A while back I was passed this link Thor Racism Debate and I made a mental note that it was, indeed, something I wanted to discuss.
And then I stopped posting.
For a long time, as it turns out.
Now that I'm back, and I've had a chance to see Thor, I can't think of a better time to tackle the subject of injecting multi-ethnic characters into Asgard. Feel free to review the article provided at the link in question, and maybe even peruse the comments that flowed from the site's viewers (although some classic ignorance runs rampant, so be warned.)
First, let's clarify; Heimdall was AWESOME in that movie!
Idris Elba brought an enormously powerful presence to the roll that I suspect most actors would have found very difficult to achieve. The man's presence in each of his scenes imbued the character with true power that was very reflective of the gods he was representing. I applaud the choice to cast him.
The bigger question is whether or not I applaud the decision to break from comic cannon for the purpose of re-imagining the comic into a new medium. Perhaps you could make an argument as a comic book purist that your disappointment isn't so much from the issue of Norse Gods all having to be white (based largely on the presumption that that is how the Norse always envisioned them), as it is from the fact that you are disappointed with the very fact that they re-imagined the tale.
We've all kind of grown to accept that that is what Hollywood does though, haven't we? Aside from a very pressing effort in 300 and Sin City, Hollywood has a terrible habit of insisting on telling us that they know the characters and stories we love better than we do. That is, of course, a point for another post. The point in this one is that unless your argument is about the departure from comic cannon, you really are just a big racist.
I'm amused though that these people who are staunchly defending the Norse Mythology's core didn't come out kicking and screaming when Marvel insisted that he be blonde. Or when they brought him to Earth in the modern era. Isn't the entire idea of placing him into modern comics an affront to the mythology to begin with? Doesn't it trivialize the subject matter by making little more than pop culture? Aren't they upset that he doesn't get ragingly drunk and lust for battle constantly? No. What they want to nit pick about is that Hollywood re-imagined Asgard as a gleaming city of gold, older than time, and functioning as a great multi-ethnic society?
Because they've accepted all the other bastardizations of Thor for the purpose of placing him in comic books, but making Heimdall black is the final straw!
That just ruins everything!