Zendaya as Mary Jane? Ask about red hair for the next year and you’ll be called a ‘racist’

Zendaya

And so it begins — the great new excuse to call people “racist” for the next year.

News broke on Thursday afternoon that Zendaya will be playing the iconic role of Mary Jane in next summer’s latest Spider-Man movie, Homecoming.

The Wrap reported:

Zendaya will be playing long-time Spider-Man love interest Mary Jane Watson in next summer’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” two individuals with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Diehard Spidey fans have long speculated about whom the 19-year-old Disney Channel star would portray in Sony’s high-profile reboot of the superhero franchise, starring British actor Tom Holland as a teenage Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man.

Also Read: All 43 Marvel Movies Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (Photos)

At least one recent draft of the script has Zendaya’s character dropping several clues to her identity as Mary Jane, one of the most familiar love interests in the Marvel superhero’s universe — and played by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi‘s 2002-07 movie trilogy starring Tobey Maguire as the webslinger.

Zendaya, the star of the Disney Channel series “Shake It Up!” and “K.C. Undercover,” was cast back in March to play a “key role” as a character named Michelle.

Your friendly neighborhood blogger has plenty of thoughts on Sony’s movie, but what concerns me most is the knee-jerk reaction by race-obsessed goons to label anyone who wants to see a beautiful redhead on the big screen as “raaaaaaacist.”

Peter MJ

One of the first race-runners out of the gate was Devin Faraci of the website Birth. Movies. Death. He worries about the “next racist fanboy outrage,” (because honoring source material is apparently ‘racist’ nowadays).

Devin Farac

The comments section of websites like The Wrap (You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy) was just as bad.

Wrap comments Homecoming MJ

Ah, yes, all those “racist white nerds” who like their Blades and Rhodeys black and their Mary Janes white with red hair…they’re so weirdly racist!

The good thing about Sony’s habitual screw-ups when it comes to…pretty much everything…is that at this point fans only want to see a good movie. My prediction is that Zendaya — who is certainly beautiful  — will do just fine.

It’s hard to do a worse job than Kirsten Dunst, so as long as Zendaya captures the essence of MJ’s character then most long-time fans will forgive the studio’s deviation from the comics.

It is much harder to turn the other cheek, however, with writers who salivate at the chance to spit out charges of racism over the slightest disagreement.

What do you think of Zendaya’s casting? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think it was strange of Sony to keep it a secret for so long if the casting is not supposed to be a big deal? Let me know in the comments section below.

Update: Dan Slott decided to weigh in on the issue, and he was in rare form with his Straw Man arguments and specious claims. I cover it in the comments section, but decided to take a screenshot of the embedded tweets since he has a habit of deleting them when things get out of hand.

Dan Slott Homecoming Zendaya

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Hollywood cowers before Kim Jong-un, refuses to sign George Clooney petition for free speech

Clooney AP1Free speech is taking a beating these days, and the punishment is coming from the one place that should be its staunchest defender: Hollywood. In an exclusive with Deadline Hollywood, George Clooney says he circulated a petition to support Sony Entertainment on the grounds that pulling “The Interview” would, for all intents and purposes, be an abdication of free speech to its enemies. The number or people in Hollywood willing to sign the petition: ZERO.

Here is an excerpt from the petition:

This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.

The fact that Mr. Clooney’s friends within the industry refused to sign such a statement is pathetic. Dec. 16, 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, but on that very same day Hollywood studio heads couldn’t even bring themselves to sign a piece a paper in defense of free speech. Ask yourself: Would you want to go to war with anyone from Hollywood? Do you want these people and their friends running the country and shaping the culture? How much damage have they already done?

After discussing his spineless friends (without naming names, of course), Mr. Clooney then goes on to talk about the ramifications of the Sony hacking with Deadline Hollywood’s Mike Flemming Jr.

DEADLINE: What kind of constraints will this put on storytellers that want to shine a critical light on a place like Russia, for instance, with something like a movie about the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the KGB officer who left and became an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin?

CLOONEY: What’s going to happen is, you’re going to have trouble finding distribution. In general, when you’re doing films like that, the ones that are critical, those aren’t going to be studio films anyway. Most of the movies that got us in trouble, we started out by raising the money independently. But to distribute, you’ve got to go to a studio, because they’re the ones that distribute movies. The truth is, you’re going to have a much harder time finding distribution now. And that’s a chilling effect.

Mr. Flemming’s hypothetical scenario involving a movie about Alexander Litvinenko is impressive. It shows that he knows how dangerous of a precedent it was for Sony Entertainment to pull “The Interview.” Unfortunately, he and George Clooney appear to be in the vast minority in Hollywood. The erosion of free speech is happening before our eyes — we just can’t see it. You can’t see or hear the movies that were never written out of fear. You can’t hold the DVD of a movie that was never made because cowardly men and women in Hollywood are slaves to the desires of dictators and despots. You can’t smell and taste the popcorn for a blockbuster movie that was killed before pen was ever put to paper.

People laugh because a giant free speech debate has been generated over a Seth Rogen movie, but what happened at Sony is no laughing matter. Regardless, Americans should stand up and applaud George Clooney for shining a light on the character — or lack thereof — of the men and women running Hollywood.

Sony caves to North Korea: ‘The Interview’ capitulation clowns give Kim Jong-un free speech veto

Seth Rogen James Franco The InterviewThe Founding Fathers knew that the right to free speech was important, which is why it is covered in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights. Today, Dec. 17, 2014, is the day that U.S. capitulation clowns at Sony gave a dictator veto power over the free speech rights of its American artists and sent a message to thug regimes that if they have enough tech savvy, then they can make studio executives cower in fear.

Here is what the First Amendment says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — Amendment I, U.S. Constitution.

Sony isn’t rolling over for the U.S. government, but instead doing something even worse — it’s censoring itself to appease a Communist thug regime that runs gulags.

Here is Sony’s statement regarding its decision to pull “The Interview” from theaters. It also has no plans to release the film in any formincluding VOD or DVD.

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

Cowards. American blood was shed to guarantee that our rights to free speech, press, petition, assembly, and religion could be upheld, but in the face of threats by anonymous hackers on the other side of the globe, Sony crumbled. And before Sony made an utter embarrassment out of itself, the five major movie theater circuits did the same thing: Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark and Cineplex Entertainment.

Imagine you’re Vladimir Putin. Imagine you’re Iran’s Ali Khamenei. Imagine you’re Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro or China’s Xi Jinping. Is it more or less likely that you would be willing to use hackers to impose your will upon American companies and stifle dissent?

Imagine you’re a writer for a major motion studio. Would you craft any screenplays in the near future that challenge the world’s worst dictators and despots? The message Sony has sent to the world by pulling “The Interview” is downright chilling and its executives should be reminded of it for years to come.

Anyone who cares about free speech should be downright terrified that companies operating in the U.S. would run for the hills the moment a nebulous hacking group threatens Americans with violence. The fact that it was even under consideration to torpedo the film is an indicator that America’s cultural rotgut has grown to gargantuan proportions. We have been hollowed out from the inside, and Sony’s reaction to being hacked by the “Guardians of Peace” has exposed that sad reality for everyone to see.

Sony does not “stand by” its filmmakers. In fact, it is doing the exact opposite. It stabbed Seth Rogen and James Franco in the back, and it sucker punched millions of Americans who realize just how dangerous it is to appease dictatorial regimes.

Calling someone “un-American” should be done only on rare occasions due to the seriousness of the charge. However, I firmly believe that any American employee of Sony who backs the decision to kill “The Interview’s” theatrical release is taking part in something that is wholly and unequivocally un-American.

Related: Seth Rogen rightly called out Sony’s capitulation to North Korean thugs prior to hacking

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’: Come for the story, stay to laugh at the special effects?

When trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man came out a few years ago, I was generally impressed with the product. While I felt there was absolutely no need to reboot the franchise after the supreme letdown that was ‘Spider-Man 3’ (aside from Sony’s desire to keep the rights from falling into Marvel’s hands), the trailer did pique my interest. Notably, in two-and-a-half minutes there were very little special effects — aside from the first-person point of view shots that begin at 1:43. With ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ there are plenty of special effects teasers, and they’re pretty cringe-worthy. Will I go for the story, which does look interesting, but stay to laugh at the special effects? We shall see.

Before delving into the special effects, one first needs to discuss the “villain” concern. There are three of them — and everyone knows that packing a movie with too many villains is a dangerous endeavor. Director Marc Webb seems like a nice guy — but can he juggle? That’s the big question. When it comes to creativity, that’s up for debate.

Take, for instance, his reasoning behind the “Rhino” armor:

Marc Webb: One of the tricky things to translating characters from the comics that work in illustrations into the three-dimensional reality on a New York street — and often things that work quite well as a drawing — [is that they] don’t make sense in the physical world. And so, we wanted to make Rhino into something as powerful he is in the comics, and as sort of simple minded and direct as he is in the comics but with a suit that felt of this world. There’s certain hints about its creation. It’s only teased in the movie. It’s not really a big part of the film. I wanted something to create something that felt majestic and quite powerful but something Aleksei could have put together himself.

On some level, he makes sense. On another, it’s a complete cop-out. The trailer highlights quite clearly that they went with all sorts ideas that “don’t make sense in the physical world.” The challenge for the director is to figure out a way to make it work. Correction: In this case it’s up to the director and Sony Imageworks to figure it out. If they didn’t have the budget or the time to do Rhino properly, maybe they shouldn’t have done him at all.

Rhino Amazing Spider Man 2

As it stands, the walking tank outfit looks bad. Oscorp is genetically engineering everyone in the film accept the guy who calls himself “Rhino”? One would think that Oscorp would be keen on developing technology that would allow soldiers to coat themselves in Rhino-like skin. Get in bed with the government and the Department of Defense and it’s even harder to bring you down, right? I guess not.

Amazing Spider Man 2 Rhino fight

The images released for the trailer look like something straight from a Playstation or XBox game, and in some cases they look worse.

Amazing Spider Man 2 web swing

Do the special effects make Spidey look like The Amazing Rubber-Man, or am I just getting old, picky and spoiled? It’s hard to complain about Spider-Man movies when you’re old enough to remember a time when they didn’t exist… Maybe I should just count my blessings and focus on the positive — namely, the story.

As it pertains to creating intrigue, Mr. Webb gets high marks:

Marc Webb: I don’t want to reveal to much of the plot but Peter learns things about his past, and at one point his future, provocative ways.

“Secrets have a cost, but the truth does to.’ I think there’s a line that Aunt May said in the first move, which was: “Secrets have a cost, Peter.” We recap that line and re-imagine it a little bit. She said ‘I once told you that secrets have a cost, but the truth does too,’which means that any way you cut it there’s going to be challenges ahead.

The big prominent villain in the film is Electro, but there are many adversaries Spider-Man is going to have to face. But the evil empire — the consistent thing between them all — is the evil empire known as Oscorp, or what’s becoming this evil empire. And I think that’s something that may inform people’s viewing of the trailer. Questions will be answered. … I wouldn’t say it’s a dark movie, but there is very powerful forces at work that are emanating from Oscorp. Oscorp is the place from which all nasty things emerge in this movie, and Spider-Man is going to have to confront that.

The Amazing Spider-Man trailer is awkward, because every time there are real actors on the screen a sense of mystery is there. Dane DeHaan has the “it” factor. He really seems like an intelligent kid with a dark, dark side to him. Dare I say it? They should have dumped Electro and just went straight to the Green Goblin.

Dane DeHaan Harry Osborn

Aunt May’s “secrets have a cost” line works well as shots of Peter’s ‘A Beautiful Mind’/John Nash-ish room and Richard Parker’s subterranean lair flash across the screen.

Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider Man 2

Who is that guy in the shadows with the hat walking by The Vulture’s and Doctor Octopus’ gear? The kid in me is begging my adult side to run to the ATM.

Amazing Spider Man 2 Vulture Doctor Octopus

Sadly, for every moment worth getting excited about there are two or three cheesy special effects that induce a wince. Electro (or was that Superman Blue?) looks silly, and the Goblin costume looks like it was put together by someone with a do-it-yourself goblin kit. If ‘Captain America’ could pull off Red Skull, there’s really no excuse why Sony couldn’t make the Green Goblin respectable. It would be a shame if because of self-imposed tight shooting schedules and release dates that fans get half-baked villains for one of America’s coolest superheroes.

At the end of the day, the trailer for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ is a mixed bag. Will Jamie Foxx turn out a performance of ‘Django Unchained’ caliber, or … ‘Booty Call’? Will the special effects sink the film, or is Spider-Man popular enough around the world at this point in time that it’s almost impossible for his movies not to at least break even? Perhaps the second trailer will make its box office potential clearer.

Watch the trailer below if you haven’t seen it and let me know what you think.

Related: Will ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ be the must-see blame America movie of the summer?