An introduction to my Madness
James Bond has had an illustrious career in his 60 years as a character. Beginning initial as a work of fiction from a retired WWII naval intelligence officer by the name of Ian Fleming, this largely pulp style spy series has netted nearly 8 billions dollars* in revenue from the films, books and merchandise. The character itself has become synonymous with the genre it was born from. Bond’s gadgets, cars, clothes, women and catch phases are all largely part of pop culture vernacular. The first film in the franchise was shot for a measly million dollars and has gone on to become one of the longest running film series in the history of the medium. The movies themselves have had a plethora of ups and downs. Almost everyone has a favorite Bond. Many have heralded Connery as the perfect secret agent, with his cold and calculated way of getting the job done. Some, like me, throughly enjoy the charm and silliness of Roger Moore. Heck, there are those that think Timothy Dalton was the right man for the darker days of the 80’s and was never given a proper chance to shine. What’s great about this group of films is that there is largely something for everyone. But now, three films into the Daniel Craig era I see something in his entrees I’ve never really seen before…consistency. I press that with the right bit of love, Bondian finesse and planning, Daniel Craig’s James Bond could serve as the PERFECT Bond run.
*according to this website
1. Casino Royal (2006)
This was the long awaited Bond origin movie. The first version* was produced in 1967 as a pseudo-parody and distributed by Colombia Pictures, for years it sat as the missing piece of the Bond franchise. But after decades of rights wrangling in 2006 we finally got what we had never seen before, a story that explained the psyche and motives of a character who, for all intents and purposes, has spent the last 50 years just being James Bond, no questions asked. With ‘Casino’ we saw Bond’s ascension to Double-O status and met a Bond who would no longer questioned his place within the confides of MI6 after the heartbreak/betrayal of Vesper Lynd.
- The first FIRST version of course was a tv movie shot in 1954, which introduced the world to JIMMY Bond an AMERICAN secret agent, the less discussed the better.
2. Quantum of Solace (2008)
The first direct sequel in the Bond franchise. Though often considered the “lesser” of the Craig films, it actually really holds up when watched immediately after ‘Casino Royal’. In fact, in more recent years it’s been applauded for it’s beautiful cinematography and brisk pace (story lulls have often been the true arch-nemsis of the Bond film series). The film also serves as completion of a previous films mission, something that had not been seen in previous entries (or at least to this degree of connection). Plus, every run needs a whipping-boy and why not just get it out of the way with the second one.
3. Skyfall (2012)
The Stand-out Bond film (as of this post). This is Craig’s Goldfinger, beginning with a stand-out Bond theme by Adele and Paul Epworth and including the first truly unforgettable Bond villain Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem (though Mads Mikkelsen’s is a close second in my opinion). This is the one that everyone will most likely point too as the high point/fan favorite. It also finally answers the long held fan theory that James Bond is only a code/cover name (spoiler alert: it isn’t). This episode also saw the series largely return to it’s roots by it’s conclusion: M is a man, Moneypenny is office-bound and Q is a cute young hipster (I said “largely”, not completely). Also the box office returns were similar to Goldfinger’s popularity making it the highest grossing Bond film of all time (previously held by Thunderball).
4. Bond 24: The Back to Basics Bond (2015)
This should be a return to form Bond movie. So far most of the films have been mildly weighed down by what has come before, but now with things, for the most part, back at status quo there’s no reason to not let loose. Fans would love a fun Bond adventure, just Ladies, Gadgets and Bad guys. Plus now with the rights cleared up with Kevin McClory’s estate* we could introduce Blofield and SPECTRE/SMERSH (two MAJOR baddies from the Connery era and novels…for non-bond fans think The Red Skull and Hydra). Also, now with the Quantum group having the need to be “rebranded” after being outed by MI6, they can now be enveloped by SPECTRE. Also reintroducing Blofield** into the series as one of this groups top associates that will stop at nothing to unleash holy hell against the world, MI6 and Bond. This could prove to be an even more popular entry and really give Craig’s Bond the ability to breath, without having to prove his place within the confides of the character’s status and history.
*For more on this story click here.
**It could also be fun to continually recast the character in future entries as a nod to the original series (super evil plastic surgery), of course it kind of stupid, but this is a series about a secret agent that EVERYBODY knows by his first name.
5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (2017)
It only stood out for years as the movie with the guy who interrupted Connery’s original run, but in the past few years it’s been rediscovered and has been given new appreciation for it’s story telling and emotional growth of the character. Director Steven Soderbergh recently wrote a love letter on his blog about the film and and Bat-moneymaker Christopher Nolan considered it a major inspiration. Ultimately though, both lovers and detractors alike claim one consistent flaw, George Lazenby (Bond) who was a model, not an actor. The story itself begs to be reinterpreted. Bond meets Countess Teresa di Vicenzo whom, unlike those before her, proves to be an equal match to our hero and he falls completely in love with her. Teresa or Tracy is also the inspiration for Batman’s Talia al Ghul, so she’s kind of bad ass in the history of Bond girls. Blofield returns (hence giving us a running villain) and attempts more nastiness only to be thwarted by Bond and Tracy’s Father. The story wraps up with Tracy and Bond marrying. But it’s all ends in tragedy as she is murdered by Blofield’s men in front of Bond on the way to their honeymoon. Of course some will say that it feels derivative of what happened in ‘Casino Royal’, but Tracy IS a good person and shares little in common with Vesper Lynd and with Craig being older it will seem proper for Bond to desire to settle down. Done right, this could be the Oscar nominated James Bond.
6. Bond 26 (2019)
Finally, the Bond revenge film would be the perfect follow-up to a OHMSS remake. A great failing in the original series was that the audience never truly received a satisfying conclusion to James’ lost future with Tracy. Though it’s mildly dealt with in ‘Diamond’s Are Forever’ and Blofield is dispatched, seemingly as an afterthought, in ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (mostly due to the aforementioned McClory lawsuit), now we can see Bond finally get the satisfaction of destroying the man who took away the woman he loved. It would be like that scene in ‘Casino Royal’ where the guy jumps through that small hole only to have Bond run through a wall…PURE F#$KING METAL!! It’s could also show a Bond as the beautiful blunt instrument of justice that we all love him to be.
7. Bond 27: The Final Bond Story (2021)
There has long been a cornerstone of the Bond franchise, it keeps going and going and going. But I put forth with this series there has been a very “definitive” narrative in it’s story telling and universe building. There is little to no ambiguity about who this James Bond is as a person, so I very much would prefer them to just wrap up Craig/Bond’s story. There is a plethora of ways to wrap it up: Does Bond become the new M? Does he die in a blaze of bad ass glory? Does he retire/fake his demise and go to some random italian cafe and wait to see if his butler will miraculously show up on a random perfect day and time so they can nod at each other (f^&king Dark Knight Rises!!!). I can see the aversion to “ending” the series, but we live an era of remakes and reboots…let’s give Bond the through-line he deserves. Thus, done well, giving us a complete portrait and tenure of Daniel Craig’s James Bond.
8. Bond 28 and Beyond (20??)
My little post script for how I’d like to see the series reinvent itself is thus: take it back to the era in which they were written. It could be almost 15 plus years at this point since ‘Casino Royal’, so instead of trying to justify this clearly outdated (though throughly beloved…and by me if it isn’t SUPER obvious) character just put him back where he came from. Back to bedding femme fatales and destroying the enemies of capitalism in the Cold War. One of the things that make the original novels so interesting is the rather low tech and raw ways Bond has to out do his would be detractors. Now could this type of hero still translate to a soon to be futurist world, well I honestly can not say. But I can admit with complete confidence that James Bond will always have the wits and the cunning to save the damsel, find the secret files and stop the dastardly despots of villainy. Could Bond finally be of African decent, as some have already proposed? Of course. Could Bond once again be a more affable and charming Super-spy as we’ve seen in days gone by? Without a doubt. As long as the evil men (and women) of this world attempt to dismantle the safety and will of the people, there will be at least one man who can stop them. His name is Bond, James Bond.
For Bond fans or those that wish to know more about the franchise, outside of watching the films I recommend the amazing podcast James Bonding with Matt Mira and Matt Gourley on the Nerdist Podcast Network (also it can be found on iTunes). Matt & Matt have tasked themselves with reviewing EVERY James Bond film, along with special guests. Previous contributors have include Paul Scheer (The League), Paul F. Tompkins (Bob’s Burgers), Doug Benson (Super High Me) and Scott Mosier (Clerks). Easily the premier Bond Podcast.
Thanks for reading.
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