Has Thor struck a hammer blow for equality?

First of apologies for the break between this and my last post- CIPD and my day job have been taking their toll! However I will endeavour to post more regularly to one and all from the end of May onwards.

Sadly we will have to wait even longer, until Summer 2011 in fact, for the next Marvel Comics blockbuster in the form of Thor. Though not a huge fan of the publication I am excited about the movie and it has hit the news recently with its casting of British actor Idris Elba in a one of its roles.

‘That bloke off that Luther show on the BBC?’ I hear you cry – well, yes but he is well known also for playing a role in the greatest TV show to ever air (Fact. No really – if you have not seen it the Wire was that good), in not just any old role but a key pillar to most of the storylines.

In Thor Elba has been cast as Heimdall, a Norse god protecting the rainbow bridge between earth and the realms that Thor, Odin, and a myriad of other characters reside in known as Asgaard. Upon hearing of his casting, some of fans of the Son Odin – Brother of Loki (that is Thor for those not a comic geek like myself) have been posting on chat rooms across the web about their displeasure in the casting. The suggestion has been that it undermines the credibility of the role as the gods in Asgaard are of Norse/European descent, meaning Elba in theory should be ruled out on grounds of race in casting for the role.

Is this an example of a genuine occupational requirement? There are certain roles or appointments that clearly rule out certain individuals from applying- for example, I would not expect my application for a position of trust in a women’s shelter to be successful due to my gender.

Often actors having certain requirements for particular roles is suggested as an example of this in action. That being the case, is there a case to answer here with Thor?

I don’t think so- and I think Elba gave an excellent argument as to why this is the case in a recent interview with the Guardian. This is not to say that in critiquing the final production we should not be blind to any faults in terms of storyline, performances and so on. However, should we not be given the chance to evaluate Elba in the role first? As he put it, it is a ‘fictional character, in a fictional world’.

Being a fan of his work so far and having a passing interest in the comic book publication, I am excited about the casting and what Elba might do with the role. And if he is not enough of a star to excite you, check this lot out who will also be taking part in it!

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