For months now rumours have circulated about the forthcoming Fantastic Four film franchise reboot, specifically one particular casting. While this past week’s news that Michael B. Jordan has unofficially been signed (pending confirmation from someone other than an insider source) to play Johnny Storm isn’t a shock considering the rumour is months old, however now that it’s more or less official we have to start wondering how they’re actually going to approach the remaining casting with Jordan, who is of African-American descent, in place as the Human Torch.
Obviously of note is the relation between Sue and himself. The brother-sister dynamic has been in play since the team’s comic debut in 1961, and from there it has been constant through most of the cartoons, comics and films since; Susan Storm and Johnny Storm are biological siblings. It’s very cosmetic however, and their relationship from my experience with the characters is that their dynamic goes well beyond simply being blond haired, blue eyed paragons of the nuclear family. There’s love. There’s loyalty. There’s sacrifice. There’s commitment. These elements of that relationship are universal and transcendent of race, regardless of whether or not Johnny Storm has traditionally been a Caucasian male. In the end Sue will be there for Johnny, and Johnny will be there for Sue, as he would the rest of the team. As long as Jordan hits those marks as an actor, this is a potentially great casting.
While unusual to cast outside a comic book character’s race, the late Michael Clarke Duncan set the precedent for breaking that mold back in 2003 when he played Wilson Fisk in the Daredevil film. Not only did he do well in the role, he executed the Kingpin character to perfection, and likely better than any Caucasian actor would have. I feel as though we’re dealing with a similar situation here, and we need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that Jordan will absolutely nail this role. Not due to his skin colour, but because he’s simply that talented an actor and was best suited for the role in this iteration of the Fantastic Four.
Sitting in the office this week, my boss and I briefly chatted about the reboot and he made the point that Johnny Storm has over 50 years of history behind him, and will likely have 50 more years of history after the film’s credits role. This film is such a momentary wrinkle in the grand scheme that it’s almost inconsequential in the complete scope of Johnny Storm’s comic book life. Given how below average the previous two films were, perhaps we should just sit back and relish the opportunity to watch Jordan ply his craft, because realistically this film, and Jordan’s performance for that matter, may surprise us where the most recent films let us down in a fiery blaze of terrible dance numbers.