There is this thin space between “wounded and fragile” and “defiant and bombastic,” and that is the space where Michael B. Jordan lives. The kid who broke our hearts in The Wire (“WHERE’S THE BOY, STRING? WHERE THE FUCK IS WALLACE?”) grew up good. Like, real good.
Aren’t we all thirsty for Michael B. Jordan? Let’s tackle the purely physical side first. This is the guy who underwent a body transformation for the forever re-watchable Creed and stayed swole as hell, cutting a damn good physique in Fantastic Four, Fahrenheit 451, and of course, Black Panther, and we’re going to get more of that with the upcoming Creed II. Just look at these muscles!
LOOK AT THEM.
DON’T LOOK AWAY.
Other upsides: He has perfected the art of the too-tight sweater, and he brought the Wakanda salute to the Cannes Film Festival (alongside the hilariously mustachioed Michel Shannon). A+ on both of these efforts.
But putting aside the sploosh-inducing hotness, what is so entrancing and so magnetic about Jordan as an actor is his sheer force of will, how effectively he conveys about his characters that these are people who desperately care, who have set their sights on a goal and will do whatever to achieve it. That fortitude is what gives him ambition, but also, I think, a bit of weakness — to desire success is to prepare for the possibility of failure — and it’s in those moments that Jordan excels. Think about his honest heart to heart with Tessa Thompson’s Bianca in Creed, a moment of total trust between two people who are both facing immeasurable challenges:
Or his yearning, fractured, enraged spin on Erik Killmonger, a man abandoned by his family and his country, who turns to violence to earn their respect and cement his own identity:
Or the utter tragedy of Fruitvale Station, which laid the groundwork for the ongoing cinematic partnership between Jordan and Ryan Coogler, two young black men making opportunities for themselves and showing the rest of us what’s possible:
Off-screen, Jordan was one of the first to announce his production company would adopt inclusion riders, and one of his upcoming projects is another partnership with Coogler and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates; they’ll be collaborating on a film about a public school scandal in Atlanta. Using his platform to address very real issues has always been Jordan’s way, and coupled with his immense talent, it makes him seem quite formidable — and wonderful — for years to come. (Plus, calling out Roseanne for her shit? Delightful!)
This is the man who improvised “Hey, Auntie” and gave us all chills with his final lines, “Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from ships, ‘cause they knew death was better than bondage,” the most hauntingly unforgettable moments of Black Panther. Here, allow tumblr user incendir to remind you of the magnitude of that performance:
Do you really need any more persuading? I didn’t think so.
[Header and other various images courtesy of Getty]