‘Fantastic Four’ Star Michael B. Jordan’s Awesome Response to Fans Who Were Angry About His Casting
When it was first announced that director Josh Trank had cast Michael B. Jordan in the role of the traditionally-white Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, there was a bit of (sadly predictable) fan backlash. It was the same sort of ignorant, unreasonable outcry we’ve endured anytime someone suggests we have a Spider-Man who isn’t white (even though we have one in the comics). Jordan has mostly kept quiet about the senseless anger regarding his casting, but the actor has finally delivered a thoughtful response.
Jordan penned a graceful, simple essay for Entertainment Weekly, addressing fan outrage at the choice to cast a black Johnny Storm. The actor acknowledges that change can’t be made overnight, and while he can see all sides of the argument, he implores comic book fans to see things from a different perspective, as well:
It used to bother me, but 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?
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.
It’s incredibly sad and aggravating to see comic book fans continue to display their racism and sexism, resisting change based on the excuse, “Well, this is the way it’s always been.” It’s infantile. But it’s also bizarre, given that the fans themselves are often thought of as a niche group, fighting against outdated nerd stereotypes. Nerds are outsiders, people who are thought of as different. Their racism and sexism doesn’t make sense, and it makes their peers look bad — the larger contingency of comic book fans who don’t react with juvenile outrage when a person of color is cast in a traditionally white role, or when Marvel’s new Thor is a woman.
Jordan goes on to explain that the message of the film is about unity, a theme those who railed against his casting could stand to learn a little something about:
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.
What does it matter if Johnny Storm is black instead of white, like he’s always been in the comics? It doesn’t change anything about his character. If anything, it makes him more interesting and reflective of contemporary society. When fans rage against this casting decision and complain that casting a person of color completely changes a character, what they’re really admitting is that it changes the way they perceive the character based on their own prejudices and assumptions about race. That’s just plain awful.
Jordan wrapped up the essay with a message to the trolls:
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.
Well said, sir.
Fantastic Four arrives in theaters on August 7.