Last time on news stories about the Fantastic Four reboot: the fan discussion got really heated really quickly, thanks to the rumor that Michael B. Jordan – costar of the acclaimed found-footage super-powered teen flick Chronicle made by director Josh Trank (who is developing the new F4 movie) – is up for consideration to play literal hot-head daredevil Johnny Storm (a.k.a. Human Torch) in the film.
Well, that idea prompted impassioned reactions and arguments presented on both sides of the divide - I freely admit to having lit the fuse on that figurative stick of dynamite in my write-up – and Jordan has since weighed in on just how much truth there is behind said rumor (in addition to sharing his own feelings about the issue).
Jordan is attending the 2013 Cannes Film Festival to promote Fruitvale Station (watch the trailer), the Sundance award-winning film where he portrays the late Oscar Grant, the victim of a 2009 police shooting. While there, the actor – an alum of critically-lauded TV series like The Wire and Friday Night Lights – offered up the following to USA Today, about him being cast in Trank’s Fantastic Four movie:
“Nothing is real. Everyone knows [Josh Trank and I are] good friends. It’s something that if it happened I would be ecstatic,” says Jordan, giving a big wink. “I’d love to be a part of it.”
“That wink was off the record,” he then laughs.
He went on to say that he feels most of the people complaining about him playing Johnny Storm “have a continuity problem,” in reference to how the character is traditionally portrayed as caucasian. Nonetheless, Jordan emphasized that he has already received a lot of support on this issue from comic book geeks, saying that “If you go looking for negative things you’re going to find it. You never go through a girl’s phone. If you’re looking for trouble, you’re going to find it. But we’ll see where this all goes.”
Our Kofi Outlaw’s “Changing Face” feature examines how comic book characters and superhero’s race/ethnicity occasionally change over the years, either to keep up with the modern times or to fit a storyteller’s new vision. It should only be seen as a problem when the character’s essence is lost or disrespected; hence, it was fine when Michael Clarke Duncan played Kingpin in the 2003 Daredevil movie – or, conversely, when Bane’s Caribbean heritage was dropped in The Dark Knight Rises – as the qualities that make them great villains were preserved (in my opinion).
Jordan indicated as much, when he commented about him (maybe) playing the Human Torch:
“Things change and time goes on, it’s 2013 right now,” Jordan says of the Torch talk. “The characteristics of the Human Torch are his name is Johnny Storm, he’s charismatic, and he’s a playboy. That’s it. You know what I’m saying? That’s all there is.”
There are, of course, several instances where a character’s racial background does need to be carried over, in order to be true to their original form. Luke Cage, for example, is a superhero whose African-American heritage is a definitive element of his identity (partly because black superheroes were, and still are, a rarity when he was created); similarly, Steve Rogers/Captain America simply would not really make sense as anything but a white American man, given his traditional backstory. However, as I’ve argued before, the Human Torch is not one of those instances.
Jordan is an excellent choice for the role of Johnny Storm – based on his previous acting work – and the same goes for Allison Williams (Girls), who is said to be on the shortlist to play the maternalistic Sue Storm/Invisible Woman in Trank’s F4 reboot.
After all, in this particular comic book-based universe (populated by super-powered humans and alien visitors), it wouldn’t require an explanation as to how Johnny and Sue are brother and sister, even if they have different skin colors. They could be adopted siblings, from parents of different races, or anything else one can imagine to connect these dots.
So, how about it – Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch in Fantastic Four, yay or nay? Let us know in the comments section.
Fantastic Four is being directed by Josh Trank and produced by Matthew Vaughn (director of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class), based on a script written by Jeremy Slater and revised by Seth Grahame-Smith.
It will open in U.S. theaters on March 6th, 2015.
Source: USA Today