When Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in No Time to Die this April, it will have been 5 years since the well-received Spectre landed in theaters. Although Spectre was a hit to the tune of $880 million dollars worldwide, it cost almost $300 million to produce (including marketing costs) and didn’t reach the box office heights Skyfall did in 2012. It was Sam Mendes' second and last time directing the character of James Bond, giving way to up-and-coming director Cary Fukunaga for No Time to Die, the first American to helm 007.
We all know that James Bond never dies - or does he? Below are 5 reasons why the character should be killed off in No Time to Die, and 5 reasons Bond will survive to the next iteration.
10 Bond Dies: Daniel Craig’s Contract is Ending
Daniel Craig plays Bond for a fifth time, after saying emphatically that he’d leave the role. Although he’s extremely well paid, he’s not contractually obligated to continue in the role beyond No Time to Die, and between his age, on-set accidents, and the amount of time he spends getting into shape for the part, Craig is surely considering retiring (again).
Unlike other James Bond actors Sean Connery and Roger Moore, Craig seems to be accepted by the general public playing other characters, and there are a wealth of movie opportunities he could undertake outside of the franchise.
9 Bond Lives: Bond Sells Merchandise
James Bond is more than a movie character - he’s the cornerstone of a pop culture franchise that includes video-games, comics, merchandise, DVDs (yes, people still buy them!), streaming services, and other profitable items.
Author Ian Fleming stopped writing Bond novels just prior to his death in 1964 - but there have been dozens of new novels and short stories sold since. The death of the main character doesn’t mean the end of the franchise: for example, the demise of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker hasn’t slowed Star Wars much. But suggesting Bond is failible or even absent in stories about him and his mythology would have a marked impact on sales.
8 Bond Dies: There’s Already a New 007
A new 007 has been cast in No Time to Die, and it’s not Tom Hardy or Idris Alba. According to various reports, actress Lashana Lynch has been given the role of agent 007, displacing James Bond while he was away from MI6. The replacement of double-0 agents in certainly in keeping with the novels - and more importantly the movies - because they often expired on the job.
So the idea that the man - or woman - who’s given one of the ten “licenses to kill” should retain the position forever is untenable. Maybe Bond is killed off to make room for a new secret agent.
7 Bond Lives: James Bond has Died Before
Perhaps the character’s death will be faked, as was the case in two previous movies, From Russia With Love and You Only Live Twice. In From Russia with Love, actor Sean Connery as Bond is dispatched before the opening credits - but it was all a ruse to train a Spectre assassin, who made short work of a poor chap wearing a James Bond mask. In You Only Live Twice, as befits the title, Bond is killed and buried at sea, only to resurface 5 minutes later to receive his next mission.
In Skyfall, Bond was presumed dead after an errand bullet from Miss Moneypenny, and his return to service set his character arc in motion. It could be that Bond’s death in No Time to Die will be a clever illusion to fool his enemies or other antagonists.
6 Bond Dies: The Character is Getting Stale
When James Bond rolled into theaters in the early 1960s, the alpha-male daredevil spy was fairly new to moviegoers. But in 2019, theaters are littered with action super-spies, in movies franchises such as Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne, Die Hard, XXX, even the upcoming Tenet (more on this below).
Bond’s unique place in the cinema firmament has been eroding for decades, and the producers may want to make room for future, unconventional stars after No Time to Die. For example, Halle Berry was once considered to star in a spinoff based on her Tomorrow Never Dies character Jinx.
5 Bond Lives: To Make Money for the Producers
On the other hand, cinematic James Bond has made millions, even billions for producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, and for United Artists and later MGM, Sony Pictures, Columbia, etc.
To “kill the goose that laid the golden age”, no matter how aged he/she is, is a financial risk to both the producers and all the down-stream providers that rely on revenue from other areas. It’s hard to imagine the franchise surviving if they kill off the lynch-pin character.
4 Bond Dies: Bond has Retired
The stage has already been set for this version of James Bond to ride off into the sunset. After Spectre Bond quit his job, met his true love in Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), and is ready to leave MI6 behind.
From what we know of the plot of No Time to Die, 007 has quit the service and is living in Jamaica before being pulled back into a Bond-like adventure. But Bond’s duty to his country is at an end - he’s (rightly or wrongly) stopped spying - and he’s unlikely to start a family or live a life of leisure. So the only remaining arc for his character - the final logical step in his story - is his death.
3 Bond Lives: Because Important Filmmakers Want In
Over the years many top-notch directors have wanted to make a James Bond film: Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, etc. Wunderkind Christopher Nolan, who the producers apparently sought-out to direct an installment years ago, got tired of waiting and is filming espionage action movie Tenet for a 2020 release.
Killing off Bond in No Time to Die, or retiring him like Nolan did for Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, doesn’t give much room for new directors to make a “Bond film”.
2 Bond Dies: Director Danny Boyle Had Killed Him
When director Danny Boyle was originally tapped to direct the 25th James Bond film, there were rumors that he wanted to kill off the character; apparently Craig was okay with this idea and was willing to let his Bond go down in a blaze of glory.
Boyle was eventually replaced by Fukanaga, but stories are circulating that the current production keeps that aspect of Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge’s script. Perhaps Craig was only willing to return if he gave Bond a fitting send-off.
1 Bond Lives: Because Agent 007 Lives Forever
In the end, maybe we’re focusing on the wrong issue. James Bond, like any mortal man, can still die, but the mantle of 007 lives on forever. Like the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride, conceivably No Time to Die is positioning Craig to exit the stage, and his superspy legacy will be passed on to whomever dons the 007 moniker for King and Country.
Perhaps the new 007 even maintains the honorary alias “James Bond” to bring hope to misguided femme fatales and fear to one-eyed villans. Or maybe, it’s just that James Bond can never truly die in the hearts of millions.