Join Date: Sep 2010
Changing the race of the Human Torch wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't so problematic. He's the wisecracker, the "hip" one, the one that ultimately never takes anything seriously and definitely not the central team member. Really, he's more of the comic relief. This is the type of role they would shove the black characters into in the 90s. The people casting obviously wanted someone of color, but they didn't want it to be the leader, because he'll get the most screen-time and emotional depth. It can't be Sue, because her role is primarily as a love interest and Hollywood avoids interracial romances by and large unless the movie is about race. And I'm sure they couldn't justify the Thing, because he's not visibly any race most of the time, and the studios remember the kerfuffle about Princess and the Frog having the first black Disney princess and then she's not even human for most of the movie.
Really, this is tokenism to me. It would have been interesting if Reed had been the person of color (if there has to be only one). But then again, if it tanks (considering how much they've changed from the comic, it probably might), that would probably make studios think black superheroes don't sell, citing it, Steel and Hancock, conveniently forgetting Blade. Considering they're still pulling themselves out of the "women superheroes don't sell" line of thought from the failure of Supergirl, that doesn't seem off-base to me.
We need people of color in superhero movies, but done well. The best is to actually use the characters that are already people of color in the comics. Make a Green Lantern movie about John Stewart. Do one of the Atom, but make it Ryan Choi. Give War Machine his own movie. Luke Cage, a Blade reboot (about time he entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe), etc. Sadly, the movie studios erase diversity from those characters that actually show more of it (comics Hawkeye is deaf, so why isn't movie Hawkeye? Why isn't TV Constantine bisexual, like his comic counterpart?), and that in part necessitates them changing other characters to make them more diverse, all due to that.
And I'm not completely against making a white character black. The other two Fantastic Four movies made Alicia Masters black and cast a half-Hispanic woman as Invisible Woman (though likely only so because she can pass for white).
A lot about this movie is making me dread it, but it's always nice to see them make Sue a more active character than the original comics. Stan Lee wrote a useless character in her to begin with, but it's always good to make her a scientist in her own right and to give her the force fields to start with. Really, I think it's the only thing that is positive to me that I've seen about the movie (and that was already in the other two).
All the bad things in life only help you appreciate the good even more.