Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
With Star Wars and Jurassic World the previous week, the past seven days has revealed the cast for Bond 24, aka SPECTRE, alongside confirmation that Ryan Reynolds will return in the standalone X-Men movie Deadpool. We knew 2015 was going to be busy, but now we are seeing a hint of the future. I doubt we will leave the cinema from May through to December! Nevertheless, Variety connected the dots between 007 and Marvel:
Since Marvel Studios started producing its own films and TV shows, Hydra has served as a heavy in “Captain America,” “The Avengers” and on ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” … It’s hard not to ignore the timing of the decision to re-introduce SPECTRE on the big screen.
Read the full article by Marc Graser here.
In this era of reboots and rejigs, it is easy to make connections between series. The 007 canon famously owes a debt to action films throughout the past fifty years. Whether it was blaxploitation in Live and Let Die or the 18+ shoot ‘em ups of Lethal Weapon impacting on Licence to Kill, it seems natural to connect Marvel to the suave spy.
But I fear Graser’s assumption that SPECTRE “will seem very familiar to fans of Marvel’s comicbooks and movies” loses a little credibility as I don’t believe that a secret organisation is the exclusive property of Marvel. In terms of cinematic connections, even the new Daniel Craig era introduced Quantum (clearly SPECTRE pre-McClory court case) in Quantum of Solace only months after the first Marvel film, Iron Man, was released.
What Marvel films have done (and I would pre-date this further to the year-on-year Saw series) is prove the merits of consistency. The recurring role of Tony Stark in the Iron Man series and Clark Gregg’s appearance in almost every Marvel film up to The Avengers proved a consistency that ensured fans kept coming back to see the next chapter in the Marvel ‘story’. The same actor legitimises the universe they have built, and teases a cameo in other films. When Tony Stark appeared at the end of The Incredible Hulk, it was a deft piece of marketing as the millions of tickets sold for Iron Man would now focus their attention on The Incredible Hulk to see him again for a few seconds in the closing credits.
This is where MGM has taken note. Mr White (Jesper Christensen), who appeared in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (and criticised them both, refusing to return for Skyfall), has been recast in SPECTRE. The X-Men universe also, despite its awkward and embarrassing X-Men Origins: Wolverine (all but ignored in X-Men: Days of Future Past) has managed to charm Ryan Reynolds back to lead a Deadpool movie in the revived X-Men universe – legitimising the critically panned spin-off as part of the series while promising a change in the next film.
James Bond has a history, and he has surely inspired Marvel more than Marvel has inspired him. In fact the influence of The Dark Knight and The Bourne Supremacy is overt, while Marvel hasn’t been considered whatsoever. But this choice piece of casting, alongside the direct-sequel nature between each film (Ralph Fiennes earning the role of M in Skyfall, continues with his leadership in SPECTRE) is the only influence Marvel has had on the series. And even then, I wouldn’t attribute that to Marvel in any case. SPECTRE, SMERSH or QUANTUM have all been key to James Bond since 1962, and in the novels during the 1950’s. Hydra didn’t appear in the comics, in Strange Tales, until 1965. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby must’ve been watching Dr No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger and, by proxy, SPECTRE became what they needed for their comic-book villains: Hydra.
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Listen to the Flickering Myth Podcast’s thoughts on SPECTRE using the player below: