SCENE & HEARD// Idris Elba Casting in Marvel’s ‘Thor’ Movie Brings DebatePublished by Adisa Vera Beatty on Friday, September 3, 2010 at 9:39 am.
When Idris Elba was cast late last year as Heimdall—a White Norse god— from the Marvel comic book Thor, die hard readers of the series unleashed a fury of negative comments via the net. Why the outrage? Apparently, they have a problem with a Black actor portraying the comic book character, which is loosely based on a figure in Nordic Mythology.
In this case of “color struck” Elba’s superior acting will certainly prevail whether or not folks choose to accept him as a fictional character based upon the color of his skin.
What should be vigorously debated is the continued historical appropriation of real Black people being portrayed on the silver screen by White actors. Currently, Angelina Jolie is filming Cleopatra, a role that has historically been given to white actresses from Elizabeth Taylor to Catherine Zeta-Jones who will star in a 3-D musical entitled ‘Cleo.’ And earlier this year the French film L’autre Dumas (The Other Dumas) featured Gerard Depardieu as the Haitian and French descended author Alexandre Dumas.
In 1980 Science Fiction writer Octavia Butler was interviewed by Equal Opportunity Forum Magazine and was asked about the place of Black characters in literature and stated, “The norm is white, apparently, in the view of people who see things in that way. For them the only reason to introduce a black character is to introduce this kind of abnormality.” It is audacious for people to take issue with Elba being cast in this role especially when you consider the numbers of Blacks, Latinos and Asians who are asked to suspend belief and accept our absence from film, television, and theatre everyday.
Thor will be released nationwide May 6, 2011.