Fans wonder whether Johnson is the best fit for the role.
Dwayne Johnson, popularly known as The Rock, has recently announced plans to star in an upcoming film observing the life of African American folk hero, John Henry. Henry is heralded for his unwavering and strong work ethic. A steel-driver, Henry proved that his talents were unmatched when he raced against a steam-powered machine to his last breath and won.
Dwayne captioned a clip posted to his Instagram, "WHEN THE MAN COMES AROUND. Inspired to bring to life one of my childhood heroes, John Henry, in JOHN HENRY & THE STATESMEN. In this movie, I’ll lead an ensemble of the most popular folklore figures and legends from different cultures around the world." He went on to share, "The legend of JOHN HENRY’S strength, endurance, dignity and cultural pride was instilled in my DNA at a very young age. My dad would sing “Big John” to me every time he would put me to bed. At bedtime most children get loving nursery rhyme songs — I got this every mornin’ at the mine: you could see him arrive. He stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 245. Kind of broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip. And everybody knew you didn’t give no lip to Big John. Big John. Big Bad John."
The Rock is of Black Canadian and Polynesian heritage, but fans have come forward to question the move. One user commented, "The Rock is black when it's profitable and racially ambiguous when it isn't. We need a proud, strong, all-day black man to play John Henry." Another posted, "Nope. He's great, but he's definitely not John Henry. This is a wonderful time for someone new to break in. John Henry was dark skinned & young."