All the puns about a “storm” brewing aside, there has been a bit of an uproar now that the cast for the Fantastic Four reboot has been confirmed. Your new Johnny Storm will be Michael B. Jordan, who is no stranger to superhero films. So then why are people polarized by this choice? Because Sue Storm, sister to Johnny, is played by Kate Mara, who is white. Sure, Johnny Storm has technically always been illustrated as a white man, but for a long time so was Nick Fury until they made him in the likeness of Samuel L. Jackson. Before you hardcore fan boys start attacking me online, I know it is not the same thing, but at the same time I feel its a perfectly acceptable change.
Johnny Storm is characterized as a hot-headed, brash young guy who flies headfirst into danger with little or no thought. To my knowledge, none of those characteristics are exclusively white. So why the uproar? Well comic book purists (you know, the people who would complain anyway about a film version of their beloved comic book) are saying that changing the race is tantamount to “having a white guy play Martin Luther King Jr in a movie.” Just one of many similar comments all over Twitter saying (in sometimes racist tweets) that Fox is making a bad decision. It may not be completely intentional, but aside from coming off as jerks, many of you are coming off as racist.
Well meaning nerds everywhere are up in arms trying to defend the purity of their comic, but one thing you have to realize is that times have changed. The Fantastic Four was put together in the early 1960’s, where the world didn’t have a single mainstream African-American superhero. In fact, we don’t see the first one until a decade later in the form of Falcon, who will actually be in the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So what is the problem with updating the family dynamic to represent the diversity that has now become common place to us? There shouldn’t be one is the only acceptable answer. Johnny Storm, as a character, will not change if you change his race.
If your complaint is with the cast, wondering why they didn’t choose A-list celebrities than you might need to be reminded about the original two films. Obviously, they decided to go with actual talent over name recognition this time around. You can’t blame them for trying something new. This new generation of actors are among the best, and just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they haven’t already proven themselves. But wait. Are you part of the minority that thought the previous two Fantastic Four films were the best thing since sliced bread? If so, I don’t know what to tell you except that you probably enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern too. I can honestly not come up with a worse insult than that.
If you disagree, you can argue your point here in the comment thread because I honestly want to know why this is becoming such a big deal. In the end, we’re all the same color when we’re engulfed in flames, aren’t we?
(*Side Note: Don’t think that the irony is lost on me that we are debating the race of a fictional character during Black History Month.*)