Friday, April 10, 2015

007: The Case for Idris Elba

Let me start by saying I am not a James Bond aficionado, but I am a fan of the films in general and have a few that I enjoy a great deal. I am in the camp that says that Sean Connery is the greatest Bond of all time, but Daniel Craig is giving him a run for his money, and Skyfall may be the best Bond film of them all.

Re-booting is sort of a trend with franchises these days, specifically with comic book films, but the Bond franchise has been doing it longer and better than anyone out there, starting with 1973's Live and Let Die, which was the start of a new Bond (Roger Moore) on a regular basis.

No matter who your favorite Bond may be, each of them had something to bring to the table as individual actors, but certain other factors were musts: attractive to both women and men (let's be honest, guys have sort of a man-crush on the character), sexuality, intelligence, nobility (if not morality), and power.

So this brings us to Idris Elba, perhaps best-known for his role on the series The Wire (which I just started watching and am only into season two, by the way, so don't ruin anything for me). I first came across Elba's talents in Thor, and quickly became a fan; even though the role was relatively small, his quiet and understated performance was one of the best in the film. He then lived up to expectations as the ship's captain in Prometheus, which led me to the BBC series Luther, which just finished shooting season four. And that is where discussion about Mr. Elba's ability to play the greatest spy in the history of forever should begin.

If you have not seen Luther, it is a must-see on Netflix. In three short seasons, Elba's role as DCI Luther has shown the power and broodiness to be the scourge of baddies everywhere and an irresistible force on women.

So, does Idris Elba have the necessary qualities to play James Bond? Attractive? Check. Sexuality? You saw Prometheus, right? Just don't ask him to send a text. Intelligence/Nobility/Power? Luther had all three in spades. His role as Stringer Bell in The Wire showed a cunning intelligence that is both admirable and frightening at the same time; qualities that would come in handy as 007.

Although Elba himself has said that he feels the opportunity is "gone", partly because there is too much hype, my personal opinion is that the hype is exactly why this is going to happen...eventually.

There is hype precisely because of what he's been able to do on screens large and small since The Wire debuted. People wouldn't clamor for it for nothing, and if the public sentiment is that he is the man we all want to see, then we'll see him. I distinctly remember Pierce Brosnan being who everyone wanted to see as Bond, and he got it. Patrick Stewart was everyone's choice for Charles Xavier, and he got it. This doesn't mean that Daniel Craig is a bad Bond; as I said, I'm a huge fan. But Craig's fantastic portrayal of the character doesn't mean that Elba can't, or shouldn't, do it.

And what about the fact that Elba is black? Honestly, get over it...yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Yaphet Kotto. I have seen things on the internet complaining about a "black-ification" of what are "supposed" to be white characters/roles. People who care about the skin color of a fictional character need better things to worry about. James Bond films aren't about skin--unless it's naked skin, of course--they're about spies, Aston Martins, sometimes a gadget or two, and hot women with interesting names. Pussy Galore, anyone?

People shouldn't be afraid of an Idris Elba James Bond; people should embrace it, but not because of political correctness. It should be embraced because Elba is one of the best actors of his generation, along with the Bradley Coopers, Christian Bales, Chiwetel Ejiofors, David Oyelowos, and Michael Fassbenders of the world, and there should be no doubt that he could thrive as the next 007. So sign him up, lock him down, and name him as the successor to Daniel Craig already.

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