The fall/winter movie season means that many Oscar hopefuls will be hitting cinemas in order to compete for the grand prize. With an all-star cast and powerful message behind it, Just Mercy has all the ingredients of a potential award winner.
Based on the memoir of the same name by Bryan Stevenson, the film stars Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson as he moves to Alabama to help those wrongly convicted heinous crimes and cannot afford proper representation. He then decides to represent Walter McMillian, a man convicted of killing an 18-year-old girl despite there being evidence that proves his innocence.
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The film follows the trial of McMillian as well as the formation of the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit started by Stevenson that provides legal representation for those who may have been denied a fair trial.
Jamie Foxx plays McMillian, while Brie Larson also stars as local advocate Eva Ansley. Tim Blake Nelson and O’Shea Jackson Jr. also star.
In an interview with The Guardian, James discussed his “frustratingly middle class” upbringing as the son of police detectives in Jamaica. Despite being kept relatively safe from the turbulent social climate in Jamaica at the time, James did not fare too well in school, called names by the other students, and spending much time alone.
“My teenage years before college, I spent pretty much all of my time in my bedroom. I spent so much time there that my neighbours thought I did high school in America. I’d go to class, then I’d disappear. I’d just basically come home to eat dinner, sleep, draw comics.”
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His lack of success socially made certain comics, like X-Men, resonate with him. “They’re outcasts,” he says, “they’re outsiders, they’re disliked by a world that they’re still a part of. Even other heroes didn’t trust the X-Men. And that connected with me in a really, really major way.”
He goes on to explain that he “never read any of the foundational fantasy novels” as a child. “Those fantasy novels that you might have thought would be everywhere, like Dune and Lord of the Rings, really weren’t [in Jamaica]. I read whatever cheap crap got dumped on the third world. I didn’t have a community telling me, ‘Read this, read that.’ A lot of what I write about in terms of the fantastic I picked up from comics, particularly Marvel comics. And even that idea of a group of people banded together, which people think I got from Fellowship of the Ring, it’s more like X-Men or one of those anti-teams like Doom Patrol or Suicide Squad. Because comics were easier to get hold of than books.” `
It may be reassuring for any aspiring writers out there who feel like they don’t fit in, to know that even Man Booker prize winner and author of an incredible book, comparable to Game of Throne spent his teen years in his bedroom, in his own fantasy world!
The star of Creed 2 and Black Panther is bringing a recently published novel to the big screen.
Michael B. Jordan and Warner Bros. recently acquired the film rights to Marlon James’ fantasy novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was published on February 5th.
The first in a planned series called the Dark Star trilogy, set against the backdrop of two warring kingdoms in an epic fantasy world, the novel follows a hunter named Tracker who has been hired to find a missing child. The story draws heavily from African history and mythology, with James jokingly describing the novel as an “African ‘Game of Thrones’”.
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Jordan will produce the film under his Outlier Society production label, which he founded in order to bring more diverse stories to the big screen.
It looks like another Tom Clancy film series is in the works with Michael B. Jordan to star as the classic Clancy hero, John Clark! This news comes after the positive release of the Amazon’s rebooted Jack Ryan series starring John Krasinski. According to Variety, Paramount Pictures picked up Jordan to play the titular hero while the company was developing two films based on Clancy’s novels Rainbow Six and Without Remorse. Clark was the main character in both novels and Without Remorse will be the first of the two films and will focus on Clark’s origin story.
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Akiva Goldsman will lead the films as the main producer while Jordan, Andre Nemec, and Josh Appelbaum will also produce. Paramount is still meeting with writers and directors for the first film to figure out the story for the new Clancy hero.
Jordan’s spy character, John Clark, is actually just as intriguing Krasinski’s Jack Ryan! In the novels, Clark, otherwise known as John Terrence Kelly, is an ex-Navy Seal that turns into a CIA operations officer. He appeared in 17 of Clancy’s novels, the first appearance being in The Cardinal of the Kremlin, and mainly served as a secondary character that assists Jack Ryan with the physical aspects of dangerous missions. Clancy finally moved Clark into the role of the main character in Without Remorse which centers on Clark’s backstory on how he first came to work for the CIA.
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Clark’s next main novel was Rainbow Six; this novel followed Clark’s new task force and their mission to protect the world from great threats of terrorism. In past films, Clark has been played by Willem Dafoe in Clear and Present Danger and Liev Schreiber in The Sum of All Fears. Paramount has been trying to get the adaptations of Without Remorse and Rainbow Six for years with famous actors such as Ryan Reynolds and Chris McQuarrie both considered at one time.
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According to Variety, Jordan is considered one of Hollywood’s biggest stars currently. His recent memorable roles as Adonis in Creed and Killmonger in Black Panther both support the evidence of his ability to stand out as a lead character. Jordan’s upcoming films include reprising his role as the boxer Adonis in Creed 2 and staring in Warner Bros.’ legal drama Just Mercy.
The two Clark films in development represent two-star roles for Jordan that are not comic-book related and in today’s entertainment industry sometimes it’s difficult to break out of the superhero movie mold. Since the Clark films are still in their early stages of development, no release date has been made, but it will be exciting to see how these films will turn out and how Jordan will approach John Clark as a character.