RANKED! Michael B. Jordan’s Best Roles (Before ‘Just Mercy’)
Michael B. Jordan is one of Hollywood’s best up-and-coming actors. Although Jordan began his career in television as a child actor, he quickly transitioned into independent feature film roles. Throughout the 2010s, Jordan has displayed immense range within his performances in a variety of different projects. Jordan’s latest role in Just Mercy sees the actor playing a real-life defense attorney named Bryan Stevenson, who advocates for a black man wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of a white woman. It looks to be another powerful performance from Jordan. While we wait to see how the actor’s role in Just Mercy settles among his performances throughout the decade, here is a handy ranking of Michael B. Jordan’s best roles up to this point.
Cover Photo: Marvel Studios
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8. Johnny Storm – ‘Fantastic Four’
There’s no doubt that Josh Trank’s 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four, hilariously titled Fan4stic, is such an absolute dumpster fire that even the director himself has mocked it. Seriously though, nobody wants a super dark version of the first superhero team that ultimately undermines the very fabric of the property. With that said, Jordan’s performance in Fan4stic is easily the best part of an otherwise tragic waste of talent.
7. Jamal – ‘Hardball’
The 2001 Keanu Reeves film Hardball isn’t a memorable movie. In fact, most people probably forget that Michael B. Jordan is even in the film. You probably didn’t even realize that the above GIF is actually from Friday Night Lights. While Jordan plays the oldest of the youngsters in the film who alters his age to play for the team, it’s also notable for being his first significant film role.
6. Vince Howard – ‘Friday Night lights’
Speaking of Friday Night Lights, Jordan’s role in the latter seasons of the television series about a Texas high school football team is a fan favorite. Jordan is able to perfectly capture the transition from a kid who comes from a broken home to becoming the quarterback and leader of the football team. Although his character is only a part of the final two seasons of the series, the role is notable for sending the show off on a high note.
5. Steve Montgomery – ‘Chronicle’
In certain respects, Josh Trank’s 2012 found footage film Chronicle is Michael B. Jordan’s coming out party in terms of his mainstream success. Not only did it mark his transition to primarily film roles, but it’s also a legitimately great supporting performance from Jordan. Although it’s still a supervillain origin story within the confines of a found footage film, Jordan provides the necessary charm and gravitas for it to be supremely effective.
4. Wallace – ‘The Wire’
While The Wire is obviously a television show and not a movie, Jordan’s role in the first season of the series was his big break in the industry. In many ways, Jordan’s role as the drug-dealing teenager Wallace perfectly encapsulates what some consider to be the greatest television show ever to be made. Although he only lasted for one season, Jordan’s pivotal role in the show makes it worthy of inclusion alone.
3. Adonis Johnson Creed – ‘Creed’ & ‘Creed II’
In many ways, Michael B. Jordan’s titular role in Creed and Creed II are easily his most accessible performances. There’s an inherent likability to Donnie, the illegitimate son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed. Although most of the Rocky films are sub-par at best, Creed manages to be an essential modernization of the original Oscar-winning film. While the Creed II holds far less weight than it’s predecessor, Michael B. Jordan manages to carry the emotional through-line of both stories successfully.
2. Erik Killmonger – ‘Black Panther’
Black Panther is one of the better movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Still, Ryan Coogler’s superhero opus wouldn’t nearly have as much weight as it does without Jordan’s presence in it. As the actor’s first and only villain role of the decade, his exceptional performance set a new bar for crafting compelling antagonists in superhero movies. More importantly, his character singlehandedly solved the MCU’s villain problem in one fell swoop.
1. Oscar Grant III – ‘Fruitvale Station’
Looking back on Michael B. Jordan’s work throughout the decade, there’s no doubt that his heartbreaking performance in Fruitvale Station is easily the best of his career thus far. The film, which also served as the directorial debut of Ryan Coogler, depicts the final day of Oscar Grant’s life before being fatally shot by two police officers in 2009. It’s a supremely tragic story that is only heightened by Jordan’s riveting and poignant performance.