Actor Michael B. Jordan has taken on many roles in his still-young career, and for his various portrayals, he’s received many laurels and much well-deserved praise. Today Jordan received praise not for his talents but for his good looks, as he was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive 2020. While he’s sure to undertake the responsibilities inherent to such a title with the seriousness and dignity he brings to every role, here’s a rundown of the Top 5 movie roles that helped him reach such sexy heights, without which the world might not have appreciated the talented actor as much.
5. ‘Just Mercy’
Jordan took on the role of real-life defense attorney Bryan Stephenson in this biographical legal drama. Based on a memoir of the same name, Just Mercy tells the tale of Stephenson’s efforts to help wrongfully convicted Walter McMillian successfully appeal his conviction in a racially charged case in Alabama. McMillian was sentenced to death after a judge overrode the trial jury’s recommended sentence of life in prison. His appeals were denied four times before the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals ordered a new trial, at which he was eventually exonerated. Jordan also served as producer for the film.
For his part, Jordan was called “completely persuasive” and described as having “steel and energy.” The film itself was described as “staggeringly good” by critic Stephen A. Russell, who said Just Mercy receiving no nominations at the 2019 Academy Awards added fuel to the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag criticizing Hollywood’s lack of diversity.
One of the most successful films of the found-footage genre, Chronicle told the story of three high-school students who gained telekinetic powers after they discover a mysterious object underground. While they initially use their powers for fun and games, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), whose obsession with recording his life provides the pretext for the action being captured on film, soon turns his abilities to darker aims. Andrew’s actions lead to confrontations with his also-powered cousin Matt (Russell) and their compatriot Steve (Jordan).
Chronicle was a surprise hit, both critically and at the box office. It was among Jordan’s first projects to transition to big-screen success in his adult career, after successful runs in various series and TV movies. Some critics described the film as successful in spite of itself, given criticism of the found-footage format.
3. ‘Fruitvale Station’
Furthering Jordan’s penchant for roles based on true events, Fruitvale Station shows the events leading up to the shooting death of African-American man Oscar Grant III (portrayed by Jordan) at the hands of police. Grant was shot in the back in 2009 while being detained by Bay Area Regional Transport police in Oakland, California. Footage of the events was caught on video and went viral, leading to regional unrest. Officer Johannes Mehserle, whose name was changed for the film, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Grant’s death.
Fruitvale Station performed well on the film festival circuit and garnered director Ryan Coogler much acclaim for his debut. Jordan’s performance as the troubled young man was praised for its authenticity.
“Jordan doesn’t beg for our sympathy and is all the more magnetic as a result,” said Charlotte O’Sullivan of the London Evening Standard.
Part of the popular Rocky series, Creed sees the aging boxer long-portrayed by Sylvester Stallone training Adonis Creed (Jordan), the son of Rocky Balboa’s friend and former opponent Apollo Creed, who was killed in the fourth Rocky movie. Adonis, who keeps his parentage a secret, is given an opportunity of a lifetime to challenge light heavyweight champion “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, who’s looking for one last payday in advance of serving a prison sentence.
Both a sequel and a spinoff, Creed marked Jordan’s second time working under Coogler and the results speak for themselves. The film grossed more than $100 million and received rave reviews from critics. Stallone was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and won a Golden Globe for the same category. Jordan won Best Actor from the National Society of Film Critics and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture.
1. ‘Black Panther’
Black Panther marked the second appearance of the titular hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following his debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. In the standalone film that reveals the character’s backstory, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) of Wakanda finds his throne threatened by Erik Killmonger, a villainous mercenary whose past may not lie as far from the African kingdom as the newly minted ruler might think.
Black Panther received smashing critical reviews and at one point climbed to be the ninth-highest grossing film of all time. Once again working with Coogler, Jordan’s turn as antagonist was authentic and convincing, a near-perfect foil of Boseman’s protagonist.