When the casting began for 20th Century Fox’s new Fantastic Four movie and Michael B. Jordan was announced to play Johnny Storm aka Human Torch, I was enthused. The guy’s talent has been clear from his days on The Wire, up through his emotionally devastating lead role in 2013’s Fruitvale Station. He’s crazy good, so the casting was a no-brainer. But to some (read: closed-minded folks), Jordan’s casting spelled trouble, and this vocal minority has been making it known on the internet that they do not approve of Jordan’s casting (side note: Fox could not care less what you think).
In the comics, Johnny Storm is traditionally a Caucasian male with blonde hair and blue eyes. Obviously Jordan doesn’t fit that mold, but so what? The comics are fiction and obviously any feature film adaptation is going to take liberties, so why not cast the best actor for the role regardless of how the comics iteration looks?
With the release of Fantastic Four looming closer, Jordan has taken a moment to respond directly to critics with a thoughtful and well-written editorial at EW, in which he says he’s made peace with the nastiness spewed at him on the web:
“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?”
Jordan stresses that the movie is, at its core, about four friends who are forced to come together as a team (ie. a family) after a series of unfortunate events. Essentially it’s a story of unity, and that’s something we can all relate to in today’s world. Jordan closes the editorial with a statement directed right at the worst of the worst:
“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.”
That’s kind of beautiful, and on the heels of Simon Pegg’s refreshingly honest comments from earlier this week, I kind of dig that people are addressing our fan frenzied culture and saying, “Listen, it’s okay to be passionate about fictional things, but don’t forsake the world around you in the process.” The real world exists with real problems and real beauty, but sometimes these stories up on the big screen are addressing issues and themes that bridge the gap between the two. Yes, even superhero movies.
Read Jordan’s full statement over at EW.