The latest actor to join the cast of Fox's movie reboot of the Fantastic Four should inspire some speculation about what shape the movie will take. It may also inspire some racist message board meltdowns, because people are terrible.

Actor Reg E. Cathey has been cast as Dr. Franklin Storm, father of Fantastic Four members Sue and Johnny. The elder Storm is not a fixture of most FF stories, but he played a key role in the team's formation in the Ultimate Universe, so his inclusion in the movie underlines the idea that the movie is strongly based on that vision of the characters. It also implies that family elements will be very much to the fore.

Cathey may be best known to audiences as Freddy, the owner of Frank Underwood's favorite barbecue joint in the Netflix series House of Cards, or as Carcetti staffer Norman Wilson in HBO's The Wire. Perhaps by chance, his children in the FF movie are played by House of Cards co-star Kate Mara as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman, and The Wire co-star Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/Human Torch. The movie also stars Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing.

Like Johnny Storm, the character of Franklin Storm is white in both the Marvel comics universe and the Ultimate comics universe, whereas Cathey and Jordan are black. This may suggest that Kate Mara's Sue is adopted, or that the Storms are a blended family with children from two previous relationships. But honestly, in a movie about cosmic rays and super-powers, we're not holding out for exposition that explains how something as commonplace as a racially diverse family is possible.

 

 

Will some fans be outraged that a relatively minor character has changed from white to black? Will they be furious at the idea that the once-WASPy Storm family is now at least 50% black? Will someone somewhere on the Internet demand to know why it's OK to cast a white character with a black actor when it's not OK to cast a black character with a white actor, even though this question has been answered a thousand times already?

Yes. Of course.

So here's the standard boilerplate. Casting a white actor in any previously non-white role takes something away from those who have less, and gives to those who have plenty. Casting a non-white actor in any previously white role takes away from those who have plenty and gives to those who have less. If you think that what's being given here isn't important, you can't think what's being taken is very important, in which case it's surely not worth your time to get upset about it.

If all of that's not good enough for you, flame on, I guess.