The Rock vs. Idris Elba, Fast and Furious
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Credit: Warner Bros.; BBC One

Why casting Idris Elba vs. The Rock in Fast and Furious is so damn diabolical

Contributed by
Jul 6, 2018, 4:36 PM EDT (Updated)

Pop culture has long been a breeding ground for great debates. Star Wars or Star Trek? Kirk or Picard? Marvel or DC? Did Han shoot first? Was Snape really all that bad? Which Chris is the best Chris? Which Doctor Who companion is the best? Is Deckard a Replicant? Who will remain dead after Avengers 4? What the heck is Westworld about? 

I could keep going, but I won’t because a new moral crisis emerged on Thursday, July 5, 2018, and, friends, it’s a doozy. A moment of silence, please, for the friendships that will be lost and the families that will be broken apart by the vicious arguments that will result.

On Thursday, Variety broke the news that Idris Elba will join Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham in the upcoming Fast and Furious spinoff, Hobbs and Shaw, as a villain. We know nothing about Elba’s role beyond his being the “villain,” but what we do know is that we should prepare for some quality pearl-clutching and the potential breakdown of society as we know it.

For those of you confused by the ensuing drama over this Idris vs. The Rock news, some context:

The Rock, Jumanji

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Johnson, a Grade-A American beefcake with a reputation as the all-around good guy who can deliver a laugh as easily as a KO, is a box-office titan and Hollywood darling. Best known for his roles in Pain & Gain (2013), San Andreas (2015), Central Intelligence (2016), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and any number of other tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold characters, Johnson has also enjoyed a years-long stint as Hobbs, the hardboiled moral compass of the Fast and Furious franchise. His character has proven so popular and Johnson himself has proven so unbeatable at the box office that the executives at Universal gave him a Fast and Furious spinoff film, in which he’ll co-star with Statham ahead of the ninth official franchise installment.

Johnson is revered as a modern American icon and even planted a half-joking thought into the minds of the American people when he "announced" his run for the presidency (with America's Dad Tom Hanks as vice president) on Saturday Night Live in May 2017. While most of the fervor surrounding Johnson's maybe-run for the White House has died down, the general public's love for the wrestler-turned-actor has not.

Idris Elba Thor.jpg

Then there’s Elba. This bass-voiced British heartthrob, known for his roles in Luther (2010-2018), Pacific Rim (2013), Beasts of No Nation (2015), Star Trek: Beyond (2016), The Dark Tower (2017), and as Heimdall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor-centric films, is a high-key genre powerhouse and fandom-centric internet fave. Elba's popularity was obvious in 2015 when rumors of Daniel Craig’s James Bond retirement prompted fans to call for Elba to take over. Frankly racist arguments about whether a black man could ever be James Bond most likely corroded your patience for Twitter at the time — the arguments persist, but so does Elba's charm.

The announcement that Elba will join the wildly lucrative Fast and Furious franchise isn’t too surprising. Neither is the news that Elba will be the villain. Elba played Starfleet captain-turned-villain Krall in Beyond and has always leaned well into stoic drama.

In fact, none of this should be surprising, that a popular franchise snagged a large, muscly, beloved actor to star alongside other large, muscly, beloved actors. The issue comes with the question: How are we supposed to choose which one we love more?

Because that’s how the internet works. You have to choose which one you love more. 

Best Chris debate


The aforementioned “which Chris is the best Chris?” is perhaps the most well-known, most-debated topic among moviegoers and internet dwellers for the past few years and the best prism through which to view our Elba vs. The Rock question. Yes, all four of the Hollywood Chrises — Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, and Chris Pratt — are great. They’ve all starred in superhero franchise films and are objectively attractive white men with blond(ish) hair and pretty blue eyes. But the arguments for why each of them is great vary wildly; they are all great in incredibly specific but oft-intangible ways. 

Like boy band members and ice cream flavors, debates over “Who is the better Chris?” and, in our case, “Do we love Idris or The Rock more?” will result in wholly subjective but impassioned arguments. Some will take up their pitchforks while others will cower in the corner, refusing to pick a side because they’re both great for different reasons. And they are. But the side of history on which you fall might determine your entire future. Or, y’know, how many pointless internet fights you find yourself in the middle of once you choose a side.

To find out the answer of who really wins, we’ll have to wait until Hobbs and Shaw premieres in theaters on July 26, 2019.

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. 

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