How to Save James Bond
With Daniel Craig supposedly hanging up his tux after Bond 25, debate continues to rage over who should replace him. Well, ‘rage’ might be an overstatement – but it trundles along, bursting into life every time a brown-haired actor even looks at a dinner jacket.
The thing is, breathless fans and headline-baiting bookies are so obsessed with who should play Bond that they ignore the real question: how do we freshen up the franchise as a whole in the post-Craig era?
We have some suggestions...
Do an origin story
Is James Bond cool? James Bond is not cool. Even setting aside his toxic workplace conduct (inappropriate comments, murder, snark etc), modern 007 is just too aloof and dour. Great for when he’s trading quips with cyber-terrorists, less so when a mutual friend pops to the loo and you’re stuck with him at the pub.
You know who is cool? James Bond Jr, his mildly popular nineties cartoon nephew. Let’s look at the facts, shall we? Proto-Pat Sharpe mullet: cool. Going to an English boarding school full of moustachioed American wrestlers: admittedly, less cool. Single-handedly fighting a terrorist organisation known simply as SCUM: very, very, very cool.
The lesson here? An origin story could really shake things up a bit. Ian Fleming’s original character was crafted in perpetual 30-something stasis, but it’s starting to feel more like a mid-life crisis. There’s only so long we can be expected to suffer along with him.
Basically the same as now, but replace the entire opening sequence with a 40 minute wait at passport control.
Step back in time
The franchise has been making guilty digs at itself ever since M called Bond a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” in 1996’s GoldenEye, and yet the character hasn’t really evolved since then. He’s still the /r/RedPill übermensch – a smirking, womanising archetype who probably posts 'Real Men Wear Suits' memes to his Finsta. Even Daniel Craig thinks that Bond is a a tragic case, telling us in 2015: “He’s very f***ing lonely. There’s a great sadness.”
But all this self-flagellation is getting us nowhere. How much longer can we shoe horn Bond into a culture that's left him behind? Either he modernises or the writers should hold his actions to account. Instead of letting this waist-grabbing Godzilla roam the streets, why not just release him back into his natural habitat: the sixties? Lay his misogyny, sad stoicism and post-imperialist delusions bare in a context that actually makes sense, and critique it intelligently in the vain of Mad Men. If you're going to confront Bond's toxic behaviour, don't follow it up with a wink and a nudge.
Plus, somewhat more importantly, the suits and cars would be really nice.
Just put Taffin in a suit
Much like random women walking down Oxford Street minding their own business, James Bond should smile more. Fans generally agree that, while Daniel Craig’s dark, brooding turn brought Fleming’s “anonymous, blunt instrument” to life, the next 007 should probably have more of a laugh about it. Hey, it might never happen!
So who do you turn to when you need a character that sits equidistant to Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan on the cheese spectrum? Pierce Brosnan of course! Specifically, a rehash of the performance that helped him win the part in the first place: 1988’s Taffin.
Brosnan is pure box office as a feather-haired debt collector who uses karate to solve a land dispute in the Irish town of Ballymoran. It’s Bond-esque, with its snappy one-liners, fast cars and stunts, but darker, cooler and much, much worse. Whatever the case, it’s probably worth going the Solskjær route and giving the gun to Los Bros until we’ve come up with a better plan. He just seems to really enjoy it, you know? It’s nice.
Bond... in space! (again)
Written a year before the Cold War space race popped off proper, Ian Fleming knew the concept behind Moonraker (‘Bond, right? But in space’) was pure gold. That’s why he wrote a screenplay before he even started on the novel.
But when Moonraker finally jumped off the back of Star Wars' sci-fi bandwagon in 1979, cinemagoers didn’t share his enthusiasm. The movie is now considered a series nadir for its relentlessly silly and confusing storyline. It's only saving grace came in the form of villain Hugo Drax, a “megalomaniac” entrepreneur with poor decision-making skills who funnels all of his money into incomprehensible space projects.
Remind you of anyone? You get the feeling that Elon Musk would relish a chance to take on Bond in a cameo appearance, in so far as he hasn't said no to anything in several years. As the world continues to burn and unstoppable billionaires seek power and profit margins in the stars, the time could be right—finally—for an intergalactic 007 adventure.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.