Dwayne Johnson: Idris Elba Nixed ‘Black James Bond’ Joke in ‘Hobbs & Shaw’

In the “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw,” the movie’s villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, spreads his arms out wide and declares “I’m black Superman.”

It turns out that might not have been the original line.

Dwayne Johnson tells Variety that Elba was first asked to proclaim he’s “black James Bond,” but the Brit actor declined, saying, “It’s too close to what everybody’s talking about.” Elba has continually been on the top of fans’ wish lists for who should replace Daniel Craig as 007.

Now the question is who came up with the black Superman quip. Johnson insists it was his idea. “Everyone loves ‘the black Superman’ line. Everyone’s taking credit for it – Idris, our director, our producers, I’m sure, Jason [Statham]…[but] I came up with that,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘What about the black Superman?’’ And everyone’s like, ‘Great!’ [But] now everyone takes credit.”

Elba and producer Hiram Garcia recall things differently.

“That line was just improvised,” Elba told Variety. “I was in one of these takes and I was really riffing, and then it came out and [director David Leitch] loved it, and so we kept it.”

Garcia concurred: “[Elba] just shouted it out. He was talking trash, shouted it out, and we said, ‘This is incredible!’ [The line] was his…so he ran with it. He loved it, and that line really stuck, and we’re so happy the fans responded to it.”

In the upcoming action film, Elba’s Brixton is a genetically enhanced super-soldier who takes on Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw (Statham), forcing the two frenemies to join together in order to save the world.

“It’s a privilege to play with these action heroes,” Elba said. “Dwayne and Jason are probably the biggest action heroes in our – in the film industry, so it feels great to sort of be a part of [this and] to be someone that takes them down.”

As for when fans might see a real “black Superman” on screen, Johnson is optimistic about having an actor of color play the character in the future, praising Hollywood for increasing representation in the superhero realm: “I think they’re doing great. Obviously, Marvel has done a tremendous job in building out…We’re doing ‘Black Adam’ with Warner Bros and DC [Comics]. We’re very excited about that.”

“I think as everything builds and grows, and you take the temperament of society and what’s happening, and I think here in Hollywood – especially with franchises and characters and publicly traded companies who are sensitive to that kind of thing – and yeah, I think they’re doing a great job. And maybe one day we will see a black Superman,” Johnson concluded, before quipping, “You’re looking at him.”

“Hobbs & Shaw” is in theaters on August 2.

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