Michael B. Jordan heads back to theaters on Christmas Day 2021 with A Journal for Jordan, and it is set to be just the latest in a long line of stellar performances.
Here’s our list some of Jordan’s best roles:
1. Red Tails
After starring in NBC’s Parenthood, Jordan’s first film was a powerful one fresh out of the gate. Jordan starred as Flight Officer Maurice “Bumps” Wilson in Anthony Hemingway’s first film as a director, 2012’s Red Tails. The Lucasfilm-produced film tells the story of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the group of Black Air Force members who helped America turn the tide of World War II. Jordan told MovieWeb he learned more about African-American history doing the film. “[U]ntil I actually got a chance to talk with these guys, and really learn the history of the Tuskegee Airmen…[i]t’s a shame that more people don’t know this part of our history,” he said.
One of Jordan’s first films was 2012’s Chronicle, in which he plays one of three friends who develop superpowers. The film turns the superhero origin story inside out by making the story a found footage film, adding to the realism of the characters’ extraordinary situation. Unfortunately, Jordan’s character Steve dies before the film is over, but Jordan’s acting in Chronicle was just the first brick in the foundation for a strong film career.
3. Fahrenheit 451
Jordan starred in and executive produced HBO’s 2018 adaptation of Ray Bradbury legendary novel foretelling the Fake News era we’re currently living in. Jordan stars as Guy Montag, a fireman who doesn’t fight fires and save homes; he causes fires and destroys books in order to serve a totalitarian government. He eventually wakes up to the destruction he’s causing and becomes the person who could end the practice of burning knowledge.
In the 2015 film that launched the Creed franchise, Jordan and director Ryan Coogler reinvigorated the Rocky series by following the boxing career of Adonis Creed, the son of famed, late boxer Apollo Creed (played in the original Rocky films by Carl Weathers). Jordan is in fighting form both physically and acting-wise, giving audiences a new reason to root for the underdog.
5. Black Panther
Jordan took a different turn in 2018 Marvel’s Black Panther playing against type. In the film, he takes on the challenging, villainous role of Killmonger, who challenges T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) for the throne. Of course, the word “villainous” has an asterisk when it comes to Killmonger; with the salient points he made about the state of pan-Africanism and Black American suffering, it’s tempting to give Killmonger the title of “anti-hero.”
6. Fruitvale Station
Jordan and Coogler’s breakout success was Fruitvale Station, relaying the life and tragic ending of Oscar Grant, an unarmed Black man who was shot by Oakland police. The film was poignant and timely in 2013, and unfortunately, the film has become even more relevant as Black men and women keep getting assaulted or killed by biased police officers.
7. BONUS: All My Children, The Wire and Friday Night Lights
Granted, this list is about Jordan’s film career. But while he might be popular for playing Marvel’s best villain yet, fans who have been rocking with him since his child acting days remember him stealing the scenes in HBO’s 2002 Baltimore-based cop drama The Wire, ABC’s longtime-running soap All My Children in 2003 and NBC’s 2009 high school football drama Friday Night Lights. These television roles were what helped Jordan chart his path towards becoming Hollywood elite. Even more noteworthy: Jordan and Chadwick Boseman both played the same character on All My Children, proving that soap operas are one of the best, underrated incubators of talent.