Daniel Craig as a blue steel-eyed James Bond captured the spy's cold and ruthless manner (as described by creator Ian Fleming) in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. However, absent was the swagger and dry air of sophistication that Craig's predecessors brought to the role, in varying amounts. The character had become less a suave agent carrying out his orders for queen and country, more a morally-compromised killing machine whose disillusionment recalls Matt Damon as Jason Bourne - rather than Sean Connery as 007 going back to Dr. No.
It's for those reasons that Craig's run as James Bond has been heralded by some, decried by others. Earlier this year, Bond series producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson announced their interest in locking Craig down to portray 007 for the next decade (or, rather, five films) following the release of Skyfall this November. That public revelation rallied masses of Craig supporters and detractors alike - prompting arguments about just what, exactly, makes for a good screen version of the character (and whether or not Craig has it).
That was well before marketing got properly underway for Skyfall, with trailers and behind-the-scenes footage suggesting that director Sam Mendes' promises to deliver a proper Bond movie (as he puts it, "a big fabulous escapist movie" for the 21st century) are more than just hot air. Craig remains physically-fierce and hardened in the face as ever, but his 007 appears to undergo a humbling metamorphosis in Skyfall, evolving from a glorified thug (armed with a gun and a license to kill) into a classier, but still deadly, government employee. Hence, the overall reception could be more positive for today's announcement that Craig has worked out a deal to return as 007 for two additional films after Skyfall.
MI6 is confirming the new contract for Craig, but points out there's a precedent for Bond actors dropping their commitment early - as happened with both Connery and Timothy Dalton. Moreover, EON Productions heads are said to have enjoyed the non-aggressive production timeline for the 23rd Bond film, resulting from a prolonged break between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall (as a result of MGM's financial woes). That could mean the studio will be less inclined to adhere to a rigid two-year break between installments from hereon out - and, if an extended delay were to occur, it could encourage Craig to walk away prematurely after just one more Bond film.
However, there are currently no signs that EON Productions has plans to do that, seeing how it's already gone and set screenwriters to begin developing the next two Bond films starring Craig. The actor has let it be known he does not intend to take on another role until after the new year - and the slow progress on David Fincher's The Girl Who Played with Fire adaptation (where Craig would reprise his role as investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist) ensures the actor won't have any other priorities demanding his attention in the foreseeable future.
Are you excited to see Craig play James Bond for (at least) two more films?
Skyfall opens in U.S. theaters on November 9th, 2012.