It looks like we’ll be able to enjoy the latest movie from Dwayne Johnson – namely the most popular actor in the world – from the comfort of our own living room (or your phone – whatever your Netflix viewing preference may be). However, the role he has been cast in has inspired a backlash.
The upcoming feature is called ‘John Henry and The Statesmen’ with Johnson attached to star and produce.
The movie is based on an original pitch from ‘The Lego Ninjago’ Movie scribe Tom Wheeler and sees Johnson play the titular character as he leads an ensemble cast of the most popular figures from folklore and legend from all around the world.
Johnson said: “Netflix is the perfect partner and platform for us to continue entertaining our global audience in a disruptive way.
“These diverse characters speak to a legacy of storytelling that is more relevant than ever and span across a worldwide audience regardless of age, gender, race or geography.”
The wrestler turned actor shared a teaser for the movie on Twitter and Instagram:
When the man comes around..
Honored to play a childhood hero of mine, JOHN HENRY & his disruptive band of fellow folklore legends from around the world. @netflix are the perfect partners and platform to build.
Directed by Jake Kasdan (JUMANJI).
JOHN HENRY & THE STATESMEN ðŸŒÅ½ðŸ”¨ pic.twitter.com/vJ0nkCYXDH
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) October 9, 2018
However many social media users have pointed out that John Henry is an African-American folk hero who, as a steel driver, raced against a steam machine and won, giving up his life in the process.
Johnson is mixed race and has played white, black and Pacific Islander characters in the past, but many have been unhappy with the casting. Some have even gone so far as accusing Johnson of playing up his black heritage when it's convenient.
The dark skinned John Henry of Black folklore? (A double jab)
Yeah that’s a no https://t.co/l2tB9rKy3L
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) October 9, 2018
John Henry has always been depicted as dark-skinned but o k a y https://t.co/48Gq5KG9Vr
— Ira (@ira) October 9, 2018
John Henry was a (likely unlawfully) imprisoned black man who was forced to work himself to death but OKAY.
— R. Eric Thomas (@oureric) October 9, 2018
John Henry is a dark skinned Black man. Here we go ðŸ¤¦ðŸÂ?»â™€ï¸Â? https://t.co/56vm3vrdPc
— Erin Floyd (@ErinMFloyd) October 9, 2018
Y'all I love the Dwayne Johnson but him playing John Henry has me in my feelings ... not in a good way
— What can you add to me? ðŸ‡¹ðŸ‡¹ (@BlkGrlsDontDate) October 9, 2018
I wish they had chosen someone else to play John Henry. https://t.co/7wkCEXZhEO
— ðÂ?—£ðÂ?—®ðÂ?—¿ðÂ?—ºðÂ?—®ðÂ?—Â?ðÂ?—®ðÂ?˜„ðÂ?—»ðÂ?—²ðÂ?˜Â?ðÂ?˜Â?ðÂ?—® (@toberead75) October 9, 2018
Is he playing John Henry? Like he's ready to claim his blackness for a minute because it's convenient? https://t.co/JBHtZRznb4
— ðŸÅ½ƒ ðŸ¦‡ ðŸ§›ðŸÂ?¾â™€ï¸Â? ðÂ?“'ðÂ?•Â?áµ‰ðÂ?'†ðÂ?Â?ƒ ä¸¨á¶° ςðÂ?“Å¾ðÂ?•ƒðÂ?'œâ“ŠÅ˜ ðŸ§›ðŸÂ?¾â™€ï¸Â?ðŸ¦‡ ðŸÅ½ƒ (@ReadInColour) October 9, 2018
This is what I'm asking. . . because. . . since when does The Rock actually claim being black?? https://t.co/Ab9vfFRAAD
— Genie Lauren (@MoreAndAgain) October 9, 2018