I have been thinking a lot about Idris Elba. Mostly because I enjoy thinking about Idris Elba, but this rumination has been purposeful. Recently, James Bond novelist Anthony Horowitz said that the handsome actor was "too street" to portray the MI6 agent with a license to kill, linking it not to personal prejudice, ignorance to Elba's varied career or some obscure, newly unearthed Bond canon, but to solely Elba's role as a troubled detective in the gritty U.K. series "Luther."
Contrarily, fans have been clamoring for the 43-year-old actor to don Bond's famed tuxedo and drink preferences years before Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal expressed it in emails, which were released in hacked emails last year. (The emails also detailed “Spectre’s” script problems and ginormous budget, DailyMail.com reports). The We Want Idris Elba For James Bond Facebook group boasts nearly 34,000 members, and and has been championing the casting of Elba as Daniel Craig's successor since 2011.
It's surprisingly easy to fantasize about the debonair Brit in the role, taking down villains whilst sipping a shaken martini; bedding an exotic beauty in an infinity pool of champagne; strutting through a luxuriously appointed Parisian ballroom with swagger so palpable, everybody swoons. Vulture.com even made a fake trailer for Elba-Bond for those of us who don't use the aforementioned scenes as our mental screensavers.
The first Black Bond would make cinematic history and likely create box office bonanza. Who wouldn't want that?
I don't want Idris Elba to play James Bond for one simple reason: Idris Elba deserves better.
Why should he prop up an an aging, problematic franchise with his talent and God-given gravitas? The actor has more than earned and original action series that's gleaming in modernity, swagger and directed by Ava DuVernay.
Elba has the proven talent, recognition and following to carry his own franchise (and he spends his free time breaking a U.K landspeed record in a Bentley). He has portrayed a violent criminal in "No Good Deed”; an Asgardian god in Marvel's "Thor" franchise; and a PPDC Marshal in “Pacific Rim.” Give me an Elba-led thriller in which he plays a civil rights lawyer who spends his nights framing criminals who dodge prison due to a broken justice system. Or a maverick marine-turned-private detective who battles PTSD whilst thwarting terrorist attacks. Or a prince who uses his royal connections to fight crime.
Actors of color admittedly and understandably want to join the mainstream. They want to sit at the table with the Brad Pitts and the Tom Cruises and the Jennifer Lawrences. They want to don Batman's cape and recite Hamlet's noted soliloquy, and there's no reason why they shouldn't. But at the same time, who's to say we can't expand the very idea of what the mainstream is with new heroes, anti-heroes and franchises?
If I've learned one thing from Bond it’s when there's an obstacle in his way, he doesn't politely knock it down. He blows up the entire thing, and then goes after the baddie who constructed it.
Idris Elba is the perfect man to do the same.