Michael B. Jordan was already having a good day on Thursday, having been announced as the first male face for the fashion brand Coach. Then, just hours later, it got even better when Variety revealed that Jordan would be helming a new film franchise. Off the success of Amazon and Paramount TV’s John Krasinski–starring Jack Ryan TV series, Jordan will now play John Clark, another famed Tom Clancy character, in two feature films.
According to Variety, Paramount Pictures wants to develop the two movies based on the Clark-centric Clancy books Rainbow Six and Without Remorse — the latter of which serves as a quasi origin story for Clark, who is frequently described as a darker, grittier version of Jack Ryan. Ryan is the “analyst,” and Clark is the “muscle”; Ryan is Jim from The Office, and Clark is Adonis Johnson.
On top of this news being good for Jordan (and his bank account), it should also satisfy Clancy fanatics — Jordan should be an ideal fit for the role. Over the course of his career — in particular in the past few years — Jordan has taken on roles that have him allowed to flex mentally, emotionally, and yes, physically. If you’re still unconvinced that the actor might not be right to enter the Clancyverse, it might help considering his work in three previous movies.
While Creed is obviously set up to make you root for Jordan’s Adonis Johnson, the character isn’t exactly a carefree, likable protagonist — especially at the onset. He spends most of the movie trying to control his temper and be patient enough to learn from Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa; the legacy of his father is both a blessing and a curse, and he oftentimes succumbs to the pressure and his worst vices.
Adonis is, basically, a hot-headed dude who means well and sometimes stumbles on the way to doing the right thing. John Clark is not exactly a like-for-like comparison to Adonis — for starters, his father was a relatively anonymous firefighter who died on the job, and not one of the most famous boxers ever — but the way Jordan depicts Adonis’s temper and flare for the dramatic is a good indication of how he will likely portray Clark. He will be less of a traditional main character, and something more akin to an antihero who has a lot of skeletons in his closet. (Which movies and TV still can’t get enough of.)
There were so many things that made Marvel’s Black Panther an instant classic, and the gold standard for what a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe should be. But one of its most essential ingredients was introducing a new villain — Jordan’s Erik Killmonger — and imbuing him with a moral agenda that isn’t as broadly defined as world domination, which had plagued MCU villains in years past.
Killmonger’s motivations were just — wanting to share Wakanda’s resources with disadvantaged black communities around the world — it was his execution that was the problem. He dealt in brute force and did not consider compromise. The character’s life, meanwhile, was marked by tragedy. He lost his father, Prince N’Jobu, at the hands of Wakandan king T’Chaka; it was this trauma that inspired his need for revenge. His childhood led him into a life as a black ops soldier who specialized in dismantling regimes, and who eventually turned his anger toward his homeland.
In Without Remorse, Clark’s upbringing is similarly tragic: Not only does he lose his father to a blazing fire, he loses his mother to cancer and his pregnant wife in a car accident. (He then falls in love with a former prostitute, Pamela Madden, who is brutally killed by her employers; dude can’t catch a break.) That immense pain fuels Clark’s vengeful nature, though he uses violence only against people whom he believes deserve it — kind of like Marvel’s Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher. Clark and Killmonger are remarkably similar when you step back and think about it. The main difference is that Clancy takes Clark’s side, while Black Panther took T’Challa’s. If you wanna picture Michael B. Jordan as John Clark, think of Killmonger with 15 percent more benevolence and empathy.
Did you watch the HBO movie Fahrenheit 451? It’s OK if you didn’t — unfortunately, it’s not very good — but it did feature a gripping lead performance by Jordan as “firefighter” Guy Montag in a dystopian future when nearly all books in the United States are banned and physical copies are burned. (Lone exceptions include: the Bible, Moby Dick, and To the Lighthouse.)
Montag has a gradual transformation in the film — from burn-enthused diehard of the totalitarian regime to self-actualized #Resistance fighter — which Jordan conveys mostly through expressions and glints in his eyes. As for Clancy’s Clark, the character is a “shoot first, ask questions later” type who needs an actor who can demonstrate a modicum of emotions with subtle facial expressions; someone who can convey the depth lurking just under the surface. It just so turns out that Jordan has made a career excelling at just these types of performances — even if Fahrenheit 451 didn’t live up to his excellent portrayal.
We’re still a ways away until Jordan’s Clark films made it to the big screen — a release date hasn’t even been announced yet — but there are plenty of reasons for Clancy-heads to be enthused about this casting. In the meantime, consider these films essential viewing. Oh, not to mention Creed II, which comes out in November.