I've been seeing a lot of debate online in regards to the new Fantastic Four movie and in particular about their casting choices. I thought it was about time for a black comic fan to put in his two cents on the subject. Enjoy.
There has been a lot of outrage over the outrage (and if you do the math, that's a whole lotta outrage) about Michael B. Jordan, an African-American actor playing Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch, a white superhero in the new reboot of the Fantastic Four movie. Everyone from Zoe Saldana to Anthony Mackie have stood up for Michael B. Jordan and the studio for doing such a "brave thing" as well as bashing everyone who doesn't like it, branding them as racists in the process. Well I happen to be black and a comic book fan and I am very much against Fox studios new The Fantastic Four reboot. Not just because of the race swap. (There seems to be a general dismissive attitude toward comic fans by everyone involved in this movie in general but that's a blog for another time...). And I'm not just offended as a comic book fan and a Fantastic Four fan but also as a black man. Allow me to explain.
Race isn't just some palette swap.
Its not the difference between blue and black leotards or even brown and blue eyes. Race is much more significant than that. Its a cultural difference that I'm sure isn't going to be addressed in this movie. Instead they'll treat his ethnicity with the same irrelevance as you would if he had a different colored costume. As a black man, THAT is part of what's so offensive about this whole thing.
FOX isn't trying to break boundaries or narrow the gap of ethnic diversity.
FOX is trying to sell tickets by causing controversy and stirring the pot. Let me ask you a question: If you were going to break ranks and make a character from the Fantastic Four an African American, why not make it be Mister Fantastic, the genius leader of the group or Sue Storm the heart and soul of the team (who also happens to be a scientist in this version of the story) since black WOMAN are DEFINITELY under represented in superhero movies...but no, they choose the hot headed, rebellious, cocky Johnny Storm to be black. Because that doesn't fit the stereotype of young black men at ALL right? Shoot, throw me for a REAL loop and make the Human Torch Asian American! An Asian guy in a movie NOT good at science and math for once?!? I might actually be on board with that! But no, FOX pulls the easy race card. Want to be the subject of all the news blogs? Make a white character black. How cliché.
So with that being said, who's really being racist?
The people upset at a white character being portrayed by a black actor or the movie studios that cast a black actor as a white character purely to get the movie press and publicity without adding anything significant to (and if anything, taking away from) black culture? I for one will NOT be spending my hard earned money on this sorry attempt to get people into the theaters to see a film company desperately trying to revive a dead franchise and neither should you. No offense to Michael B. Jordan. I think he's a fine actor and he's just doing his job. My issue is with FOX and their desperation to keep up with Marvel/Disney films causing them to use such cheap transparent tactics to get butts in the seats.
Using race as a ploy is weak especially when there are plenty of black superheroes they could bring light to.
Storm for instance. FOX somehow under utilized a strong black female character (talk about two birds with one stone) and the Academy Award winning actress who played her. Here's an idea FOX? Make a good Storm movie instead of making white characters black for shock value. Or at least have the guts to do it to a character that would be more of a risk. Make Wesley Snipes Wolverine and maybe than I'll think you guys are really trying to do something brave and significant. No? Didn't think so...
VENNI the VENOMOUS!!!