…but it’s not because the studio has hired Michael B. Jordan, a Black man, to play Johnny Storm/The Human Torch.
First of all, I was never a particularly huge fan of the Fantastic Four, anyway. My earliest memories of them were of the old cartoon TV series, which didn’t even have the Human Torch as a character on it, he was replaced with that flying robot, Herbie.
Even though I read comic-books, including some issues of the Fantastic Four, and other issues in which various team members appeared in it, I didn’t buy the Fantastic Four regularly until 1996, when the title was revamped by Jim Lee’s Wildstorm Studio as part of the”Heroes Reborn” crossover. So I bought all 13 issues of that series. After that, the next time I bought a Fantastic Four title on a regular basis was about 10 years later, when Mark Millar took over writing the Ultimate Fantastic Four series, for 12 regular issues plus one annual. I was still a big fan of Millar’s at the time, so that’s why I bought it. I later bought Dwayne McDuffie’s run on the mainstream title, when The Black Panther and Storm temporarily replaced Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman on the team. And then when Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch took over the mainstream title I bought the first and last arcs of that, but I wasn’t that impressed with it.
The point is that I’m not a hardcore fan of the group, so I’m not as emotionally involved in how a live-action movie turns out. I thought both of the last two movies sucked, particularly because of the way they portrayed Doctor Doom, just getting him all wrong.
But with this new rebooted movie in the works, the rumors of Jordan’s casting as Johnny, who has always been portrayed in comics and cartoons as blond White male, has been spread for months now. And, predictably, a vocal contingent of (White) fanboys have been reacting with shock and mock-outrage over this choice (all the while swearing up and down that they’re “not racist”, of course). I don’t have any problem with the idea of a Black actor playing this character, although I’m not a huge proponent of so-called colorblind casting in general, and if I were making this film I would keep the team all-White. But, really, that’s largely irrelevant to me, as long as they get the essence of the characters right. As anyone who read my online rants against Man of Steel knows, I thought the makers of that film got the casting perfect, but the way they wrote the character, by having him kill Zod, was all wrong. You could hire 4 Asian women to play the Fantastic Four, for all I care, as long as it’s well-acted, with a good story.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration…but you get my point, right?
The thing that bugs the heck out of me, is that ever since Jordan was rumored and now that he’s been confirmed for this role, people, including those who claim to be fine with Jordan being cast, keep acting like Johnny being Black is such a dramatic change for the character and will require some major addition to the story in order to explain how he and Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman are brother and sister. Does this change the family dynamic of the group? How will they explain this so that the audience won’t be confused?!?
Really? In America, in 2014, people still think this is so confusing? What’s the big deal? A couple of throwaway lines of dialog could clear that up. Daddy Storm married a White woman who gave birth to Sue, then that woman died or they got divorced and he remarried a Black woman who had Johnny. Or maybe the Storms had Sue and then adopted Johnny. Or adopted both of them. Whatever. It’s really not that inexplicable. Hello, look at our current President, who has many siblings of different ethnicities. Heck, I kinda hope they don’t bother explaining it in the film. Never show the parents. Just have Sue and Johnny in the film, referring to each other as “my brother” and “my sister”, and have no one even blink at the idea. Just move on with the story, I’m sure the audience won’t have trouble going along with it, if it’s a good movie.
And that’s the bigger problem, I don’t think it will be a good movie, but not because of Mr. Jordan. The ironic thing is that I think he’s actually the best actor they’ve cast. I can see him as Johnny a lot easier than I can see those other actors, Kate Mara, Miles Teller and Jamie Bell as Sue Storm, Ben Grimm, and Reed Richards. Mara, at age 30, is actually the oldest actor in the cast, with the three men each being 27. That’s not right. Apparently this film is being based primarily on the Ultimate Fantastic Four version, and while I mostly enjoyed Mark Millar’s take on the team there, it’s not the version I would use for a film. I would stick with the classic version, where Reed is the eldest, in his 40’s, with graying temples. Ben, Reed’s childhood best friend, should be close to his age, with Sue at least a decade younger, and then Johnny the youngest. The core to the Fantastic Four is that they are a “family.” Reed and Sue are, essentially, the parents, Johnny is the child, and Ben is alternately the gruff Uncle, or the older brother (particularly in his interactions with Johnny, as they are always good-naturedly teasing each other). The family aspect gives them a universal appeal that I don’t think works as well in the Ultimate version, where they’re just a group of child prodigies.
Technically, I guess Teller could be fine in his role, depending on how soon he is transformed into the Thing in this film. Presumably the majority of the film he’ll either be in rocky make-up, or preferably just providing a voice while The Thing is a CGI creation, like The Hulk was in The Avengers film. But Bell is too young to play Reed Richards. And as for Kate Mara, well, I’m trying to be as diplomatic as possible, but I’ll say that Sue Storm should be much more attractive than her. But I know that’s strictly a personal opinion.
So with 3/4th’s of this cast, plus the premise of the film being based on an inferior alternative interpretation, I just don’t have much faith in this film at all. Maybe I’ll end up being pleasantly surprised, but I doubt it.
This may seem odd but the more I think about it, the more I’m offended (maybe too strong a word) that Jordan “only” landed the Johnny Storm role when as far as I’m concerned, he could just as easily be Mister Fantastic in this cast. I’m probably reading too much into this but it seems as if it was easy for the powers that be to see Jordan as the brash little brother but the brilliant scientist/team leader was never a consideration.
I’ve seen a lot of people suggest that he should have been cast as Reed.
I think it’s a stretch ” no pun intended” “Reid richards stretchman” anyway, you can’t overthink a comic book that has had these characters for over 25 years. I doubt when they casted it they said, ” no way can a black guy be a smart scientist”, They most likely said if we change the main character we may lose our loyal fan base so let try a lower character first and see what happens. im pissed the characters are so young, it doesn’t make sense to me. Johnny should be the only young guy. Anyway my 2 cents, I dobt it’s worth anything anyway
FRANKLY I don’t think any of these people should have been cast. They all seem just…wrong. Jordon may be the best Actor of the Four as this Article indicates but, he looks maybe 20 and just comes off as more of a SPider-Man than a Johnny Storm or a Reed Richards, and noen of the rest fit either.
Well, it’s far from my ideal cast.
[…] after the recent news about the Fantastic Four movie casting has sparked a lot of discussion across the net about Black superheroes in movies, and I thought […]
Because a comic book is mostly a visual interpretation I beleive the characters should look the same as the comics. Trying to change however many years of comics to satisfy the politically correct crowd is a slap in the face. With that said, I only feel that way because comics are so visual. As for the James Bond movies with the idris Elba playing James Bond that could completely work because each James Bond has been different already and James bond is only described in the early bond books. Bond is an icon more than a face. How about in the future we stop rewriting movies to satisfy the crowd mentioned above and start writing original comics and movies with the diversity that were are late for anyway.
Let’s all be honest with each other. We all want Marvel/Disney to get the FF, X-Men, and Spiderman back! Fox and SONY have made enough fails! Can we also admit that the casting was perfect for the last two FF movies? The only problem was that The Thing should have been CGI, and Galactus should have been Galactus (not a cloud). That being said, this new FF movie will bomb horribly. The casting was pathetic and only the sequels get a real budget. We all know it. FF rights will be sold cheaply back to Marvel/Disney just in the nick of time to be saved for future projects. Spiderman is already a lost cause and is inching its way back home as well, which is great. The only outstanding property is X-Men, Which is a story still waiting to be told properly by Marvel/Disney. That depends on the success or failure of Age Of Apocalypse. Marvel is already doing everything it can to damage these outstanding properties through its comic books.
I think Fox is doing well-enough with X-Men, and will likely keep that, which is fine to me because I always thought the X-Men worked best in their own separate universe separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe. If this new Fantastic Four does bomb, I could see them selling the rights back to Disney.
However, I must confess, the recently released teaser for the new FF film has me intrigued…
I can agree with that. I did see a couple of promising peeks, including The Thing. The X-Men have never felt the love from the rest of the Marvel Universe. But the potential for at least two giant films is with Marvel/Disney. After that, it would just be repetitive and dull. Civil War, infinity Gauntlet, and a possible Secret Wars would require a grand reunion, if only temporarily. Perhaps Fox and Sony could lease them out for a share of the revenues. As for the new FF team, there was very little fit and polish put on the actors. They are a bit rough looking for a blockbuster. I think the make-up team was on strike, leaving them with faces better suited for radio. Just my opinion there. I think we might see some better special effects, but I feel the writing and acting will sink this endeavor quickly.
[…] I know I wrote before that THE NEW FANTASTIC FOUR MOVE IS PROBABLY GOING TO SUCK, but the more I’m seeing of this film, the more it’s winning me over. No, it’s […]