About The Scorching Furor Over Michael B. Jordan As Human Torch


Here are my general thoughts about yet another “controversial” casting decision.

Michael B. Jordan discussing the possibility that he’ll be the new cinematic Human Torch ignited heated discussion of some Internets forums and comments sections. I personally don’t care either way since I’m not very excited about the Fantastic Four in general. However, I’m curious to know how 20th Century Fox will cross over Marvel’s First Family with the X-Men.

Some folks are arguing that casting a Black actor in a traditionally White role will ruin the movie forever and ever. It’s a tired argument by those who easily take offense at their precious icons.

A little diversity won’t hurt. Having Marvel and DC produce newer, long-lasting characters reflecting a multicultural world is the hard part.

i know, I know, many comments sections are a hive of scum and villainy. Occasionally, though, there are voices of reason like Drew Melbourne:

[addressing the previous poster], you’re not racist, but you are enabling INSTITUTIONALIZED racism which has driven the comic book industry for 80+ years. If these characters were created today and they were 95% white guys, the industry would be rightfully pilloried. That it happened 50 and 80 years ago makes it more understandable, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t problematic.

There aren’t any great solutions to this problem. (It’s really hard to introduce ANY new characters, and when new minority characters are introduced, a large chunk of the white readership reacts negatively because they believe that these are “token” characters.)

Ultimately, a Marvel and a DC universe that better reflects the real-world diversity of the American people and the world at large is good for everyone. And until we get to that point, there will be a lot of awkward, uncomfortable conversations like this.

None of your examples counter the point that white male characters are dramatically over-represented in American comics. (Your argument is basically, sure X happens 99% of the time, but Y happens 1% of the time, so you should be happy with your 1%.)

Access and opportunity are nice, but if the lion share of your comics feature (and more importantly, are pitched to) adult white men, then your “equality of access and opportuniy [sic]” is an illusion.

I understand the instinct to defend the status quo. We’re presumably all here because we love comics. But I want my comics (and the industry) to continually get bigger and better.

What also ludicrous is the notion that it’s fair game to consider a White actor playing Black heroes like Luke Cage and Black Panther. Luke Cage is strongly tied to Black American identity, especially in the decade he debuted. It’s thoughtless and ignorant of African history that:

  • A noble and heroic ruler of a nation of native African peoples
  • Which is in the African continent
  • And that ruler calling himself the Black Panther

…should not be Black himself.

Anyways, we’ll always have over five decades (and counting) of comic books, several cartoon series, and two Hollywood blockbusters with the traditional Fantastic Four. For general public consumption, the most popular superheroes and superheroines from the Golden and Silver Age of Comics will likely not undergo radical, long-term changes. Don’t you worry about that.

Let’s see a better universe of characters that everyone will enjoy.

Photo by Greg Hernandez and modified by me.

Author: Clarence

Webmaster, editor, writer of Red-Headed Mule. RHM was founded in 2011. Currently is liking British TV better than U.S. TV, mayhaps.