News that Michael B. Jordan is Disney’s frontrunner to play Hercules in the live-action remake of the film has raised eyebrows online for what critics are saying is another example of woke “race swapping.”
The original 1997 animated film was based on the legendary Greek hero Heracles, whose name and mythology was adapted by the Romans into the more commonly-referenced “Hercules.” He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, and became an inspirational figure for Roman emperors, who often styled themselves on his likeness.
The 1997 film was set in ancient Greece, where Hercules was presented as the son of Zeus and Hera. Struggling to control his divine strength and curious about his origins, Hercules visits The Temple of Zeus one day and discovers he is half-man and half-god, but can earn back his godhood by defeating several evil creatures to prove he’s a hero.
In the original film, the titular character was voiced by James Woods, with an all-star cast including Danny DeVito as Phil and Rip Torn as Zeus. Due to the popularity of the original, many have been anticipating a live-action remake.
But in 2021, it leaked that Disney was “looking to cast a non-white actor in the titular role.” Despite claiming they were not “ruling out casting a white male,” Hollywood insider Daniel Richtman speculated that Disney was “actively pursuing a person of color to lead the live-action remake.”
Earlier this week, rumors began to circulate that American actor Michael B. Jordan may be in talks to take the role.
While the casting, among many other details, is still unconfirmed, many took to X (formerly Twitter) to express their criticism of the direction the film appears to be taking.
“Michael B. Jordan is tapped to star in the new Disney film… Hercules. I hesitate between laughing and crying! When will there be a biopic on Rosa Parks played by Muriel Robin? Fuck Wokeism,” wrote political commentator Yohan Pawer Médias.
Sharing his sentiments, another user who goes by the handle @MerhRosales commented: “Bad decisions after bad decision.”
Others decried the potential casting choice as inaccurate and politically motivated.
Although Rocketman star Taron Egerton is reportedly also up for the role, InsideTheMagic.com points out that Jordan has remained the top contender over the past few years because of his “action star status.”
This is not the first time Disney has been flamed for “raceswapping” characters in a remake of one of its classic animated films.
In 2019, the company sparked widespread debate after casting Black American actress and singer Halle Bailey to play Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.
More recently, Rachel Zegler, the part-Latina star of Disney’s upcoming live-action Snow White remake, faced backlash across all corners of the internet after interviews began to circulate showing her repeatedly mocking the classic story and its characters.