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Idris Elba, The Next Bond ?

This November Daniel Craig will appear in his last James Bond film ‘Spectre’. The Movie franchise which stemmed from Sir Ian Flemming’s novels is the biggest in film history, having over 20 films with 7 men playing the titular character.

Playing a character this iconic is not easy feat and whoever is named as Craig’s successor will have some big shoes to fill as his films have given a much needed reinvigoration to the long running franchise. One name that is being debated more than anyone else is Idris Elba. The 43 year old actor has had many great roles including Russell “Stringer” Bell on the acclaimed TV show “The Wire” as well as his Golden Globe winning performance in “Luther” as DC John Luther. Anthony Horrowitz, who has written the most recent James Bond novel, claimed that Elba was “A bit too rough, a bit too street” play the suave Bond character. This by many was seen to be a comment on Elba’s skin rather than his demeanour or acting talent. Leading to the question ‘Can a black person play James Bond?’

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While Craig wasn’t nearly as suave as his predecessors, he did made up for it with amazing fight scenes and a gripping story throughout his tenure as Bond. This adds to the argument for Elba as Bond as even if he isn’t suave enough for the role (Which I don’t believe), the tone of the films have taken a drastic change from the films of old. Massively influenced by the original Bourne trilogy, the bond films are less about invisible cars and laser pens and more about the grittier side of Bond, something that the films really needed.

One opposing point to what I’m going to call “The original description argument” is that the films have not been completely faithful to the books in a long time so a change from the character from being white to black would be just one of many changes from the original novels to the big screen.

The main theory of James Bond is that the character is a codename rather than 1 person having all of these escapades. This would explain why so many people can play the character. If true having a Black Bond would not be a big problem as it would just be another agent taking up the mantle. However, this theory was dispelled in Skyfall where we realised that James Bond was his actual name rather than a codename.

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One Man?

Many people want Elba to be Bond because he is an international star with lots of box office draw and he’s shown in Luther and Thor that he is able to perform action and suspense well. The closest he’s been to being the star of a big blockbuster film is Pacific Rim in 2013 and even in that he was more of an additional character rather than the main star. I think the public is ready to see Elba be the main star of a big film franchise and there’s none bigger than James Bond.

A line I always see on twitter is “If a black man can play Bond, then a white man can play Mandela”. However, these people forget that White people have played people of colour for years from the ‘blackface’ in old cinema, to John Wayne playing the Mongolian Genghis Khan, to Mickey Rooney playing Mr Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffiny’s” so a black person playing a fictionally white character isn’t the worst thing to happen to Hollywood.

This debate is more than Just Idris Elba and James Bond but the status of minorities in the film industry as a whole. In the top 10 grossing films of 2014, none of which were lead by any ethnic minorities and only one had a female lead (Maleficent). None of which were directed by an ethnic minority or woman. In a time where every film is turning into a franchise of some sort it would be a breath of fresh air to have someone different to be the face of a big blockbuster movie.

The decision to pick Bond all depends on where the studio and filmmakers want to go in the forthcoming films. As Skyfall was about a 44 year old Bond becoming too old for the role, a 43 year old coming on to make at least three films might not be the direction and the studio might want to go for a younger Bond. This can be seen in their change for a younger Q and M. Nonetheless, this is a small problem and I doubt that age is a factor when choosing Bond. Having an older Bond has happened before with Roger Moore starting at the age of 46 and ending his role of Bond at 56.

There have been many names in the hat to replace Daniel Craig from David Beckham to bookies favourite Damien Lewis who was excellent as Nicholas Brody in Homeland to Australian Hugh Jackman and my original first choice Tom Hardy.

Bookies favourite Damian Lewis.

Bookies favourite Damian Lewis.

There are many actors that would make a great James Bond and Idris Elba is definitely one of them. As I don’t know the step the studio wants to take the Bond franchise in I can’t say what person fits the mould they are looking for. One thing I can say is that Elba’s take on Bond would be interesting and I hope they decide on that factor rather than the skin colour of an actor.