When Michael B. Jordan was first cast as Johnny Storm – aka The Human Torch – in rebooted superhero franchise The Fantastic Four, there were some internet commentators who expressed their displeasure at an African-American actor playing a character who was depicted in the comic books as blonde-haired and blue-eyed.
But as the new film – directed by Josh Trank and co-starring Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell – nears its 6th August release date, Jordan has penned an essay in Entertainment Weekly titled Why I’m Torching the Colour Line, offering his response to the trolls who criticised his involvement in the film.
Admitting he has gone online to look at the reaction to his casting, the 28-year-old writes:
“It used to bother me, it doesn’t anymore. I can see everybody’s perspective, and I know I can’t ask the audience to forget 50 years of comic books. But the world is a little more diverse in 2015 than when the Fantastic Four comic first came out in 1961. Plus, if Stan Lee writes an email to my director saying, ‘You’re good. I’m okay with this,’ who am I to go against that?”
He goes on to encourage readers to see his casting as a reflection of modern life and the theme of the film itself – unity:
“Some people may look at my casting as political correctness or an attempt to meet a racial quota, or as part of the year of ‘Black Film’. Or they could look at it as a creative choice by the director, Josh Trank, who is in an interracial relationship himself – a reflection of what a modern family looks like today.
“This is a family movie about four friends – two of whom are myself and Kate Mara as my adopted sister – who are brought together by a series of unfortunate events to create unity and a team. That’s the message of the movie, if people can just allow themselves to see it.
Jordan acknowledges that “people are always going to see each other in terms of race,” but adds that he hopes we won’t talk about it as much in the future.
“Maybe, if I set an example, Hollywood will start considering more people of colour in other prominent roles, and maybe we can reach the people who are stuck in the mindset that ‘it has to be true to the comic book.’ Or maybe we have to reach past them.”
And finally, he concludes:
“To the trolls on the internet, I want to say: Get your head out of the computer. Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends’ friends and who they’re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It’s okay to like it.”
Plenty of readers took to Twitter to share their support of the actor whose previous films include Fruitvale Station and That Awkward Moment: