A few old-school fans disapproved of casting an African-American actor in a formerly white role, and have spent the past year complaining about it online. Even after 92-year-old Fantastic Four creator Stan Lee gave Jordan his support, the backlash continued, proving that it was always more about racism than comics fandom purism. Obviously.
A year later, Jordan responded to these racist Internet commenters with an open letter in Entertainment Weekly, saying, “It used to bother me, but it doesn’t anymore.”
“Sometimes you have to be the person who stands up and says, “I’ll be the one to shoulder all this hate. I’ll take the brunt for the next couple of generations.” I put that responsibility on myself. People are always going to see each other in terms of race, but maybe in the future we won’t talk about it as much. Maybe, if I set an example, Hollywood will start considering more people of color in other prominent roles, and maybe we can reach the people who are stuck in the mindset that “it has to be true to the comic book.” Or maybe we have to reach past them.”
He went on to speak directly to “the trolls of the Internet,” advising them to “Get your head out of the computer. Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends’ friends and who they’re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It’s okay to like it.”
Social media being what it is, we can expect this small but vocal core of Fantastic Four purists to continue complaining until the movie comes out in August. But as Jordan suggests in his letter, this doesn’t really matter. The more prominent roles are given to actors of color, the more audiences will come to support this type of small but meaningful change. Casting Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch barely alters story of the The Fantastic Four, but it’s an important step for diversity in the notoriously conservative world of Hollywood blockbusters.
Photo via Fantastic Four Movie