The "colorblind" casting of Idris Elba as the Norse god Heimdall in the comic-book movie "Thor" has upset some fans of the Marvel Comics original, who wanted to see a more traditional Viking-type actor in the role. The nonsensical controversy roused this fine piece of outrage from Elba, during an appearance at Rutgers University: "We have a man who has a flying hammer and wears horns on his head. And yet me being an actor of African descent playing a Norse god is unbelievable?"
Colorblind casting has been practiced in prestigious film and theater for decades -- especially in productions of the classics or of mythological tales, where social realism usually isn't an issue. Is the fracas over "Thor" simply a case of comic-book fans wanting to see characters as they first imagined them? Won't it blow over as soon as the movie comes out?
As Dixon Gaines wrote in Movieline last summer, "I'm sure some fans weren't initially ready for a black Kingpin in 'Daredevil,' a black Nick Fury in 'Iron Man' or a black James West in 'Wild, Wild West.' But all three actors worked out very well; 'Daredevil' and 'Wild, Wild West' both had their problems as movies, but casting a white actor wouldn't have solved them."
What should outrage movie fans is that five weeks ago, when our attentions were distracted by the Oscars, Tyler Perry replaced Elba as the new Alex Cross for a reboot of the franchise based on James Patterson's novels (Morgan Freeman played Cross in "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came a Spider"). Can Perry pull off this role? At least he won't be a triple threat this time: Rob Cohen ("The Fast and the Furious") is slated to direct.