The director of The Fantastic Four remake, Josh Trank, stated in an interview that he received major backlash for his casting choices, especially his selection of Michael B. Jordan for Johnny Storm who is also known as The Human Torch. The director said that there has been controversy over the fact that he changed the race of a well-known comic book character, one that originated in 1961. Some fans also questioned Trank’s decision of casting Jamie Bell, who is only five-foot-seven, in the role of Ben Grimm who is also known as The Thing. Comments on the Internet regarding the casting decisions have gotten very nasty and Jordan has been fighting back against the racism in his own way.
He recently wrote an essay for Entertainment Weekly that is titled Trolls on the Internet and directed at those who have made racist remarks regarding his casting. Yahoo News said that the actor is aware of how angry some fans are over the casting decisions. He knows that there is negativity and he used to care but no longer does. Jordan said that he can understand the viewpoint of fans and their anger over changes made to a story that dates back to 1961. He added that one cannot expect people to forget a comic that has spanned 50 or so years. He continued by saying that it is 2015 though and times are different. If the crew for a film wants a certain thing, an actor cannot exactly go against that, he added.
Jordan did state that the main themes of the comic and the original film are still intact. The theme of a family and superheroes fighting together to save the day is still as present as ever. The concept of unity and teamwork is clear throughout the film. Jordan wants fans to look past the idea of race and see the film for what it really is and what it represents. He knows that someone has to stand up and say what needs to be said and take the brunt of the backlash and he is willing to be that person. He wants to tackle his critics head-on and make them see the whole picture.
In the interview on Yahoo News, Jordan stated that trolls need to get off of the computer and look outside at the real world. People of different races are all around and everyone needs to accept that and move on. He said that this is the world we live in and we must learn to not only deal with it but like it too. Rather than beating around the bush, Jordan wanted to deal with his critics directly. He wanted to fight back against the racism and call them out on their racist behavior.
The LA Times said that Fantastic Four is a great story and that is why people continue to be fascinated by it. He also said that in order for the story to stay fresh, they have to keep putting new spins on it. One cannot tell the story in exactly the same way over and over again. In support of Jordan’s comments, he added that his casting choices are to show how much the world has changed. It is not the same as it was in 1961 and he wants young children to see onscreen what they will see when they go outside. Movie makers have to move with the times and not be afraid to tell a new version of an old story. The director said that he is confident about the cast of this film and fans should not judge until they have seen the film.
He also wants his critics not to judge until they have seen the film. In the Yahoo News article, he said that race will probably always be an issue and people will see each other in terms of that, but hopefully it will be less of an issue in the future. He hopes that he can serve as an example and help other people of color to gain prominent roles in film. He also hopes that he can make people see that change is not always a bad thing. While he understands the negativity, Jordan will continue to fight against racism.
By Heather Granruth
NZ City: Zoe Saldana Is “Inspired” by Michael B. Jordan’s Essay on Race in Hollywood
Yahoo News: Michael B Jordan Addresses Human Torch Casting Controversy
LA Times: ‘Fantastic Four’s’ Message for Comic Fans Who Hate the New Cast
Photo Courtesy of Colvanz 718’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Photo Courtesy of Sahil Khan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License