Despite the sci-fi world’s attempt to cast more ethnically diverse actors in its big movies, hard core fans are struggling to embrace the possibility of non-white lead characters.
After John Boyega was forced to tell Star Wars fans to “get used to” the idea of a black stormtrooper following criticism from fans, Michael B Jordan has now written an essay in response to a backlash he faced for taking on the role of a “traditionally white” character.
Jordan, who will play Johnny Storm in the forthcoming Marvel Entertainment film Fantastic Four – a character who was originally written with blond hair and blue eyes – has told fans they need to “look at the world we live in” in an essay entitled Why I’m Touching the Color Line for Entertainment Weekly.
So Michael B Jordan is playing Johnny Storm in the next Fantastic 4 movie. Wtfffff???? Isn't Johnny Storm white? Blonde hair blue eyes?— Dante Marquis (@DanteMarquis) March 3, 2014
Johnny Storm is supposed to be white. #FantasticFour is messing things up. I thought reboots were supposed to improve on the last film(s)— Eugene Santos (@eugenius_s30) May 23, 2015
The actor urged trolls to “get their heads out of the computer” and “understand this is the world we live in”.
He said he did not expect the world to “forget 50 years of comic books”, but said society was a “more diverse place” than when the first edition of Fantastic Four came out in 1961.
Jordan also hoped he could set an example to filmmakers to consider casting more ethnic minorities in lead roles, and said he was happy to be the one “to shoulder all this hate…to take the brunt for the next couple of generations”.
Hollywood whitewashing controversies
Hollywood whitewashing controversies
1/11 Scarlett Johansson cast as Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell
Blonde, white US actress Scarlett Johansson was announced to be playing the clearly Japanese character Motoko Kusanagi in Hollywood's Ghost in the Shell remake, much to the dismay of Asian film fans
2/11 Tilda Swinton cast as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange
Marvel sparked outrage when Anglo-Scottish actress Tilda Swinton was cast as Tibetan mystic The Ancient One alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange
Zoe Saldana was criticised for 'blacking up' to play the considerably darker-skinned soul singer Nina Simone in Nina
4/11 Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Prince of Persia
The half Jewish, quarter Swedish actor was cast to play a Middle Eastern Prince in Disney's 2010 film
5/11 Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in forthcoming film Pan
Mara was been cast in the role of American Indian Tiger Lily, sparking an online protest from angry film fans
6/11 Christian Bale plays Moses in Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings
Ridley Scott claimed he would never cast 'Mohammed so-and-so from such-and-such a country' in a lead role in his Biblical epic, and went on to cast an entirely white cast instead
7/11 Jim Caveziel plays Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ
Catholic star Mel Gibson chose to cast a Caucasian American actor in the role of Jesus for his controversial film
8/11 Micky Rooney plays a Japanese neighbour in Breakfast at Tiffany's
Who better to play Holly Golightly's Japanese neighbour IY Yunoishi than American actor Mick Rooney. At least Hollywood has come some way since 1961
9/11 Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in Argo
Ben Affleck became the subject of a few editorials in Latin American newspapers for casting himself (an American with English, Irish, Scottish and Swiss ancestry) as a Mexican CIA operative
10/11 Jennifer Connelly plays Alicia Nash in A Beautiful Mind
Alicia Lopez-Harrison de Lardé was a naturalised US citizen from El Salvador, but was played by an actress of Jewish, Irish and Norwegian descent
11/11 Chinese actresses cast in Memoirs of a Geisha
What better way to alienate Japanese cinemagoers than to cast three Chinese actresses in the lead roles in a film about Japanese culture
He said: “Maybe, if I set an example, Hollywood will start considering more people of colour in other prominent roles, and maybe we can reach the people who are stuck in the mindset that ‘it has to be true to the comic book’. Or maybe we have to reach past them.”
He added that the film’s director Josh Trank was in an interracial relationship, and urged fans not to think of his casting as tokenism but as “a reflection of what a modern family looks like today”.