Fantastic Four might be suffering at the box office, but that won’t stop me from supporting Michael B. Jordan’s turn as The Human Torch.
In case you’re wondering; no, I haven’t seen Fantastic Four yet, but I’ve heard both good and bad about it, so I really don’t know what my own opinion would be until I see the film for myself and judge it by my merits.
However, I think Michael B. Jordan’s part in it plays on many issues that are inherent in both superhero films and films in general: 1) the lack of representation in superhero films and 2) the idea of transracial adoption (with “transracial” being used in its original iteration, not in the Rachel Dolezal way) and interracial families in general.
There’s a huge debate about whether racebending is a good or bad thing in the realm of superhero films when whitewashing isn’t supported. The reason many people do support racebending, especially when it comes to comic book movies, is that comic books were written in a time when white representation was the only thing accounted for in society. However, with comic books having a multiracial and multicultural audience, it would behoove movie makers to create superhero films that show that anyone can be a superhero.
Transracial adoption is something that’s rarely touched on in movies, and when it is, it’s usually of a white family adopting a non-white child. Also, interracial families in general, whether from adoption or from marriage, are hardly ever shown in films. I haven’t seen Fantastic Four, so I don’t know if Sue is adopted into the Storm family or if she is Johnny’s stepsister. But I do know that seeing two characters of different races embracing the titles of sister and brother is something that’s too long overdue in Hollywood movies. Once again, it shows how Hollywood represents a time and mode of thinking that’s way in the past. If Hollywood’s going to really be as forward-thinking as they claim to be, they have to catch up with the rest of America, which is steadily becoming more interwoven between races, cultures, and sexual backgrounds.
I say all of this to say that whether or not Fantastic Four is remembered for being a great movie, Michael B. Jordan (and Kate Mara) should be commended for taking on a role that engaged superhero movie fans (and movie fans in general) in thinking about just what constitutes family. One’s race doesn’t make someone less of a family member. Just ask these people.
What do you love about Michael B. Jordan? Did you like Fantastic Four? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. Photo credit: 21st Century Fox