* This article contains major spoilers for No time to die*
Our national obsession with the “next James Bond” has never been who could realistically lead the franchise into its next chapter. It’s just a competition to see which British actor is, in fact, the most British of all. We’ve all heard the suitors: Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, James Norton, Luke Evans. Sometimes someone will add a woman’s name to the mix (Emilia Clarke! Suranne Jones!) And claim that a Bond woman would be a truly feminist act. The only real qualifier is that they look pretty decent in a tuxedo and seem like they can tell the difference between a shaken or stirred martini. And I find it all quite tiring. Too often, these are empty conversations, focused on betting odds and industry rumors, that show no consideration for what a Bond with Tom Hardy or Emilia Clarke might look like.
My only hope is that with the release of No time to die, Daniel Craig’s latest release, things could finally change. Here’s a chance for the Bond franchise to take a break, take stock of what it really stands for, and then confidently move forward towards its future. It’s not enough to just put someone else in Craig’s shoes and hope for the best. We have reached a breaking point. Something drastic must happen. And that’s the promise made by No time to dieThe seismic finale of, which has delivered what (so far) seemed like the impossible: Bond is dead. What can only come after is a rebirth.
I don’t know how Bond’s death will play out with the audience. Some will likely dismiss it as a shock tactic from producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli – a guaranteed way to get people talking at a time when the blockbuster landscape is more competitive than ever. But I think there is poetry in there. Aside from all the ups and downs of the Craig era (is it better to just forget Quantum of Consolation ever existed?), the actor has done something that goes beyond his predecessors in the role. It was he who gave Bond his soul – a whole soul, not just defined by a feeling of lightness, darkness or danger. In all conversations about the place of Ian Fleming’s creation – as the last breath of male, imperialist power – in our modern world, we often underestimate how much Craig’s own performance confronts and challenges the legacy of the character.
The burden of his Bond, engraved in his forehead, is the knowledge that he can never escape his 00 identity because that is all he has. He is a man left behind by the world – forever outdated and useful only as a living weapon, a “blunt instrument,” as M de Judi Dench calls him. This is why his attempts to retreat or his desire to find lasting love always seem doomed to failure. Is there a better way to modernize Bond than what Craig achieved? I am not so sure. Superficially changing Bond’s race or gender for statement alone wouldn’t say more than what has already been said. The only way the franchise could break away from its misogynistic and racist past for good would be to cease to exist. And there is still far too much money to be made.
Part of me thinks the best way forward for Bond is for his filmmakers to become a little less thoughtful. It’s clear that Wilson and Broccoli have thought long and hard about how Bond can remain relevant in a world so dominated by the complex multi-movie universes of Marvel, DC, and Star Wars. But the solution was simply to replicate the approach, instead of trying to offer audiences something different – the worst excesses of the Craig era all originate from the fact that every movie should be treated as a chapter. of a larger narrative, entirely so that Waltz’s Christoph Blofeld could have a speech about being the author of All Bond Pain.
My biggest worry is that the next Bond will only dig deeper into this ‘cinematic universe’ approach to franchise building and that Bond’s death will only be the gateway to another story of gravelly origin. But imagine, imagine, if we received something completely different. How about an elegant and campy period piece? What if, instead of a tortured Leap, we had Henry Golding as a charismatic but reluctant spy who really only has the head to party? It is, after all, the franchise that defined a genre. Why should Bond play by his own rules?
‘No Time To Die’ is now in theaters