As a comic offianado from WAY back, I've found it hard to deal with the casting news coming out of Fox these days in the impending reboot of the Fantastic Four. And, believe me, Michael B. Jordan isn't the only concern I have for this movie. But his casting as Johnny Storm AKA THE HUMAN TORCH has been the center of most of the heat (ouch...please forgive the pun).
The fan-boy in me was and is still a bit outraged. And being as white as I am, I have thought long and hard about said outrage to see what was at the heart of my anger. This is exasperated by an article I've read recently challenging me to see this casting as a fix to the obvious sins of sixty racism. Now, I understand that back in the sixties all our movie heroes were not only white, but male. And I've already ranted (apparently Movieplot pulled the article but you can find it HERE)on about if we wanted to do movies about Black Superheroes that there is already an awesome catalog of heroes starting back from the seventies and spanning the decades since.
So, is it racism that fuels our nerd rage over this casting? Or is there more to it? Now, the origin, I am beginning to understand, needs an update. The sixties formula of people getting blasted with radiation and getting superpowers is just so...well sixties. Stack on that the fact that we're not sending people into space anymore and the fascination with people going up in a rocket has lost its wonder. This I believe will be handled well with the whole Ultimate origin and the N-Zone experiment.
So, is our problem with Michael B. Jordan being cast as the hot shot hero just our perpetuation of the 'marginalization of black people in media'? Is it that we are allowing the racism of the sixties to live on? I don't think so.
Personally, I've been over this since the seventies. Momma Excelsior taught me a long time ago to judge people on their actions and not the color of the skin or just because they're different. So, thanks for the history lesson, but I dare say I was there; not just reporting on it like some middle school class report. No, this goes deeper.
Personally, I think it just shows how out of touch Fox is with the fans. They're playing loosey goosey with the story in an attempt to make it 'fresh' and 'with it' (sorry for the out of date seventies language...I am who I am). They have made it obvious that the vast library of written cannon and decades of history that comic's greatest family has engendered means nothing to them. It's all about packing the seats. And I understand that. BUT you're messing with something that means a great deal to a whole generation (or two or three). It's more than just a story. It's more than just a movie ticket.
The bottom line is would they do the same to Shakespeare (will and have)? Ok, bad example. How would the populace feel about a black man being cast as Abraham Lincoln? Or, better yet, a white man playing Martin Luther King in a movie? Absurd? I don't think so. It's all about packing the seats, right? The story's not sacred, right? How about Chinese James Bond or a Middle Eastern Three Musketeers? See the thought process? Fox may think there's a big difference between a 'comic book' story and historical figures or literary figures, but we don't. It's sacred. It's something we hold dear. We all understand when you have to update things a bit, but tread carefully. Those silly comic book stories are important to us.
So, will we go see it anyway like Jordan says or will we boycott? I'm not advocating either. I just hope Fox understands the holy ground of which they tread.