michael b jor­dan

Flame on! The new Hu­man Torch pre­pares to burn up the screen

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - Words by NICK SETCH­FIELD POR­TRAIT by JOHN RUSSO

The new Hu­man Torch lights up SFX.

There’s as much heat at­tached to Michael B Jor­dan as one of Johnny Storm’s trade­mark fire­balls. One of the ris­ing stars of the Amer­i­can screen, he teamed with di­rec­tor Josh Trank on 2012’ s Chron­i­cle, a provoca­tive riff on the su­per­hero myth. Trank was im­pressed: Jor­dan was the first per­son he cast in Fan­tas­tic Four, his suit­ably in­cen­di­ary charisma a match for the cocky, com­bustible Hu­man Torch. It’s a colour- blind cast­ing choice that has, pre­dictably, stirred up the more con­ser­va­tive corners of the in­ter­net – “It used to bother me, but it doesn’t any­more,” Jor­dan says of the back­lash – but Torch co- cre­ator Stan Lee, for one, is a true be­liever. You imag­ine that’s the only ap­proval he needs. “I grew up lov­ing comic books so I was a big fan,” Jor­dan tells us. “It’s great to get to play a char­ac­ter like this. It’s a big deal to me.” so what can we ex­pect from this ver­sion of the fan­tas­tic four?

It’s the Fan­tas­tic Four! These are char­ac­ters you may be fa­mil­iar with, but you’re see­ing them in a new, fresh way. It’s a dif­fer­ent take. I think the film is grounded in real emo­tions – you get to know these char­ac­ters and hope­fully care about them. They’re learn­ing about them­selves at the same time. It’s a su­per­hero movie, but a grounded su­per­hero movie. is it fair to say it takes from a few dif­fer­ent eras of the comic books?

Yeah, it kind of takes from all over the place, but par­tic­u­larly the Ul­ti­mate se­ries. I think the el­e­ments were put to­gether very strate­gi­cally by Si­mon [ Kin­berg, pro­ducer] and Josh Trank [ di­rec­tor] to sup­port the story they wanted to tell. how do you see Johnny?

Well, Johnny’s Johnny, you know! Like all of them, he’s fig­ur­ing out who he is. He’s charis­matic. He’s fun. But he’s got to deal with stuff. That’s what this is about. It’s about when life throws curve balls at you, how you adapt. How do you deal with ob­sta­cles that you may en­counter in your life? I was ex­cited to do it. I didn’t re­ally need to re­search the role as I was a huge Fan­tas­tic Four and comic book fan al­ready. what’s Johnny’s dy­namic with the other three?

The Fan­tas­tic Four that peo­ple re­mem­ber were al­ready es­tab­lished as a group, but here, that group is not es­tab­lished yet. That jour­ney has to hap­pen to get us to the place that peo­ple know. This is an ori­gin story. These char­ac­ters meet each other, mostly for the first time. So we be­come those char­ac­ters over the course of the film. Ben and Reed are best friends, but Johnny doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily agree with what Ben’s do­ing and then Vic­tor’s there and it kind of be­comes this sort of joust­ing for at­ten­tion. Over the film the chem­istry comes to­gether, that fam­ily dy­namic that ev­ery­one is fa­mil­iar with. are you a fan of su­per­hero movies in gen­eral?

Yes, I def­i­nitely am. I’m a big Iron Man fan. I also re­ally like the X- Men. First Class and Days Of Fu­ture Past are my favourites. I’m a fan of all of it, re­ally. is there a par­tic­u­lar pres­sure on you mak­ing a su­per­hero movie, know­ing there are a lot of peo­ple out there who are very pas­sion­ate about this genre and very vo­cal if they dis­ap­prove?

Fans are very pas­sion­ate about their prop­er­ties and sto­ries they grew up with, so as an ac­tor you try to take it as se­ri­ously as you would any­thing else. Do the home­work if you’re not fa­mil­iar. I be­lieve if you put your best ef­fort into it you’ll do it right by the fans. this new Fan­tas­tic Four feels al­most like a hard science fic­tion movie. would that be fair to say?

I think we prided our­selves on tak­ing the science part of it se­ri­ously. We had some of the smartest guys there for au­then­tic­ity to make sure that the science we were ref­er­enc­ing was as true to life as pos­si­ble. what are the ben­e­fits of work­ing with a di­rec­tor you’ve worked with be­fore?

The chem­istry is def­i­nitely stronger. It al­lows the com­mu­ni­ca­tion to be that much bet­ter. You know one another’s ten­den­cies, what they like and don’t like. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is most im­por­tant on set, so when you have that with a di­rec­tor the sec­ond and third time

around it’s just that much stronger. how has Josh trank changed since you last worked with him?

I think he stopped smok­ing cig­a­rettes and lost some weight. The guy looks great! He’s more fo­cused. From pro­ject to pro­ject you hope to get bet­ter and be more un­der­stand­ing of what you do and other peo­ple’s jobs and I think he has pro­gressed in all those ar­eas. what does it feel like when you see your­self on screen with su­per­pow­ers?

It’s re­ally cool. All your imag­i­na­tion and fan­tasies as a comic book fan grow­ing up come to life. You know when you’re a kid and you’re play­ing and fig­ur­ing out what su­per power you would want to have? Well, ac­tu­ally get­ting to vi­su­alise it and have it not just in your head is awe­some!

Fan­tas­tic Four opens on 6 Au­gust.

It’s su­per­hero movie, but a grounded su­per­hero movie”

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