Josh Trank has a reputation for being a great many things, with “no bullshit” being right at the top. Trank famously directed the 2015 reboot of Marvel’s Fantastic Four for 20th Century Fox, back before the studio got eaten by the mouse. The notorious flop was seemingly plagued by difficulties from day one, not the least of which was the toxic fanboy meltdown over Trank’s casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, a character who is white in the comic books. (Personally, I would watch a Fantastic Four reboot in which Jordan plays every single member of the team and also Doctor Doom.) Trank claims to have also received considerable pushback over his desire to cast a Black actress as Sue Storm.
In an interview with Geeks of Color, the director opened up a little about his difficult experience on the film. Trank has been called volatile, and while there’s undoubtedly some truth to that, he’s also not afraid to speak plainly about things that piss him off, particularly in the film industry. Here’s what he had to say:
“There were a lot of controversial conversations that were had behind the scenes on that. I was mostly interested in a black Sue Storm, a black Johnny Storm, and a black Franklin Storm. But also, when you’re dealing with a studio on a massive movie like that, everybody wants to keep an open mind to, like, who the big stars are going to be. ‘Maybe it’ll be Margot Robbie,’ or something like that. But when it came down to it, I found a lot of pretty heavy pushback on casting a Black woman in that role… When I look back on that, I should have just walked when that realization sort of hit me, and I feel embarrassed about that, that I didn’t just out of principle. Because those aren’t the values I stand for in my own life; those weren’t the values then or ever for me. Because I’m somebody who always talks about standing up for what I believe in, even if it means burning my career out. I feel bad that I didn’t take it to the mat with that issue. I feel like I failed in that regard.”