On His Majesty’s Secret Service: The Reinvention of James Bond – ScreenHub Entertainment

*Warning, there will be full spoilers for No Time to Die (2021) BELOW!

2022 is the year of the 60th anniversary of the official James Bond movie franchise since the first movie adaption of the Ian Fleming novels in 1962 with Dr. No. A year since the latest James Bond installment, No Time to Die, opened in cinema after such a long wait, fans had enough time to digest the finale to Daniel Craig’s long reign as secret agent 007. Indeed, the end of Craig’s era is head-scratching at best, as they did the unthinkable: they killed James Bond…

Indeed, after his mission is accomplished, a wounded Bond (Daniel Craig) stays behind after being infected with the Heracles virus, preventing him to come close to his loved ones (including the daughter he just met and her mother). There’s a clear shot of Bond being blown up on the roof of the missile bunker. So yeah…he’s dead, no way around it. Craig confirmed that his run as 007 is over, so it is a blank page from now on.

Daniel Craig in No Time to Die [Credit: MGM Studios]

Having just been honoured with the Will Rogers Pioneer Award, producers Barbara Broccoli and Micheal G. Wilson have been asked and interviewed about the future of 007. The ending of the movie leaves the door wide open for a reinvention or transformation of the franchise, which was clearly mentioned by the producers. Barbara Broccoli said that we should wait at least another two years before production starts on a future Bond project, and that a “reinvention” of the character needs to be discussed. Nothing was officially announced, but I thought it could be fun to explore the different ways in which James Bond could return in the future. Some of them might surprise you.

A NEW ERA

Let’s not forget the current global news! Until recently, the movie titled On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), which starred George Lazenby’s singular outing in the tuxedo, has an entirely different meaning now since Queen Elizabeth II has passed away. James Bond will be working On HIS Majesty’s Secret Service from now on, at the service of Charles III, and later William. This is already key material that will surely be included in future James Bond material.

The ‘Safe’ OptionAnother Movie, Another Actor

The first possible way to continue Bond’s journey is by doing what was always done since 1969: continue the franchise with a fresh new face to step in the shoes of 007 for the next years to come. According to a recent article, the producers are expected to sign a 10-12 year commitment with the future actor, so that person will have to be as available as Daniel Craig was. I guess this might be the easiest thing to do, they would need a new mission and a new villain as well, as it was always done.

Although the same routine is possible, it is questionable to proceed that way. James Bond movies are now 60 years old and the same formula was pretty much employed since then (except maybe for the Craig films, which played with the established routine quite a bit). It proved successful, but after such a dramatic ending, maybe this calls for a slight change. That being said, it is not a risky decision to make, as it is a more traditional approach that may reassure a few hardcore fans who miss “the good old days” of James Bond prior to the Craig era.

A few name drops were made since last year as to who can replace Craig. Henry Cavill is perhaps the biggest fan favourite and an ideal choice to play him, as he has the looks, the body and the accent for it. Tom Hardy, René-Jean Page, Idris Elba and Richard Madden (which is my and Sean’s favourite of the bunch) have also been mentioned a few times. No official announcement yet as to who it will be, so we’ll need to keep on guessing.

Henry Cavill in The Man from U.N.C.L.E [Credit: Warner Bros.]

The ‘Bold’ Option – A Prime Video Series

This is where the ‘Amazon deal’ comes in. As most of you know, Amazon made the purchase of MGM official in late 2021. So now, the giant streaming and shipping super-machine founded by Jeff Bezos owns the rights to the James Bond 007 franchise, which means all the Bond movies will be on Prime, and this opens up theories on possible streaming content. They could decide to make Bond adventures a TV series same as they did with Tom Clancy’s character of Jack Ryan. If all the set pieces are in place and they have a decent story and cast, it could possibly work. This would mean that a typical James Bond mission (or several) would take place in an entire season, each episode unlocking additional clues for Bond to discover. As it was the case in earlier Bond movies, especially Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963), this would be a clever format for a more ‘detective’ approach to 007. Bond could take his time on his mission, taking more attention to details, while making the stakes a little smaller.

What is interesting though is that Eon Productions, the current producers and owners of the 007 franchise, managed by Barbara Broccoli and Micheal G. Wilson, are still on board and might retain creative control over the franchise.

The ‘Time Machine’ Option – The 1950s and 1960s

This is something that was discussed on the ‘Being James Bond’ podcast hosted by Joseph Darlington, and it’s an idea I quite like! Ian Fleming wrote the character of Bond on missions during the last phases of WWII and the peak of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The very first book, Casino Royale, was first issued in 1953, a decade before the first official Bond movie came out. Why not produce a period piece and illustrate the original, suave and womanizer James Bond in his element, back when Sean Connery had the reigns? There would be an excuse to have James Bond portrayed for the way he is, as a deeply flawed man who drinks too much, smokes and is a little misogynistic.

A portrait of James Bond in Ian Fleming’s novels

This is an elegant option for the character for multiple reasons:
– The Golden Age of James Bond is in the 1960s. It can be so again!
– It can allow the character to remain true to form, with all his qualities, but mostly his VICES as a man, without modernizing him too much, which was already done since Pierce Brosnan in 1995.
– Some of the best villains in the franchise (books and films) were Soviets or Nazi defectors.
– They can (at last) make a fair adaption of one of the best books in the series: Moonraker

All in all, the best source material for Bond was Fleming’s early work before the first film, Dr. No, was released in 1962. Although they did a great job adapting Bond to modern times as a man more gentle to women and who actually feels pain (both psychologically and physically), I like the fact that he remains a hero that was written for a bygone era who couldn’t possibly fit in according to modern standards. It would be an original and gutsy move to portray him again in the 1950s or 1960s, we could learn to hate him more, which won’t hurt the franchise in my opinion.

Sean Connery as James Bond 007 in promotional material for From Russia with Love [Credit: MGM Studios]

The ‘Expanded Universe’ OptionA Spin-off Series With Other Characters

Let’s not forget that in the streaming world, anything is possible! The Daniel Craig era introduced us to a superb cast of supporting characters, most importantly Bond’s MI6 colleagues: Mallory or ‘M’ (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Wishaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and now 00-agent Nomi (Lashanna Lynch). Why not simply produce a series on MI6, where those characters continue on with their daily work without Bond? Also, let’s not forget that 007 is a number among several in the 00 program, meaning eight other agents are employed by MI6 to keep the peace in the Commonwealth.

Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Lashanna Lynch and Ben Whishaw in No Time to Die [Credit: MGM Studios]

This ensemble cast is talented and ‘A-star’ enough to hold an entire series on their shoulders and to go on missions for King (yes, that’s also something to consider!) and country. We’ve been with these characters for so long since the 60s (except for Nomi), it might be interesting to give them more individual backstories as the movies didn’t. There is surely material in old Ian Fleming books they can use to tell us where Bond’s colleagues go from here.

There is also a memorable agent to include in the group. Ana de Armas was a revelation for many fans of No Time to Die. She played Paloma, a new CIA rookie sent in the field to assist Bond in Cuba to infiltrate a SPECTRE meeting. It’s a shame she was only in one scene, as her funny charisma was infectious and she had great moves during hand-to-hand combat scenes. Why not produce a limited series on her ongoing hunt for the last SPECTRE agents and take off where Felix Leiter left off after he passed away? I think fans will be pleased if they go in that direction, I’ll surely be.

Ana de Armas in No Time to Die [Credit: MGM Studios]

The question remains: what will happen to our beloved secret agent? Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long, but rest assured that Amazon Prime, MGM and EON are currently at work figuring it out for us.

On that note, happy 60th anniversary to the James Bond franchise! We hope there’s still more to come for decades again. In the meantime, I’ll go make myself a martini, shaken, not stirred.

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