Months ago, Fox caused a serious ruckus by pegging Michael B. Jordan as their choice to play the Human Torch in the impending reboot of The Fantastic Four. The decision stirred up instant backlash, which in turn met with its own reverse backlash; Jordan himself supplied a snappy rebuttal to fan outcry on the double, while his many and various supporters (including Anthony Mackie) were quick to broadcast their thoughts on the Fruitvale Station actor’s casting.
Cut to now and the brouhaha has more or less died down, though it certainly hasn’t been forgotten by the press, by comic book diehards, or by Jordan. The major difference between now and March lies in how deftly chatter over Johnny Storm’s race swap gets turned aside in open discourse; maybe this is a sign of growing acceptance toward Jordan’s involvement in Josh Trank’s big screen take on Marvel’s first family, or maybe it just means that they have stricter handlers monitoring the comments they make about the production in public spaces.
Case in point, Jordan’s latest interview with the New York Daily News. Jordan recently sat down with the outlet to chat about his rising career, which includes a leading turn in the slowly germinating Rocky spin-off Creed, and how his role in The Fantastic Four could boost him to new heights as a movie star. Naturally, this led into a discussion of the criticisms made toward his participation in the film, specifically how the studio itself approached the changes Trank made by calling on Jordan’s talent in the first place.
But Jordan had a smart answer in the chamber that managed to almost entirely dodge the question; instead of talking about the rankled response his hiring drew, he just talked about what Fox’s willingness to play ball means to him. Here’s the full quote:
It’s something that we kind of willed to happen, which was really important to me and Josh [Trank]. We’re lucky we had a studio behind us that really supported our ambition and our want for change. Now we have something really epic.
The Daily News‘ original query points directly at the initial contretemps over Jordan’s skin tone, but his reply just talks about The Fantastic Four in a broader sense without giving a second thought to fan displeasure. Well played by Jordan; he’s said all that he really needs to say on the matter, and until it becomes an issue again, he doesn’t need to add any excess fuel to the flames (if you’ll pardon the obvious, terrible pun).
So now we’re left with a fresh perspective on the film’s greater aspirations as a blockbuster. Based on Jordan’s words, it’s tempting to assume that Trank has more up his sleeve with The Fantastic Four than a simple adjustment in character background, but let’s be honest: even adjusting the Storms to make them mixed race adopted siblings feels kind of bold on its own merits. It’s not a perfect solution to the decided lack of black superheroes in multiplexes, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Fantastic Four will premiere August 7th, 2015.