Last month, Michael B. Jordan gave a tense interview with Jimmy Kimmel about the racial makeup of his onscreen family in the upcoming “Fantastic Four” reboot. It was painfully clear that the actor wasn’t too keen on discussing the backlash that surrounded his casting — the result of haters pointing out Jordan looks nothing like the white, blue-eyed Johnny Storm from the original Marvel comic books.
But now, Jordan has responded to the criticism in an admirably classy way, penning a short essay for Entertainment Weekly in which he fires back at spiteful online commenters.
“You’re not supposed to go on the Internet when you’re cast as a superhero… but I didn’t want to be ignorant about what people were saying,” he wrote. “Turns out this is what they were saying: ‘A black guy? I don’t like it. They must be doing it because Obama’s president’ and ‘It’s not true to the comic.’ Or even, ‘They’ve destroyed it!’”
While Jordan admits it’s hard to “ask the audience to forget 50 years of comic books,” he implores us to remember the world is more diverse today than it was when the comics were first published in 1961.
“Some people may look at my casting as political correctness or an attempt to meet a racial quota, or as part of the year of ‘Black Film,’” Jordan wrote. “Or they could look at it as a creative choice by the director, Josh Trank, who is in an interracial relationship himself — a reflection of what a modern family looks like today.”
Change has to start somewhere, and Jordan says he hopes he can “set an example” in Hollywood by shutting down the naysayers who claim black people can’t play traditionally white roles.
“Sometimes you have to be the person who stands up and says, ‘I’ll be the one to shoulder all this hate,” he wrote. “I’ll take the brunt for the next couple of generations.’ I put that responsibility on myself. People are always going to see each other in terms of race, but maybe in the future we won’t talk about it as much.”
Jordan capped his essay with a firm plea for online commenters: “To the trolls on the Internet, I want to say: Get your head out of the computer,” he wrote. “Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends’ friends and who they’re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It’s okay to like it.”