Earlier this week, I had what started out as a nice conversation about who the next James Bond would be.
I shared an article on Facebook about Tom Hiddleston (Loki from the Thor movies) being suggested to play Bond. I commented that he might be good, but my choice was Idris Elba. I thought he was good in everything I had seen him in, even if what i saw him in wasn’t very good. He has great presence, can be clever, menacing, suave and cool. I thought he’d be a great Bond.
One person commented they didn’t like him. That’s cool, I replied and offered why I liked him. The person seemed quite adamant that Elba was NOT Bond material. I again stated why I liked him, as well as suggesting Damien Lewis (Billions, Homeland) was another name mentioned. Finally, this person said something along the lines of…
“Elba can’t play Bond because Bond is a white man.”
I was kinda surprised by his response. I actually laughed and realized no matter what I was going to say, his mind was made up. Bond could ONLY be a white man. Of course, being the kinda asshole I can be, I commented that if only white guys could play Bond, then people like Jack Black, Mel Gibson, and other various, horrible Bond men, had a shot because Bond could only ever be white! When I also suggested that Daniel Craig was a “blonde Bond”, and that M had recently been played by a woman, he accused me of playing the race card and said a bunch of other crap I didn’t bother reading.
But all of this did make me think about a recent trend where popular characters are being revamped and altered to reflect the changing times, as well as appeal to a wider, more diverse audience.
The first one I remembered was when Marvel Comics made Thor a woman. This was eventually followed by a Muslim Ms. Marvel, a half-Korean Hulk, A Hispanic Spider-Man, and a girl with the mantle of Wolverine, to name those I heard about.
Funny thing was, there were fans that got their super-underoos in a knot. They bitched and complained about how Marvel was ruining characters to please some PC blah blah blah. These were probably the same people who think Batman can beat EVERYONE!
Having been a comic book collector before, and after, it was cool, one thing I have learned is that nothing is forever in comics. The best example of this is when a character gets killed. Death is temporary. After a while, that character is brought back and things continue on as normal. All these people weeping for the so-called PC-ification of these Marvel characters should know better. The original character will return eventually, especially if sale lag, or one of the writers thinks of a neat twist to bring the character back. Then they can make a big deal when the original version of that character returns.
The only one I didn’t agree with was when Netflix was casting Daniel Rand for their Iron Fist series. They were mentioning getting an Asian actor to play the originally white and blonde-haired martial arts master. Although I’m not an Iron Fist fan, I did have a few Power Man and Iron Fist comics in my day. When they were created, movies Shaft and TV series like Kung-Fu were popular. Exploitation movies featuring martial arts and bad-ass black people were in. Marvel cashed in on that creating Power Man and Iron Fist. Two guys, one black, one white, working together, being bad-ass like their exploitation brethren. Although I think Rand was later revealed to be rich, both lived life on the streets. They didn’t save the world, they saved the block, the borough, the city.
I also think that Rand being white was a why for the readers to more easily relate to the eastern philosophies used in the comic to describe Iron Fist’s skills, powers, and history. Besides, around the same time, there was another comic. “Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu”, featuring an Asian action hero just as bad-ass as Iron Fist.
I think they eventually went with a white guy to play Iron Fist, but if they had decided to go with an Asian actor, I would have been fine with that.
Speaking as a writer, there are few human characters in the Infinatum that I have envisioned as a certain race. Some characters have their race suggested, but in truth, and through some miracle of the universe, if my characters were to be made into live action, if a good actor fit the role, I wouldn’t really care what race they were.
Sadly, the majority of people making movies and TV shows, the ones with the real power, are most likely white. You watch some shows and see how monochromatic they are and wonder, why? “Friends” was a great example of this. In a city as huge and over-populated as New York, they rarely ever met black people. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was pretty white, but even though it was set in a small town/ city, it at least had some visitors. “Angel” was a little better, since it was set in Los Angeles. But despite the cries for diversity, very few shows actually do it. Although they seem to be getting better, I think they still have a long way to go.
In the end, it should be about the actor/ actress, and what they can bring to a role. As for Bond, my vote is still with Elba. But Hiddleston might be good. Lewis was be cool, even with his red hair. As for those who only see one colour, you really need to let that go.