Michael B. Jordan's Most Iconic Roles (That Just Made You Love Him More)
He's sexy, sure, but also he's got the range, from lovable underdog to badass villain
Jamal in Hardball (2001)
Michael B. Jordan had small television roles on The Sopranos and Cosby in 1999 before landing a movie role as Jamal in the classic 2001 flick, which stars Keanu Reeves. Although the role was minor, Jordan gave fans a glimpse of what he had to offer as a young star: He demonstrated that he could use his head (get it?) to navigate the rough streets of Chicago.
Wallace in The Wire (2002)
Jordan had a memorable turn as Wallace, a teen drug dealer working in The Pit under D'Angelo Barksdale (played by another Sexiest Man Alive, Idris Elba). The series of unfortunate events that (SPOILER) led to Wallace's murder had viewers shocked and heartbroken - and led to one of the show's more memorable catchphrases.
Elba later raved about his former costar. "Seeing him as one of the leading movie stars in the world makes me very proud," he said, before jokingly taking credit for Jordan's success: "My character had to off his character, and he went off into a different stratosphere ... I kind of think, if I didn't do that, he might not be [so successful]."
Reggie Montgomery in All My Children (2003-2006)
Coming off of The Wire, Jordan was eager to hop onto his next project and nabbed a spot on the longtime soap as Reggie. The role was originated by Chadwick Boseman, but Boseman spoke out against his character's stereotypical portrayal and was dropped from the show in 2003. Once Jordan took over, he credited Boseman for the changes he saw in Reggie's character.
"I was playing this role not knowing that a lot of the things I was going through were because of what [Boseman] had already done for me," Jordan told The Wrap during a 2019 interview with both actors. “It’s hard to speak in the moment about how things we do can affect other people. But this is a pure example, right here on the spot — we ain’t never talked about this before a day in our lives — to understand how what people do now can directly affect what other people do in the future."
Vince Howard in Friday Night Lights (2009-2011)
The star hit the football field as East Dillon High's quarterback for the acclaimed series' two final seasons. Jordan told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011 that one of the things he would miss most about filming the show was doing his own stunts.
“The feeling that I had commanding those guys on the offense and being the quarterback and shooting everything myself and how everyone responded to me … to be Vince in that moment was something that I’ll never forget,” he recalled.
Alex in Parenthood (2010-2011)
At this point in Jordan's career, TV audiences grew to know the star as a household name.
Jordan appeared on the NBC drama for two seasons as Haddie Braverman's boyfriend Alex, who eventually breaks her heart.
After he left the show, his movie career took off.
Steve Montgomery in Chronicle (2012)
Chronicle exceeded expectations when it made $22 million opening weekend, and gave the star his first break into the superhero genre. Playing Steve Montgomery was a stepping stone to go on and play the Human Torch, a.k.a. Johnny Storm, in Fantastic Four, and supervillain Erik Killmonger in Black Panther.
Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station (2013)
Jordan's portrayal of the final 24 hours in the life of Oscar Grant — a 22-year-old unarmed Black man who was shot by a BART officer in 2009 — was one of the most critically acclaimed of that 2013. The film shed light on how much work needed to be done in the fight for racial justice. More than a decade after Grant's death, and following the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others, the actor has been vocal about how the fight must continue.
The role also connected Jordan to Ryan Coogler, for whom the film was his directorial debut. The two would later reconnect to add their imprint on the Rocky franchise and Marvel universe.
Adonis Johnson in Creed (2015)
Ryan Coogler tapped the star to play Adonis "Donnie" Johnson, who heads to Philadelphia to convince his late father's friend Rocky Balboa to train him to become a champion. Jordan also starred as Adonis in Creed II and is reportedly in talks to not only star in but also direct the third Creed film, according to Indiwire.
Erik Killmonger in Black Panther (2018)
Like a perfect storm, Ryan Coolger and Chadwick Boseman reappeared in Jordan's life to gift the world the 2018 megahit Black Panther. The Marvel film became the highest grossing movie of the year with $1.3 billion and made a lasting impact on pop culture. It was also the first superhero film to get nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
"I'm more aware now than ever that time is short with people we love and admire. I’m gonna miss your honesty, your generosity, your sense of humor, and incredible gifts," Jordan wrote. "I’ll miss the gift of sharing space with you in scenes. I’m dedicating the rest of my days to live the way you did. With grace, courage, and no regrets. 'Is this your king!?' Yes . he . is! Rest In Power Brother."
Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy (2019)
For Just Mercy, Jordan portrayed a real-life superhero fighting for racial justice: Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer who has worked tirelessly toward freeing wrongfully convicted inmates from death row and reforming the criminal justice system in America.
Stevenson's bestselling 2014 memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption was the basis for the inspirational film, which won Jordan the outstanding actor in a motion picture award at the 2020 NAACP Awards.
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