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Why Spider-Man’s Zendaya Is So Important to Amber Heard's Trial

Amber Heard trial Zendaya Spider-Man
By Russ Milheim

The world has been enthralled with the infamous defamation suit between Johnny Depp v Amber Heard since the beginning of April. It all began with Heard accusing her ex-husband of abuse—something he quickly denied and has continued to do since then. The former Pirates of the Caribbean star followed up those claims with his own lawsuit against Heard, where he aims to receive damages for her libel while also claiming an attempt to set the record straight.

While Johnny Depp has been on the stand for the last few weeks, recently, it’s been Amber Heard’s turn to be cross-examined. From the many questions she's faced on the stand, the general public has learned more about her role in the upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

It’s been rumored that her role in the upcoming DCEU sequel was reportedly trimmed down due to the controversy and how her character Mera may be confined to a hospital bed. Walter Hamada, President of DC Films at Warner Bros., testified against those claims, however. Instead, he claimed any discussions to recast or lessen her role were due to questions about her chemistry with co-star Jason Momoa. Johnny Depp also took to the stand again to claim that he played a part in helping Heard land her Aquaman role.

Now, an entertainment consultant has testified on the stand about how much work Heard may have missed out on thanks to all of the legal troubles—comparing the demand for her performance being comparable to Zendaya herself.

Why Zendaya Keeps Coming Up In Amber Heard Case

Amber Heard, Justice League
DC

The defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard continues to rage on. The controversy has been making the headlines for weeks as the two try to settle the truth in the courts.

Both stars are still engaged in courtroom combat. However, in recent days, Spider-Man: No Way Home star Zendaya has become a focus when discussing Heard's public reputation and career trajectory in comparison to other actors in superhero blockbusters.

Heard’s team claimed an estimated loss of $50 million in damages due to Johnny Depp’s allegations negatively affecting Amber Heard's future career opportunities in Hollywood.

The explanation for those losses was summarized by Entertainment Industry Consultant Kathryn Arnold, who compared Heard’s celebrity status and demand to be similar to an actress like Spider-Man: No Way Home star Zendaya.

Depp’s lawyer refuted those claims, trying to make the case that the comparison between the two is not an accurate one.

In trying to frame the comparison as illogical, the lawyer said the following to Arnold on the stand:

“You indicated that another person that you compared Ms. Heard with is Zendaya, a person so famous she goes by one name. She’s been on the Disney channel since 13 years old, she’s won an Emmy, she was singing and dancing and swinging from trapezes in The Greatest Showman. She’s now been in multiple Spider-Man movies, she’s 10 years younger than your clients, but this is a person you deem comparable.”

In response, Arnold made it clear how “[she] said that they were comparable [and not] identical,” claiming that Zendaya was only being used as a "reference point:"

“Well, as I was explaining to you how I chose them, when you look at superhero characters, there’s not that many to pull from, so I just tried to work on pulling characters that were in superhero movies that were about the same age range within 10 years, as you noted to me thank you, and also just where her career would have gone. I said that they were comparable, that they are not identical, so you can just look at what their career has done, either before that superhero movie, then in others, or in the one that they were in, and then you look at where her career should have gone even though she may not have been at the stature of a Zendaya at that time. You can still look at it as a comparable trajectory at what happens when you’re in a blockbuster movie. It’s just a reference point; it’s not meant to be identical, they are not meant to be the same people, they do not even have the exact same career. It’s meant to be a reference point, simple as that.”

Q Scores Chart Amber Heard Trial
Q Scores Chart

Depp’s legal team presented a Q score chart to help drive their point across. The graph aims to show “how well a celebrity… [is] liked, and how much they are disliked:“

“Q scores are a measure of how well a celebrity, it could be a cartoon character, a sports person, how well they are known, how well they are liked, and how much they are disliked. It’s an industry-standard tool that’s used. It’s not just focused on the movies that they are in, but it’s focused on them as actors, but also what’s happening in their personal lives come into play as well.”

Looking at the graph, which showed “Winter 2019 Q scores [Aquaman but before the lawsuits],” it becomes clear that Heard’s popularity ranks much lower than the likes of Zendaya, Gal Gadot, and other comparable actors.

In comparison to her Aquaman co-star, Heard ranks three times lower than Jason Momoa in Positive Q Scores and close to three times higher than the Arthur Curry actor in Negative Q Scores.

Amber Heard trial
Social Media Overview

Depp’s legal team also presented a Social Media Overview that displays the follower counts of the alleged comparable actors. The goal of Depp's legal team is to show how Heard's social media popularity lacks significantly behind stars like Zendaya and Gal Gadot. 

The Popularity of Spider-Man’s Zendaya

Spider-Man No Way Home Zendaya
Marvel

Now, obviously, Zendaya isn’t directly related to everything between both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. In fact, who knows if they are even acquaintances?

However, given her immense popularity, she became an important benchmark—one used differently on both sides of the case. That said, with the scores of the 2019 Q charts being as clear as they are, Amber Heard clearly seems to not be on the same level as Zendaya in general fame.

This isn’t all that surprising. After all, even outside of all the controversy, the Aquaman franchise alone is nowhere near Spider-Man when it comes to popularity. Anyone associated with the MCU automatically seems to get a boost. Zendaya has also seen immense popularity due to her roles in projects like Dune and Euphoria, in addition to her status as an icon gained through brand partnerships with fashion, makeup, and perfume labels.

Hopefully, for both Zendaya and those that love her, this popularity comparison is the only time her name is involved with the messy case.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is now available for purchase, while Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom hits theaters on March 17, 2023.