Do We Have to Reboot James Bond Every Time the Series Gets a New Star Actor?

Nearly two years ago, James Bond actor Daniel Craig said that he’d rather “slash [his] wrists” than play 007 again. “All I want to do is move on,” he told Time Out of London before the release of “Spectre” in 2015, adding that if he “did another Bond movie, it would only be for the money.”

Well, it looks like the check has cleared. The word is out that Craig has renewed his license to kill for one last hurrah.

For those of you keeping score, that will make five Daniel Craig Bonds, which is more than Pierce Brosnan’s four Bonds, Timothy Dalton’s two, and George Lazenby’s single star turn in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

Craig will still have a couple more to go if he wants to match Roger Moore and Sean Connery, who both played Bond seven times –even though Connery’s final outing in “Never Say Never Again” wasn’t part of the “official” Bond canon, being merely a remake and improved-upon version of “Thunderball.”

Given the longevity of the Bond series and the musical-chairs nature of the lead role, one would think that Craig’s inevitable departure won’t much difference in the overall scheme of things.

“Who will be the next James Bond” is the title of innumerable gossip columns and chat board. Speculation always runs rampant as to whether and when the next Bond might shed his white male privilege, perhaps even follow in Doctor Who’s footsteps and undergo gender reassignment casting.

Bond has changed from a stand-alone series to a narrative structure

The problem is that when Daniel Craig took over the lead role, the entire series was rebooted and has followed a strict continuity ever since. That was a significant departure from the way things were previously done, as each cinematic episode was essentially a stand-alone exercise that only obliquely acknowledged that anything in the previous movies actually happened.

It also prevented audiences from noticing that Bond tended to change shape and size and shed a decade or two from his life history every so often.

In contrast, every one of the Daniel Craig Bonds has built on the events of the previous movie, with “Quantum of Solace” starting just moments after “Casino Royale” ended. “Skyfall” revealed the Bond backstory for the first time. And “Spectre” tied all these movies together as part of a convoluted plot by Ernst Stavro Blofeld to ruin Bond’s life.

In any case, it’s taken four movies to put the classic Bond formula firmly into place, with Q and M and Moneypenny now all ready to lend a hand to fight Blofeld, Bond’s most reliable bad guy.

So if Craig were to depart, the question would become whether or not to return to the soft continuity of the Connery/Moore transition, or go for another hard reboot and restart all this nonsense.

Given that we’ve now had three Spider-Man reboots in less than a decade, it wouldn’t be unprecedented to revisit Bond’s origins a second time.

In any case, this decision can be postponed for a few more years, which, overall, is a good thing. After all, the creators have spent four movies building Bond’s narrative infrastructure. It will be nice for Daniel Craig to get at least one movie to play around before they tear it all down again.

(Photo of Daniel Craig as James Bond at the premier of Spectre by Glyn Lowe used with permission.)


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