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Could Chronicle‘s Michael B. Jordan Be the New Johnny Storm?

On the heels of yesterday’s news that Allison Williams might be up for an unspecified role in Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot, another F4 rumor has crossed our path, this one a wee bit more interesting. It’s still 100% unofficial, but The Wrap is reporting that Chronicle‘s Michael B. Jordan is in contention to play Johnny Storm, a.k.a. the Human Torch.

The rumor goes that Jordan’s had multiple meetings at Fox, and that his chances for getting the role “depend on whether or not he has chemistry with the other actors up for the highly-anticipated movie, according to one insider.”

It makes sense that he’d be considered. The reboot is being directed by Josh Trank, who directed Chronicle, so he and Jordan already have a professional relationship. Jordan’s also an up-and-coming actor, and Lord knows how superhero movies love casting those (see: Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man, Chris Hemsworth in Thor, etc. etc.). Before Chronicle he had breakout roles in The Wire and Friday Night Lights, and since then his turn in the Sundance hit Fruitvale Station has gotten a lot of people talking about how he’s one to watch. Him landing a superhero role fits right in with his current career trajectory.

If Jordan does get cast he’ll be the latest in a growing number of non-white actors playing characters who were originally white in the comics (also on that list are Laurence Fishburne, Idris Elba, and Jamie Foxx). If he’s a good actor who’s the right fit for the part, I say bring it on. It does add an interesting element to the Allison Williams news from yesterday, as if she is being considered for a part it’s likely that of Sue Storm, Johnny’s sister. Some people are going to be upset if Jordan plays Johnny Storm, because that’s just what happens when a black actor is cast as a white character (or even as a character people erroneously assumed to be white). A character’s physical appearance is the most important thing about them, after all, and changing that all for the sake of political correctness means the original source material is somehow being disrespected!!! (Note the sarcasm, please.)

I imagine that racist jerkwaddery would only be magnified if a black actor and a white actress get cast as—gasp!—siblings. To the people who think that shouldn’t under any circumstances happen, let me say this: The Marvel universe is one where a guy can light himself on fire at will. Is two siblings being of different races really so unbelievable? That can happen in this universe, after all. And in Fox’s earlier incarnation of The Fantastic Four Johnny and Sue were played by a white actor and an actress with Mexican ancestry on her father’s side, respectively. So. I am fervently hoping that should we get racially diverse sibling casting in The Fantastic Four people won’t be jerks about it. What do you think the chances are?

Anyway, for Sue and Johnny both, all we have is rumor and speculation at this point. But we’ll be keeping our eye on the Fantastic Four cast as it rounds out. (Which it had better do soon, considering the movie’s set to start shooting in six weeks. Get on it, Fox!)

(via: blastr)

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  • sharmylae

    chances of people not being jerks: low. chances of me actually watching a fantastic four movie if either of them are cast: 100% higher than ever before.

  • Erica Slade

    i’m on board love it! hurry up and get it done so i can wipe those other two horrid films from my memory!

  • Anonymous

    He’s certainly sexy enough. It’d be great to have a black lead in a team superhero film like this, though part of me wishes they’d just go and use some more non-white heroes in general (Marvel Studios alone is sitting on Luke Cage, the Daughters of Dragon, Shang-Chi, White Tiger, and of course, Black Panther) and really the only non-white superheroes they’ve done anything with are War Machine and now the Falcon. And poor Rhodey didn’t even get to be in the Avengers.

    Which reminds me, if they do use the Wasp at some point, I’d like them to cast an Asian actress ala her portrayal in the Ultimates.

  • Sara Green Williams

    Love it. He’s flippin’ adorable. And I know many families with siblings of all sizes, shape, and color – it’s reflective of the world we live in.

  • Sara Green Williams

    +1 on that!

  • Sara Green Williams

    +1 on that to you, too!

  • DJRM

    As long as Johnny and Sue Storm are still brother and sister, as long as they respect that we should be fine. Indeed one of them could be adopted or perhaps they are instead a half brother and sister with different fathers or mother. But no matter what they still have to be siblings because that is a major part of the Fantastic Four, they are not a superteam, they are a family.

  • TKS

    As Jessica Alba’s design in the first Fantastic Four franchise taught me anything, it’s that anyone can be white with the right wig and contact lenses.

  • John Wao

    I’m a huge FF fan and I say heck yeah! You get the best and brightest talent available.

    As long as Galactus isn’t a huge cloud I’m cool with it.

  • Bittersweet Fountain

    I agree that this is the key, capturing that the FF are not a team like the Avengers. They are a family. So as long as Sue and Johnny have that sibling relationship, it’s fine. I don’t care how it’s explained (half siblings, adopted, etc) or if it’s explained at all, as long as the way they interact with each other screams “we’re siblings.”

    And then of course their relationship with the rest of the FF embodies that family relationship they all have.

  • Captain ZADL

    I’m for it. I’m still sad that Donald Glover never got to be Spider-Man.

  • Anonymous

    It’s no deal-breaker but I don’t really like it. I don’t mind changing the race of characters that aren’t established yet (like Nick Fury and Wasp) because superheroes are waaayyy too white but for characters that are already iconic, the look is important. I wouldn’t want Superman to be blonde, for example.
    It doesn’t help that Michael B. Jordan has yet to “wow” me yet in anything I’ve seen him (The Wire, Chronicles + Red Tails).

  • Betty Windsor

    Tell me about it. I took a Spider-Man calendar from the dollar store and glued pictures of Donald’s face over Spider-Man.

  • Pomfelo

    Jordan would be great for this! He exuded a charismatic, happy vibe in Chronicle as a character with new superpowers. Jordan will make a great Johnny Storm!

    And while it is still relevant to bring up in this article, I wish it weren’t note worthy enough to have the mention of race come up in these articles. TMS’ tone here is great, though.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t seen him in anything, but he’s definitely cute enough to be Johnny. <4 (Superficial, I know.)

  • Benjamin Meis

    Ok, quick mention, I don’t believe that Jackson has played any comic character of a different race than his own, though I could be wrong (and if I am, please by all means, let me know). The only comic character I am aware that he played is Nick Fury who is, in the Ultimates line (which the Marvel movies seem to be most heavily based on), black and even his original appearance was based on Samuel L. Jackson, after receiving his permission for usage of his likeness. His appearance playing Nick Fury in the Marvel movies was not a change-up but rather a nod to the fans.
    As an aside, I really couldn’t care less about the race of an actor playing a comic character, with some exceptions where the character’s ethnicity is a central point of formation for his identity/personality (i.e. a character whose personality was in large part formed by his growing up as a minority ethnicity in a given setting probably shouldn’t be played by a white guy).
    Might want to add Laurence Fishburne to the list though. I think he’s going to be an awesome Perry White.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Thanks for the heads up!

  • Anonymous

    Wait a minute. Don’t you say anything bad about Wallace. WHERE’S WALLACE AT?! WHERE THE @#$#% IS WALLACE?!!!

  • Anonymous

    That’s going to be some wig and contacts for Jordan.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    So long as he isnt originally white in the movie and turned black by the cosmic ray whatever it would work

    ….Gods would it be terribly painfully stupid if that was used to logic it…

    Either way, its the sibling relationship with sue that is an important piece of the character rather than any tone details.

  • Travis Fischer

    Comparing the believability of a bi-racial family to getting super powers from cosmic rays.

    Yeah, that’s not offensive…

  • ACF

    I do have some sympathy for the people who want the characters to look like they do in the comics. That said, I don’t agree with them in this case; long-running comics, such as the Fantastic Four have to change over time. I don’t want the X-men decked out in yellow spandex, and I don’t mind a black Johnny Storm.

    Besides, Samuel L. Jackson IS Nick Fury. The white one looks wrong to me now.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I’m not saying they’re at all comparable. All I’m saying is that calling a biracial family out as somehow “unbelievable” or “distracting”—which I’ve already seen happen—is ridiculous considering A) those do exist and, less importantly, B) pulling the “realism” card for a superhero movie is an inherently flawed argument. How is that offensive?

  • Leah Starkweather

    I liked him in Chronicle, but the Human Torch is just not black. I’m sorry. If producers really wanted to add some diversity, they would make films based on existing characters like Luke Cage, Black Panther, or maybe Static. Sure, other previously white comic characters were made a different race, but they were minor characters.

    This reeks of being rushed, like this whole movie will be. The only reason this is being made is because Fox would rather let the film rights to the FF fester rather than give them back to Marvel, where they belong.
    inb4 check your privilege
    I already check my privilege 2-3 times a day

  • Anonymous

    People are already being jerks about it.

    Anyway, he’s a good actor (well, I’ve only seen him in Chronicle, but he was great there), so I’m more excited about him being cast than the girl from Girls.

  • Will Beaty

    This is the perfect kind of story for deciding who not to interact with on the internet, and which communities to avoid. Thanks, Fox!

  • Anonymous

    How dare you?! You’re promoting Whiteface!

    I’ll have you know minority actors being cast as white characters is a huge problem and undermines the lack of attention white actors get in modern Hollywo- Ha ha ha I’m sorry I can’t even finish saying that with a straight face. :)

    This is awesome, he’s a great actor who fits the role to a T. I really hope this is true.

  • Brian

    When the first one came out, it really should have been Parminder Nagra and Kal Penn as Johnny and Sue. 10 years down the line, they’re a bit too old, though.

  • Brian

    “I liked him in Chronicle, but the Human Torch is just not black.”

    He’s also not real. He is blonde, but I bet you didn’t complain about Chris Evans playing him.

  • Brian

    He can still be the Flash.

  • Brian

    I am the only person I know who liked Cloud Galactus.

  • Brian

    They can be a different race and be twins, even. Like Terry and Janet Lemon-Chros. I saw it on Maury.

  • R. Kevin Morris

    The FF is my favorite
    comic. I want a Jewish Ben. I want a white, blonde bombshell for Sue.
    I want a skinny, white guy with white temples for Reed. I want a
    blonde smartass teenager for Johnny. I want a Native American playing
    Wyatt Wingfoot. I want a guy in a mask with a strange accent as Dr.

    Why does that make me a racist? Cause I like the source material and want something similar to what I grew up with?

    Making Sue and Johnny blood relatives and having Sue eventually
    marrying Reed makes “Uncle” Ben’s relationship special. Now everyone is
    special, meaning no one is.

    If this kid is such a great actor, then cast him as the Black Panther
    and let’s see his chops. Otherwise it’s just gimmick casting.

    Does Hollywood think that just because Johnny is African-American,
    black people will be lining up? Is this a marketing gimmick to get the
    Medea crowd in?

    “Hey! You going to see the Fantastic Four?”
    “Naw man.”
    “The Torch is black now.”
    “Aw hell yeah! I’m there!”

    I’m not doubting the kid has talent. I just think he’s being
    miscast. It’s ok to cast a human in a hobbit role and give hairy feet.
    It’s not ok to cast a white guy in black face as Al Roker.

    I just don’t think you should cast black people in white people roles. I love the source material.

    That doesn’t make me racist.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think this will be a particularly popular opinion, but here goes…

    If it means anything I’m part of a couple minorities myself, and I am all for a more diverse and inclusive roster of characters in movies, t.v. shows, comics, etc…it always makes me happy when I see strong minority characters being brought into the picture and I don’t think this could ever be a bad thing.

    Now here’s my thing: While I do want more diversity, I don’t really see how suddenly “minoritizing” an existing white character actually serves this purpose in a meaningful way. First off, these changes seem to be happening to mostly secondary characters, and they are rarely permanent. The white characters will go back to being white in a short amount of time. Also, every great bit of history for that character will forever be associated with the white version and it will never truly belong to whatever version they have been changed into. Now, let me be clear, I’m talking about the civilian aspects of these characters. For example wouldn’t ever say there can’t be a black Batman, but Bruce Wayne has always been white, and should always probably be white because thats just what he’s always been. If there truly ever is a black Batman, I would probably think it serves a better purpose for him to have his own original civilian identity -personality aspects, motivations, history, relationships, etc…This is why I have always loved John Stewart. Sure, at first he was kinda stereotypical, but over the years he’s become a wonderfully fleshed out character and is now considered by many as THE Green Lantern. People now know that yes, there can be a black GL and no, he’s not just a black Hal Jordan. Does that make sense?

    I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t see it this way, and like I said, any step taken to diversify the faces we see in the media is probably a positive one. I just wish that the first move to do this would be to create original minority characters that are independent of the non-minority ones that came before them.

  • Amanda Jean Carroll

    Black Johnny Storm? Sure, I remember Michael B. Jordan from Friday Night Lights and I suspect he would do a great job. But… when I think about the idea that Sue and Johnny are a “multi-ethnic family unit” I don’t see some sort of “yay diversity!” situation, it just seems like an excuse — sure, this brash, egotistical, hyper-cool guy can be black, but the female love interest/lust object/mother figure clearly MUST be white. Personally, black Johnny just makes me want black Sue. After all, a black Johnny doesn’t exactly play against racial stereotypes, does it? An interracial couple as the first family of the Marvel Universe? Now that would be super great.

    Also, I’m not especially keen on watching a white lady boss around her black little brother the way Sue bosses Johnny. It just seems like a bad idea.

    Now, I say this as someone who envisions a stylish, retro FF, but even in that instance I really have no issue with making Sue and Johnny both black (As long as The Thing is Jewish they can fiddle as much as they want in terms of race). And of course I have no issue with mixed families in general. This just seems like a cop-out, not some sort of gutsy move on the part of the crapulent movie studio that gave us those other crapulent FF movies. Of course, nothing they do would be that meaningful. If it ain’t produced by Marvel it’s not “real” and doesn’t matter much, y’know?

  • Amanda Jean Carroll

    I sometimes daydream that Marvel might get the rights back and make Spider-Man with Donald Glover so everything could be right with the world. Alas!

  • Amanda Jean Carroll

    I kind of think about it this way — comic book characters are pretty unique in that they become more than just a character from your favorite novel. They’re iconic. So there’s meaning in the changes that goes beyond the characters themselves. A book featuring a black Superman, for example, could be incredibly meaningful symbolically — because it would feature a man who, looking like the many people who were treated so poorly by this nation, came to embody its most idealized values. Other times, I think racial changes just fit well and make the switch easy, and the utter lack of diversity almost necessitates them, because there’s a point when you just have too many dudes with black hair running around.
    But I think it totally makes sense to prefer the organically diverse characters. Superhero comics would be far better if there were way, way more of them.

  • Joshua S. MacDougall

    The comments I’ve seen from nerds on other sites made me very sad indeed.

  • Allen Slea

    The solution is clearly to make Sue black as well. Why the heck not? Johnny and Sue’s characters aren’t tied to their whiteness in any way. Reed’s arguably is, though, since being a privileged jerk is a major part of who he is. And of course, Ben has to be Jewish and grow up on Yancy Street.

    I think this is a wonderful idea – go for it!

  • Laura Truxillo

    I think there’s maybe something to that. I mean, I wouldn’t have minded seeing Donald Glover play Peter Parker (not one little bit. Garfield wasn’t bad, but Glover…heh, dreamy…)

    It kinda makes me think of one of my (myriad) problems with the DC reboot in regards to Flash: the characters of Weather Wizard and the Top. In Weather Wizard’s case, he’s not Mark, he’s Marco now, and his family are part of a Columbian drug cartel (because of course). And I thought, well, okay, the cartel part is a little awkward, but I guess if he still acts like a prick and gets fussy over Mark Twain quotes while messing with the weather and stealing stuff, sure, it’s fine. But the Top…Original a kinda snobby white dude named Roscoe Dillon who spun fast. Now he’s…a former Tuskagee airman calling himself Turbine…who’s name is also Roscoe. And that’s just…*weird.* Like, everything about Turbine sounded pretty cool–it’s hard to get much cooler than the Tuskagee Airmen, for pity’s sake. And he was kind of tortured and not really a bad guy but desperate and really one of the most interesting things to happen in the Flash comics at all. But keeping the civvie name of the original character when not just flipping his race but making his race a *big* part of the character…it felt really awkward. He would’ve been a lot better served if they’d just made him a completely new character.

    Blah, it’s late and I’m in a grumpy-at-Flash mood. I guess what I mean is your Green Lantern point is a good one. The costume, the title, even for something as iconic as Spider-Man, can be a legacy, and that’s great. But changing the race of a character and going “but they’re still the same character!” is…weird.

    But that’s in comics. There’s a certain kind of continuity there. A movie, especially a brand-new reboot kind of movie? I wanna see the best actor who can get the attitude of the character and have good chemistry with the cast.

    (And if that actor had happened to be Donald Glover wearing the webs and acting nerdy and cocky, well…would the world have been any worse of a place?)

  • Laura Truxillo

    Oh. Oh I have a new daydream now.

    But only if he’s Wally.

  • cloudywolf

    I know, right? Everytime he shows up in mainstream Marvel continuity, he looks so wrong

  • Elias Algorithm

    I do agree about making some movies with actually black characters. I’m sick of waiting around for Heroes for Hire and Black Panther to finally get made. It’s not like there’s a shortage of actors that want in.

  • devovit

    The racism is sad, but the fact that these so-called nerds aren’t aware of the Marvel multiverse and the fact that the reboot will take place in an alternate universe to the comics – meaning that anything goes in terms of changes – is even sadder. Come on, nerds, I thought you were nerdier than this!

  • ACF

    I don’t think it makes you racist, but I still disagree. This is a reboot: a new Fantastic Four and a new Johnny Storm. I don’t expect everything to be the same, and I don’t think Johnny’s race is terribly relevant to his character. If Earth-616 Johnny Storm suddenly turned black, yes, that’d be weird, but one advantage of multiple continuities is multiple takes on a character. If Johnny Storm is black in one universe, so be it.

  • devovit

    Having actors of different races come in to play characters from old stories is nothing new. The only reason Johnny Storm is white is because the original comics were written (and set) in the sixties when white was the default and comic book heroes couldn’t be black without their entire existence revolving around the fact that they were black.

    Black actors play characters (not just the Moor from Othello) in Shakespeare all the time. When I went to see Frankenstein there was a black actor playing Benedict Cumberbatch’s dad and no one batted an eyelid. If we didn’t open roles up to POC, black people would only ever get roles from things that were written very recently, shitty secondary roles, or roles that were entirely based on the colour of their skin.

  • devovit

    Nah, you’re not racist. You just want to make sure that black people stay in their place.

    “You want to play a comic book hero? Go back to the jungle and play Black Panther!”

  • Magic Xylophone

    I’m not remotely sad that he didn’t get to star in that schlocky waste of two and a half hours, though.

  • Magic Xylophone

    To be honest, I’m having more trouble picturing Marnie as a scientist.

  • Herostratus356

    Anything that distances the next Fantastic Four movie from the last one is fine with me.

  • Mordicai

    I will go one further & say that I want Donald Glover to be Peter Parker. No disrespect to Miles Morales, but I think the core of Peter Parker is “working class kid from Queens.” Not “white working class kid from Queens.”

  • Anonymous

    This, a hundred times. Sif in Thor was Heimdall’s sister, yet they didn’t decide to have her black (let alone have enough black people in Asgard among the extras to give the impression that Heimdall wasn’t the only brother in Asgard) because they “filled” their black character quota, and decided to completely ignore their relationship, not even attempting any sort of diverse family explanation. Same reason there are hardly any Latinos (if any) in New Mexico, the state with a 40% latino population: they aren’t interested in diversity, they’re interested in filling diversity quotas.

    I’d have a lot more respect for the film if they did cast two black people as a brother and sister, and simultaneously, an interracial couple where the woman is black and the man white. But I’d have far more respect if they actually adapted EXISTING black comic characters instead of rewriting existing white ones: that always seemed to imply to me that there isn’t enough interest for “real” black characters, they “have” to be already-popular white ones or you’d never get anything. Which is nonsense, and irritating, because I really want to see my Heroes for Hire movie sometime this century.

  • Anonymous

    No, I agree. John Stewart and Miles Morales are great ideas, in that you can have black Green Lantern/Hispanic-Black Spider-Man without racebending Hal Jordan or Peter Parker, and also make them the heroes in their own stories.

    Case in point, I think Idris Elba’s awesome, but I’d much rather see him as (say) the lead character in a movie about a black superhero than a supporting character in a movie about a white superhero, which he is in Thor. Hell, why would you want a black Batman when you already have Black Panther? Black Panther kicks ass. Why bother with black Superman or Tony Stark when you have Steel for both? Steel kicks ass. There are lots of great POC in comics, and I’d rather they got a shot in the limelight, instead of seeing the same old white characters getting a racelift.

  • Anonymous

    Considering Black Panther’s the leader of the most technologically advanced nation on earth in the comics, that doesn’t sound a bad deal to me.

  • Anonymous

    The fact that an alternate continuity exists in which Nick Fury has been redesigned to resemble Sam Jackson does not diminish the fact that Sam Jackson claimed what had been a white character since 1963, It just means that he claimed the character so thoroughly that it bled back into the comics.

  • Anonymous

    The US is the most technologically advanced nation on earth, because Reed Richards and Forge live there.