Michael B. Jordan on ‘Fantastic Four’ Racist Backlash: ‘It Was Expected’

The newly anointed Human Torch is too cool to worry about hissy fits over his playing a traditionally caucasian character

Michael B. Jordan isn't surprised that some comic book fans expressed displeasure over the fact that he will play the Human Torch in Josh Trank‘s upcoming reboot of “The Fantastic Four,” but the 27-year-old actor isn't all that concerned about it, either.

The actor, who is black, will be playing a character who has always been portrayed in comic books — and a previous film series — as a caucasian man. That's led to some long-time fans to cry foul, but the reaction wasn't much of a surprise to him.

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“It was expected. You kinda know going into it that people are used to seeing something one way, it's a continuity thing more than anything,” Jordan said at a recent event in Rome. “People don't like change too much. But annoyed? Eh, you just kinda accept it, it is what it is. You can't make everybody happy. You just gotta accept that and know. I'm an actor, I have to do my job. I'm going to do my job the best I can and the way I've been doing it my entire life, my entire career.

“I grew up a comic book guy, I read comic books as a kid growing up, and the Fantastic Four/Human Torch is one of my favorite characters so I'm going to give it my everything,” the actor, who earned acclaim this year for his turn in the Indie Spirit-winning film “Fruitvale Station,” continued. “I can't wait. I don't really let it bother me at all. I just want to go into it and do the best job I can. We'll see what happens.”

See video: ‘That Awkward Moment’ Premiere: Michael B. Jordan Reveals His Most Awkward Encounter With a Fan

It was long believed that Jordan also played a role originally meant for a white guy in the teenage superhero film “Chronicle,” but a source told The Wrap that the script said any of the three leads could be of any race.

  • Slade

    I applaud Mr. Jordan for recognizing it as a longevity and change problem instead of a race issue (something that the media can't seem to do). Heck majority of comic book fans hated when they made the original Peter Parker the clone and Ben Reilley (scarlet spider) the original and he was the exact clone of Peter.. They only wanted to change his lifestyle and people hated that and had to fix it. Guess it's easy for people who don't understand the comic book fan world to just call it a race issue.

  • Garry

    Did anyone throw a hissy fit when the South American Bane from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was played by a Caucasian man? An English Caucasian man? Not much.

    • ThorOdinson

      Cherry picking, huh? I was angry when a white Englishman was cast as the Indian Sikh Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness, and I wasn't the only one. So I guess everyone who protested that casting choice is prejudiced against white people?

  • Orson

    It gladdens me to learn of the zeal, equanimity and single-mindedness of this young actor. I wish him much success with the upcoming film, hoping also he will continue to serve as a positive agent of change in the industry.

  • Trashcandan

    I am annoyed but not because of a black actor being cast as Johnny Storm but because they are casting a white girl as Sue Storm. They're supposed to be brother and sister for crying out loud. Who cares if they change the race of the part. Sam L rocks as Mr eyepatch of shield. He was originally white in the comics. It's the story continuity they need to keep not ethnic continuities which do not impact on the story.

    • Ben Grimm

      Nick Fury's change to Black happened in the comics. Artist Bryan Hitch in the “Ultimate Universe”drew Fury in the likeness of Samuel L Jackson. The comic was so successful, most fans wanted Sam to play the part already.
      What makes the FF special is that they are a Family first and foremost, and the hero part is secondary. If they can get that right, it can work. I don't think any of the previous FF movies has done that.

      • WSSNW

        Yeah, Nick Fury was first black in the comics in 2001. That's right, 13 years ago. The had a fade, he was not bald, he did not look like Samuel L. Jackson but he was black. Oh and he was young. In 2002 they changes his appearance and that is when he started to look like Jackson. He was older, bald, had scaring around the eye etc and yes he was still black.

    • Rayfordlogan

      Maybe they were half sister and brother. Jesus was Hebrew, but I cannot remember a Hebrew playing him.

      • Horace Lonnie Young

        Well played!

    • Rage j

      Maybe just maybe their are adopted siblings. It is possible…your way too deep!!

  • John Parrish

    I find it very interesting that the “journalist” who piece this piece described the backlash as “racist” in the headline of the article, however nowhere in the quotes from Michael Jordan does he use the word “racist”. In fact, he specifically stated that he feels the backlash is a “continuity thing”(In my opinion, Mr. Jordan is exactly correct! Fan boys/girls have a very special relationship with their mythos’ and they don't general like anyone tinkering with it, especially not in any major ways!).

    Once again, here is a perfect example of the media making the story say what THEY want it to say, rather than reporting the NEWS. I'm so disgusted by people like Jordan Zarkarin and their arrogant desires to mold the news in their image and create stories where there aren't any. Basically, this worthless hack created a story about racism where none existed!

  • John Blassingame

    John Wayne played Genghis Khan. Charlie Chan was played by White actors. The Best Actress Oscar of 1938 was won by a White Actress Luise Rainer playing a Chinese woman. Burt Lancaster played Jim Thorpe and Robbie Benson played Billy Mills both Native Americans, and both actors used makeup to make them look darker. Cleopatra is about to be played by Angelina Jolie, and has been played by Elizabeth Taylor, and Claudette Colbert, white women playing Middle Eastern women. Al Jolson made a career wearing Blackface and pretending to be Black. Shakespeare had men play women in his plays. All this and a bunch of fanboys lose their mind over a comic book character being played by a Black man? Come on guys. He's the Human Torch, just pretend it's a tan..

    • Scott Johnson

      None of these examples really make any sense. Those are all examples of an actor portraying another race. Michael B Jordan will not be playing a Caucasian Human Torch.

      • John Blassingame

        Alright, then explain the hypocritical racist backlash.

    • Rayford Logan

      Your mother and late father had a profound influence on me. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

      • John Blassingame

        Shall I tell her hello from you?

  • Horace Lonnie Young

    How does the writers plan to resolve the fact that Johnny and Sue are siblings?

  • Scott Johnson

    Anyone complaining about this casting just needs to shut up and watch the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights. Human Torch is in very good hands.

  • Rage j

    Wtf does it matter what color a comic book character is!!! It's a damn shame that in 2014 people are still fucked up. :( #annoyed

  • John Blassingame

    Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily? Hmmmm. Any backlash about that?

  • scott

    My childhood favorite show was Wild Wild West and I'm sure many many others out enjoyed it as I did. But to have a black man(Will Smith) play the character in the movie totally sucked and my whole fondeness for the show hs changed. Race aside, some things should never be changed…

  • Daniel Pieters

    I like may others Don't have a problem with his Being a Black Man, I have an issue with continuity, the best hope for this is that they say He or Sue were adopted, as someone suggested already, and we are all just puppets in the cash machine Show….., the casting directors knew exactly what they were doing when they made this choice, it would be very easy to find a quality white actor to play THT, they used this guy as a way to start you all buzzing about this movie way before it comes out. to end my 2 cents I will say I will see this movie and Simply hope they make it well. as I felt the first ones were kind of Campy, except watching Mrs. Alba is always a treat.