The fifty-year-old James Bond franchise is one of the most durable movie properties in existence, having reinvented itself with a new lead actor and new creative direction for each generation since Sean Connery originated the role in 1962's Dr. No. Current franchise star Daniel Craig's first outing, in 2006's origin-story/reboot Casino Royale, was a critical and commercial success and for the first time in Bond history was followed by a direct sequel, Quantum of Solace, which was commercially successful but seen as a disappointment by many fans and critics (but not us).
2012's Skyfall, on the other hand, was a huge hit and received near-universal acclaim from all quarters. Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and written by John Logan (The Aviator) along with franchise veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, Skyfall was a pitch-perfect distillation of the Bond mythos, filled in the Daniel Craig-era back story, and even had possibly the finest cinematography of the entire franchise (courtesy of the legendary Roger Deakins).
While speaking to IGN to promote his new Showtime horror series Penny Dreadful (which Mendes is an executive producer on), Logan offered some insight - but few details - on the progress of the next Bond film. According to Logan: "All I can say about Bond is that I'm happily writing it," though he did joke about what might happen if he were to spill any secrets at this stage:
"Sam [Mendes] would rappel through the window and kill me."
According to Logan, the next two entries in the Bond franchise will continue to develop the character and universe based on the events of Skyfall, which Logan instilled with themes and aspects of the classic films. Logan had this to say on the goal's of Bond 24's creative team:
"My goal is to write a great movie that's appropriate, to build on what we did on Skyfall, but make it its own unique animal."
The ending of Skyfall seemed to restore much of the classic elements of a James Bond movie, from the inclusion of Moneypenny and Q (both of whom were left out of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace), to the design of M's office echoing that of the older Bond films. While the events of Quantum of Solace were dependent upon those of its predecessor, Skyfall's influence may be indirectly felt on the next two films.
According to Logan:
"The themes, ideas and the characters from Skyfall can obviously continue on, because it is a franchise, and it is an ongoing story. So I think there's resonance from Skyfall in the new movie."
Given Logan's deep love for the character and franchise ("I grew up on the Bond movies," he says), it's no surprise that he went back to Ian Fleming's source novels for inspiration. With this in mind, one more interesting bit of news could hint that a major villain of the Sean Connery-Roger Moore era might be returning.
Eon Productions recently re-acquired the film rights to the character Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the super-villain who appeared in seven Bond films - From Russia with Love (1963), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Never Say Never Again (1983). Blofeld was played by several actors over the years, including Telly Savalas, Donald Pleasance and Max von Sydow. His mannerisms and appearance were parodied by Mike Myers as Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers franchise.
Given the absolute need for a memorable villain in a James Bond movie - and with Javier Bardem's terrific performance as Silva still fresh in fans' memories - could we see a modern update of Blofeld? Logan was coy on the subject of the next film's bad guy:
"You know, I think our villain's appropriate to the story we're telling."
And that's all we're likely to get for now. With Daniel Craig wanting to re-capture some of the franchise's "old irony" with Bond 24, could this also mean re-visiting the notion of a world-wide criminal organization (which QUANTUM was meant to be)? If so, that would mean someone has to be in charge. When we know more, so will you.
Bond 24 will be released in the U.K. on October 23rd, 2015, and in the U.S. on November 6th, 2015.