Who will be the next James Bond after Daniel Craig leaves the role following Bond 25? Idris Elba's name keeps coming up -- even when he'd rather it didn't -- and it's no wonder why. The handsome, charming Brit would make a suave 007, and for a long time I too thought he would be the best choice to reinvigorate the franchise. But I no longer feel that way, for a few reasons. Most boil down to Idris Elba deserving better than Bond, rather than seeing him as a bad fit for the job. He'd crush the job. But here's why he shouldn't get the job.
Idris Elba Deserves His Own Action Franchise
Rather than fitting Idris Elba into the role of James Bond, why not write Idris Elba his own character worthy of a franchise? It can't be that hard, since Hollywood has already adapted movies for James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, etc. If anyone could hold his own for an action franchise like that, it's Idris.
Idris Elba already has a fan base that would be thrilled to see him as James Bond, but that's because they want to see the beloved Luther and The Wire actor in a cool, iconic role for the big screen. So write him one and make it his own film series. He can still wear a tux.
I'd rather see Idris Elba get his own fascinating story rather than being forced into the role of this not particularly special special-ops agent, just because people have already heard of him. Create a new character -- one better than James Bond -- and then people can hear of him.
Idris Elba Deserves Better Than The Inevitable Criticism
No matter who is cast as James Bond, he will face criticism. It happens for Batman, it happens for Captain America, it just happens for any major franchise role. The hardcore Bond fans, in particular, will always bring up how Ian Fleming wrote the character of James Bond a certain way. Heck, I remember the backlash when Daniel Craig was cast because he was a "blond Bond" and didn't fit the black hair of Fleming's description.
Daniel Craig ended up winning over a lot of James Bond fans, and Idris Elba would probably do the same, except for the ones who couldn't get past his race, his age or just preferring XYZ in the role. Rather than wasting time trying to convince those fans that Elba is Bond, leave Bond to be the chain-smoking Hoagy Carmichael ladies man he was written to be and give Elba his own signature action hero.
Bond Needs Idris More Than Idris Needs Bond
It's not shocking that The Powers That Be would be looking in a new direction to refresh the James Bond franchise. Idris Elba is 46, turning 47 this September, and to some that makes him too old to be James Bond. Elba even joked about that himself. But Roger Moore was 46 when he first started playing Bond and 57 when his final film came out. Sean Connery, the first and arguably best Bond, was 53 when his time in that role finished.
I can see Idris Elba attracting fans who never cared about James Bond because he's already done exactly that. He has many fans excited at the idea of him in the role. That's the kind of buzz the franchise needs, even if it's balanced out by backlash from fans who can't see him in the role.
To me, Idris Elba could potentially give the James Bond franchise new life around the world, but I don't want him to do it because I don't think that's what he needs right now in his career. It's not even what he said he wanted. Here's what Elba recently told Newsweek when they asked if there's a new type of role he'd like to try:
I really want to do a romantic comedy. I haven't done that. I've done Daddy's Little Girls and there was a little bit of that in it, but a true to form romance comedy is one I'd love to get into. I haven't had that chance to do that.
I'd rather see Idris Elba in a romantic comedy than as James Bond, and I'd really rather see him in a role that could maximize his dramatic chops and get him on the Oscar track. He's won a Golden Globe for the TV series Luther, but never an Oscar. I'd rather see him getting the kinds of roles that Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Hugh Jackman, and Tom Hanks still get than thinking about James Bond.
Idris Elba could do something Oscar-worthy and Bond, but if there's only so much time in the world for more Idris Elba, give me a rom-com, give me a Luther movie and someone write him a new character for his own action franchise.
It's not like he has no action credentials -- he's getting a big showcase this summer as villain Brixton Lore in Hobbs & Shaw; he played supporting hero Heimdall in several Marvel Cinematic Universe movies; and he even played Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower, with his performance being singled out as one of the only bright points. Elba will also be seen soon in a leading role in The Suicide Squad.
There are plenty of other actors who could play James Bond, and I could see the producers picking a guy in his 30s and using him to pull another Casino Royale refresh move ala Daniel Craig. Idris Elba has already proven himself and doesn't need the Bond brand name for himself or to make the 007 producers more money. It's time for him to create his own brand.
It Sounds Like The Bond Franchise Is Cursed
This is only half-joking. Daniel Craig did say he'd rather slash his wrists than make another James Bond movie after Spectre. He came back from that comment to make one final movie, but Bond 25 has been plagued by problems. It lost Danny Boyle as director, which delayed filming; Craig got injured, which further delayed filming; there were rumors about new director Cary Fukunaga being late to set; and there was some kind of scandal with a hidden camera in a bathroom. It just sounds like a trial. It'll be a miracle if it keeps its current release date.
James Bond movies still make a lot of money around the world, but the franchise is looking tired. Daniel Craig helped revive the franchise with Casino Royale, and his series got another boost with Skyfall, but Quantum of Solace and Spectre disappointed. Bond 25 could close out Craig's run in style, but so far the set reports just sound painful. I'd rather not curse Idris Elba with anything like this experience. (Daniel Craig and Idris Elba have crossed paths since the Elba as Bond rumors started, so I'm wondering if Craig told Elba anything about how challenging this franchise can be.)
After Bond 25 comes out next year (if it isn't delayed), the franchise is going to have to do some soul-searching on what it wants next. It would probably take a few years to film and then release Bond 26. By then, Idris Elba would probably be 50.
It could still work, if they want to just give Idris Elba one movie, or show an older Bond in action. Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise and half the Marvel and DC stars are over 50 and still kicking ass, so the age argument seems silly to me. But I still feel like forcing Idris Elba into this well-worn role is well-intentioned but the wrong way to celebrate him.
If Eon Productions and company do cast Idris Elba as the next James Bond after Daniel Craig, I'll be right there in the theater to watch. But I still hope for better for him in the next few years.