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!)