Zendaya Opens Up About How That Spider-Man Reference Made Its Way Into Her New Film Challengers

We weren't the only ones doing a double take in the cinema, right?
Mike Faist and Zendaya in Challengers
Mike Faist and Zendaya in Challengers
Warner Bros

Zendaya has opened up about how a nod to one of her most famous works managed to make its way into her new film Challengers.

As well as playing tennis-prodigy-turned-coach Tashi Duncan in the hit sports drama, the Euphoria star also served as one of its producers.

Early on in the film, Zendaya is heard urging her young daughter to go and “watch Spider-Verse” in her hotel bedroom, referencing the hugely popular animated Spider-Man movies.

As well as her roles in Euphoria and Dune, the Emmy winner is perhaps best known for her role as MJ in the most recent live-action Spider-Man films – and the reference to her Marvel past in her latest film wasn’t lost on her.

Zendaya in New York last month
Zendaya in New York last month
Jason Howard/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images

Speaking to reporters at the film’s LA premiere, Zendaya revealed (via Vulture): “What’s funny is I think [the film] might have been something else [in the script], but that’s what we could get cleared.”

“It’s a fun little callout,” she added.

Luca Guadagnino previously revealed the reference wasn’t a deliberate one, but instead it felt like the most pertinent of the films he could have used for a six-year-old girl to watch.

When you get rights for something to be used in a movie, it’s very complicated,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Amy Pascal, our amazing producer, was of help there

“I said, ‘Amy, can we use one of your catalog titles so it’s going to be easier to clear them?’ [Lily]’s a girl; she’s not going to choose to watch The Social Network or The Post, but maybe she’s going to watch a Spider-Man cartoon, so I said, ‘Why not Spider-Verse?’.”

Zendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far From Home
Zendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far From Home
J Whilden/Columbia/Marvel/Kobal/Shutterstock

The Oscar-nominated filmmaker explained: “Now I realise that it sounded like an in-joke, which, you know, the unconscious guides us all the time.”

Challengers is in cinemas now.


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