For the better part of a decade, Idris Elba's name has been associated with the role of James Bond. A mélange of clockwork-like rumors, speculation and fan casting has had the popular British actor taking on the role of 007 after Daniel Craig. Just this month another rumor popped up about the possibility and was then refuted. Nevertheless, the fan desire to see Idris Elba as 007 is as strong as ever, so despite whatever hangups the studio or the producers might have about casting the actor, it needs to happen. Fortunately, there is actually a solution that gives fans the Bond they want to see, while also giving the franchise flexibility moving forward and that is to make the Idris Elba James Bond movie a one-off.
Now I should first acknowledge that there is currently an actor playing James Bond in Daniel Craig. The current Bond is teaming up with director Danny Boyle for Bond 25 next year, but after that, his future is uncertain and given his past comments, I don't think it's a stretch to say that even if that film isn't his last outing as the super spy, he has more Bond films behind him than ahead of him. So we need a new Bond sooner rather than later.
The next issue to address is why Idris Elba wouldn't be cast as James Bond. If we ignore any arguments that Bond can't be black, the reasoning seemingly comes down to one issue: age. Modern franchises want actors to lead them for a decade, so they tend to steer younger for their stars. That's the same logic that is seemingly giving us an Uncharted film with a Nathan Drake who will be multiple films and years away from the character we love in the games instead of just casting Nathan Fillion. Idris Elba is about to turn 46 and probably wouldn't even start filming the role until at least 48. If Idris Elba's James Bond movie is just a one-off, however, this isn't an issue.
Daniel Craig was cast at 37 and is 50 now, whereas Pierce Brosnan inhabited the role from ages 42-49. If Idris Elba were to play James Bond once at age 49-50, he wouldn't be much older, if at all, than other actors who have had the role, and he wouldn't be approaching his 60's when his time as 007 was up. Also, not everyone ages the same. I mean we're talking about a guy who won his pro kickboxing debut at age 44 here.
Admittedly, a solo James Bond film might seem strange in this day and age of long-running franchises and multi-picture deals. However there is precedent even within this franchise for an actor to play Bond for one film and one film only. George Lazenby played the MI6 agent in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and that was it. This isn't Wolverine. Audiences expect, and are used to, the actor who portrays James Bond to change over time and we don't need some origin story each time out, we know who the character is.
The reasons that Idris Elba should be Bond are numerous and obvious; he's effortlessly cool, unquestionably good-looking and most importantly, he's British. From Stringer Bell to DCI John Luther, Idris Elba has given us glimpses at what he could bring to one of the most iconic roles in cinema, but we need the full picture. There are a lot of positives to a single Idris Elba James Bond film as well. There have been multiple names other than Elba's bandied about as a possible replacement for Daniel Craig, everyone from Tom Hardy to Tom Hiddleston, but no clear front runner.
By positioning a solo Bond film between the Daniel Craig films and whatever comes after, it can act as a bridge that also serves to take pressure off the franchise as it sorts out its long-term plans. There is no obvious next James Bond or actor that fans are clamoring for other than Idris Elba, so better to let him do it for one movie to give time for one to emerge. And if it's announced upfront that this Idris Elba James Bond is a one-time thing, there won't be a fuss when his younger successor is named.
A solo James Bond film with Idris Elba as 007 that is completely separate from anything else also allows for a great deal of flexibility, storytelling-wise. The one-off could tell a singular story that really takes chances, does new things, subverts expectations and delivers something unique -- all while still being a Bond film. It wouldn't have to worry about how it impacts the next film because there is no next film in the same continuity, so it can just go all out.
Now let's say this were to happen. Let's say Idris Elba gets the role for just one film and he's awesome as Bond (he will be) and it's everything we thought it could be and people love it and are excited about the character again. Doesn't that create a problem if it's only a one-time thing? Maybe, but isn't that a good problem to have? If such a film delivers, the door could be left open for more Elba Bond films.
A one-off Idris Elba James Bond film scratches that itch and satisfies fan desires while also giving the franchise time to carefully plan out its future. The thing is, no matter how great the next actor to play James Bond is, if it isn't Idris Elba, there will always be fans who wonder about the road not taken. "What if?" is a powerful question and a one-off Idris Elba James Bond film is the best way to answer it.