The 46-year-old Guardians of the Galaxy director defended the 19-year-old actress’ casting in a lengthy Facebook post Friday following racist backlash against the K.C. Undercover star.
“I do not believe a character is the color of his or her skin,” Gunn wrote. “Yesterday, a rumor broke out that the character of Mary Jane was being played by a young black woman, Zendaya, and all hell broke out on the Internet.”
“For me, if a character’s primary attribute — the thing that makes them iconic — is the color of their skin, or their hair color, frankly, that character is shallow and sucks,” he opined. “For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she’ll work.”
“Whatever the case, if we’re going to continue to make movies based on the almost all white heroes and supporting characters from the comics of the last century, we’re going to have to get used to them being more reflective of our divorce present world,” the director said.
Zendaya, who was originally slated for the role of Michelle, was linked to Mary Jane, a traditionally white character, last week. Gunn had initially voiced his support for the actress after a fan asked for his opinion in the wake of the news.
“If you’re complaining about the ethnicity of Mary Jane your life is too good,” he tweeted Thursday.
Good Morning America host Amy Robach was swept into the controversy Monday when she used the slur “colored people” while discussing Zendaya’s casting. The television personality apologized the same day, claiming she meant to say “people of color.”