Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson says that Idris Elba vetoed a black James Bond joke when they were shooting Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. Elba, of course, has been a popular fan pick to play the next iteration of Bond after Daniel Craig for years now, despite the actor having claimed many times over that it's purely a rumor and nothing more. In the meantime, he's continued to build out his resume by signing on for roles in franchises like Star Trek, in addition to his appearances as Heimdell in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and longtime TV role as troubled DCI John Luther.
With his MCU days now behind him, Elba is joining the Fast & Furious family with this August's spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw. The movie follows Johnson's Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw as they're forced to team up and battle a cyber-genetically enhanced terrorist known as Brixton (Elba). At one point in the film, the latter - whose enhanced abilities include bullet-proof skin and super-strength - even calls himself "black Superman".
Speaking to Variety, Johnson claimed that Brixton originally proclaimed himself "black James Bond" in Hobbs & Shaw, but that Elba nixed the line because "It's too close to what everybody's talking about". The Rock went on to say that he came up with "black Superman" as its replacement, though both Elda and Johnson's producer Hiram Garcia contradicted that, claiming that Elba simply improvised the line. Johnson, for his part, playfully acknowledged that, saying "Everyone's taking credit" for the joke now.
Setting aside the matter of who actually came up with it, the "black Superman" bit is indeed a funny one and, as a result, has been used heavily throughout Hobbs & Shaw's marketing for the past few months. The role of Brixton also gives Elba a chance to show off his action star chops in a way that hasn't really gotten to before, and wouldn't be able to playing the non-super-powered James Bond anyway. It's not clear yet if the plan is to bring Elba's villain back for Hobbs & Shaw 2 (should it happen), but it's a real possibility, considering that the Fast & Furious franchise already has a history of reusing its previous antagonists in fresh and unexpected ways (a la what happened with Johnson and Statham's characters).
Beyond that, though, Elba's name is frequently tossed around as a potential casting choice for big tentpoles these days, be it King Triton in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid or John Stewart in the (at the moment, indefinitely delayed) Green Lantern Corps DCEU movie. And while he may never play either Bond or the Man of Steel for real, that doesn't mean that another black actor won't get a shot at either role. In fact, Johnson thinks black Superman could become a reality in the foreseeable future, and we might have Hobbs & Shaw to thank for it.
- Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019
- Fast & Furious 9 (2020) release date: May 22, 2020