Fantastic Four director says studio vetoed plans to cast black actress as Sue Storm
In an interview with First Cut, the famously outspoken filmmaker (known for tweeting about studio interference with the film on the eve of its release) says he planned to cast a black actress as Sue Storm (a.k.a. the Invisible Woman), but received "pretty heavy pushback" on the matter from the studio.
"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," Trank says. "But when you’re dealing with a studio on a massive movie like that, everybody wants to keep an open mind to who the big stars are going to be....When it came down to it, I found a lot of pretty heavy pushback on casting a black woman in that role."
Ultimately, black actors were cast as Johnny and Franklin Storm — Michael B. Jordan and Reg E. Cathey, respectively — and white actress Kate Mara played Sue, who was framed as Johnny's adopted sister. Jordan's casting as Johnny provoked outcry within the fan community, with many racist comments directed at the actor and at Trank. (The director recently told Polygon that he received death threats, and started sleeping with a gun on his nightstand.)
Trank expressed regret that he did not stand up to the studio on the casting issue. "When I look back on that, I should have just walked when that realization hit me, and I feel embarrassed about that, that I didn’t just out of principle," he said. "Because those aren’t the values I stand for in my own life, and 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, and I feel bad that I didn’t take it to the mat with that issue. I feel like I failed in that regard."
Ultimately, Fantastic Four failed with both critics and audiences, grossing only $56 million domestically. Trank did not direct another film until this year's Capone, starring Tom Hardy as the infamous gangster.