It's the 50-year anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise, and with it comes the 23rd installment, titled Skyfall, a new adventure with the Daniel Craig incarnation of 007. Joining the actor this time around are numerous Oscar-winners and nominees, a younger version of Q, and two new snazzy Bond girls - all of whom are players in a mysterious plot that involves M's (Judi Dench) dangerous past threatening the future of MI6.
Many Bond fans were confused (though several were definitely pleased) by a previously-released pic from Skyfall that features a half-naked Bond brooding poolside. Today, we have the first officially sanctioned image from the film, which captures Craig as 007 in more of an intimidating pose.
First, here's what Skyfall producer Michael Wilson had to say to USA Today, with regards to why he feels 007 is still relevant today, even in a sea of similar action-packed franchises featuring deadly secret agents - be they Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) or Jason Bourne (Matt Damon).
"There are plenty of imitators, but Bond really is the first one that was an anti-hero... There's still a touch of sophistication people see in the films besides just action. Though that's always been an element... I'm happy for the 'Bourne' success. The worst thing for anyone is a bad movie. You see a good action movie, you're in the mood to see another."
More so, Wilson feels that Craig's interpretation of 007 takes the character back full circle to Sean Connery's original take on the super-spy - by playing him as more "a tough guy," as opposed to fellow 007 actors' Roger Moore's "lighthearted" take, Timothy Dalton's "down to earth" variation, or Pierce Brosnan's "touch of charm and touchiness."
That's all fair enough, though Wilson neglects to mention that Craig's 007 is also definitely the most physically-intimidating and deadly of the lot. In an age where virtually every spy character who shows up onscreen (passing over the more realistic ones in a film like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is an expert in hand-to-hand combat, it would arguably be more difficult for Craig's Bond to stand out if he couldn't kick ass and take names like nobody's business.
Now, check out the first official Skyfall image (with an unshaven 007 on a mission in Shanghai) below:
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Outside of his role in last summer's Cowboys & Aliens, Craig spent most of 2011 portraying more vulnerable characters onscreen, in films such as Dream House and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (passing over his mo-cap role in The Adventures of Tintin, that is). That has allowed the actor to not only avoid being typecast, but also means his "tough guy" act should feel fresher, by the time Skyfall actually makes its way into theaters.
As far as the unofficial contest for Badass Secret Government Agent of the Year goes - Craig's 007 certainly has some stiff competition, in the form of Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross in this summer's The Bourne Legacy. Still, Mr. Bond seems to have won the first round, if only because he doesn't have Cross' eyesore of a haircut. Moving on...
Skyfall hits theaters in the U.S. on November 9th, 2012.