Even though it was the fifth movie made, Spider-Man: Homecoming was a big deal for Marvel, Sony, and Spider-Man fans. The film represented an unprecedented partnership between two rival studios. It also marked the second reboot of the character in a decade. Even though the profits would all belong to Sony Pictures, this marked the first time that Marvel Studios was in direct control of its most popular character. One of their creative decisions was to cast diverse actors in roles that were “played” by white characters in the comic. Up for one of these roles, Laura Harrier thought she lost her role in Spider-Man: Homecoming to Zendaya because she didn’t expect them to cast two black woman actors in the movie.
Laura Harrier played who fans thought would be Liz Allen, but who ended up being the daughter of Michael Keaton’s Vulture, Adrian Toomes. Zendaya, of course, played “Michelle,” a love interest for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, who we find out at the end of the film goes by “MJ.”
In a new interview, Harrier talks about her career at length. Yet, the detail in the conversation about Zendaya stood out.
Why Laura Harrier Thought She Lost Her Spider-Man Role to Zendaya
Image via Sony Pictures
It may seem strange to most folks that Harrier didn’t think a Spider-Man movie would feature multiple actors of color. Yet, it can still be a huge struggle for black actors to break-in and find roles that aren’t necessarily about their racial or ethnic backgrounds. The 2018 review of Diversity in Film by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that in 2018 diversity in film reached new heights. However, things like parity amongst genders and multi-racial ensemble casts are not as common as you might think.
Of course, Spider-Man: Homecoming was filmed in 2016 for a 2017 release, when the numbers were significantly lower. But comic books have always been about inclusivity, so it makes sense that companies like Marvel Studios would try to take the lead on making their casts better match the demographic population of America. Laura Harrier assumed that since Zendaya won a role in Spider-Man, it meant she lost it. Thankfully, she was wrong.
As she told Net-A-Porter.com:
“After I did my screen test for Spiderman, before I had heard anything, it came out a few weeks later that Zendaya was going to be cast in it, so I just figured I hadn’t got the job. She must have…. I called my agent and they reassured me I was still in the running. I thought it was incredible and ground-breaking of Marvel to put us both in those roles and not to make it about our blackness. We were just girls who went to a school in New York and that’s what New York City looks like; films should reflect that. We had the best time making that movie. Zendaya and I are friends now and I’m really grateful for her. Swinging around on those wires was fun!”
Harrier went on to say that the friendship she formed with Zendaya, among other actors, helped her manage her success. After her adventure with Spider-Man, she landed a big role in Spike Lee’s based-on-a-true-story hit BlacKkKlansman. She also says she hopes to branch out further doing romantic comedies, thrillers, and other challenging projects.
Of course, she could also end up being the forthcoming Spider-Man sequel. At the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker’s identity is revealed. And since we know her on-screen dad makes an appearance in Morbius, it’s possible that she will show to confront the kid who stood her up at the prom to go fight her father and upend her entire life.
What do you think? Do you want to see Laura Harrier back as Liz Toomes in the third Spidey film? Tell us in the comments below.
Featured image via Sony Pictures
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.