With 20th Century Fox’s upcoming “Fantastic Four” reboot just weeks away from hitting theaters, Marvel comics big-wig, Stan Lee, is finally putting his stamp of approval on one key character. As it turns out, Lee is more than happy to see The Human Torch, played by actor Michael B. Jordan – a black man.
In a rare op-ed for Entertainment Weekly, Jordan wrote a response to the cadre of “Fantastic Four” fans that were outraged over the decision to make the character of Johnny Storm, who is almost always portrayed as a white man in the comic books, black.
He told the outlet that he once received an e-mail from none other than “Fantastic Four” creator himself, Stan Lee, in which the 92-year-old author said he was fine with the change. The outlet sought Lee out to clarify this statement, which he was quite happy to do.
“It was more than okay,” says Lee. “I thought it was a great idea!”
Lee practically made a career for himself by breaking racial barriers with his groundbreaking comic books in the early 1960s and 1970s. Characters like The Falcon and Black Panther were among the first representation of black superheroes in pop culture and Lee can, arguably, take most of the credit for that.
As IGN notes, many people’s problem with a black Johnny Storm likely had less to do with racism and more to do with the fact that fans tend to react negatively when their precious source material is changed for no reason. This is something Lee seemed to agree with.
“They’re outraged not because of any personal prejudice,” Lee said. “They’re outraged because they hate to see any change made on a series and characters they had gotten familiar with. In ‘Spider-Man,’ when they got a new actor, that bothered them, even though it was a white actor. I don’t think it had to do with racial prejudice as much as they don’t like things changed.”
“Fantastic Four” was one of the most popular comic books to come out of Marvel in its earlier days. The film will focus on the origins of the group of heroes as they try to master teleportation and end up giving themselves superpowers. The film stars Jordan (Human Torch), Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic), Kate Mara (The Invisible Woman) and Jamie Bell (The Thing).
“Fantastic Four” hits theaters on Aug. 7. What do you think of Lee’s comments on having a black Johnny Storm? Comment below or tweet your thoughts to @TylerMcCarthy.