How The Thor Franchise Wasted Idris Elba

Seeing a truly talented actor being contractually obligated to return to a nothing role isn't much fun. And in the years since agreeing to play Heimdall, Idris Elba's starpower had shot up in a major way. Thanks to brilliant turns in films like Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Beasts of No Nation, he's become one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. The fact that he has to keep coming back, along with the knowledge that he could be doing virtually anything else he wanted in the industry -- all that is bad enough. But here's the worst part: Elba still wants to play a legit superhero, even now.

Speaking last month with EW, the actor once again raised eyebrows with his candor:

I like that I have a little part in Thor. I’m neither movie star or day player. It allows me to do other things I love. The last one [Ragnarok] was fun. The others weren’t fun. They’re work. But on this one, Taika [Waititi, the director] was great. I wish I was more present in the Marvel family. I like what I have, but I also wish that I had a bigger character in the Marvel universe… It’s been great, but I kinda think I need a bit more. I want to be a superhero. I like the idea of that.

It's actually a bit of a shock to learn that Elba hasn't fallen out of love with the idea of being a superhero, especially considering how negatively he views most of his Marvel experiences. If he were to jump ship to DC of course, there's a knockout role or two waiting for him (okay, yeah, knowing how amazing he would be as Green Lantern John Stewart might actually be the worst part of this whole mess). But as far as we know, Elba still has one more film left on his contract, since it's unclear whether or not his Age of Ultron cameo counted. So what can be done with Heimdall going forward in the MCU?

Saving Heimdall

Heimdall in Thor Ragnarok

Let's cut right to it: Marvel has three realistic options for Heimdall if they want to actually utilize Elba's talent. 1) Give him an actually beefed up role, one that sees him appear in more than five or six scenes. The Warrior's Three are gone, the Hulk's going to want to go off and do his own thing, and Sif is MIA; Thor and Valkyrie need real allies. 2) Make Heimdall the main antagonist of the (still unconfirmed) Thor 4; it could make for a compelling story, and Elba is well-known as an excellent villain actor. 3) Kill him off early on in the next outing or just let the character fade into the background like Lady Sif or Jane Foster; basically, #freeIdris and let him go do something else. Whether that means he signs on with Fox or DC, or he gets out of the superhero game altogether, we'll deal with it -- just please don't make him wear that stupid helmet again.

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