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SYFY WIRE Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Idris Elba’s ‘black Superman’ line from Hobbs & Shaw was almost a James Bond reference

By Christian Long
Hobbs and Shaw Idris Elba

Idris Elba's "black Superman" quip has become the standout moment since he first uttered the line in the Hobbs & Shaw trailer. It turns out, that line wasn't in the original script for the Fast & Furious spinoff. In fact, it was a line that struck a little too close to home for Elba, who nixed it on set. 

While speaking with Variety, Fast & Furious mainstay Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson said the original line in the script called for Elba's character, Brixton, to compare himself to a black James Bond. Apparently, Elba thought the line was "too close to what everybody’s talking about," a reference to the tireless fan campaign to have him take over the mantle of 007 now that Daniel Craig is bowing out. Hence, "I'm black Superman."

Given that the improv line has taken on a life of its own, everyone's trying to take credit for it. 

"Everyone loves the 'black Superman' line," Johnson said. "Everyone’s taking credit for it. Idris, our director, our producers, I'm sure, Jason [Statham]." Johnson said. "I came up with that. I said, 'What about the black Superman?' And everyone’s like, 'Great!' Now everyone takes credit."

Elba, however, says the line was "just improvised."

"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."

For what it's worth, producer Hiram Garcia is backing up Elba's claim. 

"[Elba] just shouted it out. He was talking trash, shouted it out and we said, 'This is incredible!' [It] 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."

Regardless of who came up with a line that will likely go down as one of the memorable cinematic moments of the year, you can see an indestructible Elba face off with Johnson and Statham when Hobbs & Shaw crashes into theaters on August 1.