Micheal B Jordan, Race and Reactions, and The Fantastic Four

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There’s been something of an uproar on some forums about Chronicle co-star Michael B. Jordan possibly becoming Johnny Storm in Josh Trank’s reboot of the Fantastic Four. The overwhelmingly controversial debate is for the most part centred on Jordan’s race and the replacing of traditionally Caucasian characters with other races. Some of these comments, despite being anywhere from ignorant to downright racist, are not all that surprising considering some of the reactions to Miles Morales, the black and Latino Spider-Man of the Ultimates universe. Conversations on the subject typically degrade into political discussions, rants on race and ‘staying true to the character’. It varies how constructive any of these debates can be but the fact that a dialogue is being had at all seems to be a good thing. The biggest question lingering is; is there anything inherently racial about these characters? If the answer is yes then certainly some resistance to the change should be expected, but for the most part there isn’t. Peter Parker for example is an incredibly broad human template: A young, intelligent New Yorker, struggling for financial stability, juggling responsibilities to his family and friends with an ideological attachment to proactive justice. What exactly is inherently radicalized about that? People from all races, especially in a city as diverse as New York, struggle with these exact same situations, so why is it such a big deal if Spider-Man is Black, Latino, or any other race? If the creators of the comics or movies want to change the race of the character because the perfect actor is not of the characters race and if that person captures the essence of the character, then they should feel free do so without scrutiny. This brings us back to Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm. Jordan has a natural charisma, charm and comedic timing that Josh Trank likely first noticed in his cinematic debut Chronicle. Jordan really is a great choice with an ostentatious smile and enough dramatic range to handle both Storm’s high and low points. These are the qualities that are required to play Johnny Storm, and not low amounts of melanin.

Dont agree? Keeps the conversation going in the comments. We don’t need to reach a consensus, but we do need to explore our options.

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2 Comments
  1. Shibby says

    To me it’s none of those things you mentioned, just a piss-poor choice in casting. It’s a very coveted role and Trank can get any actor he wants, someone who really IS the guy from the comics brought to life; like Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man or Henry Cavill as Superman where you get to say “Yes! There is absolutely zero disconnect between the actor and the character he’s portraying. I can totally forget I’m watching a movie and get lost in some classic superhero fiction.” With Michael in the role it’d be like Tom Cruise as Tony Stark or Will Smith as Superman (both of which came close to happening) where there would be an unignorable stigma attached to the film, and it becomes the most discussed aspect of it all, drawing focus away from his co-stars and more important aspects. Michael would constantly be asked the same questions by the press leading up to and promoting the damn thing. What color is Susan? Is she black (I don’t know any black women named Susan) or are they adopted siblings? (Now its clear to me that you don’t consider race an integral part of Johnny’s character, but his biological relation to Susan is integral and can’t be changed.) Does Reed have a fetish for science AND big black booty? If Josh Trank doesn’t pick someone good (Callan McAuliffe, Hunter Parrish, Lucas Till, etc.) then he better have good answers for Michael to answer each of those questions.

  2. nick says

    Listen i have no problem with superheroes with varying belief systems, sexual alignments, and personalities. I do have issues with changing an established character for the sake of changing an established character. In the case of Miles Morales it came off as just that, they changed him in order to change him. Do i care that spiderman is not white? no. i care that spiderman isnt Peter parker. They created a new character, instead of modifying an old one. In the fantastic four case i wouldnt mind because johnny storm is still johnny storm. because race doesnt affect a character. and if it does than maybe we havent progressed as far as we thought.

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