Why Stringer Bell Needs To Be In Thor

Today at work I finally cleaned all the boxes out that have been there since I started so I have a spotless desk and room to move around. It seems great, except that I don't have much stuff and now that all the boxes are gone it's even more obvious how depressing my desk looks. Ah, the life of a temp is a lonely one. Anyways, what I really wanted to talk about on this post is the recent casting news for the Thor movie, specifically that Idris Elba (The Wire, Obsessed, The Losers) is going to be playing Heimdall, guardian of Asgard and gatekeeper to Midgard (that's what they call Earth). I think that this is awesome news, mostly because I think that the Wire is one of the best TV shows ever, mostly thanks to Elba's character Stringer Bell, who was just such a brilliant and fascinating antagonist thanks to Elba's portrayal of Stringer. But I saw a couple different bloggers, including my internet hero Kirk Warren from The Weekly Crisis, that were against the casting of Elba as Heimdall, so I thought I would throw in my own opinion on the matter. Hit the jump for more.

Thor: The Movie

I thought that I would start off by saying that more than any other comic book film due to come out, with the exception of The Avengers movie, I think at this point I am looking forward to Thor the most. Due out in June of 2011, the film follows the Asgardian God of Thunder Thor as he makes the hero's journey from brash and arrogant God to being banished on Earth and eventually becoming one of Earth's greatest heroes. The movie is directed by Kenneth Brannagh, with Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek) as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, God of Mischeif, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Natalie Portman as the love interest Dr. Jane Foster, as well as Stuart Townsend, Ray Stevenson (Punisher:War Zone), and Tadanobu Asano (Mongul) as the Warriors Three. That's a hell of a cast right there, and now they're adding in Elba, Kat Dennings (Nick and Nora's infinite Playlist), and Jamie Alexander to the film, not to mention that there will most likely be a cameo from Sam Jackson as Nick Fury because it's in the same universe as the Iron Man movies and Incredible Hulk, building up to Thor being in the Avengers with Robert Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson. That's a hell of a film, with a probable Shakespearean slant on the tale, and the guy playing Loki the main villain did several Shakespeare plays with Brannagh in London so that is a great sign. The other thing that is interesting is that most of the actors playing Asgardians being British (not all though) so I wonder if Brannagh is going to have them speak in their natural accent or put even more of a Shakespearean edge to the way the Gods speak. But, the real thing I wanted to talk about was the casting of Elba as Heimdall, which again I love for my own reasons.

The Criticism of Elba

As I've said, there have been several people that have complained on-line about casting Idris Elba, a black man, in the role of Heimdall, a traditionally portrayed as caucasian character. Here's Kirk Warren's assessment of the casting (I do want to say again, I'm not picking on Kirk Warren who I admire and respect greatly. In fact, I'm putting this because it was the best/most concise description of why not Idris Elba) :

How the hell does that even work? Changing Nick Fury or Kingpin to an African American actor is all fine and dandy since both have no real ethnic or racial background that defines the characters. However, Heimdall, and all Asgardians, are based on Nordic gods and there were few, if any, dark skinned people living in Scandanavia or the surrounding area at the time and the gods, themselves, have always been depicted as caucasian. I know this isn't grounded in historical accuracies of the region, but, come on, this doesn't make any sense from a casting standpoint.

Now I can see what he's talking about, and for those who aren't giant comic fans, Nick Fury in the comics is an old white guy, but he has been and will be played by Samuel L. Jackson in all of the upcoming Marvel films such as Thor, Iron Man 2, and the Avengers.

And in Daredevil, Michael Clarke Duncan played the Kingpin even though he is a big fat white guy in the comics. For the record, I didn't have any problem with any of these, and I think it's obvious that Kirk doesn't either. Where we disagree is in regards to Elba, and I feel that race really doesn't matter. The argument that these are Nordic Gods of a specific people is ludicris when talking about this film. It would be one thing if there were doing a straight up adaptation of Norse mythology but that's not going on here. This is the version of Thor that flys by throwing his hammer and grabbing onto it. He fights giant robots and Nazi's in ski masks alongside an American super-soldier, an alcoholic billionaire, a woman who can shrink and fly like a bug, and a wife-beating scientist. I hate to break it to you, but none of that is according to Norse legend. It's the comic version, which means that there is some lee-way with how the characters are portrayed. Besides, Ray Stevenson is playing Volstagg, a giant fat warrior even though Stevenson is quite skinny. I don't hear uproar about them not casting a larger actor to play that role, despite there being several talented plus size actors. Where's that uproar?


So why not change some of the characters? Idris Elba is a phenomenal actor and someone that I think should be headlining a comic book film because of his terrific range. Not to mention that he has a better American accent than me and I was born in Chicago. Elba would be a great choice for Black Panther (if they ever get that movie off the ground which they need to) but for now I'm thrilled to see him in Thor alongside the rest of this cast. It isn't as if they are changing Thor to a woman, or Odin is played by a 20's something actor. And I sincerely doubt there are that many die-hard Heimdall fans.

Look, I'm supporting this because he's a great actor, and that's it. If they changed the character for a bad actor who was African-American for no reason then I would be upset. If they had cast Robert Pattinson (BLARGH) solely because he is white I would have been furious. But in this case, I think they made the right call going with Elba, a talented actor who probably earned this role and is going to do a terrific job with it. And I for one, am very happy about that fact.

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