Last week, defying expectations, Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes confirmed that James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson want him back for the franchise, and they’re willing to wait. Instead of a 2014 release date for the next James Bond film, the film will be released in 2015, with Mendes calling the shots. Most moviegoers and diehard 007 fans alike agree that Skyfall was the best James Bond film in years. Now that Mendes is really returning, here’s a brief wishlist for the next Bond film.
Spoilers for Skyfall, other James Bond movies!
1.) More Moneypenny in the field.
Though we didn’t know Naomie Harris was playing a new incarnation of Miss Moneypenny until later in the film, this version of M’s secretary was right in on the action at the start of Skyfall. And though Moneypenny tells Bond she’s kind of had it with working out in the field, she totally has to again! The Bond films have always been burdened with a kind of inherent sexism, something which could be curbed if Moneypenny was presented as more of an equal.
2.) Create personal stakes for Bond, but not too personal.
All the most creative Bond stories have figured out a way to to make things personal for Bond, and while you might say On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is “the one with that other guy,” the idea of having Bond marry and fall in love is what made that film so unique. Similarly, Goldeneye kept things real for Bond by having a friend and brother in arms turn against him. (And also managed to maintain the trope that Sean Bean must die!) Of course, the climax of Skyfall also makes this super personal for 007, perhaps in a way that’s never quite been done. Mendes is good at subtle drama in extreme situations, but it might not be reasonable for James Bond to have a personal crisis in every single movie. Skyfall saw him totally broken, drinking way too much, and unable to do his job properly. I think if the stakes in this one are personal, Bond should be less fragile, otherwise the movie runs the risk of emulating its predecessor.
Like a live action video game, James Bond must first defeat some henchmen before getting to the “boss” at the end of the story. And in the long history of these films, some of the henchmen have been more memorable than the actual bad guy. Is Goldfinger more interesting than Oddjob? Is Jaws somehow lamer than his various employers in The Spy Who Love Me and Moonraker? No way! The henchmen of James Bond provide a good deal of flash and color to the universe of spy versus spy versus crazy guy with a weird death hat. The new Bond film should give us at least one of these types of people. I’ll even settle for someone who’s shoe turns into a knife.
With Q finally reintroduced into the Bond film canon, I don’t see any reason why a follow-up to Skyfall couldn’t get a little gadget happy. I know there are cranky purists who believe gadgets ruined Bond and turned him into something of a caricature of an action hero. But there’s one thing everyone forgets about that: gadgets are really cool. Between Austin Powers and Despicable Me, it’s easy to forget how rad an underwater car or a laser watch might be. Not to mention, part of what makes some of the older Bond gadgets so great is that those cars actually exist. 007 is making science fiction into reality, one underwater car at a time. Let’s give him at least one totally crazy device this time out.
5.) A Bond chase to end all Bond chases.
Though many might disagree with me, James Bond films aren’t really about murder and mystery, but more about the chases. When I think of the thrumming from the John Barry piece “007” of the classic Connery films (and one Moore!) I don’t think of death, but instead of high adventure. I can’t really complain about any one single chase scene in any Bond movie because I actually love them all, with the motorcycle scene at the beginning of Skyfall maybe being the slickest. Unfortunately, this ante has to be upped, and I think the only way to do it is in a big, famous city. Yep, that’s right Bond’s next big chase needs to be in New York or Paris. Sorry, I’m demanding it. Bond swinging from the Empire State or the Eiffel Tower. Give it to me, Mendes!
6.) Jeffrey Wright.
This fantastic actor has been a regular customer of mine twice in the past. Once at a little restaurant in Brooklyn where I bartended, and later at an independent bookstore, where I, well, sold books. He’s a super nice guy and once fist-bumped me while we were both on our respective phones walking through Union Square Park. So, it comes as no surprise that I’m pretty biased in regard to Jeffrey Wright. Skyfall would have been perfect had his version of Felix Leiter been featured. Was he only excluded because they were worried about making the movie too awesome? Quantum of Solace may be kind of crappy, but it’s worth it for that one scene in which Wright says, “move your ass James.” If Felix Leiter returns, so must Jeffrey Wright. And I would have no problem if the movie became a buddy-film with equal screen time for both Jeffrey and Daniel Craig.
Okay, this list was written for my eyes only, what about all of you? What should Mendes bring in for the next Bond?
Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com. He’ll see you at Skyfall…2.