And Then Comic Book Nerds Exploded In Rage: Michael B. Jordan Rumored To Play The Human Torch
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And Then Comic Book Nerds Exploded In Rage: Michael B. Jordan Rumored To Play The Human Torch

By TK | Trade News | May 2, 2013 | Comments ()


We sat there and suffered through a black Kingpin. And THEN we had to endure a black Heimdall. And next, we're getting a black Perry White! HIS NAME IS PERRY WHITE NOT PERRY BLACK! But NOW you've gone to far!!! A black Human Torch? Johnny Storm isn't black! Might as well cast a blond white guy as The Black Panther, or a Taiwanese midget as Colossus!

There, does that about cover the varieties of ignorant, impotent nerd rage that have already burst forth like a ruptured boil over this news? Because although this is just a rumor, it's been online for a few hours, and I'm already bored with the moronic, screeching outrage. Sure, there are some logistical problems, but they're minor ones. I'm assuming they'll make Sue Storm African American as well. Or not. Make one of them adopted. I couldn't care less.

Race-bending in comics is hardly new. It happens all the time (see also: Nick Fury), and given the dearth of black comic book characters, it almost has to happen in film adaptations if they're interested in making them more diverse. Because let's be honest about it: race is an issue in comic book movies. And no, it's not the same as casting a white person as Luke Cage or the Black Panther, for reasons that I shouldn't have to explain, damn it. Yet every time something like this is even rumored, a small corner of the internet shits their diapers over it, spouting off about political correctness and unnecessary changes and wah wah wah.


Michael B. Jordan is a terrific young actor. He was fantastic in Chronicle, "Friday Night Lights," "The Wire," and by all accounts is amazing in the upcoming festival favorite Fruitvale. Doubtless this is a thing because Josh Trank, the director for the Fantastic Four reboot, worked with Jordan on Chronicle, which means they already have some rapport. So does anyone really care that the Human Torch won't be blond and blue eyed?

Ugh, internet. So tiresome. You got my vote, for whatever that's worth, Mr. Jordan.

(via Coming Soon)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Bradley

    People keep dissing the comics. They clearly haven't read the well written epic runs that I have. Changing the race to pander to that race is racist in its own way. The fans deserve a proper translation. I have talked to black FF fans who think this sucks.

  • E-Money

    I still say Donald for Spiderman.

  • juzzlehizzle

    At the risk of being offensive, this guy is good, so good that he might fill the shoes of Denzel Washington

  • Ben

    The only reason I'm sad about this is cause Chris Evans was fucking PERFECT as Human Torch, and I'm just sad that he got wasted on an fuckawful movie. I mean yeah he's a great cap too, but his Human Torch was just fucking perfect.

  • Mrs. Julien

    My name is not Prolixity Julien and I endorse this message and Chris Evans' chest hair.

  • sean

    But this just means he won't get to play Luke Cage when the time comes.

  • protoformX

    I will say my initial reaction to this news was "NNOOO!" But wait for the explanation... I was hoping the next time a Fantastic Four movie came out it would have been too long, and be a part of the same movie universe as The Avengers.... That aside... I don't care at all that Wallace is The Human Torch.
    The previous movies were disappointing in several ways, in fact I'm sure there were episodes of that 90's FF cartoon that were better than those two movies. Johnny Storm was the best part of those movies.... not just because I like Chris Evans. But because Johnny isn't some tortured soul like almost every other comic movie hero. Sweet I have powers, let's go have fun! I really hope they figure out something better for The Thing, because Chiklas was great as Ben Grimm pre-accident, but anytime he was in that awful looking suit it hard to buy it. And they need a real plot. Not just oh and hey Victor Von Doom is bad go fight him.

    Where the Fantastic Four shine is them being a family, the level of trust they each have in the others, the camaraderie and that courage to do the unthinkable and venture into the unknown. Obviously you wouldn't get there in one movie that has to setup the whole story again.... but at least build to it, and if a sequel comes around you don't forget to hit that. Otherwise you missed the entire point of the Fantastic Four.

  • BlackRabbit

    With some comic characters, race IS important. Cap being a blonde, blue-eyed guy (and yes, I know there's a black Cap) fighting Nazis is part of it. Black Panther obviously can't be Latino. But for most other characters, race isn't an important part of who they are, or shouldn't be enough to "lock" them into one race. You could make Johnny Storm black or Daredevil Maori and it won't change them THAT much. As long as they're not doing it for headlines or just to be "daring" I salute it. And I saw Chronicle. He's pretty good.

  • Conor

    This could be a great way to introduce something new to the mythos, to shake it up a bit by having Sue or Johnny be adopted, or half brother and sister.

    Also, he's a fantastic actor who I think would fit the role brilliantly. I'd much rather see this happen then for Fox to get another, possibly inferior actor just because they need another white person.

    Ideally though, I'd rather he get a starring role as one of the higher-profile black superheroes, like Black Panther, Luke Cage or a new Green Lantern/ Justice League as John Stewart.



  • wonkeythemonkey

    I'm totally down for this casting choice. Jordan did a great job on FNL with a character who was cocky but complex. If they go that route with Johnny Storm, it should play really well.

  • Mykal Joshua Edward Zimmerman

    It would be a great addition, considering how the last 2 FF movies sucked and the Nick fury movie played by Hasslehoff well lets say I'm unsure how that even occurred. Besides action movies that was original based on minority characters Avatar the last airbender which was an amazing cartoon was completely whitewashed and it sucked beyond belief and stepped all over the series just like the Dragonball Z (DBZ = anime) being played by a white guy enough said, so yea a Black Jonny Storm isn't the worst thing to happen to a series as we seen from my examples.

  • BobbFrapples

    This could be an improvement on a really awful franchise.

  • googergieger

    HEY! I think the greatest living actor today and the star of Space Jam, and decent basketball player, Michael Jordan can do and play anything he wants! Wait, what? Not that Michael Jordan? Uh, right. Carry on.

  • I have no problem with swapping the races of characters. I just think Johnny Storm is the wrong one to swap. Johnny has always bordered on a "sidekick" character. Reed is the leader, Sue is his girlfriend, Ben is his oldest friend. Johnny always was a hanger-on. A hot-head who likes to work on cars and hang out with his friends. Yeah, make him the Black guy.

    If they really want to shake people up, make Reed an African American. A Black super-genius with a white wife? That would blow some minds.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Do you know what kind of sleeping giant you're waking, mailbox-head?

  • I assume that's a Haldeman reference.

  • fracas

    This is terrible and wrong! It's an abomination! I can't stand the idea of it!

    They're making another Fantastic Four movie? Aren't two bad enough? Just let it die!

  • So everyone gets their underoos in a twist about cross casting based on race and no one even fucking mentions the fact that Chiklis went full Orangeface for the first two movies. Whatthefuckever. Especially when you have a perfectly good Hulk Hogan just sitting there being orange already.

  • Bert_McGurt

    "Whatcha gonna do, when it's clobberin' time, BRUTHA!?"

    I bet they asked him and he refused to get rid of the skullet.

  • fife

    Make him a black Muslim.

  • NateMan

    Totally fine with this news. It's about time they changed up the characters. I know some people love them in the comics, but frankly, they kinda suck. Thing is a one-note caricature. Mr. Fantastic is a terrible husband and father. And Sue Storm, a woman who can turn invisible and make force fields, is usually boring as shit. Time to improve the characters for a new audience.

  • Marc Greene

    But does making Johnny black actually make him more interesting or is it Hollywood's lazy short-hand for trying to give him depth? John Byrne's run on the Fantastic Four comic gave them very real depth and some very dynamic characterization without resorting to too many gimmicks. The most moving of the FF's stories at that time didn't deal with aliens or supervillains, but with real world issues (women's rights, miscarriage, spousal abuse, psychological ostracism, etc).

  • NateMan

    Depends on how they decide to handle it. They can certainly be lazy about it. But with the right writer or director they can also subtly use his race to discuss the ramifications of being a super-powered young black guy in a nation that still often looks at such a person with suspicion. Will they? I don't know. I do think it's a step in the right direction.

  • periwinkled

    Please please let this happen.

  • Harvey Jerkwater

    I am a comic book nerd. I like comic books. I like comic book movies. I'm partial to the Fantastic Four, though not their movies. I also like Michael B. Jordan. If they offer him the role and he wants it, hell yeah. Nerds getting their underroos in a bunch over good casting ideas are so tiresome.

    In honesty, I did pitch an Entitled Nerd Movie Fit once: when Frank Miller got his hands on "The Spirit." Jeebus, what an inappropriate choice that was. Way to ruin top-flight source material, ass-clowns. ARGH! That wasn't a racial thing, that was an idiot thing. Imagine if they made the next "Simpsons" movie with Eli Roth as the writer/director.

  • Marc Greene

    I'm more okay with a racial recast than a change in the relationship between the characters (Sue and Johnny). Would they still be brother and sister or
    would they make some other explanation? They were talking about Alison Williams playing Sue Storm. Hell, cast Zoe Saldana as Sue Storm to make this work and I might be cool with it. Or heck, even make Reed or Ben a different ethnicity than the comics instead.

  • Excellent. If they're going the adoption route, I would like it better if Sue was the one adopted. Might as well turn things on their head entirely, if we're casting them as different races. Or, you know, have them be blood siblings and never once mention the race thing. That would be epic.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    what if the cosmic rays just made one of them really, really tan?

  • maureenc

    Half-siblings might work, but full blood siblings would probably just distract us (read: nerds) with calculating the odds of two siblings having that wide a divergence in skin color. (Possible - it happened in Britain in 2003 - but statistically improbable.)

  • Vi

    I think Jordan is great but... isn't Johnny Storm, Sue Storm's little brother? And aren't they already considering a white woman to be cast as Sue Storm?

  • bleujayone

    I would imagine that if Johnny Storm is being played by a black actor, then it also means that sister Susan could also be cast by a black actress as well. That is unless they want to say that Johnny was adopted and grew up in an otherwise white household. Assuming they did not, that would also mean we'd be witness to a interracial romance between Sue and Reed Richards, which could really piss some closed-minded people off unless they cast him with a black actor too. But then again that would just be sheer silliness as there's no such thing as black scientists, air force pilots or astronauts, right? "Why not just have H.E.R.B.I.E voiced by James Earl Jones too?"....*SIGH I don't get people sometimes. You'd think fans of heroes would be also backing up the values they represent. I should think racial equality would be right up there on the list.

    So long as they get values of the characters down, can act well and have good chemistry with the other cast member who gives a shit what color the actor cast are? If someone's a good enough actor they can play ANYONE they want. And let's be honest, most comic book characters aren't THAT deep to begin with. Race has very little to do with who they are apart from the fact they were first drawn that way. Okay, maybe Thor looks best with a Nordic looking actor and the Black Panther would seem odd played by someone who wasn't black- but most superheroes are not so dependent on their outward appearance. If they wanted to cast the role of The Thing from a Brooklyn Jew to Patrick Gallagher who's half Chinese and Canadian that's up to them. All I'd care about is if he could be gruff, lovable and shout "It's Clobberin' Time" in a convincing enough manner.

    Technically the last two FF movies also featured a racial retcon in that they recast blind sculptor and Ben Grimm love interest Alicia Masters, who was original drawn as white, with Kerry Washington. I wasn't bothered by her ethnicity.....her piss-poor portrayal of someone with blindness perhaps....but that has little to do with melanin content.

    The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of comic book heroes were created in the image of white people. It was clearly a byproduct of the times as anyone, even fictitious, with any power and importance were almost always portrayed as white. Go watch the DS9 episode "Far Beyond the Stars" for an example of that from the 1950's. Does it really matter if the Human Torch were now black, Spider-Man is Latino, Batman's new Robin is Korean or Earth's Green Lantern is form India? It shouldn't be. The values of a hero are universal. It really didn't matter what color they were then and it really doesn't matter now.

  • Blake

    Who cares? My only issue with Hollywood is that it's perfectly fine to white-wash but reversing the process creates an uproar.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Next they'll be making Loki a gay! Wait...

  • L.O.V.E.

    A FNL cast-member playing a Super Hero?

    Not at all concerned about that track record. Nope. Not. At. All.

  • lowercase_see

    Just please tell me he burns all his clothes off at LEAST once.

  • John W

    I'm a big fan of FF and I say why not?

    The FF is a title that should be treated with reverence in my opinion since it featured Jack Kirby's and Stan Lee's best work.

    As long as Galactus isn't a giant cloud I'm cool with it.

  • poopnado

    I love Donald Glover's response to the outrage over rumors of him being cast as Spiderman.

    What is crazy is that some white comic book fans think that young black teenagers are incapable of being science nerds. Maybe it's not their fault, since black teenagers are typically characterized as thugs in the media, but REALLY? You think you're the only people that are allowed to be nerds? Oh right, Asians too, I forgot.

    It's just so dehumanizing. Peter Parker couldn't possibly be black because black people don't know what it's like to lose a close relative and be inspired to help people in need. NEWSFLASH black people are multifaceted human beings.


  • pfeiffer87

    Was just about to post this. 'but you don't understand there aren't any black kids like Peter Parkeeeeeerrrrr!'. idiot fan guy.

  • poopnado

    It reminds me of my grandpa saying that Obama doesn't "act black". Because you know, he's educated. OOPS sorry I'm not black anymore cuz I went to college.

    Grandpa, I love you, but you're crazy racist.

    On an even more tangential note, what do you do about relatives that are racist/sexist/whatever? My grandma, who I always thought was the sweetest woman, who loved THE HELP and watches Oprah and voted for Obama and totally hates Nazis (whatever any of that means), freaked out when I said I was dating a black man. I still love her, but dayam! That's some terrible shit. I think she would have been less upset if I said I was dating a woman. Which now I have to do to spite her.

    Sorry I'm over sharing. But that's what the internet is for, right?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    My father's mom, who died in '97, who was feisty and awesome and lived in Brooklyn - apparently freaked out in the 70s when my parents (former NYers) lived in NJ suburbia and took in Fresh Air kids. "You're not going to have them sleep in the same room as your children, are you?!"

    Weird thing in retrospect. She never came across as phobic, and maybe my parents' gentle insistence that it was a problem had an impact. My mom's mom, well, she was a little more cranky about blacks, but she was cranky about everyone (my "slutty" cousin took a lot of heat), and I don't know how much of it was Alzheimers.

  • pfeiffer87

    Ha! no worries - thankfully my family's pretty open minded. Although recently I had a convo with a close family friend (in her 60s) and she said she didn't agree with interracial marriage. I was like WHAT?! She's the loveliest, nicest woman. I asked her why and she answered 'Cos what will their kids be?', and I was like 'hmmm, I dunno - HUMAN?' It always blows my mind when really nice people are so obviously blatantly racist. I think the best thing to do is question them (without getting mad), open a dialogue 'Why do you think that?' the further you go down the rabbit hole the more they begin to realise that what they think or perceive is actually illogical (hopefully). That's my method anyway. I'm currently writing an essay for uni on the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts. I am beginning to realise that in many ways the world is still stuck in the 1700s. SNAP OUT OF IT PEOPLE!

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Yeah, she does sounds sweet. I can't wait to meet her.

  • Resa Anderson

    If this means as much shirtlessness for Jordan as it did for Evans, then I say "Take my fucking money already."

  • QueeferSutherland

    A movie about a black guy who's always on fire? When do tickets go on sale?


    - The Klan

  • Marc Greene

    I hate myself for laughing at this as hard as I did.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    the best.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I think Jordan's a fantastic actor, and this is a great casting choice. Course, the casting of Johnny (and Ben) wasn't the problem with the last two movies.

    Maybe if they find a way to make us give a sh*t about Reed Richards this could succeed.

  • Batesian

    There's a thought: instead of Johnny Storm, make Reed Richards black.

  • kirivinokur

    I was thinking Kyle Chandler as Reed would give Doctor Doom the stern talking-to that will finally make Doom get his act together, son.

  • LwoodPDowd

    "Listen. We need to have a talk. I know that you were hurt when Jessica Alba was cast as the blonde-haired blue-eyed Sue Storm. I know it hurt you deeply in places you didn’t even know existed within your soul. It’s okay. They’re rebooting Fantastic Four and they’re interested in casting the already blue-eyed, and easily made blonde, Alison Williams for the role of Sue Storm. Does that make you happy? Does it ease the hurt from being forced to stare into the dead eyes of Alba with those sh*tty blue contacts making it look like she was blinded in an acid incident? Shhh, it will probably all be okay."

    well, given that was posted on pajiba yesterday in trade news, I think people might care. I'm just happy to see Wallace getting more work.

  • Well, that was different because they tried to make Jessica Alba something she wasn't, and did a terrible job at it. If they tried to whiteface Michael B. Jordan like that, people would and should be pissed about it, because it is insulting to the actor, the character, and the audience.

    But changing the race of the character to fit the actor (especially an actor that is talented enough to convey the character regardless of skin color) is not that big a deal. To be honest, there are very few comic book characters whose race is so intrinsic to their identity that changing it would be a crime.

    It is a side effect of the white male gaze: it is the default to the point where it isn't actually important.

  • FrayedMachine

    I legitimately don't care so long as this movie doesn't suck nor do I understand why anyone else should care for that very reason.

  • Some Guy

    I, for one, don't give two shits. I think it's cool that they're trying to branch out and reach for a more diverse audience, which is both nice and sound marketing, but I primarily don't give two shits because the Fantastic 4 suck. Sure, they're comic "royalty," so to speak, but has there ever been a more lame group of people with special powers who have joined together?

    Maybe it's the fact that ever. single. incarnation of the 4 have sucked. Boring. Uninspired. There are tons of cool villains in the 4's world, I'll give you that, but as superhero's go, they don't rank up there very high in my book.

    Ten bucks says this new one will suck regardless, yet they'll make enough money to warrant another shitty sequel where they take another awesome villain and turn him into a deadly cloud of whatthefuckever.

  • EB III

    Jordan is going be a huge star in hollywood. I always pegged him to get a bigger comic hero role in the near future. Would make a great Batman in a Batman Beyohnd movie.

  • BendinIntheWind

    I was worried for a second that making Terry Mcginnis black might invite unfavorable interpretations from idiots, just because he's a delinquent teenager and former gang member, and "ZOMG black people are scary!!!".

    BUT, now I'm in love with the idea of reversing the stereotypical "Magical Negro" character to be crotchety old white guy Bruce, passing on all his wisdom and life lessons to young Terry. Now I'm going to spend the rest of my day fantasy casting: Michael B. Jordan would be fantastic, maybe Jeff Bridges as Bruce...


  • Conor

    While this does sound cool, it's an established part of the character that he's actually Bruce's genetic son, because blah blah Amanda Waller blah blah nano-machines blah blah the world always needs a Batman.

    Although, Terry did still have traits from his mother, so if a black couple were selected as prime candidates, yeah you could have Terry be black.

    I'm just gonna go over here and wedgie myself into oblivion.

  • BendinIntheWind

    LA LA LA LA LA, not listening to plot developments I didn't like!

  • AudioSuede

    Nail on the head. The problem is there aren't enough strong black characters in comic books, not that movie studios are trying to bring more diversity to the screen. Maybe if the folks at Marvel weren't, you know, so pasty, we wouldn't have to change people's races in adaptation for the screen.

  • Some Guy

    Seriously? Hindsight is 20/20, but come on. Most comic characters were created in the 30's-60's. Complaining about the fact that a bunch of white people made their characters white to sell to a bunch of suburban white kids 40 years ago will get you nowhere.

  • AudioSuede

    How many countless times have these franchises been rebooted, re-written, or retconned? It's not like they haven't had opportunities to change the race of a character or two, or to add a strong, primary character of color. I know there are limits to how much fans will accept change, but I feel like the industry didn't even think of something like a black Spiderman or a black Johnny Storm until the last decade.

  • devovit

    ^ This.

    There's literally zero reason not to change up the characters, because the Marvel movies actually take place in an entirely different universe to the comics, which themselves are part of a multiverse consisting of thousands of universes that all have differences both great and small.

    The Marvel Studios shared universe, for example, takes place in Earth-199999 as opposed to Earth-616 (the main universe from the comics). It also takes place in a universe where the X-Men do not exist, because the X-Men rights are owned by Fox, whereas in the Earth-616 stories the Avengers run into X-Men all the time.

    Having a black Human Torch would be completely in canon with the comics. End of story.

  • Some Guy

    I'm not saying they can't be re-written, nor that they shouldn't, just that there aren't a lot of strong minority characters in comics simply because of the time period when they were originally conceived. I think the push to change popular characters more recently, like Spiderman, is a direct result of the emergence of the modern (The year 2000 and onward) comic book film adaptation that isn't 100& guaranteed to suck.

  • pissant

    I'm not saying they can't be re-written, nor that they shouldn't, just that there aren't a lot of strong minority characters in comics simply because of the time period when they were originally conceived.

    You stated that in your first comment in different wording and then AudioSuede addressed exactly that in his reply. Why are you reiterating? That's not how arguments/discussions work.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Good. GOOD. No medium breaks and/or re-writes its own rules more than comic books, so if a character can be resurrected/brought back from a death dimension/'no explanation needed, here he is alive again' at a moment's notice then changing their race is fucking small fry.

  • Superasente

    I'm cool if he's adopted. Just, y'know, don't forget to mention it in the movie. Internal consistency is far more important than skin-color to most nerds.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Plus what great tension that could create between Sue and Johnny, if they chose to go that route. I really think that could be (and this is not hyperbole for a franchise that I find is usually dreadfully dull) the best thing that's ever happened to the FF.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    um, ew. Adopted siblings are still siblings.

  • yocean

    Funny thing is I just met a couple who are adopted siblings. The guy like to tell people he is sleeping with his sister and seeing how uncomfortable that make others feel. I mean, one of them is clearly Asian and other is kinda latino/hawaiian but they are hiding from their parents they are "together." It was really interesting, and cringe-y. Really cool people tho.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I have a lot of reactions to this, but for now I'm going to file them under "I lack the life experience to respond to this". How old were they when adopted? That must make a difference.

  • Michelle

    I don't know that the implication was that there'd be tension of a sexual nature. I'm not sure if you know any families that have one natural and one adopted child, but there is a LOT of tension that can sometimes arise in that situation.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Yes, I definitely was not referring to sexual tension. Yikes.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    ah, carry on then. (hides her dirty mind under a bucket)

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