British Secret Service Agent James Bond has done battle atop a moving train, from the outside of a cargo plane, and in space. That said, the 55-year-running 007 film franchise is still going strong - and the upcoming 25th Bond movie edging its way into theaters has audiences wondering what will happen next with the franchise.
Based on the novels by Ian Fleming, the 007 franchise kicked off in 1963 with Dr. No. Starring Sean Connery as James Bond, and introducing audiences to what would become a familiar - if not oft-parodied - formula that includes megalomaniacal villains in hidden lairs, mysterious women with suggestive names, and highly-stylized gadgets, the entire 007 series has had a lasting effect in pop culture. Over the years, various actors have taken over the role, including Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig (who currently holds the torch). Woody Allen and Peter Sellers starred in a loose adaptation and spoof of Fleming's novel Casino Royale, though it's not considered canon within the live-action series.
Now, with the untitled Bond 25 releasing next year with Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) and Daniel Craig sporting Bond's tux, martini, and Walther PPK for what may possibly be his last time, the future of the franchise is shrouded in mystery. Will the storyline remain consistent with previous entries? Will the series undergo yet another soft reboot? And does a woman or person of color have a shot at playing the famed and meticulously groomed MI6 agent? Seeing as the franchise is no stranger to cleaning house and resetting the board, audiences may well see some major shifts with Bond in the foreseeable future.
- This Page: Daniel Craig's Bond and Beyond
- Page 2: Who Could Play Bond Next, and Will 007 Be Rebooted Again?
Is Daniel Craig Really Done With Bond?
After four movies (not including Bond 25), Daniel Craig currently ranks second for actors who have played James Bond the most times in the franchise (Connery and Moore are tied in first place with seven movies each). That said, during the twelve years that Craig has starred in the franchise, his enthusiasm towards playing Bond has ebbed and flowed, so it's unclear how much longer he's willing to stick with the character.
Though Craig's movies have more or less been two-for-two in terms of success (with Quantum of Solace and Spectre often considered the lame ducks in comparison to Casino Royale and Skyfall), his interpretation of Bond has fared fairly well with audiences and critics. However, in an interview with Time Out, Craig famously stated that he would "rather break this glass and slash my wrists" than star in another 007 movie, adding that all he wants to do is "move on." He even reportedly turned down roughly $100 million to star in two more films after Spectre, but that tone has changed considerably since then, when - after officially signing on for Bond 25 - he said, "I just want to go out on a high note. I can’t wait." So, as of now, Craig's future with the franchise is a guessing game, seeing as his unpredictable mindset doesn't offer much in the way of certainty. And assuming Boyle sends him off on that desired high note, Bond 25 may well be the end for Craig.
However, given that Boyle's interpretation has the potential to rekindle Craig's interest in sticking with the series, anything is possible. In fact, to partially borrow the subtitle from Connery's last entry as Bond, "never say never."
The Craig-Era Mistakes That Must Be Avoided
Daniel Craig's era as Bond has been mostly well-received. With all of his movies earning fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, they were major improvements on previous entries in the franchise (the previous three movies earned 57 percent, 51 percent, and 58 percent, respectively). Still, not unlike James Bond himself, Craig's era wasn't without its flaws. And assuming Craig passes the torch to another actor after Bond 25, the future of the series will benefit from evolving (if not completely eradicating) various aspects of Craig's era that missed the mark.
One of the most notable issues with the Craig era was continuity. Whenever a new actor is brought aboard to play Bond, the soft-reboot layer is applied. However, this subtle approach over the years is nothing compared to the all-out narrative shake-up introduced in Casino Royale. With Craig's Bond, the character underwent major makeovers, but didn't completely shed its previous skins (Was it a prequel? A reboot? An alternate universe?). Bond himself was starting anew (audiences witness when and how he earned his double-o status), but Judi Dench reprised her role as M, whom she had played for the past four movies in Pierce Brosnan's era, beginning with Goldeneye. And even though suspension of disbelief is necessary to truly enjoy these movies, the pick-and-choose approach made for a confusing setup to Craig's introduction, especially when major retcons - namely with Blofeld, a staple villain in the series - are put into effect.
Another major blow to Craig's era was the introduction of some mishandled narrative throughlines. Where other iterations of Bond implemented ongoing storylines that tended to specifically focus on Bond's relationship with certain villains, Craig's era went deeper. Attempting to bring Bond's humanity to the surface (showcasing what made Bond so emotionally disconnected from the endless wave of "Bond girls," his moral ambivalence clashing with his job requirements, etc.), filmmakers weren't entirely successful. Attempting to give Craig's Bond a more personalized interpretation only added to continuity missteps and drastic tonal shifts.
Finally, one other major takeaway from Craig's era that future entries will hopefully avoid is the similarity his movies shared with the Bourne franchise. In an attempt to add some modern grit, Casino Royale introduced some inspired changes to the character, the action, and the pacing. For the most part, it was successful (with standout action set pieces including Casino Royale's opening chase sequence and Skyfall's skyscraper fist fight); but at times, the changes treaded copycat territory, feeling more like knock-offs of the Bourne movies than anything wholly original.
Down to a near shot-for-shot recreation of Jason Bourne jumping parkour-style from one building window to another, Craig's era signaled some slight insecurity in the modern Bond franchise. These movies have always centered around innovation - not just in Bond's gadgets, but in its overall general aesthetic - so blatantly borrowing from other properties added a cheapened effect to this newer era. And though sporadically copying Bourne movies by no means ruined Craig's era, they didn't go unnoticed; and they won't be missed.
- James Bond 25 (2020) release date: Feb 14, 2020