Neil Calloway thinks more films set in the Bond Universe should remain on the drawing board…
Of course there is talk of a James Bond Cinematic Universe; I’d put good money on someone in Hollywood holding a meeting about whether there should be a La La Land Cinematic Universe. Bond is possibly the most iconic franchise in film, and any studio would be looking to milk that name recognition and its box office for all it can; one film every couple of years, with the occasional longer break really isn’t making the brand work for the studio. Eon and Sony are surely looking at Marvel, DC and Star Wars and wondering whether they can have their own magic money tree to harvest.
The thing is, semi-regular films centred on one character is pretty much all Bond can sustain. It’s one thing to propose a series of films featuring M, Q, Felix Leiter or Moneypenny, but these aren’t like the characters in Marvel or DC Comics; despite being around since the 1950s, they haven’t been fleshed out in their outlets; they exist solely to orbit Bond. Without him they aren’t fully formed personalities who have their own story arcs. Nobody owns a copy of Bill Tanner No. 1, first published by Action Comics in 1938.
The character of Bond can barely sustain its own series of movies; it has to be reinvented and rebooted every decade or so to keep people interested. Even its latest star appears bored with the franchise, which is no surprise given that the last film in the series was pre-empted in terms of both plot and location by Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. When the fifth film in a franchise based on a 1960s TV show, you need to come up with new ideas for your main star, let alone his hangers-on.
It’s been more than twenty years since GoldenEye, where Judi Dench’s M, in a moment of heavy-handed “it’s about the movies and the character” dialogue says “I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you” and frankly not much has changed since then; the Daniel Craig Bond films have attempted to darken the franchise and add more realism, but more often than not they’ve reverted to type.
Sometimes less is more, and that’s certainly the case with Bond. A Bond Cinematic Universe needs to remain an idea thrown around in a meeting and discarded as quickly as 007 gets rid of women.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.