Ok for those who haven’t heard yet, there are rumors of a Fantastic Four reboot (which I am all for!). What you may not have heard is that there is a young actor by the name of Michael B. Jordan slotted to play Johnny Storm. My concern with this is that Michael is African American.
The issue to me is not an African American superhero. It’s race bending for a marketing ploy. It’s simply a trick to grow your audience, to appeal to a larger fan base. But let’s be honest, this is a dirty ploy and most intelligent people will see right through it.
Also I have a feeling that choices like this don’t really appeal to African Americans. Most of the people I know of color would rather see a Black Panther, Falcon, Goliath, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Cyborg, John Stewart GL, or Blade reboot then be thrown a disrespectful bone like this. And that’s only to name a few of the black super heroes that already exist. If you want to appeal to that audience make a movie for them.
I think people in the comic book and movie industries should check out ECBACC (East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention). They can meet writers and artists that have formed their own community, because they aren’t getting the mainstream attention they deserve for their creations. You will find a treasure trove of characters and stories you could build fantastic movies around. No need to change an existing character to fill this 'need'.
Not to mention that when you change Johnny Storm’s race to African American then you need to change Sue Storm’s race. That or you need to remove the fact that they are brother and sister from the story. Which if you do the latter you are now making a major break from continuity. And there is no quicker way to tick off the comic book fans (your built in audience) then changing continuity for a publicity stunt.
Stan Lee has told the story behind the Fantastic Four many times, but for those unfamiliar with it, it goes something like this... He was ready to quit the comic book industry. He wanted to be a serious writer and his editors wouldn’t take him seriously at Marvel. He wanted to have continuity and more serious tone in the books. He was convinced there was an older audience for comic books. His editor told him that the adults reading comics had brain damage and that only small children read comics. Fed up, he was ready to walk out.
Then one day his editor said he wanted Stan to come up with a team book. Justice League was doing well at DC and he wanted a book to compete with it. When he told his wife, she said “Stan, do the book how you want. What’s the worst that can happen? You want to quit anyway.” So he decided to listen to her, and thus the Fantastic Four was born. So the FF can be pointed to the turning point in comics where continuity mattered. Where modern comic book story telling was born.
I think that’s an important story to keep in mind when talking about making a movie about these characters. To me it’s a even more of a reason to respect the source material of the comics with the FF.
The other side of this is that Stan wanted them to be a family, a brother and sister, a husband and best friend. Why? Because he wanted that to be a source for them to have struggles, and yet stay together in the end. It’s a logic built into the back bone of the story, that if removed removes something key from the story.
So I implore any one working on the FF reboot, if you can add something to the story by race bending Johnny Storm then ok. But if this is just a publicity stunt (as it seems to be) please reconsider.
To hear more about this topic check out this episode of Super Hero Speak: http://superherospeak.com/wp/12-dont-bend-me/