Zendaya, the popular singer and actress from the Disney Channel, is playing Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming, if a recent report is to be believed. We don't yet know if she'll be Peter Parker (Tom Holland)'s love interest in this initial movie (it took him awhile to get to MJ in the pages of Marvel Comics, after all), but if the report is true, she'll have a presence there. Some have taken umbrage with the casting, complaining that the character, typically a Caucasian redhead in the comics, is being played by a young black woman. The character's co-creator, Stan Lee, disagrees with those people.
"If she is as good an actress as I hear she is, I think she'll be absolutely wonderful," Lee told the Toronto Sun in an interview promoting his appearance at Fan Expo Canada. "The color of their skin doesn't matter, their religion doesn't matter, all that matters is that this is the right person for the role."
Lee, who co-created hundreds of well-known characters in the Marvel Universe like Spider-Man, The X-Men, and the Incredible Hulk alongside legendary artists like Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, John Romita, and more, has never had a problem with his characters being cast in reimagined races.
Most of the characters created in the 60s and earlier were white, and that was simply a sign of the times. With the racial barrier then considerably more drastic than it is today, the creators developing those characters typically didn't want to take the risk; remember, this was a time before even the first interracial kiss had been seen on television (a revolutionary moment in Star Trek), and segregation was still going strong in many states. Race was not frequently an inherent part of those white characters, they just happened to be so. Many characters have since been reimagined in more diverse roles, be it on television, in films, and even in alternate reality versions of the comic books.
Hopefully Stan Lee's word, and praise of the casting, will go farther with the detractors than other arguments have, and they'll wait to judge Zendaya's prowess until Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters next July.