Split image of the Idris Elba characters from The Harder They Fall, Pacific Rim and Sonic the Hedgehog 2

20 Best Idris Elba Movies, According To Rotten Tomatoes

Idris Elba first caught people’s attention with his role as the business-minded yet still-deadly criminal Stringer Bell on the amazing HBO series The Wire. Since then, Elba’s star has been steadily on the rise with more and more high-profile projects that show off his range and charisma as an actor.

Whether playing the hero or the villain, the lead, or a supporting role, Elba is always an interesting actor to watch. There are no doubt even bigger projects in his future, but we also have a lot of acclaimed work from him to enjoy right now. Here are Idris Elba’s best movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Updated on August 18th, 2022 by Colin McCormick: Idris Elba continues to be one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood with two new movies to close out the summer. With the animal-attack adventure Beast and George Miller’s fantasy movie Three Thousand Years of Longing, these new projects show the incredible diversity Elba has with his work. And fans can check out some more of his most acclaimed projects after checking out his latest efforts.

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20 Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (2022) – 69%

Knuckles grabbing Sonic by the throat in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Available on Paramount+, Epix and DIRECTV

Elba has taken on a number of voice roles throughout his career with the latest being the video game sequel Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The movie finds Sonic teaming up with his new friend Tails to save the day when Dr. Robotnik returns with his own new ally, Knuckles (Elba).

RELATED: Sonic 2 And Idris Elba’s Other Most Unexpected Movies

Though the sequel didn’t quite recapture the surprising charm of the first movie, many critics found it to be a fairly fun family adventure. Elba was also seen as a terrific new addition to the franchise as the iconic Sonic character.

19 28 Weeks Later (2007) – 72%

Idris Elba in military fatigues in 28 Weeks Later

Available on HBO, HBO Max and DIRECTV

Given how huge of a star Elba is now, it is fun finding those earlier projects in which he plays a smaller supporting role. 28 Weeks Later is the horror sequel to 28 Days Later which begins with the world being somewhat restored following the outbreak. Elba plays the commanding officer of a protected community that soon comes apart as the virus spreads through the people.

While many critics preferred the smaller and more gripping original movie, they found this sequel to be a worthy follow-up. It delivers thrills and terror while also featuring a strong cast, including Jeremy Renner and Rose Byrne.

18 Pacific Rim (2013) – 72%

Idris Elba in Pacific Rim

Available on HBO, HBO Max and DIRECTV

In 2013, Idris Elba appeared in the Guillermo Del Toro movie Pacific Rim. In the film, Elba was Marshal Stacker Pentecost, the commanding officer in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps. He is a former Jaeger pilot who is dying of radiation poisoning but sets out to bring back one of his best pilots when he learns of a way to possibly finally end the war with the Kaiju monsters attacking the cities around the world.

The film was a success, making over $400 million worldwide and spawning a sequel in which Star Warsactor John Boyega plays the son of Elba’s character. Elba became the film’s most famous character due in large part to a memorably epic speech he delivers near the end.

17 Prometheus (2012) – 73%

Elba has been a part of some huge franchises over the years, and he was even lucky enough to join one of the most beloved sci-fi series of all time in Prometheus. Ridley Scott returned to the Alien universe for this prequel that followed a group of scientists who travel to a distant alien planet to learn the secrets of humanity’s creation.

RELATED: 15 Best Idris Elba Movies, Ranked (According To IMDb)

The movie didn’t quite answer all the questions fans might have expected and some of the characters made appalling stupid decisions. However, critics called this an ambitious epic from Scott that explored interesting ideas and featured a stellar performance from Michael Fassbender.

16 Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) – 76%

Heimdall in Avengers Age of Ultron

Heimdall was best known for his role in the Thor movies, the golden-clad guardian of Asgard standing at the entrance and seeing all. His role in Avengers: Age of Ultron was small, but he appeared nonetheless in a scene that was an important moment in Thor’s journey in that movie.

In the scene that Idris Elba appears in as one of Thor’s best friends Heimdall. In a vision, Thor has a vision, and Heimdall declares that it is Thor that will destroy Asgard, a clear foreshadowing of Thor’s decision in Thor: Ragnarok.

15 Second Coming (2014) – 77%

Idris Elba in Second Coming

Available on Peacock, Peacock Premium, Tubi, Roku, Kanopy, Redbox, Pluto TV and Plex

In 2014, Idris Elba headlined a British drama movie called Second Coming. A first-time director directed the film. Longtime playwright debbie tucker green (she spells her name in all lower case letters), won the BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer.

In the film, a married couple who are no longer intimate become concerned when the wife becomes pregnant. The film was a festival darling, debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival before getting a limited release in the United States.

14 Thor (2011) – 77%

Thor: Ragnarok rumors tease Idris Elba's role as Heimdall

Elba joined the still brand new MCU in the very first solo Thor film. The movie introduced the world to Chris Hemsworth, who played the God of Thunder, an arrogant Asgardian warrior who is stripped of his powers and sent to Earth to prove he is worthy to be king. Elba plays the all-seeing gatekeeper of Asgard, Heimdall.

The movie is not usually considered top-tier Marvel, but critics found a lot to recommend in the fun superhero epic. Director Kenneth Branagh managed to mesh the fantasy world with the Earth-bound adventures effectively, and Hemsworth proved to be a natural superstar bringing humor, charm, and strength to the role.

13 Concrete Cowboy (2020) – 80%

Idris Elba on horseback in Concrete Cowboy

The modern western Concrete Cowboy tells a unique father-son story with Elba giving a terrific grounded performance. Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin plays a young boy sent to live with his estranged father (Elba) for the summer and is introduced to a community of Black city cowboys.

RELATED: 10 Best Quotes From Idris Elba Characters

Critics were impressed with the movie’s fascinating exploration of a little-known part of American culture. It was also praised as a classic and uplifting story of a father and son, portrayed wonderfully by the two main actors.

12 American Gangster (2007) – 80%

Ridley Scott Idris Elba Shot American Gangster

Available on Peacock Premium, AMC+ and DIRECTV

Before he was getting leading man roles of his own, Elba was still giving memorable turns in smaller roles. American Gangster stars Denzel Washington as real-life drug kingpin Frank Lucas who controlled much of the heroin trade in New York City in the 1070s. Elba plays a rival gangster to Lucas.

Director Ridley Scott handles the sweeping crime story wonderfully, hooking us to Lucas’ rise to power. Washington delivers another commanding performance that helps to carry the engrossing and violent saga.

11 Molly’s Game (2017) – 82%

Many actors would love a chance to play with Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue on the big screen. Elba got that chance with Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game, which tells the true story of Molly Bloom (Chastain), a former Olympic athlete who makes a new name for herself by hosting high-stakes poker games. Elba plays a lawyer representing Bloom.

Sorkin once again crafts a compelling and entertaining script while also proving himself a skilled director. Chastain is excellent in the complex lead role, while the film itself draws you into this interesting world filled with humor and danger.

10 Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – 85%

Idris Elba as Heimdall in Avengers: Infinity War

One of the most shocking moments in the Avengers movies came at the start of Avengers: Infinity War. Thor had saved all the Asgardians he could at the end of Thor: Ragnarok and was taking them to a new home when Thanos attacked.

RELATED: Every Pre-Snap Character Death In Avengers: Infinity War, Ranked By Sadness

This continued in the opening scene of Infinity War when Thanos killed major members of Thor’s supporting cast. He killed Loki, and then he killed Heimdall. However, since he could see everything, Heimdall knew he needed to send Hulk to Earth and make one last heroic decision before death.

9 Legacy (2010) – 86%

Idris Elba on the poster for Legacy

In 2010, Idris Elba not only starred, but was also the executive producer of the movie Legacy. Elba starred as a man named Malcolm Gray, who was staying in a Brooklyn motel room. The movie then went into his past, as his mind starts to unravel and reveal that his brother (Eamonn Walker’s Darnell) was a ruthless senator wanting to make it to the White House.

However, this is a psychological thriller that is also known as Legacy: Black Ops, so there are many more twists and turns to the story than the setup lets on.

8 Star Trek Beyond (2016) – 86%

Star Trek Beyond Uhura Zoe Saldana and Krall Idris Elba

Available on Fubo TV, AMC+ and DIRECTV

Elba joined another beloved franchise in 2016, this time stepping into a villainous role. Star Trek Beyond finds the crew of the Enterprise separated and stranded on an alien planet where they are hunted by a deadly being (Elba) who seeks revenge on the United Federation of Planets.

After the somewhat messy sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, this third film got back to the roots of the franchise. It made for an exciting sci-fi adventure that focused as much on the characters as it did on the action and adventure. Elba was also praised for a solid bad guy turn.

7 The Harder They Fall (2021) – 88%

Rufus orders the Sheriff to leave town in The Harder They Fall

Elba once again proved he can be very effective in a villain role with The Harder They Fall. This star-studded western stars Jonathan Majors as an outlaw seeking revenge on the ruthless gang leader (Elba) who murdered his parents years ago.

Elba steals the show as this complex villain, a man whose goals are respectable but whose means of achieving them are deplorable. Filmmaker Jeymes Samuel infuses the movie with a wild style and fills it with thrilling characters played by a cast including Delroy Lindo, Regina King, and LaKeith Stanfield.

6 The Suicide Squad (2021) – 90%

The Suicide Squad team

Available on HBO, HBO Max and DIRECTV

Following Heimdall’s death in the MCU, Elba made the switch to the DCEU with James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Elba stars as Bloodsport, a skilled marksman forced to lead an eccentric team of super villains on a dangerous mission.

While the first attempt to bring this DC team to the big screen was torn apart by critics, they were much kinder to this new take. They found that Gunn improved the DCEU with an energetic style, penchant for oddball characters, and his bizarre sense of humor. It made the movie that felt more like a throwback war adventure than a superhero movie.

5 Beasts Of No Nation (2015) – 91%

Beasts of No Nation

Though he is known to be a part of some of the biggest films around, Elba also frequently provides his talents to smaller yet powerful films. Beasts of No Nation is a Netflix drama from Cary Joji Fukunaga about a young boy in an unnamed African country who is kidnapped and turned into a child soldier by a sadistic warlord (Elba).

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The film is not an easy one to watch as it does not hold back from its troubling subject matter. Fukunaga handles the story with respect and delivers a powerful yet hopeful look at a world many of us don’t know, and the human cost of war.

4 Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – 93%

Heimdall holding his sword and looking up in Thor: Ragnarok

As the Thor franchise was beginning to feel stale, the incredibly inventive filmmaker Taika Waititi stepped in to give it a fresh new feel. Thor: Ragnarok follows Thor on a cosmic adventure as he is held captive on a bizarre planet while the villainous Hela takes over Asgard and threatens to destroy it.

Waititi’s unique brand of humor fits surprisingly well into this superhero story, reimagining Thor in a much more enjoyable way. The action is fun, there are plenty of great new characters, and it continues to add to the MCU’s mythology in interesting ways.

3 The Jungle Book (2016) – 94%

Idris Elba voices Shere Kahn in The Jungle Book

Elba has a very alluring voice which he has put to good use in a number of voice-over roles. In the live-action remake of The Jungle Book, Jon Favreau used amazing modern technology to bring the story of Mowgli and the animals of the jungle to life once again with Elba voicing the villainous tiger Shere Kahn.

While not all the Disney live-action remakes have been hits with critics, they seemed to enjoy this update on the story. The amazing visuals and ground-breaking CGI certainly steal the show and make it an even more engrossing adventure.

2 Finding Dory (2016) – 94%

The seals lying on a rock in Finding Dory

Elba joined the prestigious group of actors who have lent their voices to the world of Pixar in this highly anticipated sequel. Finding Dory follows the titular forgetful fish as she embarks on a journey to find her long-lost parents. Elba reunited with The Wire co-star Dominic West to play a couple of lazy sea lions.

The sequel lives up to the reputation of its predecessor, delivering a heartwarming and hilarious animated adventure. It is another great example of Pixar’s ability to combine a thought-provoking message with family entertainment.

1 Zootopia (2016) – 98%

Chief Bogo in front of a map in Zootopia

Elba once again provided his famous voice to an animated film with Disney’s recent masterpiece, Zootopia. The film follows a young rabbit who moves to the big city to fulfill her dream of becoming a police officer. There she teams with a con artist fox to uncover a conspiracy. Elba plays Chief Bogo, the no-nonsense head of the police department.

The breath-taking animation makes Zootopia a visual splendor while there are plenty of laughs to entertain both parents and children. But aside from all the fun and comedy, the movie has a very powerful and insightful message at its core that is important for people of all ages.

NEXT: 10 Best New Movies To Watch On Disney+ (Updated August 2022)

Author: Brandon Murphy