Marvel’s reboot of the Fantastic Four was well a flop. A small blip on the comic book franchise movement we have seen since the early 2000’s with Spiderman that has now trickled down to Captain America, Thor, Batman and every superhero in between. Now, I’m an avid fan of the wave of comic book adapted films that have given me thrills, chills, and nostalgia for my childhood on a Saturday morning with cereal. I love them. I have such a swelling joy for them that I’m probably that person really overexcited for a midnight premiere. I was even more excited when I found out they were rebooting the Fantastic Four and that it was going to reflect the reality of myself and people I grew up with, a mixed race family. The response to this new dynamic was not received as warmly as I would have hoped though, not in the slightest.
I loved the first adaptation of the Fantastic Four when it was released in 2005 with stars like Jessica Alba and Chris Evans. Evans played the character Jonny Storm (The Human Torch) who is the sibling to Alba’s Sue Storm (The Invisible Woman) and they proceed with the narrative of getting their powers and becoming a team that saves the world. Despite the comic book sibling’s being traditionally white in the comic book, nobody made uproar over a Blonde haired, blue contact lens; light complexioned Alba portraying Sue Storm. She’s hot, and was arguably at the height of her Hollywood career so no fuss was given to the fact she was a minority sister to Chris Evans…. but then again audiences didn’t see that amongst her hair, eyes, and body hugging suit. I don’t even think my fifteen-year-old self questioned how they could be siblings because she looked so white- and argument could be made that they were being authentic to the comic book and it wasn’t necessarily a racial issue.
The new 2015 reboot took a different spin on The Fantastic Four that broke into the comic book world in the 1960’s by taking an original take on their origin story, casting a younger cast, and making the infamously charismatic Human Torch to be played by breakout Hollywood star Michael B. Jordan. If you have never heard of MBJ (please go watch Creed/Fruitvale Station- you’ll thank me) or somehow missed the mixed media response to the casting of siblings with two different ethnicities, then I encourage you to Google interviews when you finish reading this.
Now, being the progressive generation that we are, many praised and hailed the casting that gave Sue Storms a black father and seemingly black brother. In the classic case of having to defend the question most multiracial families encounter- the “WHY” and “HOW” was a large part of many popular press junkets the stars did.
Atlanta Rock 100.5 Morning show DJ’s asked: “How could the two actors of different races, conceivably, be siblings in the movie? Hmm. “But you’re white and you’re black. How does that happen?” to which Michael B Jordan responded: “They could be raised as brother and sister. There’s a whole bunch of family dynamics that could be without the ‘obvious adoption.’”
Crazy right? Even late night TV hosts like Jimmy Kimmel prodded Michael B. Jordan during an interview as to how they were going to explain to audiences. Kimmel stated: "Kate Mara, I don't know if you know this, is a white person, how did they figure that out?" Jordan responded with “I'm pretty sure there's white people out there with other ethnicities brothers and sisters. Doesn't mean biological. It's the world that we live in."
I’m in no way promoting you to watch the movie because to be honest it wasn’t that good, but it had nothing to do with the cast, the story itself just didn’t make sense. I appreciated that even in the movie they didn’t focus on explaining the history or giving some context on how the two siblings were indeed siblings. Coming from a mixed race family many of us can attest to our siblings not sharing the same skin tone that we have or even that we don’t share the same features as our parents. Mixed families are beautiful and I’m happy that the cast took strides to answer eloquently and without the same level of misguided ignorance as their interviewers.
I hope as Hollywood continues to develop their casting tactics in the future less attention can be paid to frivolous questions like how characters of different races can be considered family. Maybe perhaps someday there will be a time when this doesn’t flutter an eyelash for anyone and It will be accepted and understood that even if not biological a family can be integrated without cause for speculation.