With one acclaimed movie Chronicle, and another box-office bomb in the shape of 2015’s Fantastic Four, director Josh Trank has garnered more headlines for his controversial behavior behind the scenes than for his films. Recently, the filmmaker sat down with Polygon for an exhaustive discussion of his career so far, and revealed that he received increasingly more vehement threats on the sets of Fantastic Four, mostly from internet message boards:
“I was getting threats on IMDb message boards saying they were going to shoot me.”
Trying to work under such conditions was naturally incredibly stressful, so much so that Josh Trank felt compelled to protect himself by obtaining a loaded .38 Special that he kept on his nightstand:
“I was so fucking paranoid during that shoot. If someone came into my house, I would have ended their fucking life. When you’re in a head space where people want to get you, you think, ‘I’m going to defend myself.'”
The threats were a result of Trank’s decision to cast then up-and-coming star Michael B. Jordan, with whom Trank had worked on Chronicle, in the role of Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch, making the character black instead of white, with Sue Storm being his adopted sister. For the filmmaker, creating a black superhero was a conscious decision prompted by his own childhood memories:
“For the world I grew up in, a racially intense Los Angeles where we were used to seeing white superheroes, some of my friends who were black should have seen a black superhero […] so I felt that while being in a position of power, I could change the system a little bit.”
The backlash over Jordan’s casting was intense, even prompting the actor to write an online essay in which he pointed to Stan Lee, who fully supported his turn as the Human Torch, to defend himself against internet trolls who insisted he was unsuitable to play the character because of the color of his skin.
Fortunately, the conditions surrounding the filming of Fantasitc Four, and the movie’s subsequent bombing at the box-office were not laid at the feet of Jordan, who received praise for his performance. The actor went on to garner great acclaim for his turn as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther and was even being considered to be the next Superman by Warner Bros. at one point. Today, with a successful franchise like Creed under his belt, the actor is a bone fide star who can have his pick of roles, regardless of ethnicity.
Meanwhile, Trank has made his peace with the turbulent circumstances surrounding his take on Fantastic Four and is looking ahead to the future, as he gears up to promote his new film Capone. The movie stars Tom Hardy in the lead role as the infamous gangster in the last stages of his life, weakened and delusional from disease while he dwells on the excesses of his younger days as the most feared mob boss in America. Polygon originally picked this scoop up from Josh Trank.