I feel like this discussion needs to address the non-comic book action genre beyond Bond.
Mission Impossible: middle age white guy. No apologies. If there are controversies around the Ethan Hunt character, I've missed them. And the next one will probably be better than and out earn NTTD. Big Scooby gang vibe, though. Personally, I don't like the supporting cast stuff any better in these films than I do in SP and NTTD.
John Wick: middle age white guy. Zero apologies. The first action franchise to really break through in a long time. We got 15 minutes of Halle Berry, and that's about it. They've fleshed out some of the supporting characters but is anyone clamoring for more Bowery King? You could argue that no action franchise feels more tuned into the moment than Wick. And he's a middle age white guy. (Keanu has mixed ancestry, obviously, but the character is explicitly Caucasian.)
Bourne: middle age white guy. No apologies. But audiences seemed more tired of the character than they objected to him.
I'm just not seeing in these franchises the sea change some of you feel is looming.
Yeah, Bond might be a special case because of his looooong history as an icon of a certain brand of masculinity. And his association with the British Empire. But if these other white male centered franchises are flourishing, why do we think Bond will be the one character crushed or neutered by Gen Z wokeness?
There's no franchise that represents the big, diverse, multiracial cast of characters approach more than the Fast and Furious movies, but it seems a lot more about appealing commercially to the most segments possible (by having a representative character to identify with) than political correctness. But I don't see why anyone would believe Eon wants to make those movies (although their bubblegum feel is pretty close to early Bond, if you ask me), especially if there are other, more respected avenues to commercial success. Barbara wants another Oscar, I'm sure. F&F seems more sun generis to me than the inevitable shape of things to come.
I'm not sure you can criticise Mission Impossible for a 'Scooby Gang' vibe: it's Mission Impossible- it's supposed to be a team of agents. That's the format. It's like saying you don't like Robin Hood because he's got all of those merry men around 😁
Well, yes, that's a big part of my point. What the Craig era slyly did -- and this is more to my point -- is deconstruct Bond as a toxic White male who ultimately loses while also presenting him with enough familiar qualities that quite a few hardcore fans didn't get the joke. They still think that's the same Bond we saw in the Craig era. It will continue to evolve this way, I'm pretty sure. We're no longer as relevant as an audience who wants a broader and more diverse appeal (as some have wanted all along but were ignored).
But he didn't save the day. The bombing of Saffin's headquarters was happening whether Bond was there or not -- it was M who ordered those ships into those waters. All Bond did was kill some guards and then resign himself to his own death after being shot and injected with the nanobots. Strangely enough, Bond is actually rather redundant in the last 20 minutes of the movie since Nomi kills Obruchev and spirits Swann and Mathilde out. Bond's only purpose seems to be to get himself killed.
The rest, I have no idea what you're saying.
I can't make it much clearer (" Imagine Paloma being his partner through the entire film and even having some of the better lines" you said: that's imaginary, not something that ever happened, or anything which there's any sign of happening in the future); and as I remember, it's Bond who tells -and persuades- M to fire a load of missiles, and who opens the silo doors so that the contents of the farm are actually destroyed. The whole point of the ending of the film is that the doors have to be opened otherwise the missiles will have no effect: it's made really clear and it's why Bond spends so much time trying to open them. He saves the day.
Yes, White males are the problem in every Bond movie -- snort, that's the point the 5-film arc is making. They create all the problems one way or the other and then others bungle their way through trying to solve them. The Craig era lampoons this, deconstructing Bond not as the pinnacle of masculinity but as a toxic White male who lives a barren personal life, gets his boss killed, frequently fails personally and professionally, is an unhappy, paranoid, depressed substance abuser, and ultimately -- and this is the wittiest bit -- gets himself blown up and leaves his daughter without a father. The sum total of his life is failure. That's the gag. The old timers don't see it because they still think this is the Bond they grew up with. It's not. The qualities that made him admirable in the previous 24 movies now make him a foil in the Craig ones.
Absolutely the titles are more dour because it was obvious in the previous run that Bond was not the butt of the joke. He clearly wins and survives. He's not the one dying in Live and Let Die. He's the one dispensing death. Just because Dies is in the title doesn't make Tomorrow Never Dies dour -- it's actually the opposite because it says tomorrow is always there (and wasn't even the original title, Tomorrow Never Lies). The World is Not Enough is meant as an ode to success and ambition, which is why it's the Bond family motto. Bray says as much in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
But the Bond family mansion being called Skyfall -- a tragic fall from Heaven -- yes, that's pretty dour. The joke's on them. Quantum of Solace really is commentary on the state of Bond's happiness in the run of his five films -- it's pretty rare, isn't it? No Time to Die is a very plain title until one sees it as a punchline. Yep, guess it was no time for Bond to die given he was just starting to get his life back together and discovers he has a child. Womp, womp. Cue the Benny Hill music.
The Craig 5-movie arc is not a celebration of Bond. Casino Royale could have set it up that way, but they went the opposite direction. Trying to piggyback Craig's Bonds onto the previous 24 to see them in some sort of tonal and thematic simpatico is wrong -- if anything, the Craig films are a virtual satire of Bond in those movies. Yes, he has many of the same traits and trappings, but they're used to a very different conclusion, one in which Bond literally gets himself killed by his own government, a metaphorical comment on the character and what he represents.
Yes, I said 'Tomorrow Never Dies' is a positive title, not a negative one. Please don't take what I'm saying and try to use as an argument against the same point: that makes even less sense than the rest of it.
I think if you're going to take examples of the new films doing what the films have always done and then claim those as proof that they're somehow subverting the whole thing, then you're bending over backwards to find issue. Maybe the presence of Aston Martins is somehow a slap in the face to real Bond fans too or something? Because, sure, old Bond had them, but new Bond having them is clearly meant ironically or something 😁
I'm not sure what your point is anymore. You seem to be disagreeing, but I can't make sense of all of it from what you're saying or how you're saying it. I'll stop trying.
You seem to be in denial that a satire (and a deconstruction) takes exactly the same thing, presents it from a different perspective, and subverts its meaning. Bond is a swaggering toxic White male in the first 21 movies because he's both shown to enjoy his life and get away with it as the hero, the rare exception being On Her Majesty's Secret Service, whose ending is all but retconned in the next movie. Bond is a swaggering toxic White male in the Craig films and he's shown to loathe his life and doesn't get away with anything, not necessarily being the hero -- in the end, he's blown up by his own people. These are two completely different perspectives on the value of the toxic White male.
The overarching point I'm making is I don't believe this is a fluke. We're going to continue to see Bond in this way in one form or another, whether that's to limit him more in his own movies, present him as a missing character in a series of novels, or show more women and minorities in positions of power and relevance. These are not just minor tweaks or simple concessions to changing times but fundamental to Bond's value as a character. It would have been inconceivable to end Bond's career with him getting himself killed by his own people before. Now, not at all.
What is it you don't understand about what I'm saying? I'm reading it back and I can't see the issue. You present us with an imaginary version of Paloma as proof that the path we're going down is terrible, and yet don't understand when it's pointed out that an imaginary version is proof of nothing?
Dalton's Bond states clearly that he will thank M if he fires him, he then quits in the next film. These are egregious subversions of Bond too? Or are they just different narratives paths?
I'm uncomfortable with your apparent unease with "more women and minorities in positions of power and relevance", and I'm now feeling like that's what this thread has been mostly about to be honest. There's zero evidence that Bond will become a backseat driver in his own series, least of all from an unrelated series of books which a tiny percentage of the filmgoing audience will ever be aware of. You've had to ignore examples of women saving Bond right from the beginning, your definition of 'satire' is questionable, and don't seem to have understood the plot of the current film either. Your case is extremely shaky I'm afraid.
I didn’t say I didn’t like it or enjoy it, but it’s a weak film elevated to iconic status just for the elements I stated
The books are my thing. Far more important than the films. I own most of the first editions and not all of the DVDs. But the film Goldfinger is a shadow of the novel. You can’t compare them.
You seem to be putting your own odd spin on what I say, which is perhaps why you don't get what I'm actually saying I never said I was uncomfortable with women and minorities in positions of power and relevance, for example. And you think that's what the whole thread was about?
But it's fine. I'll keep posting what I think, you can soldier on rereading your own posts, and I think we'll both be happy or at least happier.
Why can’t you edit or delete some stuff anymore on this platform. It’s annoying.
So are you saying these changes which you forsee ("to limit him more in his own movies, present him as a missing character in a series of novels, or show more women and minorities in positions of power and relevance") are good or bad? Or you don't have any opinion on them at all?
Again you seem to have ignored a lot of other stuff there.
"There's zero evidence that Bond will become a backseat driver in his own series".
@emtiem true, but it also works with the opposite: there's zero evidence that he will not. And let's be clear, I'm not saying it will be the case one day. But this debate didn't even seem exist fiteen years ago. So the question would be more: "why did such a question suddenly appear?".
I think what @Gassy Man tries to share is a sort of fear about the future concerning the versions of Bond we'll have to deal with. Craig opened the door to something, but is it the one of the right room ? I have absolutely no answer for the moment. He is the actor whose portrayal of Bond is the most opaque and the most difficult to embrace for me.
I always considered Sean and Timothy as the two genuine versions of Bond. The first one as the quintessential heroe who defined the myth on screen, the second one as the faithful portrayal of the literary character Fleming had created. And as a result, I never was a fan of Craig's. The man is a talented actor, there's no doubt about it. But I never identified with his version of Bond. He wanted to bring darkness and humanity, but Dalton succeeded in a much better way IMO, especially in LTK, a movie which remains a real masterpiece in terms of acting, directing, storytelling...
Can you imagine Craig putting a knife on Lupe's face and pronouncing the line "make a sound and you're dead" ? It just wouldn't fit with his portrayal, so wouldn't it with Moore's and Brosnan's. But the difference between Red Grant's lookalike and these last two is the fact the first one is taking himself too seriously while he doesn't go that far if we think about it. And the consequence of all this gives me the feeling I never really got the essence of his performance, except in CR06 which I think is a kind of UNFO in this reboot, probably because the novel was already a very solid base storywise.
"There's zero evidence that Bond will become a backseat driver in his own series".
@emtiem true, but it also works with the opposite: there's zero evidence that he will not. And let's be clear, I'm not saying it will be the case one day.
There's zero evidence that he'll turn into a giant green balloon either, so I'm equally unconcerned about that. A strong possible explanation for your question about why has that question come up is probably to be found in the comments section of almost any story on the Daily Mail website, where folks have been conditioned to decry almost everything because it's 'woke'. There's a culture war being stoked and quite often the shots fired are just misinformation or overreaction. Do you remember how certain lots of people were that Nomi would undermine Bond, replace him as the hero, how terrible it was she was 007 etc.? How about the horrible headlines about Ms Waller-Bridge being a writer on the film? How did that turn out?
To think that Bond can only become a backseat driver in his own series in the modern world is to ignore that there's one in the cinemas right now, in the modern world, and in that film he's not.
Can you imagine Craig putting a knife on Lupe's face and pronouncing the line "make a sound and you're dead" ?
I realise it sounds irritatingly contrary, but I genuinely find that not terribly hard to imagine I'm afraid. He could do that just fine. He'd probably say it in a calmer, more confident way than Dalton did, but he'd be fine with it.
I'm also not sure you can invoke that particular line and then straight away say that the Craig version takes himself too seriously. Dalton wasn't exactly winking at the camera when he threatened to kill Lupe.
Well, a few things. I don't think the Bond films will be "crushed by wokeness." I just think the current trend suggests the ongoing changes I've described. It's also entirely possible they go back to the traditional presentation of Bond. But having seen the huge financial rewards of bringing in a wider and more diverse audience, they're more likely to be looking at ways to keep the momentum going.
In terms of the other franchises, I'm not sure they compare. They don't have the longevity nor output. The exception might be Mission: Impossible!, if we compare that franchise to the two television series that spawned it.
What's interesting is there are direct comparisons between how the series and the franchise differ in parallel ways to the Craig Bonds and the rest.
Both TV series showed the Impossible Mission Force to be highly competent, highly dedicated, and invariably in the right. If there was a traitor, he or she was dealt with swiftly. Each episode made it clear they had the moral high ground, and their enemies were invariably corrupt, threatening, or despicable.
The movies retconned that. The first one showed that Jim Phelps, the smart, steady leader of all but the very first season episodes, was in fact a cynical, traitorous operative who murdered his own team. It was enough that actors like Jeff Morris, Barney, disavowed the movies. Even Martin Landau was troubled. Further, the movies introduced the cliched moral ambiguity of modern spy thrillers, whether their serious, fantasy, or parody. No one knows anymore if the organization they're working for is actually the enemy or not, and they highly distrust everyone (itself a kind of Gen-X stereotype). This is very much in keeping with how Craig's Bond exists in a different world than the previous films.
In terms of White guys in lead roles, it's funny you mention John Wick. Keanu Reeves is of mixed race, including White and Asian/Pacific Islander. He essentially passes for White (Hollywood likes to hire actors who are of mixed race but have features that they perceive White audiences are more comfortable with because they look less "ethnic"). I've not watched the films closely, but I don't recall anything that said Wick was White. I certainly could be wrong, but the Wick films also tend to have a more diverse cast all around.
But I also think there's a common lens in which we view these movies that's not being acknowledged, which is part of the reason why Craig's Bonds can both satirize White males and, at the same time, make some audiences believe they're instead being celebrated. That is, that having White males as violent, rage-filled colonizers of some sort or another but nonetheless the heroes is so familiar, it's accepted as the natural state of things. If we see the exact same images but through a different lens, the way the Craig films satirize and deconstruct the trope might be more clear.
In terms of a different lens, this SNL skit might be a way to illustrate how it works:
I wouldn't say fear but instead "trend." I don't anticipate it moving back to the golden Connery days anytime soon. People who think the Craig films were just a one off and now we'll return to the way things were are likely to be disappointed or at least discover that isn't the case. This new book series is just part of that trend.
The Bond films are not satirising or lampooning white males. That Bond has some flaws or makes mistakes isn't some grand conspiracy to undermine him: he's simply been humanised slightly because quite often he was portrayed as an invincible superman (aside from an occasional plot-helping bonk on the head so he could be abducted by a baddie)- they wanted to bring more drama and peril into it so he was made a touch more vulnerable/fallible. Result: huge hits. He's not going to be relegated or 'limited' in his own films, nor is a little diversity a terrible thing.
And this book series is nothing at all to do with the movies.
I wouldn't say fear but instead "trend." I don't anticipate it moving back to the golden Connery days anytime soon.
The golden age where he almost never got the baddie and was usually saved by a woman at the climax? Sounds like a satire to me...
You know, it’s interesting about the opaqueness @SeanIsTheOnlyOne . My only criticism about Craig’s performance as Bond was how limited his emotions were, which at times led to him being somewhat clumsy socially. At one point, I even wondered if he was meant to be on the autism scale. His obsessive behavior and affectless reactions at times are reminiscent.
Even when he’s getting female attention, he sometimes seemed distant and uncertain, like an alien studying a reaction. He does this a few times in Casino Royale, for instance, the way he looks at the two women who pass him at the hotel or into Solange’s face while on top of her, like he’s trying to figure things out. It’s none of the suave, relaxed romanticism of the previous Bonds.
But it makes more sense now with his deconstruction. There’s actually something of a running gag with him so frequently not getting the girl. Vesper dies, of course, based does Fields, M, Severigne, etc., but then he doesn’t get Camille, either. Moneypenny shoots him and rebuffs his advances. We see him with a woman again finally in Skyfall, but he seems unsatisfied and would rather take pills and go drink with the boys. In Spectre, he leaves the bedroom where the girl is more than willing to instead go blow up a city block. He finally gets Swann only to lose her soon after and apparently forever, along with his daughter. Bond’s track record isn’t too good with women in the Craig films.
I’d say it’s fueled mostly by suggestion and connection to the previous Bond incarnation, but it’s not really. It’s more like Craig’s Bond is the inverse. His characterization has more limitations placed on him, emotionally and otherwise. So, we get details about his life and history — almost trivia in some cases — but a character with limited range. We feel for his situation more often than for him.
@emtiem a more confident way than Dalton?
Well, when I look at Dalton's face when he pronounces the sentence, I just see a guy who appears very calm and self-confident at that moment, especially when he stays behind Lupe while she's talking to Krest at her door. He knows what he's doing.
I never saw Craig as a calm and confident Bond. It's precisely the opposite. I would even go further with saying his Bond never was able to learn from his mistakes. I thought it was the case at the end of QoS, but they decided to take another direction with SF with even more doubts and limits than at his debuts. And finally, although I completely disapprove the ending of NTTD, his death appears quite logical. This guy got what he deserved, and that's probably why, as I mentioned in my previous post, I never succeeded to identify with this version of Bond.
I've enjoyed following this thread, but @Gassy Man, here is my issue with your novel thesis. You are essentially saying that the cinematic Bond went from having no subtext (seriously, what is the subtext of DAD?) to being all subtext in the Craig era. Were Purvis and Wade closet Deconstructionists biding their time until Babs gave them the go-ahead to turn James Bond in a satire of masculinity, empire, what have you? A thousand articles have been written about Craig wanting to be an Actor with a capital A—and he is!—, and also struggling with certain iconic, if dated qualities of the character. But my sense of these movies, based not just on watching them but reading about the misadventures behind their productions (see Sony leak), is that Eon was hamhandedly trying to make Bond "modern" and that was it. These were not master campaigns plotted by genius generals. They were very entertaining (to me at least) muddles. So while I appreciate your efforts here, I believe you are connecting dots that could be connected a hundred other ways and are imposing a theory on the making of the Craig arc that would be unrecognizable to the people who actually made the Craig arc.
Yeah I’d say so. Dalton’s Bond always has an air of nervousness about him; where Craig (and all the other Bonds in fact) have self-confidence in spades. It’s that lack of swagger that makes Dalton feel not-quite complete as Bond, I’d say. He’d never pop a grape in his mouth as he creeps through a room he shouldn’t be in, and audiences love that about Bond.
if he’d had a scene like the valet parking scene in CR his Bond might have gone a different way and been embraced more. But he’s lacking that swagger. Craig got it.
Yes, the idea that they’ve been trying to satirise and subvert the concept of the white male for the last 15 years, through different writers and directors, is a bit of a tough one to swallow. They clearly didn’t have a narrative through line planned, I’m less convinced they had a subversive tone like that planned out.
No, I wouldn’t say they had no subtext but merely a different one. The first ones were celebratory of the playboy, dominating White male, or what now would be called the toxic White male. That was their subtext, and audiences by and large took it to heart as the natural order of things. The last five — taken as a complete story arc — the opposite. Those who’ve internalized the superiority of the toxic White male will have the hardest time accepting that deconstruction. Superiority is the paradigm they grew up with.
Keep in mind, it’s not as simple as merely the writer or a particular scene, but the culmination. And Craig’s arc starts with Bond losing and ends with Bond losing, big time, with profound failures and losses in between. Each of his seeming victories is ultimately shown either to be fruitless or temporary. Spectre makes it clear, for instance, that Blofeld’s chief aim has not been world domination this time around but ruining Bond’s life — which he succeeds in doing brilliantly. NTTD makes MI:6 and the decaying British Empire look rather embarrassing, too, having to clean up a mess they themselves made while trudging into somebody else’s back yard to kill their agent.
Satire can be subtle, to the degree that what’s being satirized gets lost among those most invested in what’s being satirized. It’s usually cloaked in humor, but it doesn’t have to be, and wit can be enough. When the American TV program All in the Family was on, for instance, Carroll O’Connor routinely received fan mail from racists and anti-Semites who thought he was the hero. They didn’t get the satire of him and what he represented. They took him literally.
We've seen some clever juxtapositions all through the Craig series. For instance, Casino Royale makes him the object by coming out of the water scantily clad, not a woman. His Bond doesn’t have sex with Solange — how many times in the past Bonds have we seen him get sex from the woman first before whatever else he needs for the mission? Bond doesn’t sleep with Camille or have a romance in Quantum of Solace. In Skyfall, he not only gets M killed and is rebuffed by Moneypenny, but it’s implied he’s had gay sex. (Fans rely on the old toxic White male incarnation of Bond to deny this, but, among other things, it’s telling that the old Moneypenny would have thrown Bond down on the desk if he’d been willing. This one shoots him.)
This is not the same Bond, in temperament or circumstance. Like Archie Bunker, he has enough traits to be seen (or mis-seen) by some as paragon and others as satire, but it’s clear the people making the show are doing the latter. To me, it’s pretty easy to connect the dots here that Craig’s Bond ultimately is lampooned. Now, the wild card, of course, is if they do another film that changes the outcome, in the same way that OHMSS could easily have been a completely different movie if they’d just cut the last five minutes.
Oh, and the bit about Purvis and Wade and so forth. Their function appears merely to be to produce the scripts they’re told to. And it’s a collaborative process, steered in part by various contributions, some spontaneous, some in editing, some in script revisions. If I had to guess, I would think Craig and Broccoli were most responsible. They may not have started with a master plan, but it could have evolved by degrees as the films went on. Craig himself has been highly critical of the older Bond presentation.
Keep in mind how easy it is for ingredients to change the whole. Put a little too much salt in a meal, and it’s ruined. An actor can read Shylock’s pound of flesh scene differently. Same words, but with different pauses and inflections he can be righteous or a venal anti-Semitic stereotype. Bond can be a swinging White male bachelor having sex with every woman and constantly winning or a sad, lonely, fragile loser in the end.
I totally disagree with you about Craig's Bond having self-confidence. Given it's a subjective approach, it doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong. I just don't share your point of view. Among all the versions of Bond, the one who appears the most unable to keep calm and self-control to me is Craig's. I wouldn't trust this guy if I had to work with him. He's able to "jeopardize an entire operation" only to satisfy his ego. Craig's Bond in LTK would have been killed by Sanchez according to my vision of the character. He's too much impulsive to show patience and to learn from his mistakes. That's why, in some way, his death is logical. And it's probably the main reason why I never succeeded to identify with him.
I really thought we would have the classic version of Bond back after QoS. I hoped the ending scene of the movie and the grieving of Vesper and her "betrayal" would definitively trace the path to that. But they took another direction from SF to NTTD that I didn't enjoy at all.
And once again, it's a personal appreciation...
Well yes, if he's satisfying his ego then it means he's very self confident: he has a big ego. Nervous, unconfident people don't really have huge egos. The whole of CR is basically a lesson to him that his massive confidence in himself is occasionally misplaced and he learns from that.
But beyond that it's just his manner: if you watch him walking or talking to people and get the vibe that he's nervous or sheepish then I really think we're watching different films. I've genuinely never encountered anyone before who thinks Craig's Bond doesn't have self confidence.
Connery, Moore, Lazenby and Brosnan's Bonds all thought they were pretty amazing too: it's the character.
Big ego isn't necessarily what it seems. It can also be a shell you have built precisely to protect yourself from your lack of confidence. It's an efficient way to hide your doubts and your emotional weaknesses.
I can confirm you and I are watching different films: I never imagined myself being Craig's Bond. I always found him too impulsive and totally unable to keep his self-control, which is one of the most crucial qualities you need in this job. The fact you don't quote Dalton (on purpose I guess) proves we just don't see the character the same way.
In TLD, the scene where Bond is waiting for Pushkin in his room in Tangiers is IMO a masterpiece. Dalton seems so classy and confident. The way he leads the game is precisely why I love Bond and Fleming's work. Even when Pushkin's subordinate comes to the room, Bond is in pure control. The way he knocks the guy out, instructs the lady and then interrogates Pushkin...he KNOWS how to react in such a situation and how not to obscure his mind. Craig's Bond would have continued the fight in the corridor with his legendary brutality to finally get rid of him while Pushkin would have left with his wife by the exit door...