The totally unsubstantiated rumor that Idris Elba could be the next James Bond (really, discussion of the True Fact that he would be awesome at it) is back! I think it’s true that Elba, particularly after his amazing turn on Luther, has demonstrated that he has the chops to succeed Daniel Craig. For me, Craig’s main accomplishment, particularly in Casino Royale, was to define Bond who can take a tremendous amount of punishment as well as dish it out, and someone who has tremendous emotional vulnerabilities that he keeps mostly very well-disguised.
And beyond that, I think there’d be some real power, especially for American audiences, in a black Bond. It’s not like we don’t have black cops, black soldiers, and black spies. The Craig movies even gave Bond a black American counterpart, though Jeffrey Wright has very little time on-screen. But given the way our dialogues around black men and violence have failed to evolve; our widespread comfort with the state-sanctioned killing of black men, whether by the police or as part of an execution process; the way our pop culture depictions of black men overwhelmingly show them committing illegal acts violence rather than legitimized ones; I think there would be something significant about a depiction of a black cultural icon who has a license not just to protect people, but a license to kill, and not in self-defense.