By AirDave817 5 Comments
Casting Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot is pretty shocking. Not because he's black. I'm not just a comic book fan, but I am a dad, too. I have two boys. They're from India, by way of Ukraine. I'm a white dude. They are not. So, to me, casting Jordan as the Human Torch shows that Hollywood in general, and 20th Century Fox in particular are lazy. It says to me as both a fan and a dad, "Hey, let's get somebody like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Chris Tucker or Kevin Hart to play Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot! Let's make the wacky hothead prankster black!"
What I remember about the first two Fantastic Four movies was Chris Evans. He nailed it as Johnny Storm. The chemistry that he had with Michael Chiklis' Ben Grimm and The Thing was awesome! Jessica Alba and Ioan Griffudd were okay. I don't think they were so much mis-cast as misunderstood. The script and direction were trying to make Reed cool. He's not cool. Sue is not inherently sexy, either. Sue Storm is like Betty Cooper. To me, she's the girl next door. I think the first two movies got some things right, but did not come close enough.
I'm sure there are a lot of Fantastic Four fans doing fantasy casting. As a comic book fan who is a dad, here is what I would like to see:
I would like to see Corbin Bleu, from Catch That Kid and the High School Musical trilogy as Reed Richards. Being a hero, and being smart should be color-blind. Instead of taking the easy route, and casting Jordan as Johnny Storm, cast a young, smart black Reed Richards. I enjoy Idris Elba's Heimdall. He was pretty good in The Losers opposite Chris Evans. I like watching movies that Chiwetel Ejiofor is in. I liked him in Serenity and Salt. I like Laurence Fishburne. I grew up in a world where Darth Vader was voiced by the guy who played Alex Haley in roots. The actor inside the costume was white, but the costume was black, and the voice was black. That was a big deal. Billy Dee Williams was cast as Lando Calrissian to show that black guys were not bad guys "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."
I think it's great that Nick Fury was modeled on Samuel L. Jackson and that he in turn was able to play a character that was modeled after him. The First Family doesn't need a stereotypical, token black guy. What comic books, and comic book adaptations need is more of the diversity that was shown in the Justice League animated series. J'onn J'onzz and John Stewart were a couple of intelligent adult black males. Stewart was smart. He only got angry at things that were worth getting angry over. Justice League showed that a team could be balanced, both male and female as well as racially and culturally diverse. It was a true melting pot.
I would cast High School Musical trilogy star Vanessa Hudgens as Sue Storm. Both she and Corbin Bleu have been part of a successful trilogy. The Fantastic Four is going to become a franchise. You don't make one film without the option for a couple of sequels. Sue is the team's Betty Cooper. The glue that holds all these guys together. It would be hard to find some one that was "plain" or "ordinary" to play Sue. Kate Mara is not Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie. Vanessa Hudgens comes closer to the change that the First Family needs in the 21st Century. Sue should be pretty, smart and sassy, which is what she's grown to become in the comics. She started out pretty typical for a female comic book character. Pretty much like Lois Lane. Pining away for a man. I'm reading Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 1 right now and it is hilarious to see her pining for Namor, and Johnny tearing the glossy head shot up.
I would cast Victorious and Rags star Avan Jogia as Johnny Storm. Not to be stereotypical that a Hispanic or Latino should be the wacky hothead prankster; but, instead because Sue and Johnny are siblings. Sister and brother. I know blended and built families from personal experience. I know that Jordan and Mara can be Sue and Johnny. But that's not what the comics have been about for 53 years now. It's been about a family of "imaginauts" as Mark Waid described them. Attention should not be all about how different Sue and Johnny are. It should be about how different all four personalities are from one another. That's what the comic book stories have been about. These four different personalities putting aside their differences, arguments and squabbling and standing together as a quartet. That's the lesson I'm trying to instill in my boys as a comic book fan dad. We put aside what makes us different and come together as a family.
WWE star Dave Batista might just be a little too old to hang with these kids. That might work, it might not. But Ben Grimm needs to be somebody that looks like he could do some heavy lifting. That was the only weakness of Michael Chiklis' Ben Grimm. He didn't look like he could stand up for his egghead best friend Reed. He didn't look like he could do any heavy lifting if he had to. The next Fantastic Four movie is going to switch to a CGI Thing. I would hope that they use the technology for the character that was used for The Hulk in The Avengers. Any way you look at it, whoever plays the character needs to have some muscle. The actor should either be ripped, or be able to bulk up and put some muscle on. That's someone like Batista, or John Cena, or another one of the WWE stars getting their big break and being cast as Ben Grimm. I see Ben as the "token white dude". I think the one thing that should carry over from the comics is that Ben is a white Jew. He should be the minority of the team.
With the number of re-launches, Marvel has had ample opportunity to do what was done with Nick Fury in The Ultimates. Instead, they chose to maintain the "status quo" and keep things the same with the Fantastic Four for 53 years. So here we are in 2014, casting the first black Human Torch; and it's a shocking, big deal. Ultimate Fantastic Four would have been the best opportunity for change and diversity. Look at both Nick Fury and Miles Morales. There have been other opportunities for change and diversity. Robinson and Kirk re-launch Fantastic Four on Wednesday, February 26th. That could have been a good time for change. Instead of probably what will happen. Launching a new Fantastic Four book set in the film universe. Fans aren't ready for change. Fans will never be ready for it. There is never a "perfect" time. There is just "do it". Let's be the change we want to see.
What do you think of my fantasy casting?