A new Fantastic Four trailer was released this week and in it, African-American actor Reg E. Cathey — playing Dr. Franklin Storm — clearly says that white actress Kate Mara — playing Sue Storm — is his daughter:
It's a throwaway line that's not a big deal at all… Unless you're an unimaginative weirdo who can't conceive of a mixed-race family.
Michael B. Jordan, the African-American actor who plays Sue's brother Johnny Storm, has been challenging the notion that this family is in any way strange. In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live — as covered by The Hollywood Reporter — Jordan bristled when Kimmel brought up the race issue:
"Kate Mara, I don't know if you know this, is a white person," Kimmel said, asking, "How did they figure that out?"
Jordan explained that there are plenty of families where the brothers and sisters aren't biologically related.
"I'm pretty sure there's white people out there with other ethnicities' brothers and sisters. Doesn't mean biological. It's the world that we live in," he said.
When Kimmel pressed further about whether this is "one of the big secrets" of the film, Jordan said it was mostly that he didn't feel the need to explain something that seems obvious.
"It's kind of self-explanatory. It's one of those things where I don't like drawing attention to the ignorance sometimes," he said. "You gotta let it be what it is."
Amazing — and not just because it immediately showcases a possible prejudice. How — in a fantasy world where a man is made out of stone and another dude straight-up spontaneously combusts — is an interracial family a big deal, or something that needs to be explained? Why are fans of fantasy still so rigid about this point of reality?
Families exist in so many different iterations that having siblings of a different race isn't remarkable. Adoption is real, but it's also medically possible for someone to give birth to twins who look like two different races entirely. Let's not leave out step-parenting, foster families, or any of the other ways children might come into someone's life.
It's not unlike the mild uproar that happened when Marvel revealed the new Spider-man, Miles Morales, was a black, Hispanic teenager. For a group of people who can certainly throw their weight behind radioactive spiders, some of them certainly can't open their eyes to real people who actually live on this planet already. It's a reductive sort of fandom to assume that superheroes must always be white, or that difference can't exist on a small scale.
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.