Michael B. Jordan, the 26-year-old actor best known for his roles on two critically acclaimed TV dramas — Friday Night Lights and HBO’s The Wire — is about to become as famous as his name. Long-running rumors that the Fruitvale Station star will play Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch in next year’s new film version of Marvel Comics’ classic superhero team The Fantastic Four appear to be confirmed, according to the industry trade publication Variety.
The rebooted franchise film will be directed by 28-year-old director Josh Trank, who earlier directed Michael B. Jordan in the low-budget, comic-book inspired film Chronicle. Made for just $12 million, the film about a group of of high school friends who suddenly acquire superpowers went on to gross over $64 million at the US box office, according to the Internet Movie Database, launching Trank’s career and giving a huge boost to Michael B. Jordan’s bankable status in Hollywood.
But when rumors began to surface last year that Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm, comic book fans took to the internet to protest the traditionally white character being portrayed by an African-American actor.
Michael B. Jordan, of course, is African-American.
The Fantastic Four was created in 1961 by Marvel Comics’ legendary writer-editor Stan Lee and equally legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby. Of course, at that time and frankly with very few exceptions even today, all superhero characters were white.
However, when The Fantastic Four first appeared — in Fantastic Four #1 — they were a revelation to the teenage boys who then comprised the bulk of the comic book audience. They appeared less like heroes and more like a dysfunctional family who shared many of the same problems the readers themselves might be going through in their own everyday lives.
Trank has also been attached to direct another comic book adaptation, The Red Star.
Fox Studios produced a Fantastic Four film in 2005 and a sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer, in 2007. While both films did well at the box office neither were blockbusters on the level of Fox’s other superhero franchise, The X-Men.
But in order to prevent the rights to make Fantastic Four movies from reverting to Marvel Comics parent company, Disney, Fox must put a new Fantastic Four film into production, MTV News reports.
There was also an ultra-low-budget film version of The Fantastic Four produced in 1994.
Michael B. Jordan won widespread acclaim on the HBO police series The Wire when in the show’s first season, in 2002 when Jordan was just 15, his role as the tragically-fated, conscience-stricken teenage drug dealer named Wallace put a memorable stamp on what many critics call the best TV show ever to air.