It’s impossible to cast a comic book movie without fans getting up in arms over who is chosen to embody their beloved characters. If recent reactions to the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in DC’s upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie have taught us anything, it’s that us comic book fans are seriously hard to please. But we’ve known that for a while. Remember the chaos over Heath Ledger?
Unfortunate backlash has now caught up with actor Michael B. Jordan, who is confirmed to play Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot. Once the news of his casting hit the web, fans took to Twitter, Facebook, you name it to lash out at the placement of a black actor in an originally white role. Well, now Jordan has a response.
TMZ recently caught up with Jordan on his way to dinner and asked him for a reaction to the criticism. What does he think about the cynics who are upset that Johnny Storm is going to be black? Said Jordan:
“They’re still going to go see it anyway.”
Jordan appeared unaffected by the suggestion of controversy, and why should he be? He has been having a fantastic year with a powerful performance in the critically praised Fruitvale Station and a role in the romantic comedy That Awkward Moment. Jordan and Trank also have an established working relationship from 2012’s Chronicle. We’ve already argued that Jordan deserves the role. If anything, this is just another sign of the actor’s rising star.
Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot is already taking a variety of steps in a new direction. Since so many of the actors who tested for these roles were younger than previously considered, we assume that the film will take its cues from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book continuity. Now that Jordan’s casting has been announced, we don’t yet know how screenwriter Simon Kindburg has set up Johnny and Sue Storm’s sibling backstory, but the idea of adoption is not farfetched.
Of course, this type of uproar is nothing new. Comic book movies have always had their fair share of casting controversies. For many, Chris Evans was the perfect Johnny Storm, and yet Evans faced his own brand of backlash when it was announced that he would embody Steve Rogers/Captain America. Now that Evans has taken over as another iconic character, The Human Torch is free to be re-envisioned.
But the hostile response to Jordan also touches on the cross-racial casting nerve that many can’t seem to get over. There was uproar when Idris Elba was named as Norse god Heimdall in Thor, when Michael Clarke Duncan was announced as Kingpin in Daredevil, when Laurence Fishburne was cast as Perry White for Man of Steel and when Jamie Foxx became Electro for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And let’s not forget Halle Berry as Catwoman. (On second thought, maybe it’s better if we all forget about that Catwoman movie).
This pandemonium is getting old. Can we really call this controversial casting in 2014? Unless a character’s race or ethnicity is essential to the plot of the film, such as in Fruitvale Station or the upcoming Black Panther film, this shouldn’t be such a big deal. When an extremely talented actor is awarded a role in which he could very well be awesome, we shouldn’t adhere to an outdated vision that we might have of the character in our heads. Rather, we should be open to new faces of any color looking to make their mark on an iconic role.
What do you think of Jordan’s casting and his response? Let us know in the comments.
Fantastic Four is scheduled to hit theaters March 6th, 2015.
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