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In 2015, Idris Elba declared ‘I’m probably the most famous Bond actor in the world … and I’ve not even played the role’. Speculation about Elba taking on the role of the…
In 2015, Idris Elba declared ‘I’m probably the most famous Bond actor in the world … and I’ve not even played the role’. Speculation about Elba taking on the role of the world’s most famous spy has circulated for over a decade, fuelled by current Bond Daniel Craig’s assertion that the role has ruined his life. This chapter will examine the role of fans in driving hype about the future of Bond, focusing on the case study of alt-right outrage at the potential casting of Elba. The anti-Elba camp have framed their outrage as informed by authorial intent, and the desire to maintain canon, with claims that Ian Fleming’s Bond was, and should always be white and Scottish. Bond’s expansive narrative universe has remained constant since its inception, enabling fans of the series to form an emotional connection and sense of ownership over the text as a cohesive brand, a form of ‘affective economics’ (Hills, 2015; Jenkins, 2006a). By situating the debate over Elba’s suitability within the timeline of the Bond franchise, the author will posit that the rigid casting and structure of the film series to date enables feelings of fan ownership to flourish. Whilst the influence of vocal fan groups has altered the future direction of numerous popular texts, this chapter will suggest that the sameness of Bond-as-brand provides the justification for fan backlash towards potential change. In sum, this chapter will highlight the Elba-as-Bond rumours as a reflection of the contemporary political moment which seeks to flatten out difference under the auspice of protecting the canon and tradition of ‘brand Bond’.