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James Bond: How Reinventing 007 Could Change the Franchise

CBR logo CBR 7/7/2022 Carlos T. Lopes
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Producer Barbara Broccoli has said that the next James Bond film could be at least two years away from starting production, and the task at hand is finding the new 007. But before the search starts, the filmmakers are in the process of reinventing the title role. This could mean a lot of things to the franchise that saw drastic changes in its last entries.

Barbara Broccoli has been behind the James Bond franchise for nearly 30 years, along with her brother Michael G. Wilson. They were honored on June 29 for their BFI Fellowships in London, and at the event, she was asked about the state of the next James Bond film and who will be replacing Daniel Craig, to which she responded that so far, "nobody’s in the running." Broccoli confirms that there isn’t any script or any idea, for that matter, since they are currently reinventing James Bond. This could mean further changes to a franchise that has already changed substantially in the last few years.

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When Casino Royale opened in 2006, it presented the biggest change 007 has seen since Sean Connery first played the famous British spy. Influenced by the success of The Bourne Identity, James Bond was now a more relatable character with a dirtier past, albeit still stylish in his own way. Following the trend in Hollywood, the franchise also took a risk by making direct sequels to Casino Royale instead of the standalone films that had become popular since the 1960s. It pulled bigger acting and directing names to its cast and crew, with Sam Mendes helming Skyfall, which became the most successful James Bond movie of all time.

Despite a few bumps along the way, with MGM getting in trouble and a few of its productions being hit by the writers' strike and creative differences, it still aimed at being bold enough to take risks. The last entry, No Time To Die, made confident decisions by giving James Bond an ending like he had never seen before. The filmmakers gave him a daughter and then killed him off at the end, both moves that made sense to a continuous story arc that spawned a total of five films.

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The usual practice was to have Bond return in different iterations every so often, played by different actors but bearing the same James Bond name and ignoring the previous stories in favor of standalone films. But what about now? By making the confident decision of killing Bond, the franchise has the possibility of evolving into bolder decisions. No Time To Die also presented audiences with the first female 007, Lashana Lynch's Nomi. Such a historic role could be developed even further if she were to step up and lead the franchise. Lynch could return and regain the 007 status.

However, Broccoli hasn’t been very open to that decision since the franchise still bases itself on Ian Fleming’s novels, which envisioned James Bond as a male British spy. "We’re working out where to go with him, we’re talking that through," said the producer, hinting that Bond will remain a man. "There isn’t a script and we can’t come up with one until we decide how we’re going to approach the next film because, really, it’s a reinvention of Bond." Killing Bond in No Time To Die definitely makes it easy to replace his role, but it could also mean continuing the franchise with the other familiar faces of the last films.

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With an ensemble of actors who have returned to their roles in a continuing story, like Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw, the solution may be to continue with their roles. Fiennes, who was also present at the ceremony, joked, "Naomie and I are the people to fix it," referring to Broccoli’s search for the next James Bond. "You find him and we’ll train him." If the franchise proved anything, it is that it can definitely evolve with the changing times and still be successful and connect to audiences.

Nevertheless, knowing that they’re invested in continuing the franchise and open to Bond’s reinvention means that they're keeping up with a fast-changing world. And audiences will surely be seeing some surprises that can further improve the next 007 outings.


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