One of the more unique qualities of Skyfall - which sets it apart from the previous twenty-two installments released in the 50-year old James Bond movie franchise - is that the film does not pair 007 opposite either a (sexy) younger woman or some other age-appropriate female counterpart on his adventure; instead, the story explores the relationship between the secret agent and MI6 head 'M' (portrayed by Dame Judi Dench).
Skyfall director Sam Mendes was originally going to pass on directing the 24th Bond movie, but he is reported as having changed his mind after the Bond series producers decided they are willing to wait for Mendes to become available. Mendes is still not confirmed, but right now all signs point to him being the person who will call the shots on Daniel Craig's fourth on-screen appearance as 007 (despite other filmmakers being rumored to take the job).
So, in what respects will Mendes' approach on James Bond 24 differ from his Dark Knight-esque take on Bond with Skyfall? Well, if Yahoo! is to be believed, then one such difference is that Craig will share the screen with a more conventional type of Bond girl, as portrayed by the 39-year old Spanish bombshell - and Oscar-winning actress - Penélope Cruz.
The site's insider claims that "they are working out the contract details now," so it might be best to take the customary grain of salt with this unofficial announcement (at least, until a formal confirmation/denial is released). Nonetheless, Cruz makes sense to play someone who can keep the horndog 007 on his toes in the film - and she already has a real-world link to Mendes through her husband Javier Bardem (who played Silva in Skyfall) - so this casting possibility seems reasonable, either way you choose to cut it.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR SKYFALL AHEAD!
Skyfall concluded with Naomie Harris formally assuming the role of Moneypenny, in order to (among other things) handle the office side of work - and have sexually-charged banter with Craig's 007 in future installments. Meanwhile, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) came onboard as James' new boss, when he took over the 'M' title from Dench's character (following her onscreen death).
The purpose behind all that - as reflected in the film's narrative (read our review for a more thorough analysis) - was to move the Bond franchise into the future, by showing how the character (in his traditional form) is still relevant to our concerns in the present-day - even in an age of superheroes and Jason Bourne-types - despite passive-aggressive quips made by people like "hipster 'Q'" (Ben Whishaw) to the contrary.
However, there was one aspect, in particular, where the film (arguably) failed to do that - as was discussed by the Screen Rant Underground crew in their Skyfall episode - and that was in regard to updating Bond's chauvinistic attitude towards women; indeed, in Skyfall, Craig's Bond barely seemed to like them, which is not in line with his traditional portrayal. (Moreover, that did that seem to be an entirely intentional change made by the screenwriters.)
Hopefully, James Bond 24 will improve in that area, now that Craig and Harris have the chance to build on the dynamic they established in Skyfall; not to mention, the potential addition of Cruz playing a more experienced woman - who knows how to keep Bond at bay (while arousing his interest) - should only help, in that sense.
The 24th James Bond movie is expected to begin filming next summer, as to both provide Mendes with enough time for pre-production and let Cruz take a break after she gives birth to her second child (sometime in the near future). As always, we'll keep you posted on the situation as more information becomes available.