The internet exploded when it was announced that Michael B. Jordan would play Johnny Storm, also known as the Human Torch, in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot from director Josh Trank. There is always upheaval when a beloved comic book character is cast, no matter who gets the role, but in this case, it was especially vehement and disturbing. See, Jordan is black, and Johnny Storm has always been white. A lot of anger has been vented, and now Jordan has responded with a heartfelt letter to all the haters.
Fantastic Four is only a few months away, so this has been going on all throughout preproduction, filming, and the marketing build up. For his part, Johnson has mostly stayed out of it, but he recently took to the pages of EW to address those who are still upset with his casting, advising them to take a look at the world around them. He writes:
To the trolls on the Internet, I want to say: Get your head out of the computer. Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends’ friends and who they’re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It’s okay to like it.
Jordan says that all of the detractors, who lobbed accusations of how his casting ruined the comics by not staying "true" to the blond-haired, blue-eyed character (played by Chris Evans in earlier incarnations), or that he’s somehow "destroyed" the comics (there has also been a fair amount of "Thanks, Obama" thrown around), used to bother him. However, he doesn’t let it get to him anymore.
In his estimation, the world is a very different place than it was when the superhero team of Johnny Storm, Sue Storm, Reed Richards, and Ben Grimm first debuted on the pages of Marvel comics in 1961. And while he can see a multitude of different perspectives, his casting is more than just an attempt to be politically correct or fill some kind of racial quota.
From his stance, being a different race from his costars ties into the themes of family and unity. Traditionally, Sue and Johnny Storm are siblings—you probably guessed that from the surname—and in this interpretation of the comics, they share the same bond, though it is adoptive rather than biological in nature. Through the press of extreme circumstances, the four must come together to become a single force, stronger together than they are individually. It’s just one more boundary to cross.
No matter what anyone says, no matter what arguments are made, there are just some people that are always going to hate this casting. But for everyone else, you can judge for yourself whether or not Michael B. Jordan was the right choice to play Johnny Storm when Fantastic Four hits theaters August 7.