We Need To Kill Off James Bond As Soon As Possible
I’m writing this from my subterranean lair, plotting the death of one of pop culture’s most iconic characters.
Yes, it’s Bond, James Bond. Call me a villain, a monster, a murderer, but the spy simply has to die. And his franchise too -- at least as we know it.
It’s a sacrilegious, evil, evil pursuit, I know. It’s just that I’m thoroughly bored with Bond. Bored of his macho, self-satisfied shtick. Bored of his world. Time to burn it all to the ground.
Believe it or not, until recently I was a fan of the daring debonair one, and I’m not too proud a villain to admit that Broody Blonde Bond (aka Daniel Craig) is THE BEST BOND EVER (I’m shouting because I’m right). He’s far superior to his predecessor, Smarmy Brunette Bond (aka Pierce Brosnan).
But I’m also just a teensy bit of a hypocrite in calling for the demise of Broody Bond, the most enlightened, most complex, most ripped 007 to date. It should have been Smarmy Bond, the Bond who ironically first drew me to the franchise in the mid 90s when Brosnan took up the 007 mantle.
It was the last wave of the ham-and-sleaze era and looking back, cringe-worthy as hell. My pick for worst Brosnan outing is his penultimate, The World is Not Enough. Twenty years on, even by “backward Bond” standards, the sight of Denise Richards running around in Lara Croft-style skimpy singlet and short shorts, presumably the idea of some letchy producer, is beyond ludicrous because the woman was supposed to be a NUCLEAR PHYSICIST, that’s right, a NUCLEAR PHYSICIST.
The desperation to meet the innuendo quota became achingly apparent when the character’s name, Dr. Christmas Jones, finally made sense at the close of the movie. “I thought Christmas only comes once a year,” cooed Bond in a post-coital tryst. Double O indeed!
Back then, critics were calling for innovation in the espionage enterprise. “The series still needs a massive shot of fresh ideas if it wishes to become anything more than a nostalgia-fueled commercial sure thing,” wrote the AV Club’s Nathan Rabin.
The same could be said today. But don’t get your equal-opportunity-skimpy-blue-Broody-Blonde-Bond bathers in a bunch, I hear you say. Sure, today’s Bond is leaps and bounds ahead of anything that came before it with a thoroughly modern, gritty and glamorous take that’s proved a hit with critics and audiences alike. The Craig era boasts the top two earners in the franchise with the brilliant Skyfall hauling a staggering $US1.1 billion globally and the tedious Spectre , $US880 million.
But my beef lies beneath the $US7 billion Bond franchise’s progressive façade, a creaky, predictable framework rusted-on almost 60 years since Bond first debuted on screen. The same cookie-cutter template of Bond v Villain is dressed up each entry with a variation on story, women, gadgets, cars, impossible action sequences, spectacular locales and the occasional spy switch.
Clearly the formula is still a draw card, so why tamper with it now? It may be the safe choice but it does nothing to propel the franchise forward. And in a Hollywood currently in the midst of a string of sequel and reboot flops, Bond’s producers would do well not to become complacent.
But it’s not just the formula that’s stale. Where Craig’s Brooding Blonde Bond added some much needed gravitas to the role in his first appearance in 2006’s Casino Royale, by the time his fourth rolled around nine years later with Spectre, jaded apathy seemed to have set in -- more like Resting Bastard Face Bond. It was as if he didn’t want to be there. Turns out he didn’t, infamously saying during press rounds for the movie that he’d rather self-harm than play 007 again, although he later backtracked.
Craig had clearly tired of the physically demanding role and I wish he had stuck to his guns but, no doubt swayed by a multi-million dollar carrot, he’ll be back on screens this April for what he says will definitely be his last hurrah in the forthcoming [No] Time to Die (parentheses added by eager, evil me).
It’s clear that the boldest choice producers can make to overhaul the franchise is to send this 007 to 00Heaven. According to intel provided by my evil little minions (and by that I mean tabloid “sources”), early in the film’s development, the then-attached director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) planned exactly that, a possible reason for his departing the project due to do “creative differences”.
The prospect of offing 007 seemed dead but reports that director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective) has filmed three different endings gives me some hope a death-twist may still happen.
And it can’t come soon enough. If nothing else convinces you the franchise has jumped an Olympic sized pool of sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, it’s a reported plan to have JAMES BOND GET MARRIED to STEADY GIRLFRIEND Dr Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). JAMES BOND DOES NOT DO COMMITMENT, and romantic entanglements with the danger magnet rarely end well. Sure enough, a “source” close to the production claimed a few years back that Swann would be killed off, sending 007 on a revenge mission with the movie having a “Taken with Bond" vibe. Oh dear God no.
So, if Craig’s Bond does happen to expire, where to next? I’m all for progressive storytelling, but even a rejuvenation of the franchise by a much debated race or gender flipping won’t cut it if tired bones remain underneath. To borrow Auric Goldfinger’s elegant prose, it’s the franchise that needs to be “dynamited!”
All I’m asking for is a little innovation, like the kind exemplified in Joker, a gritty character piece and origin story unlike any comic book character before it. Spies and assassins are all over our screens these days, so Bond needs to stand out from the pack more than ever.
On that front, there’s no reason why Bond couldn’t go all villainy for a while as a double agent and raise some much needed stakes in the franchise.
And between the espionaging, it’s high time 007’s bland sex life got a zshushing, perhaps as a sexually fluid Bond, keeping things interesting and adding variety to the Bond bonking pool. And besides, it’s almost 2020, people!
But back to my proposed death of Broody Blonde Bond. It turns out I may have underestimated the intentions of the franchise’s puppeteers, for on the cast list is the return of one Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). It would be quite the delicious irony if the staple Bond villain finally got his wish.