Michael B. Jordan was a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Conversations, per YouTube, and there he addressed the possibility of him playing Superman.
Jordan was rumored to take over the role after reports of Henry Cavill’s tense negotiations with Warner Bros., however, they never approached him for the role.
Regarding whether he would like to play the “Man of Steel,” he was hesitant to give a straight answer.
“There’s a huge upside to it but then there’s being under that microscope of just being picked apart and compared to so many different versions of Superman, I would rather do something original[…] But… yeah, I mean… it’s cool.”
When Oprah pressured him for an answer, he floated the idea of playing Calvin Ellis instead.
Calvin Ellis, a.k.a. Kalel, is the dark-skinned Superman from Earth 23. The character was created by Grant Morrison, one of the most beloved Superman writers of the modern era.
First appearing in the pages of Final Crisis, this Superman is also President of the United States and uses a supercomputer named “Brainiac” to protect the Earth and run the country.
Given his first appearance never mentioning his name, most readers assumed he was supposed to be then-President Barack Obama. Morrison himself cleared the misunderstanding up in his next appearance, where he’s first given the name “Calvin Ellis” — an obscure reference to a 1980s Superman story.
Morrison would further clarify in interviews that he based the character on Barack Obama and Muhammad Ali.
— DC (@DCComics) March 8, 2016
The character is not well known outside of the Superman fandom, with only a handful of appearances in his decade-long existence, but Jordan felt it would be easier for “comic purists” to accept a black Superman if it was a different comic book character entirely. He believed this would be a welcome move in comparison to changing Clark Kent’s skin color.
It’s worth noting that Michael B. Jordan has been under a similar microscope before, as he played Johnny Storm — who, in the comics, is a white male with blonde hair and blue eyes — for the critical and financial failure that was the 2015 Fantastic 4 reboot.
However, introducing Calvin Ellis to replace Cavill’s Clark Kent creates its own set of problems. A being from another dimension who also happens to be the President of the United States can’t just be introduced as a second Superman without raising more questions than answers.
If he really wants to play a dark-skinned Superman, he might consider looking no further than Earth 2’s Val Zod, pictured in the embedded tweet above.
Val Zod is General Zod’s son, a pacifist who also escaped Krypton’s destruction. This takes place in an alternative universe where Clark Kent died saving the world from Darkseid.
Unlike Calvin Ellis, Val Zod’s origin is tied to characters already introduced in the DCEU. He has years of stories to source from, so he could be an easier fit without taking the added risk of confusing the audience with alternate Earths.
All of this is just speculation, however, as there has been no official word from Warner Bros. about the future of the Superman film franchise. In the meantime, you can watch Michael B. Jordan briefly discuss the matter in the video embedded below.