Thursday 27 August 2015

Who is James Bond? The Reboot and Skyfall Problem

Warning, this is sort of rambly.

Who is James Bond? A question seemingly easily answered, he’s 007, only child to Andrew and Monique who died in a mountain climbing accident when he was 11. This is one of the background aspects of James Bond’s life that has carried over from the novels into the film universe. Why am I asking the question “who is James Bond” then? It’s simple, in the Bond cinematic universe, it was never really established that the person we see in the role of James Bond, 007, was actually born to Andrew and Monique, the actors changed, the name stayed the same; but Skyfall changed everything and SPECTRE will change it more.

Never before have the films gone back to James Bond’s past to investigate family connections. As it is now, thanks to Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s James Bond is actually James Bond, child of Andrew and Monique, lived at Skyfall, his parents died when he was 11 and was orphaned. James Bond as we see on the screen now is in fact James Bond, his birth certificate would say so. “But Josh, it’s just a movie, and just another actor playing James Bond, it doesn’t matter!” Sure it does, and that’s the issue, imagine if you would, ever film before Daniel Craig took Walther, the actors playing 007 are playing someone, but in fact that person is not “James Bond” but perhaps “John Smith” and at some point in time there was a “James Bond” who was 007 and made such an impact in the intelligence climate that MI6 decided it needed to keep the idea of “James Bond” around. So every actor who played James Bond before Daniel Craig was just playing someone who had taken on the mantle of 007/James Bond to keep it alive. They’d do missions and eventually retire or die, then another person would be selected to become 007. It sounds like a stretch, and yes it is, but it makes sense.

Flash forward to Casino Royale, the opening scene of promoting the agent to 007, did Daniel Craig’s Bond just become Bond or was there something else going on? Take Casino Royale as the reboot of the franchise, a fresh slate for EON to start rebuilding and redefining who James Bond is and why he is how he is. Skyfall then defines Daniel Craig’s James Bond as James Bond in Skyfall as previously mentioned. We now, for the first time in the Bond Cinematic Universe (BCU, fuck you, I’m making this a thing) have someone who is legitimately James Bond.

Now if Casino Royale was indeed a reboot of the BCU, then whether or not everything that took place before Casino Royale in the BCU is in continuity/cannon now is unknown, since the only constant to those films was Dame Judi Dench’s M. I have a feeling that curve-ball is only because of contractual stipulations and to see if rebooting everything would work the rekindle the movie, and it did.

SPECTRE will establish another part of Bond’s history, and again making the case for “what do we do after Daniel Craig?” The character being played by Christoph Waltz is Franz Oberhauser, son of Hannes Oberhauser, who, after Bond’s parents died, was Bond’s guardian during the school holidays who taught him to ski and was somewhat of a father figure to Bond. It just, like I said, throws another wrench into the whole “what next?” issue. [Stay tuned for another post all about SPECTRE and a lot of my assumptions about the movie and plot]

Now the real question, what will Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson do post Daniel Craig? Will they establish what I said earlier how the idea and name of James Bond is so important to MI6 that they’ll just establish the next actor has taken the mantle and name of James Bond when they become the next 007? Will they introduce some sort of story of “the last James Bond/007 retired, we need you to become him”? Will they do another reboot? Personally, I hope they go with “there was someone before you, but we need you to become him” it makes the idea more important than the man. Skyfall wrote them into a corner they now need to figure out how to get out of.

That’s all for now.

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