michael b jordan
Flame on! The new Human Torch prepares to burn up the screen
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”