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Scott Harris

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By day, Scott Harris writes about movies. But by night, he patrols the streets of his city, clad only in pure justice.

Twitter Fights Back Against the Racist Reactions to a Black Human Torch

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Yesterday, the folks over at The Wrap revealed that director Josh Trank is considering the possibility of casting his “Chronicle” star Michael B. Jordan in the role of comic book superhero Johnny Storm — aka The Human Torch — in the upcoming relaunch of “The Fantastic Four,” which is scheduled to hit theaters in the summer of 2015.

Needless to say, fan reaction to this idea has been mixed, falling somewhere between “that’s cool” and “OMG IT’S ARMAGEDDON!!!!” on the freak out scale. The “problem” some fans see with the casting news? Jordan happens to be African-American, while Johnny Storm traditionally is not.

Now, this doesn’t really seem like that big a deal to us. Jordan is already one of the most highly respected actors of his generation, not only landing a major smash in “Chronicle” but also earning rave reviews for his work on the legendary HBO series “The Wire” as well as the breakout Sundance hit “Fruitvale Station.” And if there’s one thing that Marvel’s superhero movies have proven over the past five years, it’s that the quality of the actor is even more important than the quality of the CGI. Getting top talent is trumps all.

At least, to some people. To others… well, maybe not so much.

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One thing that’s interesting about “The CheekyBrit’s” complaint is that it’s framed in terms of Jordan’s age. As it happens, Jordan is actually 23. More to the point, however, is the fact that in the comics, Johnny Storm was 16 when he became the Human Torch. A literally hot-headed teenager with super powers was the entire point of the character. So that argument seems a bit misguided to say the least.

Other protesters, however, just cut right to the chase when voicing their displeasure.

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Honestly, we’re just glad we finally found out who poached the handle “BalloonMerchant” from us. That’s been bugging us for awhile.

But not, apparently, as much as the idea of a black Human Torch is bugging these guys. On one level, it’s kind of understandable only in the sense that comic fans are notoriously touchy about Hollywood screwing around with their beloved characters. Heck, there was a massive outcry when Jack Nicholson was cast as The Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 version of “Batman” and he turned out to be the best part of the film. So fanboys definitely have a history of histrionics.

This, on the other hand, does feel a bit different, not in the least because, seriously, does anyone really feel that passionately about the Human Torch?

Luckily, there were other Twitter users on hand to put things back into perspective.

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From where we’re sitting, both “artboiled” and “FreakishNerd” cut right to the heart of the question. The goal of any film, superhero or not, is to cast strong actors in well rounded roles. If you do those two things well, the rest of the movie will pretty much take care of itself. Does it matter that this new Human torch may be black? Well, it only matters insofar as Jordan’s performance makes it matter.

And frankly, “The Fantastic Four” has much bigger hurdles to face, such as the fact that screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire himself recently, as “ZacharyWhitten” so eloquently pointed out.

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And for fans still clutching their pearls over the fact that the Human Torch might end up being portrayed by an African-American actor, we offer up these two final facts. Firstly, Johnny Storm only exists because the original Human Torch, who was an android named Jim Hammond, was completely revamped and reconceptualized to make him more appealing to modern audiences. And secondly, the “Fantastic Four” cartoon from the 1970′s thought so highly of Johnny Storm that he was left out of the show entirely, replaced by the epically stupid HERBIE the Robot.

So the idea that Johnny Storm as Human Torch is some kind of inviolate trust that can never be changed? Yeah. Right.

Keep on fighting, Twitter.

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Categories: News

Tags: Chronicle, Fantastic four, Josh trank, Matthew vaughn, Michael b. jordan

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