This article was originally published on Atomic Geekdom on Oct. 7, 2021. Click here to see the original: https://www.atomicgeekdom.com/blog/analyzing-the-daniel-craig-james-bond-film

“The name’s Bond, James Bond” is one of the most iconic film lines of all time.  First uttered by Sean Connery in Dr. No, it has been said by more than 6 actors, throughout more than 24 films.  Very few characters have had the lasting impact and staying power that James Bond has had in cinema. Each actor has brought a new element to the long-running franchise but Daniel Craig may have made the greatest contribution to the franchise since Sean Connery.

Regardless of what fan theories will have you believe, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan are meant to be the same James Bond.  James Bond isn’t a time lord and the name “James Bond” isn’t meant to be a codename.  While Daniel Craig’s Bond is familiar, he’s not the same man as the others, and in many ways, he can’t be. After Die Another Day was released, and in no small part thanks to the Austin Powers franchise (a very popular James Bond parody), Eon Productions, the production company that owns the rights to Bond, felt that the character should go in another direction. So instead of moving forward with a fifth Pierce Brosnan film, they recast the character and decided to tell the story of how he became 007, with Casino Royale.

Casino Royale was a huge shift for the franchise when it was released in 2006. The film removed much of the tropes that had become a huge staple to the franchise: no over-the-top gadgets, no over-the-top action sequences and for the first time since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond fell in love.  For the first time in a long time, James Bond was a more relatable human character.  The producers wanted the film to be more realistic and bring Bond into a post-Jason Bourne world.  Just six months before Die Another Day was released, The Bourne Identity redefined the spy genre that had been dominated by James Bond for many decades. Audiences were clearly hungry for this new take on the spy genre and not all that interested in Bond surfing a tidal wave to escape a space laser.

For many years, the Bond franchise was the spy film to beat.  Tons of spy movies tried to copy the Bond formula to no success (The MCU currently sits in a similar place).  In many ways the Mission: Impossible and Kingsman films owe something to James Bond, but what happens when the student surpasses the master?  Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond has been the best received since Sean Connery in the 60s but they have clearly been influenced by other films. For Example; The Bourne Trilogy, the last four Mission: Impossible films, and, even The Dark Knight.  They all have played a hand in shaping the last four James Bond films.

Much like a long-running comic book universe, James Bond had a “sliding scale continuity”, which allowed him to remain the same age for more than 50 years.  Major characters would remain the same (like M or Q), and sometimes they would call back to a previous film adventure. An example like when Roger Moore visited the grave of Bond’s wife who was killed in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  While loose, there was continuity for long-time fans, but each adventure was standalone so newer audiences could always find a way into the franchise. Quantum of Solace was the first film to break that trend, following up a loose end from the end of Casino Royale.  While Skyfall brought Bond “back to basics” in some ways, its sequel Spectre decided to run with an “it has all been connected to Spectre” plotline, leaving Bond in a place where he’s never been before: locked in a set continuity. 

As it stands, the Bond franchise seems to have limited options in regards to moving forward.  It’s unlikely they’ll be able to move on from the Craig era as they have before.  So what could be next for James Bond?  Eon Productions has shown interest in spin-off films before, with Haley Berry’s Jinx from Die Another Day, moving forward with a new 00 agent or even Lashana Lynch continuing as the new 007 is an option.  If they decide not to go that route then another complete reboot would be the next best option.  Recasting Bond is nothing new but continuing in the manner they previously did, went out the window by the time Spectre rolled around.  Casting a young up-and-coming actor (Henry Golding for Bond) and setting it in a different time period could give the franchise the fresh perspective they’ve been chasing.

The final option on the table would be to just let the franchise rest.  This is the most unlikely option since Bond is really the only thing that Barbara Broccoli and Eon Productions have, but it might ultimately be their best option.  They’ve just been chasing the success of other spy franchises since 2006, and maybe letting the franchise lie for a few years and waiting for the right idea to come along is what Bond needs.  Bond is a relic of the Cold War and has been struggling to survive in the modern era for more than 20 years (that’s the point of Skyfall), so perhaps it’s time to let it go.

FUN FACTS:

• George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton were both attempts to bring the character more in line with his book counterpart, but Craig is the only one to do it successfully.  Guess audiences weren’t ready.

• Lazenby and Dalton were also the second choices to play the character and were only cast because their first choices, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan were doing successful TV shows. When Lazenby and Dalton didn’t reprise the role, the TV shows were canceled and Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan would go on to play the role anyway

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