A screenshot of two men kissing Zendaya in her new movie Channelgers.

Don’t Let The ‘Challengers’ Memes Give You the Wrong Idea About Zendaya’s New Movie

After what feels like 100 years, Zendaya is finally making her way back to the big screen in a steamy, romantic sports movie that will see her playing a character type fans have never seen from her before.

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Challengers follows three tennis players, Tashi, Patrick, and Art, as they seemingly have a romantic connection when they’re younger, and then, as adults, Tashi and Art are married, with Patrick being stuck in their past. However, after Tashi suffers a career-ending injury and becomes Art’s coach, she encourages him to enter a challenger event where they both come face to face with Patrick yet again.

The trailer for the film dropped one week ago and, unsurprisingly, took the entire internet by storm. Though fans have seen Zendaya as a spy, a recovering drug addict, and a circus performer, they’ve never seen her as a woman who is tough-as-nails both in her profession and her love life. The reactions to Zendaya playing this kind of character have been … interesting to say the least.

Zendaya’s new movie is being memed, for better and worse

It’s not surprising that people online would be ready to meme a project Zendaya is in, but the types of memes and jokes that have come out range from hilarious to a bit parasocial. In the movie’s trailer, Zendaya is seated between her two co-stars, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist, and they both kiss her individually before kissing her neck at the same time. It’s a super steamy scene that people have turned into a new meme format.

People were also quick to point out how Zendaya, O’Connor, and Faist’s relationship was similar to other movie relationships that feature two men and a woman, including the trio from The Road to El Dorado and Y tu mamá también.

But one of the most talked about aspects about this film is the fact that Zendaya is in a movie where her character will be having sex with two men. This piece of plot, which seems pretty innocuous, has been the main talking point in the film’s discourse, as people aren’t used to seeing Zendaya playing a role that embraces her sexuality.

The memes have also turned to her relationship with Tom Holland, who she began dating while working with him on his run of Spider-Man films.

While most of the jokes about Holland’s reaction to the film have been made in good fun, it still seems a bit odd and gross that people automatically think of Zendaya’s partner when it comes to her in a more mature role. It shouldn’t matter how her partner feels about her doing a job because that’s what acting is—a job. If you’re taking Holland into the equation whenever a project features Zendaya, you’re a bit strange.

At the end of the day, Challengers is set to be one of Zendaya’s most mature and ambitious roles to date. While the memes made about it have been great (and not so great), they shouldn’t take away from that fact.

(featured image: screenshot)


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Author
Kayla Harrington
Kayla Harrington (she/her) is a staff writer who has been working in digital media since 2017, starting at Mashable before moving to BuzzFeed and now here at The Mary Sue. She specializes in Marvel (Wanda Maximoff did nothing wrong!), pop culture, and politics. When she's not writing or lurking on TikTok, you can find Kayla reading the many unread books on her shelves or cuddling with one of her four pets. She's also a world class chef (according to her wife) and loves to try any recipe she can find.