s words:

I would love to play a villain of sorts. Tap into that evil, supervillain vibe. Whatever that manifests in, I don't think necessarily in a superhero sense but in an emotional sense. I feel like I usually play the good guy, so I'd like to play the bad guy.

Points were made. While everyone likes being a beloved good guy, there’s something fun about playing a villain. They often get the best lines and over the top costumes. Plus there’s the acting challenge of finding a way to connect and empathize with a villain. And smart money says Zendaya would absolutely kill this challenge.

Narratively, it feels like Zendaya could take her Spider-Man character just about anywhere. Michelle Jones-Watson is a new character created for her, rather than portraying the comic book figure Mary Jane Watson. And as such, Jon Watts and company could make a bold narrative choice and have her break bad to become a villain. After all, she no longer remembers Peter Parker or Spider-Man thanks to the ending of Spider-Man: No Way Home

While Zendaya hasn’t been able to play a full-fledged villain yet, she’s played other complicated characters whose morality might be challenging to grapple with. Euphoria is a prime example, as beloved protagonist Rue has had some bad relapses and conflicts with her family. Plus who can forget the time Rue was on the run for an entire thrilling episode? 

It’s currently unclear what’s coming next for the Spider-Man franchise. Tom Holland has wanted a much-needed break after shooting six movies as Peter Parker in quick succession. Luckily Zendaya and Holland are dating, and still able to spend time together during this hiatus from web slinging. Let’s just hope she gets to stretch those villain muscles sooner rather than later. 

Zendaya’s two upcoming projects Challengers and Dune: Part Two were both delayed as a result of the ongoing strikes. Be sure to check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.