Comic book fans love their favorite characters. When comic books are adapted into movies, fans want to see those characters translated faithfully, as closely as possible to the source material. (That doesn't just apply to comic books. Fans of novels, nonfiction books and plays don't want to see any drastic changes to their favorites either.)
When the upcoming Fantastic Four movie (a reboot of the 2005 version) announced its cast this week, there was a contingent of fandom that wasn't happy about Michael B. Jordan portraying Johnny Storm, otherwise known as the Human Torch. Johnny Storm is a white character, you see. He's been white since Marvel Comics began publishing Fantastic Four comics in 1961. (Chris Evans was the Human Torch in the 2005 film.) So why is a black actor playing him now?
There's nothing about the Johnny Storm character that dictates he has to be white. He's a young, impulsive hothead who enjoys his time with the ladies. Oh, and he has the ability to set himself on fire, fly and shoot flames from his hands. Comic book fans haven't always been the most open-minded and progressive when it comes to such matters. They objected when Michael Clarke Duncan played the Kingpin in 2003's Daredevil. They threw a fit when Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall — a secondary character, at best — in 2011's Thor.
So it probably shouldn't be a surprise that some people just can't embrace the idea of Jordan in this role. As could be expected, such naysayers expressed their feelings on Twitter. After the jump, we present Real Tweets from Real People.
No, seriously — why is this "so stupid"? Is it really just because the Human Torch has always been a white character? Is this a backlash against political correctness and diversity making its way into comic book superhero movies? Is it a rejection of a character being portrayed differently from the way he is on the page? Or is this hiding something far uglier?
Another reason some apparently can't get past Johnny Storm being played by a black actor is because his sister, Sue Storm, is also a part of the Fantastic Four. And in this new movie, she'll be played by Kate Mara — a white actress! How could they possibly be brother and sister?
How does that work? I mean, it's not possible that Johnny Storm could be adopted in this version of the story, is it? Maybe he's a foster child. Does that sort of thing really happen in our culture? Is it really any less believable than a man who can burst into flames and fly? But this seems to be an issue some fans just can't get past.
Really? Casting Jordan as a fictional comic book character is akin to casting a white actor to play an actual person, one who was a civil rights activist and historic figure? Maybe the reason we haven't seen a movie about Martin Luther King is because producers just haven't found the right white guy to play him! I mean, c'mon — Johnny Storm's sister is white! What the hell, man?
After reading this guy's timeline, I'm pretty sure he meant this as a joke. But it's still a dumb joke.
If you have to say, "not to be racist, but…" there's probably a good chance what follows that qualifier is likely to be racist, right? And again, whether or not Johnny Storm is white isn't something that's in the Constitution or 10 Commandments. These characters can be tweaked and adjusted for new audiences and new eras.
HAHAHA — The Human Torch charred himself! That explains casting a black actor! Oh, that's hilarious. Actually, no it's not.
Just… what? Go ahead and say what's on your mind, sir. What issue do you have with Jordan playing this character? What exactly is your problem with it? Use another 140 characters to explain your concerns to us.
OK, let's end this with a couple of funny tweets. These jokes aren't quite as tasteless as the attempts at humor posted above.
Michael B. Jordan is one of the most talented young actors working today. In a different year that wasn't loaded with so many strong lead performances, he likely would've received a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station. It's an exciting development for him to be cast as a popular comic book character. Fantastic Four might have a chance to reach an even wider audience because of this. But most importantly, it has a chance to be a good movie because a quality actor is part of the cast. That's all that should matter.