Stan Lee: Michael B. Jordan can be Johnny Storm but not Peter Parker
Joe Scarnici/ Jason Merritt/ Chelsea Lauren/ Getty Images
With the Fantastic Four reboot just over a week away, Michael B. Jordan’s casting as Johnny Storm, traditionally white in the comic books and originally played in movies by Chris Evans, remains controversial. I can’t believe the number of people who have expressed some version of “but how can Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara be siblings” to me, like they’ve never heard of adoption or blended families. You don’t even have to explain it! Just show people multi-racial siblings and they’ll make the leap themselves. But people are still all riled up about this.
So Stan Lee, once and future king of nerds and the former publisher of Marvel Comics, is wading into the fray to try and calm the nerd rage. In comments to Entertainment Weekly he says casting Jordan is a “great idea”, and then goes on to say, “[Fans] are outraged not because of any personal prejudice. They’re outraged because they hate to see any change made on a series and characters they had gotten familiar with.”
Do nerds resist change? Sure. But let’s not pretend like there isn’t an element of prejudice here, too. Besides, Lee himself is a guy who doesn’t like change. After the Sony email leak revealed Marvel’s outline that Peter Parker must be “straight and white”, Lee came out in defense of such a rigid definition of a character to which race is not a mitigating factor. Lee also says Black Panther “shouldn’t be Swiss”, but Black Panther is the king of an African nation. If you make him Swiss, he is fundamentally no longer Black Panther. Peter Parker is just a kid from Queens. He could, in theory, look like anyone. But according to Stan Lee, while a black Johnny Storm is totally fine, Peter Parker must be white. Lee is talking out of both sides of his mouth, probably to try and keep everyone happy and not upset either fans or the corporate interests of Marvel. But he's also like 117, so it might just be that he can't remember sh*t.