Godmama Says…
a buncha stuff.

Go Johnny Go… another Storm

I am not a huge fan of the Fantastic Four and can’t tell you much about them.
I am a big fan of superhero movies, but the reason I don’t know much about the Fantastic Four is because the movie released in 2005 (which was my introduction to them) sucked rotten gym shoes.  It was bland vanilla fratboy fluff….the kind of film that made me wonder why I wasn’t writing movies myself (yet).  Fantastic Four wasn’t made for me so it wouldn’t have held my interest even if it wasn’t horribly acted and badly written.
So much of what makes it to the screen proves again and again that somewhere in Hollywood, some very important (and totally clueless) people believe that the only viable audience for sci-fi, comic books, or fantasy stories is white and male.

But every great once in a while, someone takes what is still unfortunately considered a “risk” and updates a cast of characters created in the 50’s to be ever so slightly more reflective of a modern audience… and then one half of that modern audience loses its collective shit.
Case in point?  Another Fantastic Four film is being released and this time Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, is being portrayed by Michael B. Jordan….a black actor.   This character can fly, control fire, and set himself fully ablaze with nothing but the force of his own will… powers which came to him when a spaceship he was on was hit with some wild cosmic rays which also turned his sister invisible and turned one of his friends into some rocks.  All of that is totally believable and acceptable,   but having the guy portrayed by a black dude somehow defiles decades of comic book tradition?
This is what I’m hearing.

I understand that people freak out over change, and I get that comic book geeks love to shake their fists in the name of “purism”.  But the world of comics and superheroes is an art form that has survived by allowing its characters to morph and transform over time into different bodies, alternate universes,  and parallel realities…(“The X-Men are all vampires this month… in outer space! Because fuck it!”) Through the magic of movies we are able to see these characters brought to life over and over (and over) again with wildly different actors and directors telling the stories of the same characters from different angles.  (Seriously:  Michael “Mr. Mom” Keaton was cast as The Dark Knight, but can you imagine the shitstorm if Denzel Washington ever was?)

The world of sci-fi and comics has also survived for so long by championing freaks, underdogs, and outcasts.   Mutants who are the hated, feared and rejected minority (ahem) end up saving the day and still end up just being called criminals.
Who can relate to that?  Who needs to see themselves represented in a world of heroic outcasts and misfits?  Who relates to being needlessly feared and shunned?  Is it really ONLY white guys?  Incredibly wealthy white guys?  Hmmm…  so if that’s the case you’ve still got Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Captain America, Ironman, Thor, the Hulk, Wolverine, Green Arrow, Professor X, Aquaman, Flash, Daredevil,  Harry Potter, all the damn Hobbits as well as the other 3 of the Fantastic Four to name a few.
But what the everloving fuck about the rest of us?  

I don’t normally give a shit about “arguments” like this, or the outrage of some butt-hurt comic book ‘purists’ who don’t think a man who sets himself on fire might have a bit of a tan… but all this hateful anger over the casting of a supporting character in a B-List superhero movie is happening at the same time that I’m trying to shield my heart from more bullshit news out of Florida about another teenage boy who was shot to death for sitting in his car being black.
In this world, right now,  don’t you think there’s another segment of America who needs fantasy hero escapism other than blonde fratboys and wealthy Bruce Waynes?

So Johnny Storm, one out of like 500 sci-fi stars, is a black guy this year.   Catwoman wasn’t originally “drawn” as black either, but aren’t we all glad that some TV producer 50 years ago was progressive enough to take the “risk” with Eartha Kitt and give that character a chance to be a thousand times more awesome than she ever was before or has been since?  FIFTY YEARS ago, people.  You guys are gonna be okay.

This also gets to the heart of that other Storm raging in my soul demanding to be born.    There may be more important ways to affect change, but I’m a performer and a storyteller and this is what I know how to do.   Music and art and film and stories and yes even comic book superheroes have an important place in the psyche and the soul.   Adding color and dimension and gender to that world and empowering so many more different kinds of young imaginations is important.  Representation is important.
And I cannot wait to shed a bit of light(ning) on the situation myself.

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3 Responses to “Go Johnny Go… another Storm”

  1. I think it’s rather sad that folks just can’t take a leap of faith on these things. It makes me rather embarrassed to be a comic book fan.

  2. Fucking A-Right, Godmama. Do work!

  3. Reblogged this on The African Geek Girl and commented:
    As I prepare to write my spoiler review of who may have done the do that got did at the Purple Wedding in Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode, I’ve been trolling the Interlink to see what’s going on in the nerd world and I came across this piece on Johnny Storm being black this time around.
    1) I had no idea that there was another Fantastic Four movie being made, probably for the same reason as the OP didn’t watch the first one… It wasn’t made to, and never really did appeal to me.
    2) The first one was painful to experience.

    But Johnny Storm being black (and really hot… mind the pun) may motivate me to give this new one another go.

    Without further ado, here’s Godmama saying everything more eloquently than I have.


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