Zendaya Is Leaving The Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Could Zendaya actually be leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe? She let on that this might be it for her MJ character in Spider-Man

By Dylan Balde | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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When it comes to natural selection, Michelle Jones (played by Zendaya) has the overwhelming odds of a standard anime protagonist. Midtown’s most probing mind is no damsel-in-distress; the character has survived drone attacks, alien invaders rampaging through New York City, and what could have amounted to a 500-foot drop down Washington Monument. Unfortunately, a recent interview suggests she may have finally run out of chances.

Zendaya reprises the part in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but filming the last entry in the webslinger’s solo trilogy reportedly felt bittersweet. “We don’t know if we’re gonna do another one,” she tells E! News on July 10. “Like, is it just gonna be three and done? Normally you do three movies and that’s pretty much it, so I think we just were all absorbing and taking the time to just enjoy the moment, being with each other, and being so grateful for that experience.”

Zendaya’s Zoom interview with E! News is right here:

Spider-Man: Homecoming was Zendaya’s first live-action role. It was an auspicious first try that betrayed the singer’s hefty acting chops; getting courted by Marvel Studios in your first movie role meant you were someone special and Jon Watts, who has been directing Spider-Man’s solo films since 2017, had everything right about her. The Oakland native has since made her Emmy debut for Euphoria, and starred opposite Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman. She was also nominated for Best Actress at the Critics’ Choice Awards for playing the similarly named Marie Jones in Sam Levinson’s Malcolm & Marie. And now she’s turning heads featuring in Space Jam: A New Legacy and Denis Villeneuve’s highly-anticipated science-fiction epic Dune.

Speaking about her journey, Zendaya adds: “When I did the first movie, I was 19. It’s pretty special growing up all together and being part of another legacy. It’s the Space Jam legacy and the Spider-Man legacy. There’s been so many different Spideys before us, and just kind of making everybody proud. So I don’t know, I feel very lucky to be a part of two kind of major legacy franchises.”

The former star of Shake It Up practically grew into the character playing Michelle Jones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And since this MJ is not Mary Jane Watson or any preexisting love interest, Zendaya is as responsible for her depiction, pop culture impact, and character development as director Jon Watts and writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, and Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, who made the risky decision of giving Tom Holland’s Peter Parker a romantic lead of his own that isn’t Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, or Felicia Hardy. Several movies and cinematic tie-ins later, the character perseveres and remains one of the more unique additions to an already growing cast of comic book constants.

zendaya spider-man

Tom Holland himself is iffy around the possibility of a fourth Spider-Man movie happening, despite still being contracted to appear in another Marvel/Sony installment after No Way Home. The latter reportedly marks the end of Holland’s solo contract with Sony and Marvel together. Since the Uncharted star is just as much an integral member of the cast as colleagues Zendaya and Jacob Batalon, who play MJ and Ned Leeds respectively, it goes without saying the others may no longer be making further MCU appearances once No Way Home arrives in theaters.

But the London native isn’t ready to stuff his myriad costumes down the sewers just yet. “[Spider-Man 3] would be my last one [under contract], so I’ve always said to them — if they want me back, I’ll be there in a heartbeat,” he tells Collider’s Steve Weintraub while promoting Cherry. “I’ve loved every minute of being a part of this amazing world. It’s changed my life for the better. I’m so lucky to be here. If they want me back, I’ll be there. If they don’t, I will walk off into the sunset a very, very happy person because it’s been an amazing journey.”

The main cast of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man films almost couldn’t have a second solo movie after contract negotiations between Sony and Marvel soured in 2019. Marvel bigwigs reportedly wanted a 50/50 co-financing deal where both studios would have to split production costs and profits. Sony previously monopolized earnings while Marvel assumed creative control, and wasn’t ready to take responsibility for half the expenses and the cash cow the MCU Spidey has become along with it.

Holland reportedly reignited talks that ended the standoff, allowing Jon Watts to develop Far From Home and No Way Home after Sony green-lit another two films. The deal is currently at 25/75, with Sony cutting a bigger share of the arrangement. This allowed Holland, Zendaya, and the rest of the cast to enjoy another storied run as Spider-Man and friends, and make it to the first phase of the new multiversal arc.

Jon Watts is already moving on to direct Marvel’s Fantastic Four reboot, so maybe the jig really is up for our friendly neighborhood wallcrawler this time. A Giant Freakin Robot exclusive recently announced Tom Holland is in talks to headline another Spider-Man trilogy, a leak consistent with Marvel’s plans to center the studio’s expanding multiverse around him, so here’s to hoping. We wouldn’t want to lose Zendaya and Batalon to visiting Variants after the core trio already survived Thanos’s Snap.

If it is indeed the end of the road for Michelle Jones, it’s unclear whether the character Zendaya originated will perish against the multiverse-spanning Sinister Six or simply fade into the background once Spider-Man: No Way Home concludes this December. Whatever the case, hopefully, our favorite cynic manages to go with style. The third Spider-Man solo film comes out on December 17. The blockbuster is currently undergoing last-minute reshoots.