Michael B Jordan responds to Fantastic Four criticisms

News Glen Chapman 7 Mar 2014 - 06:41

Michael B Jordan, the new Human Torch in Fantastic Four, has responded to the controversies over the film's casting...

We suspect that the controversy surrounding the casting of the upcoming Fantastic Four hasn't escaped you, and it's something we looked at on the site here. One of the particular areas of debate has been the casting of Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm (the Human Torch). The specific issue centres on skin colour. Storm's on-screen sister is being played by Kate Mara in the film, and questions have been raised with regards whether a brother and sister should have the same colour skin.

Jordan has now been chatting about the controversy, declaring that "it was expected". "You kinda know going into it that people are used to seeing something one way, it's a continuity thing more than anything. People don't like change too much. But annoyed? Eh, you just kinda accept it, it is what it is. You can't make everybody happy", he said.

"You just gotta accept that and know. I'm an actor, I have to do my job. I'm going to do my job the best I can and the way I've been doing it my entire life, my entire career. I grew up a comic book guy, I read comic books as a kid growing up, and the Fantastic Four/Human Torch is one of my favourite characters so I'm going to give it my everything. I can't wait. I don't really let it bother me at all. I just want to go into it and do the best job I can. We'll see what happens".

On a more positive note, Jordan went on to talk about the appeal of the role. "The Human Torch is, y'know, that's fun. That's going to be a good time...To play a superhero? That's dreams coming true. It's not going to be hard. It's going to be fun to kind of show a side of me that I don't really get to show on screen, to be a little bit lighter, funnier, just more personality. It's going to be fun".

Fantastic Four is due for release on June 19th 2015. Josh Trank is directing.

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I've just read the movie's actually going to be called 'The Furious Foursome'. Matt Lucas has been cast as the Silver Skater.

The only issue is how they are going to deal with the fact that a brother & sister are from different ethnic groups. They should have just cast a black actress as Sue Storm & then there would have no need to offer any explanation.

"I'm prepared to suspend belief to accept that a man can turn himself into a human torch and a woman can make herself invisible; but asking me to believe that two people of differing skin colours could be brother and sister - that's just preposterous!"
Seriously, the world needs to move into the 21st century and get its priorities straight.
I'm just concerned that everyone looks so young nowadays.
Especially the policemen.

1) He's adopted
2) He's a stepbrother
3) They're cousins not siblings

= three options right there which can be explained with one line

That's my main thing about it. If they'd both have been black, it would have been less of a problem. I mean, I'd prefer them to have been true comic representations and be Caucasian, the same way I wished Nick Fury would have been. As someone pointed out to me, changing someone's skin tone isn't as easy as just clicking your fingers sometimes, and while it's a sad fact, racism comes into at a base level. Hell, when they put Jackson's version of Fury into comics, part of his back story was that he had suffered racism and that had toughened him up. He was a different character to the original Fury because of that change. Maybe that will be explored too with Jordon's Human Torch, or maybe it won't be relevant. All I'm saying is, it has to take more thought that just picking one way or another. Here's the kicker, imagine how we'd take it if they cast a white actor in a historically black superheroes part? I'd think there would be more of an outcry, surely, for the same reasons I'm bringing up now. Would Blade or Black Panther be the same character? Probably not.

They're not going to 'deal' with it. They're going to play the card that they don't 'have to' deal with it because people should just get over it and accept that these two are brother and sister because 'it's the 21st century guys'.

My problem isn't that it's impossible that a black man and a white woman could be brother and sister. Hell, they could even be full genetic brother and sister due to some quirk in their parents genes (it's happened, it's rare...but it's happened). It's definitely easy to explain WHY they're related (foster siblings, step-siblings adopted, half-siblings, genetic anomaly...lots of ways, all believable and easily accepted)

My problem is that they shouldn't HAVE TO deal with it. This was a chance to give an black actress a role in a big movie. This was a chance to show that the studio wasn't afraid of casting two out of their four main stars as minorities.

But instead they cast one character as a minority and they bend over backwards to twist it so that the his sister/the leading lady/the love interest can remain Caucasian.

There is no reason to do this apart from fear. Fear that half of their main cast being black will make white people think this is a "black movie". Fear that people wouldn't like seeing a black woman and a white man as a couple in a superhero movie. Or fear of their inability to write a character as black and not stereotypical (thus giving the 'black' role to the comedic one...not the smart one, the motherly one or the one with the most pathos)

I have no issue with family members being different races in movie if the studio legitimately set out to find the best actor for the role and happened upon that actor as a minority. But in this case there is no reason for it to be that way except for blatant token casting and a fear of going any further than one minority per movie. They didn't even TEST black actresses for this role; they knew going in that they were only ever going to cast ONE minority in this movie and they knew going in that it was going to be the one that took the least amount of care and effort to write for (wisecracking black guy). That is the literal definition of "token" casting.

Just because you can throw out a reason like that doesn't mean you should. Again, changing a little thing like that can throw off a whole dynamic. And if there is any reason to bring the comic to life in the big screen, it's to represent what we loved about the original stories. Which is all to do with the relationships and dynamics featured within the stories too. If he's adopted, is he interested in finding his birth parents, has the want for them changed who he is, If he's a step-brother by marriage when did that happen? Could he have feelings for sue storm? Are they willing to change one part of the dynamic, but not go the whole way? They aren't related at all, and the human torch is actually just a friend, or Sue is the brother of Ben?

I don't have an issue with changing the ethnicity of The Human Torch. I DO have a problem with them not casting a black actress as his sister though.

My problem isn't that it's impossible that a black man and a white
woman could be brother and sister. Hell, they could even be full
genetic brother and sister due to some quirk in their parents genes
(it's exceedingly rare...but it's happened). It's definitely easy to
explain WHY they're related (foster siblings, step-siblings, adopted,
half-siblings, genetic anomaly...lots of ways, all believable and easily
accepted)

My problem is that they shouldn't HAVE TO work around it. This was a
chance to give an black actress a role in a big movie. This was a
chance to show that the studio wasn't afraid of casting two out of their
four main stars as minorities.

But instead they cast one character as a minority and they bend over
backwards to twist it so that the his sister/the leading lady/the love
interest can remain Caucasian.

There is no reason to do this apart from fear. Fear that half of
their main cast being black will make white people think this is a
"black movie". Fear that people wouldn't like seeing a black woman and a
white man as a couple in a superhero movie. Or fear of their inability
to write a character as black and not stereotypical (thus giving the
'black' role to the comedic one...not the smart one, the motherly one or
the one with the most pathos)

I have no issue with family members being different races in movie if they legitimately set out to find the best actor for the role and happened to find someone of a different race than what they're looking for that is perfect for the job; then by all means work around that fact, add in a "adoption" or "step-siblings" storyline.

But in this case they didn't even TEST black actresses for this role; they knew at the start of casting that there was only ever going to be ONE minority in this movie and they knew going in that it was going to be the "wisecracking, impulsive" one that takes the least amount of care and effort to write for. That is the literal
definition of "token" casting.

Exactly. There was no good reason to stunt cast Johnny Storm without doing the same for his sister. It was an incredibly stupid move and it overcomplicates what should have been a no-brainer.

Good for him. :)

You do have to explain it and not really for the reason you think! there was a background story already in place, you can skim that a little in a film, taking into the account your audience probably have read some comics or even seen the last films.
When you start changing the background, even if its a tweek an explination is always nice, a little nod to say yeah we changed it but here's why it doesnt really matter!
Im not going to see this movie until I see the plot synopsis as the one that was leaked made me baulk.
Granted they debunked that but I dont trust hollywood that way

They will explain it sure...but I doubt very much it's going to be a plot point.

It will be a throw away line.

"He's adopted" or "Her mom married my dad" and that's that. Don't look any further and don't question why the studio chose to overcomplicate a relationship for no reason in order to make certain that the lead female remains white.

It will take up a couple of minutes of the film at most. One throwaway line and a couple of jokes about people not believing that they're brother and sister. That's that.

The argument for me is not about race. Its about adapting the Fantastic Four faithfully for the screen. I'm a purist when it comes to adaptations. Comics are a visual media and there are many other black characters they could have introduced into the Fantastic Four. Black Panther and Luke Cage have all been members of the team in the past or they could have created a new character. Either way casting someone against type is pure stunt casting in my honest opinion. And Jordans casting is not the worst in this movie. Its just really bad. The guy playing Reed. Looks like a child. Even Iohan Gruffudd looked older than him and thats saying something. More importantly of all. Billy Elliott as Ben Grimm?! The casting for this movie is a bloody disgrace. It seems to me like Fox are trying to do this film on the cheap and figure if it fails it will salt the earth for the property when it goes back to Marvel. Mind you at least the actors they've chosen are really cheap. Although I suspect that they will say the budget is hundreds of millions. Sigh... And then of course there are the rumours of Victoria Von Doom... I can honestly say this movie is a joke and will be the only superhero film I've boycotted ever.

Did anybody actually say to Jordan that we're all pretty excited for his performance as Johnny Storm and that everyone's just getting wound up by the suits not casting a black Sue?!

No, because they want all this 'controversy on skin colour' to be about how there's going to be only one black dude who's playing a white dude, create media hype and use it as free publicity!!

Stop with these bullshit articles focusing on MBJ and only bring up skin colour if they've found a black Sue to his Johnny.

which I do appreciate still needs that nod thou! I prop would have prefered sue to be black tbh easier in the long run and diversity split down the middle

Jamie Bell - a human man - is in it and he's playing the part of some sort of big rock monster type thing.

How will this work? he's a little skinny English guy and NOT (forgive me if I'm wrong) a big rock monster type thing. Shoehorning a British ballerina into a film like this is stunt casting and I hope the film explains this cleverly because otherwise I shall boycott it. That'll learn 'em

Personally I would've given the part to Rock Biter from The Never Ending Story.

xx

Honestly...I don't get the 'purist' arguments.

Were you upset that Wolverine was 6'3 in the films instead of 5'3 like in the comics? Or the Bucky Barnes was aged up 10 years for Captain America?

What about changing the film dates to modernize them? Did it really bother you that Tony Stark was kidnapped in the Middle East instead of in Vietnam? That he was a product of 21st century Terrorism instead of 20th century Communism?

Is it really a big deal that the films "original" Avengers include Hawkeye and Black Widow in lieu of Wasp and Ant Man?

When you have 60 years of comics and you're trying to adapt it for a modern audience things HAVE to change. Sometimes that means ditching the setting of the original (Superheroes no longer tied to events like the Atomic Bomb and WWII and instead being tied into more recent conflicts). Sometimes that means casting someone who doesn't entirely look the part. And sometimes it means acknowledging the sins of the past and trying not to make them present day sins as well.

And one thing that has to be acknowledged is that early comics were pretty damn racist and sexist. You can't write "Wasp" into a show or film as she is originally portrayed; as a typical "girl" who spends almost the entirety of the first Avengers meeting thinking about how hot Thor is and wondering why they let Hulk on the team; not because he's a threat...but because she thinks Bruce Banner is unattractive.

Or the Jane Foster who is just a nurse (she couldn't be a doctor during that time period) with a crush. Or the Lois Lane who does nothing but get kidnapped and pine over Superman. You have to give these characters an actual POINT and an actual PERSONALITY outside of the "pure" forms of their comic book counterparts.

You have to turn The Mandarin into a joke because THAT'S WHAT THE CHARACTER WAS in the comics, he was a racist caricature of a villain that would not translate to the screen as anything but a joke to anyone who wasn't familiar with him.

And, yeah, you have to acknowledge the fact that there are very few iconic heroes that aren't white men. And the few minority heroes that ARE around took DECADES to become anything but racist/sexist caricatures and are still digging their way out of that toxic background and trying to find a place for themselves amongst the upper tier of Superheroes. They aren't well known heroes and they aren't likely to fill seats in a cinema.

We still haven't gotten a Wonder Woman movie because studios fear taking any chances on a hero that isn't white and male. And you expect someone to make a Black Panther film any time soon? The only way minority characters are going to show up in these movies is if the studios find a workaround. If they change a character's skin colour. If they beef up the role of a side character to allow for a woman to be as essential to the plot as the men. They have to take active steps to ensure this happens, to give a minority the chance to finally see someone like themselves up on the big screen as a hero and role model.

Just sticking to the story as it was written is not learning from past mistakes. It's just repeating the sins of our past over and over again because "purists" demand that it be so.

I don't think it's a race thing, I just don't think he is a very good actor. It's hardly a stand out name that will set pulses racing, it's just an every day actor, nopthing against him, but nothing going for him either.

you know....that is the most sound and reasonable point I have heard in a very long time.

I'm not annoyed that Human Torch is black. I'm annoyed that his sister isn't. It feels like they wanted to be PC but not too PC. And why didn't they cast him as Reed, the brain of the whole thing? Why as the "black funny one" again? Those are things that bother me. But whenever I say that I don't like the casting, people won't even let me finish and already start calling me a racist.

Was going to reply to this but the opening quote there kinda covered it all better than I could of anyway. Also I agree about the policemen

So they're brave, but not that brave. Gotcha.

Nah, that guy's a wimp.

'Could he have feelings for sue storm?' - wtf? His ADOPTED sister (potentially)?

What's so hard about accepting that they're adopted, have grown up together (and so would NOT fancy each other) and so have the normal dynamic of a brother and sister?

There. Done. Move on.

More problematic is having someone who appears about 18 playing Reed Richards...

same mother, different fathers (sue's white, Jonny's Black). i've met more that one family made up that way and it freaks people out a bit.

Now what gets me is how young these kids are!!! I though reed Richards was supposed to be old enough to have grey hair? these kids look like they barley have pubic hair!!

Good grief - people are still hung up over the colour of a person's skin: what century are we in? Someone remind me please.
For a start it's NOT REAL LIFE, it's a comic book, turn your brain off & suspend reality for a minute will you (assuming the racist morons that have crawled out of the woodwork here HAVE a working brain). To pretend that you're "concerned" about the dichotomy of the colour difference between brother and sister, or that it doesn't conform to the established canon fools no-one - you are simply betraying an innate racist thought-set and represent nothing but the dregs of humanity.

I think most people were saying the brother/sister should be the same race. So if one becomes black then so should the other. Both white or both black makes sense. One of each seems odd.

I'd fancy Kate Mara if she was my adopted sister...

We have a black Nick Fury now, why not a black Human Torch? I have no problem with the casting of this movie. These guys did a great job with Chronicle and I'll be interested to see how this turns out. If it's great, cool. If not, it's not the first comic book movie to disappoint. Although I can't help wondering about Hollywood mentality when you have movies like the Last Airbender, that was a golden opportunity for multi-cultural casting, without tokenism, and just didn't do it... I am aware that casting was the least of that films problems ;)

I think that was a really well measured response. I'll look forward to seeing what he does with the role, good luck to him.

What I'm saying is that something like that can seem an innocent enough change, but can mean so much more for how someone develops a character in the scripting stages. So they can end up being almost nothing like their comic counterpart!

I don't really get the whole 'let's change the characters race/sex' thing if it's not a 'What if' story. The Human Torch is a caucasian guy, why change that? Making his sister caucasian and not Afro-American in this movie makes more story problems than it solves I think. Even if they do this because of creative license. In the Spider-Man comics it worked because it was a new guy that became Spidey.

No questions about his excellent performance in Chonicle? I'm saying that because the interview gives the false impression that it's his first time in a superhero role.

His character in Chronicle is very VERY similar to Johnny Storm (in personality, not power-set - all 3 characters in Chronicle develop a form of telekinesis that they can train and extend into flight, shielding themselves from the force of blows, etc). It's a superhero/horror hybrid, instead of a straight superhero film, but it's relevant in that I can't see how anyone could watch Chronicle and think that Jordan would be better as Reed rather than Johnny, nor that they could doubt his ability to play Johnny.

His performance in Chronicle makes this seem like a very natural fit, and yet it's been completely absent from the discussion (despite being from broadly the same genre of film!)

Right. Where all the old, fat New York cops with Irish accents from the cartoons when I was a kid?

What annoys me more is the fact that a black woman wasn't cast as the sister! Leaves you wondering why they didn't? Is it because Hollywood still can't cope with interracial romance, or they think the audience couldn't deal with it?

Also, as I said, if they were step sister and brother by marriage, that can happen when they are all grown up. You don't know how they are going to write it until it's happening.

Really? The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Chronicle?

Good job missing the point there. People aren't calling bullshit on this for plausibility reasons, nor racist reasons for that matter - we're doing it because it's an unnecessary change from the original story. You'd have noticed that Jordan even said as much himself if you'd actually read the article at all. Also, the ineviitable adoption angle crap is no doubt going to end up being strung out for all its worth, and being pushed well beyond its welcome. And don't get me started on the fact that we're probably going to see yet another origin story in the first place...

The fact that the real world actor looks different to how someone drew the character in a comic book IS NOT a change to the story.

And I'm using the phrase 'story' in a loose sense as most of the superhero comics have presented multiple variations on the characters over the years. Different writers, have worked with different artists and let's not get started on ret-cons, alternate time-lines and multiple universes.

Hope for a talented director. Hope for an intelligent script. But stop worrying about whether an actor looks exactly like a comic book character from 50 years ago.

Excellent point ROFLDog! I also share your concern about the positive discrimination that British ballerinas are getting. He's clearly just there to fill a quota.

Yeah but then Sue would have to be old too, and fox would laugh til they couldn't laugh anymore at that suggestion. Besides, nobody in the world looks like Reed Ri-

Wow... Okay....I don't mean to be rude, but what the F*CK are you talking about?!

"The fact that the real world actor looks different to how someone drew the character in a comic book IS NOT a change to the story."
Aside from the fact that this quote is questionable at best and absolute bollocks at its very worst, there's more to it than that. We're talking about a storyline which is going to have the Sue and Johnny Storm as brother and sister, yet the actors have completely different ethnic origins physically. Ergo, this is either going to make no sense whatsoever in the film IE. Two siblings of the same 'genetic' origins but with not even a slighr physical resemblance, or it's going to have to be addressed in the film at some point, most likely with a tedious and pointless adoption angle, along the lines of a soap opera. Basically, they'll be damned if they do, damed if they don't.

Again, since you're apparently a bit slow on the uptake, this ha nothing to do with racism, and if they want to cast a black/African-American/Asian actor in the role of Johnny Storm, then I have no problem with that so long as the actor is good enough to merit the part. But you've gotta go the whole hog and cast Sue along the same lines physically too, otherwise it's just not gonna work. It is not about whether the actor "looks exactly like a comic book character from 50 years ago", it is about whether there is any racial/ethnic/physical resemblance between the characters at all. As I say, if there isn't, then they could just play the adoption angle, but that will most likely suck too, for the reasons I mentioned above. It's supposed to be a superhero film, not a soap opera/drama.

"you just have to accept it"

No, I don't, and I don't have to show up at the theater and pay for admission either.

For someone who didn't "mean to be rude" you failed by quite some way Geordie.

And if you can't be civil, I'm not interested in continuing this dialogue.

The problem I have is that Jordan is meant to be playing the youngest character and yet he's the oldest looking of all the FF actors. I think all of the casting except maybe Mara is totally messed up.

it is a minuscule change to the story that will probably take as long as it takes to say the word 'adopted'. being pushed way beyond it's welcome? quite the predictions your making, don't sound racist at all...

Well, to be fair it depends on how they would go about it, I suppose. They could just brush it under the carpet, but again, they'll end up getting criticised for it. I just don't understand why they're going down this route in the first place, it's just asking for trouble really.

I don't agree on it being a miniscule change to the story though. I mean, how would you feel if you suddenly found out one day that one of your siblings is adopted? Oh, and if I'm reading your post correctly and you're insinuating racism on my part, then I seriously fail to see why/how you think that. Perhaps I'm missing something obvious?

Yeah, that doesn't sound like a wimping out response at all....

Perhaps I said one or two things I shouldn't have done, and I'll apologise if I offended you or anyone else, but seriously, your points above are just completely missing the point of why people are pissy about it. You're trying to play the racism card against those who disagree with you when there just isn't one to play, and it's tragic, in pretty much every sense of the word.

You can't make everyone happy, and you shouldn't try. I don't understand why fans want film adaptations to be 100% faithful to the source material. What's the point of making a film if not to make something different? The stories that stand the test of time are the ones that are flexible. Changing a guys race, even if it is just for the sake of changing something, isn't going to change the core story. How could it possibly?

More importantly, doesn't Marvel have a thing where there's loads of different dimensions? So, that explains it fans, your comic Fantastic Four is in one dimension and this film is a different dimension. And the other film is another dimension. There! Now you can stop panicking about how that thing you liked is slightly different!

If he is to be the funny one, I at least hope they haven't sunk so low as to just go for the black guy gives dance/dating tips to white guy with 'hilarious results' route.

I'm pretty sure Miles looks older than them all.

Two black people+ in a cast makes it a 'black movie' and can only appeal to certain demographics!! (sarcasm.)

They're half-siblings or one of them was adopted - boom, story problem resolved!

It's funny you don't seem to have any issues with people who can stretch themselves, turn invisible, not look human or turn into a flaming being... yet two siblings who don't share the same ethnicity is a problem.

"How would you feel if you suddenly found out one day that one of your siblings is adopted?"

So, are you saying that it would change the relationship if you made such a discovery about one of your sibling?

Or are you implying that Susan will suddenly discover Johnny was adopted during the third act of the movie?

Or, wait, is that you Susan Storm??

What's so tedious about the adoption angle though?

You talk like they're going to spend half the movie discussing something that will most likely be mentioned very swiftly.

First of all I do not have a problem with ethnicity at all! All that I wanted to say is that I don't get why they wanted to make the change. It just seems unnecessary as he was never changed in the comics or cartoons.
The movie Nick Fury for instance is awesome, and I dig it that Samual L. Jackson plays him. But it also makes sense because in the Ultimate Marvel comic universe HE IS Nick Fury.

The director had previously worked with Michael on "Chronicle" so it's easy to guess he really liked him and that it lead to his casting. It's just that, instead of being another white man, it happens to be a black man.

Maybe be it was time for a change too... and more diversity on screen is never a bad thing.

It's tedious because it's just unnecessary and it's a change from the comics, seemingly for change's sake. Changes like this are rarely a good thing. You have a semi-valid point about the fact that they're probably going to deal with it quickly, but is it really a good thing that they're going to just sweep it under the carpet like that? To be fair, people would criticise them whether they decided to do it quickly or give it significant attention. Like I said earlier, damned if they do, damned if they don't, which is why this change is just not a good idea.

Meh who cares. Good on him.

He becomes white when he flames on! On a serious note this is another reason why Fox shouldnt be making superhero movies! They should have used Rob Liefield Doom's 4 instead!

It's one of those changes that you worry was made after focus group input. As for claims of racism, we all know Comic Book Nerds are obsessive rather than racists so it's pretty unfair for commenters to imply as such.

Personally I think a race change from the source material is stupid but I was more put off by the fact that Jordan was cast directly into the roll and no other actors were screened for it simply because he is buddies with the director Josh Trank. If I wanted to see a crappy film where everyone casts their friends in it I'd watch an Adam Sandler film.

I went to New York once. And whilst there, no joke, had a conversation with a cop with an Irish accent.

excellent

This is going to suck beyond belief.
The only reason this guy was cast was because he is friends with the director.
He's not the only problem, you have teenagers to play theses roles.
You'll have a teen Mr Fantastic, a wimp looking Ben Grimm,

Join me and boycott this movie!

How?

Simply don't waste your hard earned money on this piece of crap, let's write this movie in history as one of the worst box office bombs of all time.

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