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Why The Fantastic Four Casting Annoys This Black Man

You want a diverse cast? Fine. But it should make sense.

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

February 21, 2014 - 7:36 am

fantastic-four-reboot-cast

The Fantastic Four returns to theaters in 2015 with a new and controversial cast. The New York Daily News reports:

Within minutes of the bombshell reports that Fox has found its titular superheroes in the Fantastic Four reboot, naysayers flamed on social media to pick apart the reported selections of actors Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic), Kate Mara (Invisible Woman), Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch) and Jamie Bell (The Thing) .

Complaints ranged from the good points (Teller’s track record of one-liner spewing parts is a poor fit for the super-serious Reed Richards) to the bad (Mara isn’t blonde) to the ugly (Jordan is not Caucasian like the character in the comics).

The author leaves unclear what makes that last compliant “ugly.”

Changing the racial identity of an established character in order to cast the best actor for the job works in many situations. The Avengers‘ Nick Fury was Irish in the comics long before Samuel L. Jackson portrayed him onscreen.

The offbeat casting choices in Zack Synder’s Man of Steel worked despite diverging wildly from past iterations. Laurence Fishburne starred as Perry White. Photographer Jimmy Olsen became a Latina intern named Jenny. And red-head Amy Adams portrayed the traditionally brunette Lois Lane.

However, there are times when a character’s physical characteristics or racial identity serve a narrative purpose. When Idris Elba, a black actor, was cast as the Norse god Heimdall in Marvel Studios’ Thor, it seemed like a gratuitous bit of multiculturalism. Then again, the Marvel version of Asgardians prove more alien than divine, so perhaps racial diversity makes sense in that context.

But casting a black man to play Human Torch makes no sense whatsoever. The character’s given name is Johnny Storm, biological full-brother to sister Sue, the Invisible Woman played by the decisively Caucasian Kate Mara. Unless this turns out to be some kind of artsy color-blind thing like you might see in a stage play, the relationship between these characters which has been integral to past narratives will have to be changed.

Will one of them be adopted? Will they be related at all? I suppose it could be handled in any number of ways which would not necessarily throw off the story, but for what purpose? Why do this? The only answer I can come up with is gratuitous multiculturalism, which this black author regards as an insulting bit of pandering.

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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Top Rated Comments   
My comment makes all the sense in the world, and you are also purposefully ignoring what I actually wrote and the larger context. I object to the agenda of racial hypocrisy, political correctness and double standards behind these depictions. Next time someone does X-Men, let's make Storm white and wait for the screaming to start. The screaming about depictions of Cleopatra in movies is loud every time the subject comes up. I don't care if people do these things, but let's have a single standard which applies to all. You know, where if it's okay for me it's okay for you? Goose gander? Ever heard of those?
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I despise this type of tokenism for the reason that if you do it the other way around you have racebenders crawling around like cockroaches about changing Star Trek's Khan (a Sikh) into a white guy and what happened to the Asians in the apparently now cancelled Akira and that racist Airbender and blah, blah, blah.

This is a fool move, and transparent as all get out. I didn't watch Thor for this type of stupidity and I won't be watching this one, even though at one time I owned the first 130 issues of FF and every comic Thor was ever in to 1974. This has nothing to do with the best actor for the part. FF is settled canon - if you can't deal with that, tough. Why not make the Thing a Mayan Ameridian? A black Nick Fury was similarly stupid. Will we have a white Black Panther or Luke Cage? Keep dreamin' - that would be racist.

I'll be entirely honest: the more diversity is shoved down my throat by shoe-horning it into the most inappropriate venues, the more I simply reject it. I'm tempted to write a comic about the life of Michael Jordan and make him a 5 ft. tall Japanese and the rest of the Chicago Bulls actual bulls. After that it'll be Menace To Society and everyone will wear Bing Crosby masks and talk with a lisp. Keeping it unreal, word to your bison.

Here's what I have to say about the topic of diversity: more often than not, much more often, it is a thinly disguised platform to attack white people. This just one more nail implying the only way to crack the cishetero white supremacist stranglehold on much of the world is to break down white privilege.

Is anyone calling for more diversity and opportunity for whites in rap, the NBA, the NCAA hoops game, middle-weight boxing, samba, Bollywood? No, that's just fine - it's natural. The only thing unnatural in this world when it comes to hobbies and cultural interests is a thing that is too white. I reject the thinking behind these moves as nothing more than racial bigotry. Unfortunately, that bigotry is being mainstreamed into American culture as noble justice. It is anything but noble or just. It is crass, benighted, hypocritical and delusional. In my own opinion, no black man with any sense of self-worth would ever go near such a role, unless one dotes on being helped across the street like some old lady. But what do I know - I'm a privileged racist - just for getting up in the morning.

In case I haven't made it clear, I despise what my country has become. Its central institutions are occupied by people who are nothing more than craven racial and gender bigots overthrowing the demography of America by doing the exact thing they say is so wrong - racial advocacy and employing racial moral and spiritual supremacy to do it.

If I had the money and time, I'd start a white culture web site just to poke a stick in the eye of these fools. It would have all the news about how whites did at the Olympics and the best places for whites to visit in Prague and ads about how to meet and date whites, just like the real "black culture" web sites have. And I'd commission white anthologies and white awards shows.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Never mind the Human Torch--What about the Thing?! Ben Grimm is supposed to be a tough, burly, Jewish guy from the Lower East Side, i.e. Delancey Street, not a tiny English ballet dancer. Sheesh.

22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (47)
All Comments   (47)
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I think the idea is that Johnny Storm is a surfer with a really, really good tan. Who then gets burnt.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Better not make the Human Torch the adopted one! We all know the media can't handle a Black baby adopted by a White family!
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've got it! Sue and Johnny are full biological African American siblings. Sue is actually an albino. She dyes her hair so she doesn't look totally washed out. What's one more mutation among family members and friends?
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Kate Mara (Invisible Woman),..."
===
Please keep this babe VISIBLE!!!!
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think that Benedict Cumberbatch is a wonderful tallented actor. We should get him to play Barack Obama in the biopic about his rise as a idealistic Marxist President and fall as a bitter failed totalitarian dictator with a Pen and a Phone. Race shouldn't matter at all right? Barack Obama is half caucasian after all.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
"But casting a black man to play Human Torch makes no sense whatsoever. The character’s given name is Johnny Storm, biological full-brother to sister Sue, the Invisible Woman played by the decisively Caucasian Kate Mara."

Eh. That's an argument against a whole lot of nothing. Remember, you're talking about COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS, i.e. people with magical superpowers. Suspension of disbelief is the most important thing here. Comics are not exactly known for consistency in storylines or internal logic; if you're criticizing a fantasy movie for not being realistic or internally logical, then YOU are the problem and not the movie. Stop complaining like a child and enjoy the fantasy.

What's next, an article whining about how bug-eyed aliens in Star Wars have English accents even though they're not from England? Get a life. Sheesh.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
In fact internal consistency is crucial to fantasy, SF and comics. That is exactly how you achieve a suspension of disbelief, not consistency compared to the world outside the story. As their universe became increasingly complex, Marvel Comics writers went through a great deal of trouble to maintain consistency or deal credibly with inconsistencies that cropped up. It's called "canon."

Marvel Comics in the '60s, was very dependent on back-story, as opposed to DC Comics. It was that nuanced and consistent cross-over world that gave Marvel the edge over DC. It's called "verisimilitude."

If a fantasy story has no internal consistency, then a hero can get out of a prison cell merely by walking through walls. There are rules, and when those rules are broken for something that has utterly nothing to do with canon, and in fact violates that canon, it is blatantly obvious to the fans.

No one is arguing the movie or comics are important. The argument is that it is part of an agenda sucking at this country that is important.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's a weak argument considering all four of these characters were normal human beings before getting into the accident that made them the Fantastic Four. That means that if Sue and Johnny are brother and sister, unless they are an adoptive brother and sister, which is a pretty big ret-con, having one be white and other black is more or less biologically stretching it.

Now, if they were all born mutants, it might be a different story ... but well, they're weren't.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
One white and the other black isn't particularly stretching it - given that the "black" isn't particularly black. Although the term is extremely un-PC, he's mixed-race. And there's at least one newspaper story each year about siblings (usually young kids) of whom one is white (even blonde and blue-eyed, sometimes) and the other about as black as the black guy here is.

Just a random throw of the genetic dice, that's all.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would say it's more about a female who wasn't especially exclusive when she mated; Mendelian laws don't work that way. Except in comic books, perhaps.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think the worst example was casting Will Smith as the lead in Wild Wild West. Smith is a fine actor and I normally enjoy his movies, but a black cowboy/secret agent in the post-Civil War west?
OTOH that movie sucked anyway.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
To coin a phrase, why not? It worked in Blazing Saddles.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
You don't want to see a flaming black man?
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's one in the WH, isn't there?
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Go to San Francisco and you will see scads of them.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
If we're lucky, by the time the film comes out, Sue can be transgender, Reed disabled and The Thing swear off violence so he only uses his strength for saving people from falling buildings and never punches anyone.

Or maybe they could make up a new superhero team like that and no one would care. Me, I'm in favor of making the Black Panther a white colonialist ex-member of an apartheid regime who's dedicated his life to undoing all the wrongs of the West.

In the history of politically correct casting in Hollywood this is the most transparently moronic, fawning, and pandering yet.

In theory, there's nothing wrong with diversity. It's a thing that will take care of itself. In actual practice, it's an overreaching crock of double standards and racism. By itself, this movie is nothing. It's just a cough in a society that has the flu and likes it, cuz there's nothing as compelling as the racist anti-racist.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they wanted to cast a token for diversity's sake, shouldn't they have cast either Richards or The Thing as the minority or made both Sue and Johnny matching minority? Honestly!
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Waitaminnit. A Fantastic Four reboot? The original movie isn't even ten years old yet. Is Hollywood that bereft of ideas?
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
They are not bereft of ideas. They are not Stan Lee.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
To answer your second question, yes they are that bereft of ideas. The other issue is that whatever studio has the option on the Fantastic Four at the moment probably has to crank out a film within a certain time frame or the character rights will revert back to Marvel/Disney. It really doesn't matter if it is a good film, just as long as it doesn't bleed too much money. They really don't want Disney getting a solid lock on some more prime Marvel properties to embarass them like they have with the Avengers franchise. They would rather degrade the character value a bit first with some lame films.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
That has been the case for years. If you go back and look at the old (and I mean real old) movies, you will note that a large number of "newer" movies are remakes, and even remakes of remakes.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes. Next question.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
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