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Look of the Week: Idris Elba's Superman leather style in Hobbs & Shaw
Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
One of the most persistent casting rumors of recent years is whether Idris Elba will (or should) be the next James Bond. It's a subject he has discussed on numerous occasions, including in a recent interview with Vanity Fair in which he clarified his feelings on this topic. "Of course, if someone said to me, ‘Do you want to play James Bond?,’ I’d be like, 'Yeah!'" Elba said. "That’s fascinating to me. But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, 'Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond.'" We already know how good he looks in a suit, but apparently he isn’t campaigning to play the iconic spy.
Idris for Everything is a rather self-explanatory SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS series that has included Wolverine, The Doctor, and the aforementioned Bond. Another classic character suggestion is Superman, and while Elba has not been cast as the next Clark Kent, he does get to utter the immortal words “Look at me, I'm black Superman” in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. With his arms outstretched, it is impossible to look away.
An instantly memorable line, it steals the spotlight in both the Hobbs & Shaw trailer and movie (a great line is a great line even if you know it is coming). It has since taken on mythic-like qualities as everyone wants to take credit for it. Who can blame them? The script originally referenced James Bond, but it was considered a little on-the-nose. 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.” We’re inclined to believe the man himself.
In the Fast & Furious spinoff, Elba plays Brixton Lore, a good-guy-turned-bad thanks to a wonky ideology and access to some impressive technology. He has a long history with Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, which provides some info on how he came to have Clark Kent-type abilities. He can’t fly, but he does possess super strength and appears to be bulletproof. Part of this is his attire, but part of this is the genetic enhancements that add an extra level of science fiction to the franchise. Unlike Superman, Brixton eschews color and a cape. Instead, he sticks with a black leather look, which is not only perfect villain attire but ideal for Brixton’s favorite mode of transport.
No, he can’t fly, but Brixton does have a motorcycle that is just as impressive as his superhuman capabilities, a vehicle that seems to intuitively respond to the road conditions and obstacles in its way. While Hobbs & Shaw is grounded in the real world (including Brixton's choice of attire), the technology and some of the wild stunts ensure that it is viewed through the prism of science fiction. In that respect, it can be compared to director David Leitch's work on John Wick and Deadpool 2. Unlike Clark Kent, he isn’t invincible (and unlike his co-stars, Elba doesn't appear to have fight stipulations in his contract). His clothing is an important aspect, and as leather suggests strength and protection (as well as being extremely cool), it makes sense for his signature ensemble to be both practical and stylish. Costume designer Sarah Evelyn looked to motocross for inspiration, telling The Verge:
“You have this awesome, luxe, deep rich leather sculpted effect. I saw that and was like, That’s it. That informed what we were doing as a super motor suit which I felt made sense story-wise. It’s totally believable as some sort of modernized, motocross garment.”
Evelyn collaborated with Whitaker Malem in creating Brixton’s Talos suit, a brand that is no stranger to superhero garb. London-based designers Keir Malem and Patrick Whitaker are behind some the best pieces of leather costuming in recent years, including Aquaman and Wonder Woman armor. They collaborated with Lindy Hemming on the Batsuit in 2008's The Dark Knight, so they have definitely run the DC character gauntlet. And while this isn’t the Superman, the duo have now worked on a Superman.
Unlike some of the more traditional battle-ready pieces, the Talos suit in Hobbs & Shaw wouldn't look out of place on a Saint Laurent or Tom Ford runway during Men's Fashion Week (weapon holsters aside). This garment successfully balances sartorial practicality with an effortlessly suave aesthetic.
Elba’s recent Vanity Fair cover does an off-the-rack version of this outfit in head-to-toe Louis Vuitton.
Look of the Week does have a penchant for leather of all varieties, including armor and classic jackets. Brixton's costume combines both in an intricate design. The jacket alone is made up of a pattern that has 150 parts, which gives it a futuristic feel while also holding onto the timeless quality of this garment.
In Hobbs & Shaw, Elba might be the villain, but his style is worthy of a superhero.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.