With the recent news of Halle Bailey, from the singing duo ChloeXHalle, landing the role of Ariel in the live action remake of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and actress Lashana Lynch becoming the first female and Black 007, we’re officially starting to see Black faces dominate in spaces usually reserved for White actors in Hollywood.
This weekend’s release of Hobbs & Shaw not only has plenty of representation, but two of its leading men deconstruct long held ideals of who wields power on screen. When Idris Elba’s villainous character Brixton Lore yells out, “I am Black Superman!,” the line is an exhilarating punch to old Hollywood tropes.
But behind the scenes, there seems to be some playful controversy over who coined the phrasing “Black Superman” between Elba and costar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Elba claimed in an interview that he was the mastermind. “Listen, it was part of this really maniacal speech about why I’m so amazing, why enhancements are great and it just came out of my mouth, ‘Look at me, I’m Black Superman’ and they started laughing and now everyone wants to take credit for it lads, but it really is mine.”
When Johnson sat down with ESSENCE in Hawaii, he explained the on screen quip was all him. “The director said [to Idris], ‘do you want to call yourself the Black 007? And Idris said, ‘Nah man, it’s too close. I don’t want to do that.’ And then I’m taking credit, I was like, ‘Black Superman!’ and he’s like, ‘Black Superman!’”
Either way the Fast & Furious franchise has built its empire on colorblind casting. Even Hobbs & Shaw director David Leitch has committed that there’s representation on any film he’s helming. (By the way, he’s the brilliant man who gave us Zazie Beetz as “Domino” in Deadpool 2.)
Leitch told ESSENCE, “Idris steps forward, he’s one of the most formidable actors on the planet. I want to cast him in any role—the villain or the hero, I don’t care. He’s the best at what he does. I can’t speak for Hollywood. I can speak for myself. I just want to cast the best people.”
Check out the video above to hear more from Leitch, Elba, Johnson and Hobbs & Shaw‘s costar Jason Statham on the changing tides of diversity in Hollywood.
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