Michael B. Jordan’s ‘Fantastic Four’ Backlash Response Makes Some Great Points About How Hollywood Handles Diversity
Michael Jordan is an incredibly talented actor, and one I'm pretty sure could play pretty much any role you gave him and knock it out of the park. I was particularly excited when he announced that he'd be playing The Human Torch in Marvel's Fantastic Four movie, because if Jordan is amazing on his own, Jordan as a superhero has to be even better. However, some commenters on the Internet decided to be jerks and complain, in an disgustingly racist fashion, that since the character was originally written as a blond-haired, blue-eyed white guy and Jordan is, if you hadn't noticed, none of those things. Because, you know, movies based on books have never completely rewritten characters and entire storylines for the big screen. But in a seriously awesome move, Jordan penned an article for Entertainment Weekly on Friday, responding to all the haters — and he made some really good points.
While Jordan has said that the constant criticism doesn't bother him anymore, we still need to take a step back and look at what people are taking issue with: a black actor playing a white character. Nevermind that white actors are cast in roles meant for other ethnicities all the time and have done for years (I don't need to remind y'all about Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in Pan , do I?). Any attempt to make the Marvel universe more diverse is something that should not only be welcomed, but encouraged. Unfortunately, some people don't seem to see it that way. Thankfully, Jordan seems to have a good head on his shoulders about it, and his response to critics only further illustrates that.
Let's be realistic, here: no big screen remake of a book is ever going to be entirely faithful to the original. Major plots will be left out or rewritten, and characters you envisioned one way when reading will be embodied in entirely different ways. And that's OK. In fact, it makes the movie more enjoyable, as you're able to appreciate it as a companion to the printed word, rather than a direct adaptation of it. Maybe having a black superhero in 1961 wasn't commonplace, but in 2015, we can do better than that. We SHOULD be doing better than that.
Frankly, Jordan's right. The American family has certainly changed from the "man and wife with two children" set-up over the years, and most open-minded people understand that the word family means a million different things these days, and looks just as many different ways. Some families are homosexual, some families are made of single parents, some families aren't related by blood but rather by choice, and some are interracial. It's only fair for filmmakers to modernize stories by ensuring they're a reflection of the world we live in today, not more than half a century ago.
Instead of complaining about who's playing what role, why aren't people paying attention to what the movie's actually about? I guarantee you Fantastic Four is not about ostracizing someone over his or her race, and more about — as Jordan points out — teamwork and unity between people who are choosing to work together despite any differences they may have. If that's not something we should all learn from, what is?
That Jordan is willing to take on such a monumental task willingly, to shoulder the burden of society's continued close-mindedness, says so much for his strength of character, and only makes me all the more certain that he's not only a wonderful choice for the role of The Human Torch, but as a role model for the audiences, young and old, who will likely be going to see the movie.
Couldn't have said it better myself. When people on the Internet decide to flap their keyboard gums about hateful things, it can only mean one thing: they need to sign off, for good, and get a grip on reality. Until then, consider yourselves schooled by Michael B. Jordan.
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