Comic books, throughout their long history, have often existed as a playground for subversive and counter-cultural concepts. Famously, “Judgement Day” — the last story published by EC Comics — featured a socially stratified world of blue and orange robots set in the far future vying for entry into the “Great Galactic Republic.” Their inspector, an astronaut from Earth, tells them that their planet isn’t ready but that one day it might be. In the last panel he’s revealed to be a black man, something scandalous enough that the Comics Code Authority demanded he be changed to white or the comic couldn’t go to print. This was 1953.
Since then comics, specifically superhero comics, have continued to make attempts to grapple with social issues.
Wake up world, Black actor Michael B. Jordan has been cast as Johnny Storm (a.k.a. the Human Torch) in the upcoming reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise. The hurricane of controversy, and all the requisite ridiculous and racist comments have begun, and will keep flowing, until, or course, the movie comes out, at which point people will go see it no matter how incensed or infuriated they are. And you know what? I don’t care if anyone is incensed, infuriated, or inconsolable about a Black actor being cast in a fictional role of a character that is known to be White. Really, honestly, and truly, I don’t care at all. That is not, however, going to stop me from addressing a few issues.
Now that Black actor Michael B. Jordan has been officially cast as Johnny Storm (a.k.a. Human Torch) in the new Fantastic Four movie, all the negative crap has started to spew (again). We’ve all heard the crap before: “Johnny Storm is white!!! That’s Like casting a white actor as Martin Luther King, Jr!” Well, dumbass racist, it’s actually nothing like that. Johnny Storm is a fictional character. Martin Luther King Jr. being played by a white actor would like… well… it would be kind of like this…
Back in May, when the news broke that Michael B. Jordan (star of The Wire and Fruitvale Station) was being considered for the role of Johnny Storm in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, let’s just say the internet wasn’t too happy about it. At the time, my friend and former editor Justin Aclin tweeted about it and then wrote about it on his blog. I’ve cross-posted the rest of Justin’s thoughts after the jump.
And come back later in the day as Justin will be my special guest on Hard N.O.C. Life where we’ll discuss his latest book for Dark Horse, S.H.O.O.T. First.
It's only a slight exaggeration to say I'd be fine with making ALL the superheroes in movies non-white. Bring it on.