Too Street? No, Idris Elba is Too Big for Bond

Over the past several weeks, there has been quite a lot of net-chatter about Idris Elba’s suitability for stepping into the role of James Bond. Former Bond, Roger Moore — who, arguably, starred in some of the worst films in the franchise — was against against it; other folks were for it, and current keeper of the literary portion of the franchise, Anthony Horowitz, stated that he felt Elba was “too street” and that Adrian Lester would be a more appropriate Bond.

HUSTLE...**THIS IMAGE IS UNDER STRICT EMBARGO UNTIL 00:01HRS 27TH DECEMBER 2009** Picture shows: Mickey Stone (ADRIAN LESTER). TX: Thursday 8th January 2009 (c) KUDOS

I love Lester, and Hustle is one of my favorite shows. But there is something about Lester that screams “safe enough for a certain kind of white person.” He is suave and dapper and all that, but there is nothing about him that screams I can drive this Aston Martin off a cliff, roll out of it, get into a hand-to-hand battle with multiple opponents, and romance the enemy agent — all this done while wearing a fly suit. No diss, but Elba looks like he can do all of that, and then go deejay at the club when he’s done. And I am not alone.

There are thousands of folks (just check the comments section on this topic, on any site) who think that Idris Elba would make the perfect Bond. They reference his physicality, the way he wears a suit, his sexiness and gravity, and his damn near super-heroic charisma. And he is a badass. With this all being said, the James Bond franchise doesn’t deserve him.

[Not to mention the whole English colonial mentality that continues to permeate the series that he should steer clear of.]


While I am all for bringing more people of color into the action movie realm — especially Spy-Fi — there has to be a limit to the: how many Black, Asian, Arab folks can we shoehorn into established white-helmed and starred franchises? It is also kind of a diss to Daniel Craig, who is the best Bond — yep, even better than Connery — we’ve seen. We’ll just omit Quantum of Solace, okay.

Craig is amazing as Bond and I cannot wait for Spectre to drop. He brings a level of intensity and thuggishness that Bond needed. Craig’s Bond films aren’t as empty calories as the Mission Impossible series (which I dig) or as little boy lost as the Bourne series (which I dig more) — Craig’s Bond run is satisfying on so many levels that I get giddy when rewatching them. Let Craig continue to do what he does, and we will all be better for it. Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond is as defining as Connery’s and it is going to be damn near impossible to find someone who can step into the tuxedo and hold the Walther. Elba is not the person to attempt this.

I read a very good article stating that Elba should take over the The Transporter series. If The Transporter: Refueled is any indication of the state of the series, not even Idris could save it. We may just have to let it go… let it run out of gas and roll to the side of the road, and then abandon it. I cannot even write how horrible that film was. I want my popcorn, Junior Mints, parking, and bottled water money back. All of it.


I have a radical idea. How about an original franchise built around Idris Elba’s considerable talents and presence? It can happen. There were elements of Vin Diesel’s XxX that proved it can be done. The only problem with this franchise is that they wanted so hard to be anti-Bond that it came across more cartoonish than thrilling. There was even the symbolic ritual offering up of Bond at the beginning of the film. How heavy handed did you need to be?

Matt Damon is killing the Bourne franchise — but we’ll just put that Jeremy Renner version in the same place as the second and third Matrix films, Godfather III, and the second and fourth Indiana Jones films. But Bourne had the benefit of years of novels to draw on. Same with Bond. This is why we should start from scratch with Elba.


I get that there is ridiculous amounts of money poured into films and that rehashing/resurrecting preexisting properties seems to be a sure way to make back that investment. That is great business sense, but lousy creative sense. While I won’t go as far as Spielberg and predict the demise of a type of film, I will say that these huge spectacle films may become too expensive to make, unless it is familiar and recognizable content. Or you’re James Cameron and everyone loves your vision and you can do whatever the hell you want. So, with half a mind thinking that an original franchise created specifically for Elba won’t happen — unless this is a start — I will backtrack my earlier statement and offer two franchises I believe that Elba would be uniquely suited for: Buckaroo Banzai and Remo Williams.


Let’s get this out of the way: Buckaroo Banzai is crazy. Lectroids, the overthruster, interdimensional travel, a smart action hero who is a renaissance man, wonderful supporting characters, and the best theme song in life. I feel that this would be a cinematic slam dunk. It is a beloved film that didn’t do too well at the box office, but has since become a cult film. There is a fondness for the film, but I don’t think there is a whole lot of fan baggage attached to it. The world is virtually a blank slate. He could do with it what he pleased. Get a decent action director behind it, and it would be golden.  timthumbRemo Williams: The Adventure Begins (or Unarmed and Dangerous, depending on where it was released) is another one of those ’80s films that just didn’t care. It was so off the rails. Based on the The Destroyer novels by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, it is perfectly suited for Elba who can come across as either mysterious stranger or everyman, depending on a raise of an eyebrow, or a change in posture. A soldier who has his death faked by a crime-fighting/espionage organization, only to train him as an assassin who does not use a gun?

Imagine that: A major action/espionage film franchise where the protagonist did not use a gun. I’d be there on opening night. Rework the problematic Chiun character and characterization, and this has trilogy (or more) written all over it. I heard that Shane Black is in charge of the franchise and will relaunch it as The Destroyer. Hey, Shane. Holler at Idris. Tell him I sent you.


Idris Elba is one of our finest actors. He’s done major Sci-Fi, and was the best part of two of the best television programs in the history of television.


While James Bond is a venerable film series, it seems too small, too trapped in the clothing of a particular brand of whiteness for Elba to truly shine. Idris deserves to be on the big screen, more than he is. He also deserves to lead a franchise worthy of his talents. I just don’t think James Bond is it.

Your thoughts?

29 thoughts on “Too Street? No, Idris Elba is Too Big for Bond

  1. YES to Mr. Elba in The Destroyer. I grew up up loving Remo Williams but wondering what the hell they were doing with Chiun. I would love to see it redone with the right Remo Williams and Chiun.
    When this news about the guy saying ‘Elba is too street for Bond’ my reaction was ‘Pff, Elba could TOTALLY do Bond, he’s got better things to do at the moment than try to convince you otherwise.’

    1. I mean, If we’re going to go back to the well, let’s use properties that don’t have have so much history. I think he would be an amazing Remo. That world is so wide open, on the screen.

      1. Agreed! And I need to read those books. I keep hearing about them. When I do I’ll imagine Idris Elba in the role.

    2. I’m a total Remo fan. I would love this series to be done well by anybody who puts some effort into it, especially some thought into portraying Chiun, who is my favorite character from the books.

      I’d watch it, even if I end up having to watch yet another White guy named Chris.😊

  2. YES! Yes to this whole article! In my opinion, when Horowitz said Elba was ‘too street’ he really wanted to say ‘too black’ smh. I couldn’t agree more – I feel that Elba is too good for the Bond franchise (whatever is left of it after Craig is done). I personally would like for a movie adaption of Gideon (The International Assassin from Eric Jerome Dickey’s novels) for him. It may have some Bond elements to it, but the backstory is completely different.

    1. Have you heard of the John Worricker trilogy? It stars Bill Nighy as an apolitical, long-serving MI-5 officer. It’s not an action series but about a intelligence officer who discovers his government’s knowledge of world-wide torture facilities set up by the American government. This is related to the anti-terror actions taken since 9/11.

      If people today can’t relate to what really is done in intelligence gathering then they are stuck in yesterday. It’s fine to see their heroes dash after the bad guy but they don’t want to admit how they shit the bed?

      1. “Have you heard of the John Worricker trilogy?”

        Love it! My husband and I love Bill Nighy!

  3. Adrian Lester nah, Idris Elba-YAY for Bond. He would be sex-on-a-stick in a tux! And we know he can do action.

    No one is saying Jensen as bond?????? 🙂

  4. Elba is most delicious and would be a strong, sexy, perfect Bond. Omg… All sorts of lovely thoughts about that.

  5. I support Elba taking a brand new role that can lead to new franchises. So many late 20th century icons are fast becoming less valid. Hollywood’s impulse for remakes just demands we become more creative.

  6. One of the first times I had ever seen Idris Alba was in the film RocknRolla, I looked him up to see what else he had been in and I saw a photo of him rocking a suit. The first thing I said was “damn, this man was made for suits.

    What I’m trying to say is, he’s not too street. He’s perfect for the job!

    1. “So you would be okay if bond was played by a lady?”
      You know what-no I wouldn’t be OK. I watch for the sexiness and the swagger of the character.

      1. I mean my original comment literally had nothing to do with his race. I like Edris Alba as an actor and as a damn sexy man in a suit. YOU sir, are making it about race.

    2. I see your other comments and it’s clear you don’t support the idea of a black James Bond. How many Bind movie do we have with the exact same type of characters?

      Thing can change now, we’ve had our fair share

  7. “the whole English colonial mentality that continues to permeate the series”

    Food for thought: how inherent is that to the character? I mean that in the sense of “could you take that away without Bond losing his ‘Bond-ness’ and becoming Bond-in-name-only?” Not meant as a defense of the mentality.

    1. So how does Daniel Craig radiate “the whole English colonial mentality” because I just do not see it. If anyone brings the thug, it’s Craig.

  8. Idris Elba would hands down make a great 21st century 007. We’re not going back to the 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s, folks…Elba can rock that role better than anyone I know—if he even wants it. Two things I gotta comment on:

    1. When Horowitz said Elba was “too street” I believe that was code for “too Black.” And, who gives any credence to what that relic, Roger Moore, has to say? He was the worst Bond ever.

    2. I had to LOL when I read the author-blogger’s statement that there is something about, “Lester that screams “safe enough for a certain kind of white person.” LMAO! That is so true. Lester is way too milquetoast for my taste and sorry, but not nearly sexy or good looking enough to fill that tux and handle that Walther PPK. He’s BLAND.

    Finally, to the person who seemed to be offended about the injection of race you are on another planet if you believe race has to be left out of the equation in this situation. Color-blind casting is controversial and we do not live in a “post racial” society despite the election of Mr. Obama to the highest office in the America. Elba as Bond in Connery’s era would decidedly not have worked but Elba in the 21st century? Bring it, Baby!

    I would love to see Idris Elba as James Bond since Craig seems to be done with the franchise and I disagree that Craig is the Best Bond Ever….Those laurels rest with Sean Connery….so far. Quantum of Solace was Godawful and Craig is too cold in the role and too street–in the truest, not the coded, sense of the phrase.

    1. “Lester is way too milquetoast for my taste and sorry, but not nearly sexy or good looking enough to fill that tux and handle that Walther PPK. He’s BLAND.”
      I agree 100%. I ahve no desire to see him in a tux or a bathing suit, now Elba on the other hand…..

      Sean Connery was hands down the best James Bond.

      1. Right-o. Connery, to date, is tops! Adrian Lester? He’s not even well-known enough. When I hear the name Idris Elba I think of a man of action! BTW, I loved Idris Elba’s response to the Horowitz slur. Class act all the way and humorous to boot!

Comments are closed.