Dark Dude, Dark Tower

Another casting announcement, another collective nerdy white boy meltdown. This time, they are directing their ire towards the rumblings that Idris Elba is “the frontrunner” for Roland Deschain in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s brilliant (well, except for books 5 and 6) The Dark Tower series. I won’t go into why I love the series or what it is about, but for those of you who are unfamiliar or want to know more, click here. Needless to say it is Stephen King, so the series is a masterwork of imagination, storytelling, and world building. I think folks were fancasting this series in the early ’80s, with Clint Eastwood being the near unanimous choice for Deschain. Back in the day, the choice was spot on. Hell, even King alluded to it. The only clear choice for Deschain is Viggo Mortensen, not Elba.

Viggo has the looks, the menace, the grit, and the chops to nail the character. Shocker of shockers, I agree with the nerdy white boy contingent — not just their thinly veiled (and sometimes overt) racist reasons. But in the case of the Tower series, Deschain being white actually has bearing to the story.

As much as I am #TeamIdris, I think that I’ve reached “peak-Elba” in geek/nerd spaces. Every franchise that is announced — especially anything in the SF/Fantasy/Action realm — Idris Elba is mentioned as a possible lead. Is it because he is handsome, charismatic, built like a traditional (stereotypical) Hollywood man, can act his ass off, and has a gravitas that most other actors would kill for? Or is it because there is a dearth of fantastic properties for people of color (in this case men of color) to both star in and experience that we find ourselves participating in the laziest form of diversity and inclusivity because POC aren’t being served in this way? Whatever it is, let’s slow the Elba-train.


We can all agree that Idris Elba deserves his own franchise. Not part of a franchise where he isn’t the sacrificial Negro, an Afro-Norse toll operator, or a drunken monk who was way more compelling than the fiery lead. His most visible participation (aside from the Marvel Cinematic Universe) in fantastic films, Prometheus and Pacific Rim, were pretty crap. Idris has yet to star in a film where he, and the material, are equally great.


See The Losers for evidence. Even in his most mediocre films, he was stellar, despite the material lacking. He did a Tyler Perry movie. ‘Nuff said. On television, he has fared much better. Between The Wire and Luther his television cred is unimpeachable. But film super-stardom, which he richly deserves, has eluded him.

In another post, I’ve suggested franchises that Elba could take the reins of and make them his own. Yes, they are franchises that originally had white leads, but raceswapping in these particular franchises would make them that much more interesting. If you aren’t upset about any of these, your anger is as invalid as it is impotent.

Spawn character

If we wanted to “keep it black,” I would love to see Elba as the new Blade, or a non-corny John Henry Irons, or even Spawn. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be established cinematic properties. Look to Steven Barnes, N.K. Jemisin, The Shadow Police novels by Paul Cornell and a host of others for worlds that Idris and company could bring to life in a spectacular fashion.

Nerdy POC have to stop being content with the shoehorning and crumb nibbling. We have our own properties, our own worlds, and more are being developed every day. We don’t have to beg for inclusion in an industry that has routinely shown that we are not valued, or are only there to make the white man or woman look good — or die so they can live. We have our own worlds, they only need supporting to thrive and flourish.

Idrissa Akuna Elba deserves to be a movie star. He has earned the right through hard work and dedication to his craft. But can we be a bit more discerning when cheerleading him for genre properties? He doesn’t have to be up for everything. He only has to be given the right vehicle.

By the way, Idris, I have this script I’ve been working on…

18 thoughts on “Dark Dude, Dark Tower

  1. That last line – LOL I’ve already thrown my 2 cents in for him being Gideon from Eric Jerome Dickey’s novels, but I first really fell for Idris after binge watching Luther. Which he and Neil Cross are trying to get green light for the big screen and I am so here for that! He technically has his own franchise with Luther anyways 🙂

    1. Luther is a monster. Look forward to the new telefilm. He has tv on lock. Would love to see him in a film worthy of his talents. He was meant to do an action film called “Bastille Day” but I have no idea in what stage of production it is in.

      1. Luther returns on special to BBC America, December 17, 2015 at 9 p.m. Raw Meat, anyone? LOL

  2. I will accept reaching Peak-Elba as a perfectly valid excuse for him not taking this role. And I agree, PoC need their own franchises, not just nibbles around the edges of other properties.

    If Paul Cornell’s magical London series or even Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London, were brought to the big screen, I would watch the Hell out of those.

    1. First time I read Cornell…My jaw almost fell off. Black characters? Multiple black characters? In magical London? I’ma read every single book that drops.

      1. Yeah, me too. I like how the characterization is so different for both MoC. They’re not interchangeable and can clearly be told apart. I even like that one of them is a not so nice guy, kind of like Luther.
        And yeah, I will! The second book was even better than the first.

  3. I definitely see your point. I know for myself, it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of seeing a Black actor get THIS far, and forget that it’s almost…insulting isn’t the word, but a disservice of some sort to cape for Idris in every. single. thing. I’m actually going to try and make it a point to seek out other actors of color that I’d like to see do their thang on screen (btw, what happened to Donald Glover as Spiderman? Was that a real thing or just a really strong rumor?).

      1. Let me clear this up for you. We should stop calling for Elba to be in everything and call for him to be in the right thing. That’s how I understood the the above comment.
        I think you misunderstood mine.
        That Elba has been in everything was never my assertion.

      2. I’m not “calling” for Elba to be in everything, (what is “every thing,” anyway?) But, how is a quality actor like Elba going to land mainstream LEAD roles he so richly deserves, if his fans down get out there and support him?

        I would love to see Elba as 007 and I could see him in Dark Tower, too. By your logic, LKEKE35, Elba should have never been cast as Heimdall(r) the Guardian of the Gates of Asgard in Thor.

        So, I completely disagree with your “logic.” Because no one is telling Ryan Reynolds he’s not “right” to play certain superhero parts; he just gets the roles and then the movies flop. Give Idris Elba the same chance because that guy is handsome, masculine, smart, rugged, and heroic with a flinty EDGE. A total movie star.

      3. I hate to tell you this but this isn’t my logic. I wasn’t the person who asserted this so you may want to address this argument to the person I was attempting to clarify and understand with my statement.
        I’d love to see Idris Elba in everything, though, because I haven’t reached peak-Elba, the way the author says he has, but I can understand his point of view of being tired of people nominating Idris for everything. I don’t actually care where or what I watch him in as long as I get to see him, so yeah, I’ll support whatever he’s nominated for. I don’t get tired of seeing him. I would watch the hell out of him as Bond, Roland, Blade and any unique vehicle.

    1. That Glover thing was a (very strong) rumor. Too bad. He would have been vastly more interesting than what we’ve seen, thus far.

  4. How in the universe can you or anyone be “peak-idris Elba,” when he hasn’t been cast in any of the top super hero/geek filmdom roles?

    Being mentioned does not a casting decision make. That’s why I support Idris Elba as the next 007 despite the racist rancor to the contrary.

    I love Viggo Mortensen, too but he’s already had a number of opportunities headlining mainstream feature length films as the lead. It’s time for Elba to get the same opps so go ahead Idris and get the DarK Tower Part to put that extra special twist on it! YAY!

  5. Ability should beat appearance in most cases, I think this is one of them. If Idris Elba is the guy they have picked, then that is fine by me.

    I’m more concerned about Matthew McConaughey being tapped to play Randall Flagg. Um, yeah, no thanks. “Aw shucks, ah think ah’ll jes’ go work for the Crimson King…”

    1. Oh god I hope they don’t do that. Randall Flagg is such a big bad and he needs to be played by someone great. I haven’t read Dark Tower, but The Stand is one of my favorites.

  6. I really look forward to seeing him in Beasts of No Nation. I haven’t read the Dark Tower books yet but I wholeheartedly agree that he ought to be in the RIGHT role, not just EVERY role. I was so excited when he was cast in Thor and at the time I really liked his little role, but in all honesty whenever he’s on screen now he’s MORE interesting than Thor is. The 10 seconds or whatever he had in The Dark World stole the show. If he could find a property to make his own, as the lead and NOT the sacrifice, he would clean up.
    I was watching Predator 2 last night, thinking how much I liked Danny Glover as the Predator’s opponent. GOD… imagine a complete Predator reboot, with Mr. Elba as Harrigan… *has a moment*

Comments are closed.