5 Ideas for the Future of Bond after Bond 25
by Jack Lugo
20 January 2019
The future of the Bond franchise after Bond 25 remains an uncertainty. With production gearing up to get underway for what many consider to be Daniel Craig’s last installment, many in the Bond fan community are starting to wonder where the Bond franchise will go after the February 2020 release of Bond 25. In the past, the answer to moving the franchise forward has always been simple – hire a new Bond actor. More than 50 years ago, when Sean Connery decided to step away from the role after You Only Live Twice, Eon decided to cast a new Bond actor deciding that the franchise could move on with a new actor in the role. Bond wasn’t Sean Connery despite the ad campaign for You Only Live Twice which read, “Sean Connery IS James Bond.” Time and again new actors have taken on the iconic role with the latest speculation almost continuously barraging the internet since filming wrapped on Spectre. A milieu of names have been offered by various media outlets, however, very little is known about what Eon actually plans to do (if they have any plans at all).
A recent article in The Sun cites a source who said that Barbara Broccoli hasn’t even begun thinking about casting anyone at all. In fact, the source in the article suggests that Eon hasn’t even created a shortlist of names to replace Daniel Craig. A logical way to look at this would be to simply accept the notion that Barbara Broccoli most likely would not want to undermine the production of Bond 25 by fueling internet rumors about who will be the next Bond while Craig is still very much the Bond actor of record. This assessment strikes me as a fair way to look at things. After all, there is still a Bond film to produce and one could only assume Eon would want to direct its efforts in a way that promotes Bond 25 to yield its fullest potential.
The question about how to move the franchise beyond the Daniel Craig era still remains, however, and a few ideas happen to spring to my mind. Some may not be very popular within certain “purist” circles of Bond fandom, but I will present them anyway. Paraphrasing what I said on another Bond fan page, if any of my opinions make you feel uncomfortable that most certainly says more about you than it does about me. I don’t pretend to know what Eon is thinking or what they plan to do next. That’s obviously something I’m not privy to, but I do have my own thoughts and opinions as a fan. The following is therefore a list of suggestions as to how I envision the Bond franchise progressing beyond Bond 25. Some are more plausible than others, and of course this is purely speculative. It’s hard to know what the franchise will do after Bond 25 if we don’t even know yet how Bond 25 will conclude. That having been said, here some potential paths for the future of 007.
1. Stick with Danny Boy
As The Sun article suggests, Eon could decide to continue its love affair with Daniel Craig. This will undoubtedly disappoint the click-bait “Who Will Be the Next Bond?” gossip writers as well as those within the Bond fan community who have grown weary of having a brooding Bond, but I for one agree with Barbara Broccoli’s assessment of Daniel Craig. I think he’s the best Bond actor after Sean Connery. His approach to portraying Bond has drawn praise from those of us who prefer a more “Fleming-esque” Bond actor who can let the audience into Bond’s psyche and show us a more vulnerable flawed man. There’s a reason why Casino Royale stands in sharp contrast to Die Another Day and that’s all because Daniel Craig sells the love story between Bond and Vesper in a way that no other prior Bond actor could have done. While Daniel Craig will turn 51 when production on Bond 25 begins, and many in Bond fandom tend to resist the notion of an actor playing Bond into his late 50s, if anyone could pull it off Craig very well could do it. Of course this would have to mean a faster turnaround time for Bond 26 likely setting it on pace to be released in 2023 with the actor at age 54 while filming. When put in perspective, Sir Roger was 57 when shooting A View to a Kill and with all due respect to Sir Roger, Daniel Craig seems to impose a rigorous fitness regimen upon himself to stay in shape. Sure, many in Bond fandom will harp on his age but if he can believably perform as Bond in a well crafted film, none of that will matter. We live in a time when aging actors prolong their ability to portray action heroes anyway. Just ask Liam Neeson or even (dare I mention) Tom Cruise who will be 60 once the 2nd of the upcoming back to back Mission Impossible films will be released in the summer of 2022. There’s also the possibility that Bond 25 may end on a cliffhanger. It’s been rumored that Daniel Craig has actively desired a Bond film modelled on the 1957 Fleming novel From Russia with Love, which (SPOILER ALERT) ends with Bond getting kicked with a poison boot by Rosa Klebb and losing consciousness. Readers back in that period had to wait until the end of March 1958 when Dr. No was published to find out that Bond survived. With regards to Bond 25, there’s always the possibility that Eon may decide to try out such a scenario cinematically by modelling Bond 25 and Bond 26 in similar fashion. I, for one, would love to see it. Whether or not it happens though, we shall have to wait and see.
2. Bring on Idris Elba
This is the part of my article where conservatives and “purists” get their panties in a tizzy and retreat to their safe spaces where they can scream defiantly into their pillows “Bond is white!” while contemplating their next Twitter rant. Okay, calm down. Are you still with me? Here’s the thing. There’s the cinematic Bond and there’s the literary Bond. Those are 2 mutually exclusive creations. Fleming created the literary character and if Eon were ever interested in doing 1950s-1960s period Bond Fleming adaptations, then of course Bond would have to be portrayed by a white actor. The cinematic Bond franchise, on the other hand has always been about delivering contemporary and modern entertainment. Fleming never wrote Bond escaping on jet pack or getting into laser fights in space, but somehow the same “purists” in Bond fandom haven’t started a movement to strike those elements from the cinematic cannon. Why not? Maybe it’s because they are willing to accept wildly divergent elements in the Bond film franchise as long as race isn’t involved. Bond is an intelligence agent working for MI6. In the real world, MI6 is actually trying to recruit more women and ethnic minorities. Mostly everyone agrees Idris Elba is a phenomenal actor. There’s a reason why his name emerged after the Sony hack indicated that he had been suggested by then Sony studio exec Amy Pascal. The man also happens to look impeccably suave while also exuding charm and can most definitely deliver as a dramatic actor capable of action scenes. So what’s the problem? Oh yes, if it’s not about race then it’s his age. Assuming Bond 26 comes out in 2023 or 2024 that will make him either 50 or 51 at the start of his Bond run and we all know a new Bond actor can’t start off that old . . . except why not? As I mentioned before, as long as the actor can stay fit and can believably perform the action scenes required of him, why can’t he start off older? The way I see it, if Elba becomes Bond, he obviously will be already established as 007 within the universe of his films and that’s okay. With the exception of Daniel Craig, we don’t usually get to see new Bond actors when Bond picks up the 007 mantel. Each Bond actor begins the role with Bond already having been established with a certain degree of history. Why can’t we do the same with Elba’s Bond if he were to take on the role? We would simply be catching him towards the tail end of his career, which can potentially be mined for some great dramatic material if crafted properly. Perhaps Elba might only do 2 or 3 films because he would be starting off in the role a tad bit older, but his casting would most certainly get mainstream audiences interested in Bond and even generate new fans. Sure, there may be some backlash from the “purists” but I suspect that most of them (at least the ones who aren’t actually racists) can be won over just as the anti-blonde Bond fans were won over when Daniel was cast. As long as Eon delivers a great film, I suspect that the majority of those fans who objected will be the same ones who’ll pretend they were always supportive the move. To be clear, I don’t think the choice of Elba would be or should be politically motivated. His name has been suggested because he’s a phenomenal British actor who can play Bond and embody all of Bond’s characteristics.
3. No Bond, Just 007
Admittedly, this is quite an “outside the box” idea. As fans, many of us roll our eyes at the infamous code name theory. It’s the kind of thing an acquaintance or distant relative who isn’t really a Bond fan will toss out at you when you see them at a holiday party. Depending on how polite you feel like being on that particular day, you’ll either take up the cause and go into excruciating detail as to why the code name theory doesn’t work or you’ll ignore the person entirely and pretend you didn’t hear them (suddenly you’ve become eager to participate in a conversation about your great aunt’s hemorrhoids). We’ve all been there. Here’s a different more acceptable approach. Anthony Horowitz’s latest Bond book Forever and a Day serves a prequel to Fleming’s Casino Royale. It begins with 007 only 007 isn’t James Bond. That this other 007 gets killed and James Bond is suggested as a replacement should come as no surprise, so why not explore a similar avenue in the cinematic Bond universe? As I said before, we don’t know what’s in store Bond 25, but it has been suggested that the film will involve a Bond girl who happens to be an MI6 agent serving as a protege with Bond as her mentor. Presumably, this could be Bond training his eventual replacement. If the film ends with Bond being presumed dead, M may waste no time and instill the 007 number on the woman who James Bond spent part of the film mentoring. Even if Eon chooses to discard the Craig era continuity after Bond 25, it may not be such a bad idea to give James Bond a break and simply have a new 007. Then, 007 could be anyone. Female 007? Why not! Understandably, some Bond fans won’t like this idea, and I get it. It would most certainly be a departure but it would also allow for non-traditional casting without altering the character of Bond since the central character won’t be Bond anymore at least for a brief respite of time. That’s not to say we’ll never see Bond again, but if recent comments about Bond being more difficult to write from Purvis and Wade and everyone being “a bit tired” (presumably Barbara and Michael) from Daniel Craig after the release of Spectre are any indication, then perhaps this might be just the right way to reinvigorate the franchise by allowing it to explore the perspective of a different agent 007 while also taking time to re-chart the course of James Bond and determine just who that character will be for the future perhaps even setting up a world for the new James Bond to step into once they’re ready to bring the character back. Many fans currently complain about the lack of planning from Eon. Spectre retconned all of Daniel’s movies in a way that forced the events of all those films to be linked without the necessary planning and set up required to do it in a convincing way. By taking time away from Bond, it may allow Eon to plot out a trajectory for Bond while still delivering films that occupy the same universe that Bond will eventually inhabit. This would require much foresight and “world building,” but it could pay off tremendously if executed properly.
4. Period Adaptations of the Fleming Novels
In 2017 a story emerged that Apple and Amazon were interested in buying the rights to James Bond. It wasn’t clear if they were interested in buying out either Eon’s or MGM’s shares or perhaps even buying out both. No further updates ever surfaced. What did occur to me at the time, however, is that maybe this may have presented an opportunity to adapt the Fleming novels as an ongoing series on a streaming service as period pieces. There doesn’t need to be any kind of buyout in order for Eon and MGM to partner with a streaming service and look towards exploring the potential offered by such a move. It could even be something to offer fans while concurrently producing the cinematic franchise, a way to keep Bond’s presence active during the long gaps in between films. Some Bond fans may not like this idea because we’ve been used to Eon’s more traditional single event film approach, however, the idea that 2 different Bond universes could exist at the same time isn’t that complicated. Comic book fans of other franchises have long accepted this, and the notion of multiverses won’t throw too many people off as long as they don’t make them all that complicated. 1950s-1960s Bond could exist on a streaming platform while the cinematic Bond could exist in modern day as each new film gets produced. It’s an approach I would welcome as someone who loves the Fleming books, and one that I think fans would embrace.
5. Play it Safe But Keep it Fresh
Okay, so the majority of Bond fans usually get excited about the following names: Henry Cavill, Aidan Turner, Richard Madden, or Tom Hardy. A solid argument could be made for each of them. Of those names, I’d probably favor Henry Cavill or Tom Hardy, but if Eon and MGM were to choose one of the other two, I wouldn’t have any objections. Such a move will harken back to the time tested tradition of simply choosing a new Bond actor and setting forth with the series playing to that actor’s strengths. What I suggest they do differently, however, has to do with the marketing approach. Traditionally, they select the new Bond actor, introduce him at a press conference just as the film is about to go into production, and then the resulting film comes out about a year or more later. I’d like to suggest a different approach, one that might get younger audiences excited while also satisfying some lifelong fans. Bond fans are aware that 2022 will be the 60th anniversary of the cinematic series. It’s highly unlikely they can get a Bond film ready so soon after Bond 25 comes out in February 2020. What if they not only introduce one of these actors in 2022 for the 60th anniversary, but also produce a series of short viral videos giving Bond fans a glimpse of the new guy in the role? Let’s say they do 3 short films (about 5-10 minutes each) showing the new Bond in different scenarios. It’ll get audiences interested in and talking about Bond while giving us a taste of how the new guy looks and acts in the iconic role. It’ll give us an idea of what’s in store for when Bond 26 finally gets released. Maybe, we see him at casino playing chemin de fer against a devious man, or we see him in bed with an alluring yet dangerous femme fatale. Put him in scenarios where there’s a hint of danger or a sniff of the boudoir. Recently, Star Trek began producing Short Treks as a way to satiate Trek fans in between seasons of their new series Star Trek: Discovery. Why not take a similar approach with Bond? These shorts would be relatively inexpensive to produce while also keep Bond in the public eye. Of course, we’ve already had the Heineken commercial as well as the Danny Boyle directed Olympics short with The Queen, but this would take the idea a bit further.
Whatever Eon decides to do after Bond 25, it’ll be interesting to see if they modify their approach to the franchise whether it’s with a different creative approach or a different marketing approach. Bond fans often get frustrated by the increasing gaps in between films and the lack of the franchise’s presence at events like Comic Con. There are places to go like Bond in Motion in London, the various live orchestral performances of Casino Royale and Skyfall, the upcoming Bond exhibit at the Spyscape museum in New York City, as well as the Secret Cinema Casino Royale event in London. Still, Bond fans would like more ways to engage with the franchise and those events are mostly limited to specific dates or locations. As Eon looks to the future after Bond 25, perhaps it might consider the notion that the old ways aren’t necessarily the best ways. The franchise can very much adapt a new approach while still maintain all the elements we love about it.
article by Jack Lugo (@JackLugo1 on Twitter)