Okay, so I'm absolutely sure that I'm not the only one ever to have brought up the issue of race within fiction, and characters' portrayals in movies and TV. It has been brought up left and right, in fact. Some folks are perfectly fine with change, or may even prefer change, even at the expense of fidelity to the source material.
On the other hand, many folks prefer to keep things as they are. They want to keep the Fantastic Four, Nick Fury, Spider-Man and everybody else who's White in the comics, White in the movies and TV. And I have to admit, I'm in this camp, to a degree. I, personally, think that race and ethnicity should be respected.
Now, before you get your superhero tights in a twist, hear me out. I don't have a preference for White characters over Black/Brown ones. And I don't appreciate the fact that most superheroes started off White, with no regard for racial diversity. However, I'm also not in favor of contrived, disingenuous 'diversity'.
Times are changing, that much is true. And that's definitely a good thing. Though, the general audiences don't really respect or care about superheroes, as it is. So, why do them the injustice of just throwing any old person into the role? It does nothing to improve the character, and it often makes true fans really angry!
For example, there was absolutely no reason for Sokka, Katara and Prince Zuko's race change in The Last Airbender (ugh). Likewise, there was no reason why Goku had to be White in Dragonball: Evolution, why Kingpin had to be Black in Daredevil, or why Heimdall had to be Black in the Thor movies.
Literally, it just seems like either:
1) The casting manager has taken no real care for the essence of the character, treating them more like an empty slot to do with as they please
2) The casting manager has more concern for the nonexistent racial sensitivies of general audiences than a true fan's desire for source integrity.
And either way, it's sort of offensive.
Now, admittedly, there are certain exceptions I would be willing to make, on the part of certain characters. There is a Black Nick Fury in Marvel comics. And, from what I understand, that is the only reason why Samuel L. Jackson took the role in the movies (the character looked like him, so he took measures to get the role).
Likewise, there is a half-Black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man in the comics. Miles Morales has gone on to become one of the most well-beloved incarnations of Spider-Man, other than Peter Parker, the original webslinger himself. Naturally, lots of folks would love to see him have his own movie (including myself).
I guess what I'm trying to say is, it doesn't really seem okay to me, for directors and casting managers to change the character's race, unless they also change in the source material. But as it so happens, the Human Torch is still not Black in the comics, nor is Aquaman, um...*ahem* Jason Momoa's race/ethnicity.
Of course, this all could just be my overactive 'outrage gland' acting up again. After all, a lot of folks--even some die-hard fans--are just fine with these changes. Some might say that it's okay because Heimdall wasn't so well-known, or because Aquaman's blond, blue-eyed image reminds folks too much of Super-Friends.
Though, the fact can't be ignored--rare is the case when race-bending serves any purpose, or pleases fans who enjoy the characters most. And this doesn't come from a place of hostility--I wish Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch) all the best in his role--but if you ask me, he's a Johnny Storm in personality only.
And personally, a better fix to the diversity issue, in my opinion, would be one of the following: 1) Let movies/shows match the comics (ie no race change), change comics to match movies/shows (ie matching changed race)...or, better yet, focus on a character who actually IS of the race you want to include in your movie.