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Marvel’s The Interventionist: An Open Letter to Overzealous Comic Book Purists

By Brian Byrd | Think Pieces | May 7, 2013 | Comments ()


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The following remarks were delivered by Dingo Fontana, professional interventionist, to the Overzealous Comic Book Purists Club (OCBPC) during the group's annual convention earlier this year in Illinois. Reprinted with permission.

Everyone in the room, please take your seats. No, you can't finish watching "Big Bang Theory." TURN IT OFF! And put on a goddamn button-down shirt, clowns, this is a national meeting! Why are you walking around in plastic armor? You're not Iron Man. Leave Tony Stark to Robert Downey and Ghostface.

Whoawhoawhoa, you in the Catwoman outfit -- why you putting on that sweatshirt, girl? I was talking to those guys over there. You're good. You're real good. What's your name anyway, cutie? Paprika? You serious? Uh, nevermind.

Let's get down to business. There's something you all need to hear, and it requires your full, undivided attention. Ready?

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Seriously.

This past week was a low point for your order. What should have been a celebratory atmosphere centered around the release of Iron Man 3 devolved into ugliness and deplorable statements after the lot of you decided to ejaculate your negative opinions all over the Internet's face without warning. First, this business with The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. Apparently this guy is a legendary Iron Man foe, and you waited six years to watch the formidable duo square off on a 90-foot movie screen. Only, that's not what happened. There was no insane showdown between the all-powerful Mandarin and Tony Stark. Instead, [spoilers] director Shane Black decided to do something deplorable - impart his own creative vision on the story. In Black's version, The Mandarin (played by Ben Kingsley) isn't the world-conquering, power-ring wielding uber-terrorist you remember. Rather, Kingsley's character is eventually revealed to be a shitty British theater actor hired by the real villain -- Aldrich Killian -- to divert attention from a larger (admittedly lame) endgame.

Of course, you all handled this change with typical aplomb and restraint.

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Oooh, sorry the movie's villain wasn't an Asian caricature with mystical alien power rings that shoot lasers and queef lightning. That would have been far more poignant than sly social commentary on the nature of terrorism and celebrity in a post 9/11 world. The twist was rather clever. It worked on multiple levels. Reason and planning went into the decision. Unfortunately, it was lost on you simply because the string didn't play out exactly as it did in a comic.

OK, so that was annoying and pissed off some rational fans. No biggie. However, you followed the Iron Man 3 debacle by flipping shit over the rumor that Michael B. Jordan (/pours one out for Wallace) is under consideration for the role of Human Torch in Josh Trank's Fantastic Four reboot. Why the hand-wringing over Jordan? Is he a poor actor? Nope. Does he lack the skills to play a flying teenage superhero? Hard to make that case considering he already successfully played a flying teenage superhero in Chronicle, which was directed by the SAME F*CKING GUY HELMING THE NEW FANTASTIC FOUR! So what's the deal, geeks? Why the consternation? It can't possibly be because of his skin color, right?

It's because of his skin color.

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This is just ...

I don't even ....

It's not enough for you that the comic personification of America is a flawless blond-haired, blue-eyed white man. Now a brother can't even play a character that's on fire 80 percent of the time without you zealots breaking out the bitchforks. Do you have any idea how much you've disappointed Brad Paisley and LL Cool J?

Setting aside the stunning Civil War-era racism on display, how is it not "realistic" that a black guy plays the Human Torch? Never mind, I forgot that comic books have a longstanding reputation for verisimilitude. These new-era superhero movies are basically documentaries -- Ken Burns' The Justice League premieres July 4, 2015! It's not like this is a genre built on mutants, aliens, humans with supernatural powers, invulnerable gods, monsters, and masked crime fighters. Every female I know weighs 102 pounds, has DD boobs, and can singlehandedly take out a battalion of trained male soldiers in 30 seconds. But yeah, casting a black actor in the role of "person who can spontaneously burst into flame and fly around with a 4,000-degree Kelvin core temperature" is a bridge too far.

I HEAR YOU MUTTERING "IT SAYS WHITE-HOT FLAME" BACK THERE, JETHRO! ANOTHER WORD AND YOU'RE GONE!

Why is he dressed like a ghost, anyway?

Sorry, where was I? Oh:

  • Ethnic Asian stereotype as villain -- we wants it.
  • Black person as flying fire man -- we hates it.

    This isn't just limited to Marvel films. DC geeks are up in bingo-arms about a rumored change to Superman's mythology in Zach Snyder's upcoming Man of Steel. "ZOMG Gwen Stacey death" keeps Spider-Man sequel supporters (The Ama2ing 2pider-Man 2wo) up at night. And who knows what you'll find to critique about an eventual Justice League film or inescapable Batman reboot.

    As the noted soothsayer Holden once said: "The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies." We're not in uncharted territory here. These complaints don't amount to much in the grand scheme, and angry contingents are always more vocal that the satisfied. But each new petty grievance inevitably reinforces the unpleasant -- and mostly unfair -- stereotype that all comic book aficionados are ungrateful, whiny fanboys.

    And really, can you blame anyone for taking that view? Comics are now an integral part of popular culture. Popular culture. It's no longer a refuge for middle-aged basement dwellers. The Whale's Vagina San Diego Comic Con is arguably the most important week of the entertainment year for fans, press, studios, and celebrities. Hell, look where we're standing right now. Ten years ago, could you have imagined you'd be able to hold these national gatherings in the sub-basement of the Peoria Kiwanis Club? Of course not!

    You won. We're in the middle of a comic entertainment renaissance. These properties have never been more critically or commercially adored. Three of the top 7 highest grossing films of all time are based on comic books, and there's a fair chance Iron Man 3 breaks into the top 10 by the end of its theatrical run. Of the five movies released this century to crack the all-time inflation-adjusted top 50, three (The Avengers, Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight) have comic origins.

    Studio bean counters aren't the only ones benefiting from this resurgence. Fans are getting a pretty good deal, too. Check out the Rotten Tomatoes scores for some recent notable tentpole comic book adaptations:

  • Iron Man 3 (78 percent)

  • The Avengers (93 percent)

  • The Dark Knight Rises (87 percent)

    The Amazing Spider Man (73 percent)

  • Thor (77 percent)

  • Captain America (79 percent)

  • Iron Man 2 (73 percent)

  • X-Men: First Class (88 percent)

  • The Dark Knight (94 percent)

  • Iron Man (93 percent)

  • Green Lantern (26 percent) REDACTED because it doesn't support my argument

    Maybe the "unforgivable plot hole" concerning how Bruce Wayne got from Asia to Gotham isn't the movie cancer you think it is. That's a damn impressive run of quality filmmaking, especially for effects-heavy tentpoles. Instead of starting with FX and working out, studios actually opted to utilize talented directors1, casts, and screenwriters to craft engaging stories that function as films instead of home theater sizzle reels. Billions were spent bringing these heroes and villains to life, and studios will allocate billions more to sustain this push over the next decade and beyond. Star treatment isn't limited to prom kings like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and the Avengers, either. One of Marvel's upcoming films centers on a guy who can shrink to the size of an ant (Tom Cruise will likely topline to save on FX costs). Another stars a raccoon and a f*cking deciduous maple that knows kung-fu or something. When you get a $150 million movie about a talking mammal and a warrior tree fighting aliens, there's officially nothing left to grumble about.

    Enjoy what you have, guys. You're not being asked to swallow sewage and pretend it's gourmet chili. These are fully realized franchise films with strong, competent hands on the tiller. Let directors and screenwriters explore their own creative paths, and remember that adaptation is not synonymous with cloning. Criticize decisions when they catastrophically harm the story or result in inferior products, not simply because the plot unfolded differently on the page. Nitpicking trivialities isn't highly skilled labor. Elevating spandex-clad superhumans to the height of mainstream popularity is. Remember that next time you miss the forest for the trees.

    1Captain America: Winter Solider appears to have drawn the Marvel: Phase Two short straw. Co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo have two feature credits under their belts - the hideous You, Me and Dupree and the unmemorable Welcome to Collinwood. How they parlayed that into a tentpole directing gig is unclear, although it likely involves Kevin Feige, Furries, and hidden cameras.








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    Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


    • Zamanta De Jesus

      Frak Me. I just know they're gonna do a disaster with my amazon in the JLA movie. Surely will be a teen bop with no ass and falling over boobs and no actor/fighting skills whatsoever. sigh. So many reboots and still no go to a decent WW movie.

    • junierizzle

      I think once you start a movie based on anything all bets are off. It becomes a new animal. If filmmakers want to change something to make the story better then I'm all for it. There is that great line in X-Men when Wolverine complains about the uniform and Cyclops asks if he would prefer yellow spandex. Some things should and can be changed.

      Now, what people should he complaining about is how dumb that twist in Iron Man 3. I got the point and I applaud the liberty they took I just thought it was a dumb move.

    • manting

      would it be racist if a white guy was cast to play the Black Panther or Luke Cage? I believe there would be an outpouring of internet angst and anger if this were the case with cries of racism.

      Having a black actor play Mr Storm is the same thing EXCEPT there are damn few black superheroes. This is due to the fact that most superheroes were created before the Civil Rights Acts of 64 and 68 and general economic decisions made by comic book creators. You simply could have made this argument and it would have made sense. Instead you went with the lazy "all people against a black actor playing a white character are racist" cry. This argument is weaker than clock radio speakers.
      I find your argument, calling people who are against a black actor playing a iconic character who is white racist, offensive and without an modicum of logic or understanding. You cant have it both ways.

    • It's not the same thing at all, and you come out and admit that one word later. There are almost no comic book characters of color. Replacing one of the few minority character with a white guy would create legitimate racial gripes precisely because non-white heroes are so rare in comics.

      I'm well aware of why most 70 year old characters are white. The entire point is that changing their race in 2013 wouldn't change anything about who that character is, what makes him or her tick, etc.

      Your argument is analogous to someone saying Peyton Manning and Mark Sanchez are exactly the same EXCEPT that Manning is a future hall of famer. You can't discount the most relevant points because they don't suit your argument. If you don't want a black guy to play a Caucasian character simply because of skin color, you're being juvenile at best and racist at worst.

    • manting

      If you don't want a white guy to play a African American character simply because of skin color, you're being juvenile at best and racist at worst. See what I did there. You cant have it both ways.
      I personally could care less about the fantastic four - they suck - but I find the argument flawed

    • BobbFrapples

      Amen.

    • BlackRabbit

      Hell, wait till a Superman reboot with a black guy is started. Then the firestorm will really begin.

    • John G.

      Pajiba, are we gonna eventually give up totally on words and just try and communicate through gifs?

    • Mrs. Julien

      I find the prospect tantalizing!

    • Some Guy

      I keep hearing the argument that the Mandarin would never work because his magic rings that queef lightening wouldn't make sense in the "realistic" world presented in the recent collection of marvel comic movies.

      To which I say, why are magic rings such a stretch when:

      A "magic" hammer is ok,

      A "magic" shield is ok,

      and a normal scientist "magically" turns into a hulking rage beast.

      Even the Iron Man suits, while realistic in that they might *might* be possible, still manage to do all sorts of unrealistic things. Like attach themselves to people using their minds and hand gestures. Nope, no suspension of disbelief required there.

      Or better yet, how the bad guy in the IM3 can "magically" heat himself up to a few thousand degrees and spit fire?

      Cause that shit sure as shit isn't grounded in reality.

      The magic rings excuse is a cop-out.

      In Iron Man, the bad guy was a corporate head who was selling tech to terrorists. In IM2, there was a corporate bad guy who was giving tech to terrorists. In IM3, there is a corporate bad guy who creates tech the blows up which he then blames on terrorists.

      Sensing a pattern here? I think by IM3 it would have been MORE original to have a bad-guy who doesn't wear a suit and pulls strings from behind the scenes until the big reveal at the end. Maybe that's why fans are pissed. Because they were handed the same bad guys as the first two movies, only this one realistically breathes fire and melts things with his hands.

    • To me, there's a large difference between an unbreakable shield made from rare metal, a god's hammer, and 10 alien power rings. Marvel made an entire movie to explain the origins of Thor and his hammer, then had him show up again in Avengers. Same with Captain America. Rules were established, in other words.

      But if the villain in a new movie has mystical power rings, how do you explain that? Where did he acquire them? How does a guy in a metal suit compete with alien technology?

      Yes, comic movies require some suspension of belief. That said, the length of the bridge matters a great deal, and this one would have been a bit too long.

    • John W

      I used to be a purist or traditionalist or anal retentive whatever you kids are using these days, but with the advent of cosplay I don't freak out over it anymore.

      Cosplay has shown me that there a lot of people of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors who love comic books as much as I do (also there's a lot of people with a lot of free time on their hands). So if you want to cast someone of color go ahead. If you want to engage in some gender bending go ahead.

      It's not going to result in the end of the world. In the end these things will be decided with people's wallets.

      As Neil Gaiman said earlier just make good art.

    • One of the more entertaining things about the recent rash of comic book movies, besides the movies themselves, is watching the comic book nerds shit themselves in various ways whenever a new one comes out.

      Y'all remember when The Avengers came out and that lady wrote a review that was a little less than gushingly orgasmic? I think I remember reading that she got actual death threats. That's some quality nerd rage right there.

    • fp

      When I heard about Jordan possibly being the human torch I was admittedly in the "wtf" camp simply because he's the brother of the invisible woman. And the person they wanted for the invisible woman is white. I just don't want some ham fisted reasoning put into how they're related to one another. I'm sure Jordan would do an admirable job as the human torch, I've just seen the whole "lets make him black" or "lets make him a her" become a cliché over the last ten years in comics just to try and make a big shock re-introduction of some character that everyone stopped caring about (the last ghost rider revamp tried to make the rider a girl) just to try and sell a few books.

    • Three_nineteen

      I know a brother and sister - he's black, she's white. They don't go running around explaining how that happened. They just say "This is my brother/ this is my sister" and people believe them. I'm pretty sure there are more families like this. Why is everyone finding this concept so incredible?

    • Or, more likely, to try and even things out rather than keep them the same ol' same ol' white males everywhere.

    • sean

      "queef lightning" Goddamn, now I have started sketching a supervillianess with that super power. Thanks for putting it in my head. She looks a lot like Lady Gaga in my early sketches.

      As for comic book fan boy bitching...you are right. It is hard for me to argue against that, even with me being a comic fan boy. Comics and film are two different things. Films last two hours. Comics last a lifetime, or several depending on the character.

      I have no problem with the changes in Iron Man, not really. I have been reading the comic for...a long, long time. 40 yrs nearly. And there have been changes throughout. Some good, some not. So changing for two hrs isn't going to have much effect on me. There will always be another version of the character or story available every Wednesday.

    • Nick Rowley

      ""queef lightning" Goddamn, now I have started sketching a supervillianess with that super power."

      Thought the same thing, that's a superpower I want to see. :D

      I'd also settle for showing Ben Kingsley do it, note to the special feature department come home release time.

    • googergieger

      Wait, now fauxhipsters are hating on people that like the effin source material? These are the same type of people that hated Final Fantasy Spirits Within but loved Advent Children, despite the former actually being a movie and the latter just being dropped off in the middle of action sequences and common video game story fodder.

      YOU PEOPLE MAKE ME SICK!

      Na, I honestly don't care. Only saw the first Iron Man cause a cute Navy dude asked me out to it. Didn't bother with the other two.

    • Macrophage

      The same reactions occur when a movie based off a novel is released. Everybody who read the novel always moans that the movie was not as great as the novel or that certain details were altered, blah blah blah.

      I enjoyed the Mandarin twist (hmm..that sounds kinky).

      As for race change, it happens not only in movies but also within the comic book world. Isn't Spider-Man a latino kid now in the Marvel Ultimate universe? (although admittedly, that kid is not Peter Parker. Same scenario with Green Lantern, as there has been a white and black version of him (Hal Jordan and John Stewart). Nick Fury used to be white and now he's black in the Ultimate universe and in the cinematic versions.

    • competitivenonfiction

      Now I want a Mandarin Twist.

    • Mentioned in passing in the story, but I'll broach it further. Who besides me gets the feeling that "Guardians of the Galaxy" is going to be first of these Marvel/Disney movies to well and truly s**t the bed?

    • sean

      I actually think it might be a lot of fun. However, I think that people will mostly stay away at the box office. "A talking tree? A flying raccoon? A skinny green woman?"

    • Hey, if skinny green women are good enough for Captain Kirk, they are good enough for me.

    • It does appear that moviegoers will tolerate a superhero movie spiced with sci-fi elements, but will stay away in droves from a straight-up sci-fi superhero flick. That attitude also makes me a little queasy about the prospect of "Avengers 2: Avengers in SPACE, Space, space!"

    • abell

      I didn't like the reveal, largely, because I was bored by it. I didn't really know/care about the Mandarin in the comics, but, I liked the fuck out of the idea of him in the movie. Then, wait, nope, it's not actually a guy who's trying to destabilize America by means of awesome, but, instead just another business guy trying get rich from inventing a war. I feel like the businessman reveal has happened enough recently. Like, in the first two Iron Man's, for example. I agree this was the best it's been done as a straight reveal, but, it's been done.

    • meadowdancer

      I have never wanted to shake so many people by the shoulders and scream "Get a freaking grip!"

      The movie was awesome! I am also a Comic Book nerd and believe me I had no problem with them changing up the story that way. Frankly I was not enthusiastic about them trying to explain The Mandarin. The way they did it was topical (terrorism) and made sense based on what we know the world knows as of The Avengers.

      And also for these same people complaining there was too much Tony Stark and not enough Iron Man. Are you freaking kidding me? This was perfect. I loved seeing RD Jr. showing that Tony Stark was a smart, driven, haunted man. It made no sense in The Avengers that him being in an iron suit somehow had him being able to take on freaking Thor and Captain America (come on!). I am glad they knocked him down to size in this movie.

    • competitivenonfiction

      One of the things I love about the Iron Man concept is that Tony Stark and Iron Man are the same guy. It's just a suit. This is different from other superheroes, who have alter egos. It's too bad that some people want more of the guy in a particular outfit.

    • meadowdancer

      Agree about it always being him no matter what but more people wanted to see him fighting and not being human Tony Stark I guess.

    • GDI

      Well, he's a cocky, self-important bastard who happened to the "underdog" in The Avengers, even when he really wasn't at a disadvantage. It's the epitome of American retrospection.

    • meadowdancer

      Really I never saw him as the underdog. If anything it kept annoying me how he was standing two to two with Thor and Captain America. But his bromance with Dr. Banner made me love the character again.

    • CM Towns

      My only problem with the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 is that Marvel pretty much made his villains look rather silly. Or screwed up their background like the Rourke character in Iron Man 2, whose a mish mash of two different villains. I thought the take on Mandarin was cool, the movie itself really fun, but by extensively changing his most well known villain and the killing of any possible threats, Iron Man won't have too many interesting enemies to fight going forward if they do more films.

      As for Human Torch-as long as they still acknowledge Sue Storm as his sibling, that should be fine. Besides, the last films had Jessica Alba playing Sue Storm and she's Mexican.

    • sean

      And Alba is a horrible actress. The Mexican part is fine. The bad acting...not so much

    • Anna von Beav

      Spectacular.

    • Jon

      i actually really liked the "twist" in Iron Man 3. It's funny, but when it happened, i kinda saw it coming. Not that i was like "duh!" just that, when he was first introduced, something didn't seem right. It seemed like something was phony about him. And on the Johnny Storm thing, as long as the dynamics are the same. As long as the Fantastic Four is ultimately about family i couldn't care less what their skin color is. As long as they're good actors and the movie is faithful, fun, and awesome. I love the Fantastic Four, i just want them to get the incredible movie adaptation they deserve. Jordan is a great actor, charismatic, charming, funny, he'd be a great Johnny.

    • I'm an Iron Man comic geek from way back and I thought the Mandarin gambit was a clever red herring that served the story well. To get the comic book Mandarin on film in a form that appeased the comic strict constructionists would have required a series of shorts or a film unto itself. It's a nod to Iron Man's history without having to fight the communists all over again. I'm more upset they sort of wasted AIM as a pervasive film universe threat in a new world that needs more powerful weapons to fight off alien hordes but there's a vacuum after Stark and Hammer both out of the weapons business for various reasons.

    • Tinkerville

      As a lifelong comics fan, I agree. As long as they get the essence of the character right, I couldn't give one flippity damn what race they are. That was one gripe I did have with Iron Man 3 though.. I thought the plotting was excellent and it was an interesting twist, but the character wasn't the Mandarin as we know him. I'm not entirely sure why they chose to use him in name, but overall the movie was still a ton of fun.

      Of course it'll be impossible to say until it's out, but it looks like The Amazing Spider Man will be doing this the right way in the next installment by having Gwen wear the exact same clothes from the comics as a clear nod to The Night Gwen Stacey Dies (based on still images from the set), but will most likely use a different villain or play it out differently than the actual comics.

    • JH

      The best way to start an article about racism is by being sexist, amirite?

    • Mrs. Julien

      THANK YOU!

    • L.O.V.E.

      I think it may be over-simplifying things to say "skin color".

      Because you have the "skin color" of the actor and the "skin color" of the character. I don't know much about F4, so I am going to use Spider-Man as an example. Played by a British guy with an American accent. Don't care. But if Spider-Man in its latest iteration was British, then that is inherently part of the story that needs some explaining. Could be why he is an outsider, etc.

      Donald Glover as Spider-Man. That sounds fun. But the tricky part is deciding what kind of movie is it going to be. The 80's style comic movie with action and jokes? No explanation needed as to why Spidey is black. But the modern comic movie that delves into the character's flaws, and neurosis, and childhood angst is trickier. Do you go "color-blind" and plug and play Glover the same way it was written for Garfield? Or do you delve into racial issues.

      Could be a fantastic movie if done right.

    • Nick Rowley

      Of course Andrew Garfield is at least partially British...

    • Brian Merritt

      I agree that the Mandarin they presented served as a great plot device. And I love the character they wrote. And I love the way Ben Kingsley played that character - really, he was fantastic. I just didn't like that character as the Mandarin.

      And changing the race of a character for a movie doesn't bother me, as long as it's still and played well.

    • A. Smith

      Michael Clarke Duncan's Kingpin comes to mind.

    • BlackRabbit

      Who else could they have gotten? Honestly? Without giving the actor a lot of padding to make them huge?

    • Nick Rowley

      So, and really, I'm out of the loop on movies often until just before they show up, the recasting of JS is due to him potentially showing up in a movie with Cap right? Are there really people so invested in FF that they care all that much? I'm all for JS being black because I hope it means his sister will be hotter than the last movie iteration. But that's me, different strokes and all that.

      Would Freema Agyeman be too old now? Cause, I think she'd be great and this is not at all driven by wanting to watch a movie where she prances about in spandex for ~60-70 minutes....

      Oh and I'd like Ben Kingsley's coat, that's dapper as the day is long. :)

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      If we're going brown for both of them, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Sue. Because, as I believe I've mentioned elsewhere on Pajiba this week, my penis has very strong opinions.

    • Nick Rowley

      She's alright, but she's no Freema. Still, like I said, different strokes.

    • Aidan Harr

      SPOILERS FOR IRON MAN 3 BELOW

      My issue with the Mandarin reveal has less to do with the change from the comics and more to do with the tone of the film. I couldn't stand how every single supposedly dramatic beat of the movie had to be punctuated by obnoxiously snarky humor. In Iron Man 1, the humor augmented the story rather than undercut it. The Mandarin's reveal was a clever surprise, but didn't lead to anything interesting or thoughtful for the rest of the movie. Big missed opportunity, if you ask me.

    • I think a lot of people would argue that it did lead to interesting and thoughtful things, as the reveal itself seemed to be a comment on our nation's collective fear of dark-skinned terrorists. The villain was a white guy, but to make the terrorism more believable and more frightening to the American public (and to draw attention off of himself) he hired a stereotypical-looking Chinese guy to play the part that Americans believe terrorists are supposed to look like. All of this fit in perfectly with the whole New York thing, as Tony kept referring to it simply as New York, which to those of us watching, usually means 9/11. I think the reveal really brought the metaphor home about American consciousness post-9/11.

    • I was hoping that once they got to Aldrich Killian, there'd be a second reveal and that the Mandarin was real after all, pulling the strings behind AK. Naturally, without those alien rings, just a fiendishly clever bad guy bent on mayhem and terror against 'murica.

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      Iron Man 4.

    • Chuck

      You're missing the bigger issue Brian.

      Johnny Storm is a womanizer who loves fast cars and being a dickhead. Now some director wants to make him the one black guy on the Fantastic Four. Why can't Mr. Fantastic or The Thing be black?

    • BlackRabbit

      A Black Jewish guy? THAT would get the fires going.

    • Probably because they want Michael B. Jordan specifically (up-and-comer, possibly in the running for a 2014 Oscar, has worked with Josh Trank before) and he fits best into Johnny Storm rather than the other two. I don't think they're casting Jordan because they specifically want to bend the races of the source material, but rather the other way around (they are bending the races of the source material because they want to cast Jordan).

    • D

      Wait, what? What did he get nominated for?

    • He didn't get nominated for anything, I said he'll possibly be in the running for next years Oscars, which is the early talk on Fruitvale Station.

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      Nothing, yet. I think they're speculating on the success of Fruitvale Station, which makes sense. Marvel's entire production MO is, "Get this guy who's talented before we can't afford him," with a few starpower exceptions to make the whole work. So you hire Josh Trank, who's proved he can do superheroes cheap and well, and you hire Michael B Jordan, who's an obviously excellent actor who's worked well with Trank before and is on the verge of being a name, but isn't yet so you can lock him into an unfair contract.

      Seriously you guys, Marvel is a damned evil genius of making high quality shit dirt cheap. They caught Chris Evans right before he'd have gotten too expensive, assuming he'd kept on his trajectory. Same with Hemsworth. You splurge for a few anchors (RDJ and Sam Jackson, mainly-- maybe we count ScarJo, but I imagine she came cheaper than we think) and fill in the rest with shrewd as fuck choices. This is only an issue because Michael B Jordan happens to be a different color but doesn't have the cachet of being Sam Motherfucking Jackson.

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      If we disqualify a black guy from being the Torch on the basis of playing into stereotypes, he gets disqualified from Thinging for the same reason-- black guy becomes a big hulking brute? Please.

      Also in the case of the Thing, he wouldn't be black once he Thinged up. Unless you go out of your way to play up blaccent.

      So if we're only about avoiding stereotypes, a black guy can really only play Mr. Fantastic, which is just as offensive because, in avoiding stereotypes, you cast a black guy to play the one thing nobody would ever expect you to cast a black guy as-- a well-educated, normal, monogamous supergenius.

    • D

      A black guy as a nerdy super-genius sounds bad ass. I'd totally be into a black Mr. Fantastic.

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      So would I, but not if it's primarily a reaction to not wanting to have Johnny Storm inadvertently become a stereotype because you switched skin colors on him. You avoid writing someone as a stereotype by not being a shitty writer, not by turning a more PC character black.

    • Marc Greene

      To be fair, "Mr Fantastic" does sound kind of pimpish.

    • A black guy who can contort himself to into all sorts of insane positions? Someone call Herman Cain's agent.

    • JJ

      It's what happens when any source material goes mainstream: it won't look exactly like it did before. Yes, sometimes we end up with a monstrous amalgam, but consider that even if it isn't exactly Karloff, you may still enjoy Puttin' on the Ritz.

    • Guest

      Related

    • koko temur

      I would really love for some butthurt nerds to come here now to bitch about this article. Because im having a bad day and i love nothing more than to tell some people to shut the fuck up.

    • googergieger

      You do realize this is Pajiba right? I mean not many elitist nerds around here, but I'd wager it is harder to find someone who regularly posts on here that isn't a nerd, than anything else.

    • koko temur

      Lately we get this new militant nerd variety. They are special.

    • Give them some hard truths. Heh heh.

    • Jay Logan

      I have to say I agree. I'm a huge Marvel comics fan and I would be lying if I said that say black Heimdall, or the new rumors about the black Human Torch didn't make me a bit angry about the decisions. It has nothing to do with race, I'm just one of those people, who want to see an adaptation as close to the original as possible. BUT that doesn't mean I'm gonna hate the movies because of that. After a good 12 years of ultimate comics, where a lot of these things get changed and a lot of characters get different origins (let it be racial, religious, or just a variation of the the original cause of their powers), I got used to it. And with the movies, I learned to separate them from the Marvel comic universe as a separate thing. Yes, I didn't like it much, how the Mandarin turned out, I wanted to see the guy with alien rings, but the movie was great and the change actually fit the story. All I'm trying to say it that a whole lot of people need to start learning to enjoy a good movie and not act like a big baby if something doesn't happen exactly as it did in the comics.

    • Marc Greene

      I think as long as it doesn't directly screw the source material by changing a substantive element of the character, I say artistic vision away. For example, other than his relationship with Susan Storm (the Invisible Woman), is there anything other than appearance, that changes the intrinsic nature of the Human Torch by making him African American? He can still have all of the dynamic character qualities of the comic, again as long as they keep that important relationship between him and his sister. Compare that with changing the race of a character like the Black Panther - an African king - it wouldn't make any sense. Or on the other side, changing the Shadow or Phantom - wealthy playboys in the 20's and 30's into an African American - it would be highly anachronistic. That isn't to say it couldn't be pulled off, but to think you shouldn't feel backlash from fans of the source material is naive. I still stand by my view that they should just change Reed Richards (Mr Fantastic) or Ben Grimm (the Thing) if they were attempting a diversity reboot. There is talk of Alison Williams (of Girls) to play Sue Storm; just cast an African American actress and at least it will make sense without any adopted contrivance. <- *edit* Because I am a slave to public opinion I've removed the quotes. The point wasn't about the legitimacy of adoption. Someone made a good point about the FF as an exploration of the family unit vis a vis the superhero team. If it is handled as such, great. If it is handled as I expect it to be (with goofiness and/or forced melodrama), then I think it invites disdain.

    • Superasente

      I think it speaks volumes that they're NOT choosing to cast Reed or Ben as black. Casting Johnny as black is more complicated because he has a sibling in the book. They're casting because of the actor's ability FIRST, and worrying about those nitpicky details later.

    • Guest

      Adopted is in quotes because it is a rumor. Also, in throwing adoption into the mix just to justify a confusing casting choice is just lazy casting as it would definitely change the Hollywood dynamic of the relationship between Sue and Johnny on some level (see Thor and Loki - Dexter and Deb). That doesn't mean they love each other in any way other than brother and sister or one is unloved by the adoptive parents, but it does raise an unneeded question in viewers minds that could be considerably more succinctly handled by maybe exploring an African American actress if they are committed to making Johnny Storm African American. Let's say you were casting a rebooted Brady Bunch or the Godfather - would making Vito Corleone or Jan Brady an adopted African American kid make a difference in the interplay of the characters or the audience's perception of their roles? Keep in mind: Johnny Storm is frequently the rash, hot-headed asshole of the group (*see the previous FF movies and comic book).

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      Godfather or Brady Bunch? Yes, because those are two instances where very specific kinds of family form were explicitly the focus. The biological ties had real and fairly relevant importance in the way those stories were told (Tom Hagen exists as an--unofficially-- adopted, non-Italian brother specifically to illustrate some of those points).

      Johnny being adopted doesn't really undermine any dynamic that might exist here, it in fact potentially strengthens and deepens some of the things you can do with it. Or you can play it straight to no ill effect, like Dexter did until the last couple of seasons when they got desperate for storylines.

    • Marc Greene

      If they handled it with an appropriate level of validity to the plot and dynamics between the characters (specifically Johnny and Sue), that would be outstanding. I guess I just don't have that much faith in Hollywood blockbusters anymore...

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      Why is "adopted" in quotes? Like, it is definitely a practice which exists. And... Yeah, that's all I got, that it's in quotes because somehow it produces an invalid form of kinship which would render the sibling relationship unbelievable and, um, I mean... No? Do I mean no? Yes, I mean no. You get the sibling relationship as is, if you want it, but it also adds the option of some kind of further tension from the adopted v. biological relation to the parents, which actually if we're going to be thinking about it totally has relevance to the choice dynamics of the Fantastic Four as family over all (granted, ultimately everyone but Ben Grimm is related in culturally acceptable ways, but still, a rather unorthodox family generally) and could really bring something to the story.

      So I guess what I'm really wondering is... Like, what's your fucking problem, fuckwit?

    • Marc Greene

      Neat! I'm new to the Internet so I've never had someone shit themselves all over my punctuation. Thank you! Apparently, you have the idea that I view adopted children as anathema to traditional family bonds. I'd love to counter your perception with the fact of my own adoption or that my wife and I are working through the foster care system for adoption, but you warrant as much of my respect as a giant sack of dicks. "Thank you" again!

    • Get used to that. There is nothing the Internet loves more than a good semantic nitpick, unless it's being offended or cat pictures.

    • Robert

      "just cast an African American actress and at least it will make sense without any "adopted" bullshit."

      These were your words. Whether you meant it that way or not, you said adoption was bullshit. That's what people responded to. And referencing a giant sack of dicks with a sarcastic thank you because someone pointed out your own words you wrote on the Internet isn't convincing anyone you didn't mean what you wrote the first time.

    • Marc Greene

      Interesting how two apostrophes I mistook for quotes are translated into the word is. The usage of adoption shoehorned in as a plot device to explain why the two actors cast as relatives look so dissimilar does smack of contrivance for the purpose of either casting a justifiably favored actor by the director or stirring up controversy buzz. I would absolutely feel differently if this weren't a superhero movie because it would have a much greater chance of being handled with appropriate deftness. But let's take an inventory: is this movie lining up to be a personal drama with deep delving into the facets of the family unit or is it a superhero movie where people burst into flames and fight aliens? Show me a big budget Hollywood sci-fi franchise film that uses adoption as anything other than a clever gimmick or joke and I'll withdraw that sack of dicks. I'd love it to be a Nolan-style deep dive into the pathos of a public superhero team with no secret identities, but I think history has shown that is ridiculously unlikely. Chances are it will be treated as a fairly insensitive gimmick that warrants the bullshit comment.

    • Quorren

      People are just fuckwits. I had a coworker once say to me, "A mother can't love something that's not biologically hers," while completely aware of that fact that I am adopted.

    • You know, I just posted on facebook musing about whether or not the 'you never know real love until you have a baby' people ever tell that to adoptive parents--"It's so nice you've taken in this baby to love as your own. Too bad none of you will ever know real love."

      I really, really wanted that answer to be no, but I'm both sad and not surprised to see otherwise.

      Also, there are other ways to have siblings of different races. They could be step-siblings. Or half-siblings. My best friend is as pasty and blond-haired and blue-eyed as they come. She got it from her father. Her biological mother has dark skin and hair and eyes. Her step father is from Mexico, and her little brother takes after both of his parents. At a glance, they're two different races, but they're brother and sister. And I guarantee any single person in that family would have a real issue with anyone who thought any of the four of them didn't belong.

      To say nothing of the extended family, who won't hear any of that 'step' or 'half' nonsense, because you're either family or you're not, and since I was in her wedding party, I'm family now, too.

      And actually, her mother was adopted, so you've got one family with a whole lot of different ways you come by family--by blood and adoption and marriage.

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      Did you punch the coworker? Because I would encourage punching said coworker.

    • snrp

      Yes, this alleged "adoption" people keep speaking of definitely warrants scare quotes.

    • Quorren

      Thank you. Is is really going to be too hard for the audience to comprehend a brother and sister that aren't the same race? Do people really think adoption is that rare?

    • It would at the very least allow for some lazy Abbott and Costello-style race jokes:

      Sue Storm: "This is Johnny, he's my brother"
      The Black Panther: "Yeah, he's my brother too."

      /veal

    • mdm

      ...Invisible Woman to be played by Kristen Bell?

    • BlackRabbit

      Actually I'm glad of the Iron Man 3 change. As you mention, rings don't guarantee box office bux (unless they'd gotten Elijah Wood to play the Mandarin. Or Serkis.)

    • What if Serkis played the rings themselves?!?!

    • koko temur

      Dont bait him. He can, will and get oscar for it too.

    • Batesian

      Pretty much. Plus, regardless of any movie's quality, it doesn't mean the comics are any less good.

      And thank you for spelling "Spider-Man" correctly.

      *Stuffs self in locker.*

    • Derek Skinner

      So, is Sue Storm gonna be black too, because they're kinda siblings. I find it ridiculous and stupid when any long-standing and well-known comic character suddenly gets a race change in the movies. It's obvious that it's just the PC-patrol trying to inject "diversity" into the movie, regardless of how much it makes sense as relating to the source material. The Kingpin suddenly being Michael Clarke Duncan didn't make sense, and as much as I love Idris Elba and think that he did a great job, having him be the ONE BLACK FACE IN A SEA OF WHITE surely made more sense than to have it just be a white guy. And please, let's all put our blinders up and pretend that black people didn't flip their collective shit when Spawn's sequel was planning to have a white guy take over the role. Or that there wouldn't be a fucking federal case made if Luke Cage were suddenly made Hispanic or Asian or White. What is so wrong with wanting the characters to stay as close to the source material as possible?

    • Scorptilicus

      I never understand why everyone mentions Idris Elba but these comic purists didn't ever seem to mind that one of the Warriors Three was an Asian guy. So, in the comic, Asgard can have a god with an Asian influence but how dare the movie change one of the gods to be a black guy? Okay then.

    • When the source material is racist....it's wrong to want things to stay as close to the source material as possible.

    • manting

      really?!! Should we take the "n" word out of Huck Finn? You know who does that - nut job Christians in the middle of the U.S.
      Instead of glossing over past racism or attempting to re-write history, literature and art we should LEARN from previous racist attitudes and educate people.

    • Nobody is remaking Huck Finn, though. I didn't say go back and change the source material, I said don't stick to it strictly when remaking.

    • BlackRabbit

      Disagree. You can change it to a point, and a race-lift is a pretty minor change, honestly. But you have to keep closely to the original story to some extent, or what's the point? Go make your own spider-themed Asian guy named "Recluse" or something. It's a careful line, and Whatisname up there did have a point-don't just change it for the sake of it. If there's a good actor that fits, sure, but not to get headlines or make the fans scream.

    • Long_Pig_Tailor

      Re: Sue Storm having to be black-- Um... ever heard of adoption? And if not, it's okay, because Hollywood most definitely has.

    • God Of Bal-Sagoth

      Because it's preposterous when comic book fans arbitrarily draw these lines. You'll accept alternate universes, heroes rising from the dead MULTIPLE TIMES, "what if" universes, and god knows what else, and yet there's still this completely pointless argument whenever race changes happen, when in fact comic book canon gets changed ALL THE TIME (see also: Ultimate universe, New 52, the Marvel multiverses, and pre- and post-Crisis retconning).

      And Luke Cage is a dumb example for the same reason that Black Panther is a dumb example. It's one of the rare characters where race is critical and intrinsic to the character.

      Lastly, the other issue is that minorities have always been underrepresented in comics, and so there is arguably a need for the occasional race-bending in order to present some diversity in the medium. Making black characters white is not only unnecessary, it's insulting.

    • Monster Mike

      How is race intrinsic to the character of Luke Cage? I'm seriously asking because I don't see how it is.

    • BlackRabbit

      Because his original character was a man who'd been falsely imprisoned and then tormented by the corrupt, racist system.

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