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Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by gareth

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Does Racial Recasting in Marvel Films Underline a Larger Issue in the Comic World

When news that Michael B. Jordan may be cast as the Human Torch in the reboot of The Fantastic Four, I must say I did not like the potential casting at all. Blaze had always been portrayed in all previous forms of media as a Caucasian and the potential of awarding the role to an African American did not sit well with me.

Now before you go calling me a racist you should know that I have Native American Blood and have married and Asian, so racism is not something I practice. It has nothing to do with racism but rather with the larger problem in the world of comic books.

Jamie Foxx will be playing Electro in the pending “The Amazing Spider-man 2” and this also is an example of a character that was portrayed as a Caucasian in the comics but will be portrayed by an African American actor. Foxx is a great actor and should do the part well and the producers have given the character a very unique and different look from how he was portrayed in the comics thus rendering him racially neutral.

I also should point out that Nick Fury sprang to life as a gritty salt and peppered hair Caucasian before changing his race in the pages of the comics and being masterfully portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson.

Some would say they should simply cast the best actors for the parts regardless of race which while a good sentiment, I have to wonder how the N.A.A.C.P. would react if Blade, Spawn, and Luke Cage were portrayed in subsequent outings by a Caucasian, Latino, or Asian actor.

It should also be noted that Jessica Alba is a Latina and portrayed Sue Storm without any issues, but had to sport blonde hair to do so.

For me the issue of racial recasting has less to do with studios trying to broaden their target audience and appear to be politically correct in their castings. Rather the issue is a lack of minority characters in comics. There have been few characters of African American, Latino, or Asian heritage in comics and many of those that appeared were actually the bad guys or worked in the gray area of the law.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has done a good job in their first few episodes of showing racial diversity as Asians, Latinos, and African Americans have featured as main characters in the episodes although mainly as the antagonists in the episode.

I guess in many ways I am a comic traditionalist as I do not like to see my characters or their storylines altered. I am not a fan of the rebooting of stories as the stories I grew up with hold a special place to me and the idea of changing characters and their histories does not sit well with me.

With more and more comic characters coming to life on the big and small screen, it is inevitable that some changes will be necessary to beloved characters and stories, but I would love to see the history and traditional of characters preserved and social change done by the addition of new characters and stories rather than changing the past.


About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.



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