Batman, Superman, and the members of The Avengers may be getting all the comic book movie press these days, but there is another high profile superhero team heading back to the big screen very soon: The Fantastic Four. Fox's "Fantastic Four" reboot isn't due out until 2015, but this week the first possible casting news has dropped with word that 26-year-old actor Michael B. Jordan ("Chronicle") has been cast as Johnny Storm, a.k.a. the Human Torch.
Jordan has been rumoured to be in the running for the role for months now, but website Schmoes Know believe they’ve finally confirmed the “Fruitvale Station” star has been cast in the superhero flick, citing "a source" within Jordan’s agency. Hardly official studio confirmation by any means, but Jordan is pretty much the only name we’ve heard associated with the part since the reboot was announced.
The Human Torch character, one of Marvel Comics’ oldest and most beloved, was previously played by current Captain America actor Chris Evans. Sadly, Jordan’s casting (if it turns out to be true) is sure to generate controversy in some circles, because Jordan is African-American and Johnny Storm has always been depicted as a Caucasian. Some comic book “purists” will likely take issue with this re-imagining and argue that the actor is wrong for the role simply because he’s black.
It wouldn’t be the first time that racism and comic book movies have met head on. “Pacific Rim” star Idris Elba faced bigoted blowback when he was cast as Norse god Heimdall in Marvel’s first “Thor” movie (a role he will reprise in the upcoming “Thor: The Dark World”). And comic actor Donald Glover (“Community”) faced racist comments when he (jokingly) campaigned to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Sony’s recent reboot of that superhero franchise. Thankfully, those voicing support for Elba and Glover far outweighed the closet racists complaining about them in the dark corners of the Internet.
Incredible that even in 2013, some people will still make a big deal out of this sort of thing. It's a depressing reality that if Jordan takes on the "Fantastic Four" role, he will probably face similar racist comments from peeved fanboys. Jordan will likely silence some of those naysayers if he can capture Storm's cocky personality and zinger-flinging sense of humour, but sometimes there's simply no reasoning with something as engrained as racism. Having seen Jordan's previous work (including his superpowered turn in "Chronicle" and award-worthy performance in "Fruitvale Station"), he'd make an incredible and intriguing addition to the Fantastic Four.
After the failure of the last FF movie, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” 20th Century Fox decided to take Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, The Thing, and The Human Torch back to the drawing board. Last year, “Chronicle” helmer Josh Trank was hired by the studio to direct a reboot, titled simply “Fantastic Four,” but other than the news that the film will share the same cinematic universe as Fox’s “X-Men” movies, things have been pretty quiet on the FF front.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, actors Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”) and Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”) have reportedly tested for the role of Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards, while actresses like Saoirse Ronan (“Hanna”) and Kate Mara (“House of Cards”) are said to have auditioned for Sue Storm. “The Expendables” star Terry Crews has been lobbying Fox for a shot at the Ben Grimm/Thing role.
"Fantastic Four" is scheduled to be released on March 6, 2015.