Saturday, March 1, 2014

News Flash: Johnny Storm Is Not Black

Why didn't we get Denzel
to play him?
I was reading around a week ago or so, and I saw that a new cast for the Fantastic Four reboot was  revealed.  I've never really been a fan of the characters, but something bothered me with the new cast:  the actor playing Johnny Storm is black . . .

Now, at first many of you might be inclined to say "woah!  Jack, do you have a problem with black actors?!  That's incredibly racist of you!"  First: no, I don't have a problem with black actors--or black people for that matter.  And secondly: no, it is not racist of me, and here's why.

I have a serious problem with the new trend of casting actors who do not match the race/ethnicity of the characters from the original source material in some cases.  Let's consider this particular case.  For those who don't know, the story behind Johnny Storm, a.k.a. Human Torch, is that he is the biological brother of the Invisible Girl.  If you notice in the article, the actress playing Invisible Girl is as white as the driven snow.

So now, the writers have to make up some shenaniganry about them being half-siblings, or maybe siblings through adoption.  They could go with some sort of mixed race idea, but it is rare that a mixed child takes the traits entirely of one parent.  I suppose it doesn't really make a difference, but this underscores a serious problem with post-modern American thought.  They don't really care about making a compelling story:  they just didn't want an all-white cast.

I know there's no way to prove that, but what other explanation can there be?  I watched the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert a couple years ago, and the actor playing the role of Javert was black.  I think the woman playing Fantine was Asian.  Both actors were very talented (especially the actress playing Fantine--amazing voice), but the problem is that the characters themselves are supposed to be white.  In 19th century France, it would have been virtually impossible for a man of African descent being a high-level police inspector in the capital city.  But more importantly, Victor Hugo's character was white.

I've contemplated this for some time now.  I wanted to be sure that my thinking was straight before I voiced this opinion.  I considered the idea that perhaps there is some sort of artistic reasoning behind it.  But more than likely, it's more about diversity and inclusion than it is about art.  Considering the Fantastic Four film will likely have a terrible script and will probably fare no better than the previous F4 attempt, I highly doubt the decision to cast a black Johnny Storm had anything to do with art.  A majority of Hollywood writers churn out steaming piles of garbage on a regular basis, so forgive me if I have little faith in the artistic integrity of modern film writing.

It is not about art: it is about agenda.  Liberalmerica wants to send a message: people of color are allowed to play characters that are traditionally white.  It's sort of like the whole "Black Jesus," thing.  For a while, many people were saying "Jesus was black."  I understand what they were trying to say, that the common depiction of Jesus being a white man is historically inaccurate, but Jesus was not black, either.  Jesus was of Middle Eastern descent, so if anything, Jesus would have looked more Arab than anything.

He would make a great Jim!  Or maybe
we could cast him as Shaft!
If you don't believe this is about agenda, then consider this: would it be socially acceptable for a white actor to play a traditionally black character?  What if we got Benedict Cumberbatch to play Jim in an adaptation of Huckleberry Finn?  Or how about casting Michael Fassbender as Black Panther?  We know what the public outcry would be:  "These characters are supposed to be black!"

Here's the deal: Jesus was Middle Eastern, Jim in Huckleberry Finn is black, and Johnny Storm is white.  If you can convince me that any of that can or should be changed in the name of art, then I'll take it all back.  But don't be fooled if you think a black Human Torch has *anything* to do with art.


Jersey McJones said...

If you need to be convinced, then you already don't understand marketing. Black kids like to see hero movies too, Jack. It's nice for them. Can't that be reason enough?


Jez said...

Are you aware of Patrick Stewart's production of Othello?

Joe Markowitz said...

Do you think they should be allowed to put on Shakespeare plays in Asia or Africa? Sorry, but we live in a multi-ethnic society now, and we should use the actors that we have even if they don't always "match" whatever they had when they originally put on the same show. Benedict Cumberbatch as Jim might be a stretch for audiences to accept, but why not a black super-hero? Just because all those old comic books were drawn at a time when the writers did not think of drawing black heros doesn't mean we have to be true to those bygone days.

Jack Camwell said...


For me, that works because it was an artistic choice. I don't believe for one second that casting a black Human Torch has anything to do with art: it's about box office numbers.


Let me ask you this: would it be wise to cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as, say, the Penguin from Batman? Would it be a good idea to cast Verne Troyer (a dwarf) as, say, Abraham Lincoln?

Physical characteristics are part of the character, and they should not be ignored just to make a few more ticket sales. In the case that Jez mentioned, reversing the race of the characters in that adaptation of Othello was done for artistic purposes, and I can get behind that.

Just because most super heroes are white doesn't mean that we need to go changing them just because we realize that there are black people in America.

Would it be okay for Angelina Jolie to play Storm from X-Men? How about we get Edward Norton to play Black Panther.

KP said...

Thanks, Jack!

Micky said...

"If you need to be convinced, then you already don't understand marketing. Black kids like to see hero movies too, Jack. It's nice for them. Can't that be reason enough?"

Thats right Jersey, lets treat kids like idiots out of your stupid liberal sense of fairness.
Maybe we should give The Incredible Hulk a pair of tits and shave his legs just so we can market to feminists ?

Micky said...

Bring back the black face !

Micky said...

"Maybe we should give The Incredible Hulk a pair of tits and shave his legs just so we can market to feminists ?"

Actually, that's prolly not going to work.
The feminists all cut off their boobs to punish men, and dont shave anything.
But, I guess Trannys need superheroes too.

Jersey McJones said...

Micky, I know you can't put yourself into anyone else's shoes, but try to imagine yourself as a little black kid. Wouldn't it be nice to have a super hero who looks like you?


dmarks said...

Art? Yes it is art, as art is in the eye of the beholder.

Truth be told... there are very few superheroes and supervillains whose ethnicity is part of their identity or anything important. Which means they can be race-changed with no problem at all. This even includes Superman, Batman, and the entire Fantastic Four.

A few exceptions exist: the already-mentioned Black Panther (from Wakanda in Africa) and Dr Doom (from the Latvia area).

Jack Camwell said...

Thank you for visiting dmarks. You're right that racial identity isn't integral to many heroes' character.

I would disagree about the major heroes, though. Spider-man and Batman are white. They just are. Spider-man would be difficult because then you'd have to make Aunt May and Uncle Ben black.

My point is more that we shouldn't be changing characters just to get more asses into movie theater seats. There's no art behind making Johnny Storm black.


There ARE super heroes that are black.

As I mentioned many times, I have NO problems with changing a character for artistic purposes, even when it comes to skin color. But making Johnny Storm black--making Orphan Annie black--is not art: it's soulless pandering.

ah said...

My question is simple- where does it end?

Black kids enjoy black superheroes, sure.

Guess what, so do I.

Storm, Nick Fury Jr, Steel, hell even Hancock.

I am going to apply your logic to other instances as well:

Why don't we have a Mexican superman? Brazilian Hulk? Japanese Captain America?

Why marginalize anyone, lets have a hermaphrodite nightcrawler who moonlights as a drag queen.

Yes, I understand, vastly underrepresented. Yes, I understand people want to feel included. Yes, I understand all parts were played by men or teenage boys in the times of Shakespeare.

What I don't understand is why it has to be about cashing in.

AHB said...