“The name’s Bond. James Bond.” Now, it doesn’t matter if you’re a die-hard fan of the movies or just the occasional watcher, I can guarantee I know what pops into your head when you hear this line. The smooth, suave and sophisticated English gentleman spy. Dressed in his tuxedo, sipping a Martini (shaken not stirred), casually wooing a beautiful woman all whilst saving the world from imminent danger. This is the image the James Bond franchise has spent the last 53 years putting together. Though we’ve been through several actors in the role, jumping through the various contemporary settings of each film, this is the image that everyone comes back to. However, with the newest release Spectre arriving in cinemas later this year, and with current Bond, Daniel Craig said to be bowing out of the role, it has to be asked, is this image really what we want in the modern day? Is the franchise still viable? And what does the future hold for 007?
The original James Bond novels were penned by Ian Fleming starting in 1953, and the namesake character can be seen as a product of his time. World War 3 seemed to be just around the corner and the future looked dim. Enter James Bond. Confident, sophisticated and able to enjoy the luxuries in life; everything the population wanted to be.
This is the image the films have maintained and the character still has that effect on viewers. Who wouldn’t want to be him? Thrilling, dashing and of course dry. He always has a quip at the ready, whether he’s just electrocuted some villain (“Shocking, positively shocking” (Goldfinger) or been caught infiltrating an ocean base: “ACME pollution inspection. We’re cleaning up the world” (Diamonds are Forever). He has his faults, but who doesn’t? Fleming himself said he never intended the character to be “particularly likeable” but these serve to keep people engaged, providing relief from the ‘holier than thou’ protagonists in other films. They also provide contrast for when he overcomes them such as the moment in Casino Royale when he comforts Vesper in the shower. The films have also provided background as to why these faults are there, such as Bond’s family history in Skyfall and the touching scene in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where he is cradling his murdered wife and explaining “she’s just sleeping, you see, we have all the time in the world.” This was truly tender moment that helped audiences everywhere empathise with the man, showing his human side and making him even more engaging.
It’s due to this dynamic and enigmatic nature of the character that the franchise has been going so long. Though the times change, and with it the styling of the stories, Bond is always there keeping the franchise alive and kicking. All together at worldwide box offices the 24 released films have made $6,188,932,445 with $1,110,526,981 of that coming just from the latest release; Skyfall. This shows that there is still an appetite among cinema goers for 007 and there is no reason to think that the franchise doesn’t have a few more films left in it.
So, what does the future hold for our favourite secret agent? By the looks of the trailer, Spectre appears to have everything that makes a good Bond film: action, wit and one hell of a villain in the form of Christopher Waltz. With so much hype around it, it’s sure to deliver in terms of the box office. However, after that, nobody knows. If Daniel Craig is leaving the role, a new Bond will be needed, and they will have massive shoes (or should I say a tuxedo) to fill. Reports have suggested Idris Elba was considered, but was thought to be too ‘street’ to portray the gentleman spy, though this is seriously underestimating his abilities as an actor. Other potentials include Tom Hardy, Damien Lewis and Henry Carvill, all of whom would make great James Bonds for different reasons, but at this point the new face of 007 is still a mystery. However judging by the franchise’s history, and what we’ve got in store, Bond as we know and love him, is here to stay.
Spectre is released on October 26.