A New Jersey-educated actor slated to play the role of a popular Marvel comic hero is the latest victim of Internet backlash aimed at movie studios casting black actors in roles originally imaged as white characters.
Industry insiders leaking the cast of the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot earlier this month announced that Newark-native Michael B. Jordan would be playing the much-beloved character of Johnny Storm.
Jordan, best known for his role as Wallace on HBO’s “The Wire” and this year's "That Awkward Moment," is black. Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, has been portrayed as white since his introduction in a 1961 comic book series.
A curious brouhaha erupted in some corners of the Internet concerning this racial recasting of a fictional character.
The recent history of this superhero-tinged controversy begins in 2007 when Samuel L. Jackson was tapped to play Nick Fury. Fury, typically portrayed as a cigar-smoking, middle-aged white dude with an eyepatch, was redesigned in 2001 for Marvel’s “Ultimate Marvel” comics as a slightly younger black dude in an eyepatch.
The controversy continues through the casting of Idris Elba as Asgardian sentry Heimdall in the Thor series; Cinna, Rue and Thresh in “The Hunger Games” movie; and a populist push to cast Donald Glover as Spider-Man.
While some take umbrage with historical inaccuracies created by the general recasting phenomenon, others see Jordan's bold selection as an "exciting" opportunity to diversify Hollywood, both on-screen and off.
The actor told CineMovie there are no racial descriptions of Johnny Storm and his portrayal of the character is likely to break barriers.
"The only characteristics of The Human Torch is that his name is Johnny Storm, he's American, he's charismatic and he's a playboy," Jordan said. "That's it."