5 Questions About the New 007 and the Future of the Bond Franchise

The news has been keeping a weather eye on the latest James Bond film (currently only known as Bond 25), leading to a sizable leak and subsequent announcement over the weekend that could shake the series all the way to its foundations—and I’m not talking about the obliteration of Bond’s ancestral home, Skyfall.

I’m talking about the new 007.

[Speculation around Bond25 movie rumors below.]

It was already known that James Bond’s retirement at the end of Spectre stuck for this new film; the basic synopsis for Bond25 involves Bond living in Jamaica and deciding to come out of retirement when his buddy Felix Leiter asks for his help—while his old spy crew will undoubtedly end up lending him support in some capacity, that doesn’t mean that Bond is back in action via any official channels. More importantly, if he did formally retire prior to the film, that’s a vacant double-oh slot that MI6 would need to fill.

And it turns out that they filled it with the incomparable Lashana Lynch.

There will be a new 007 when Bond gets back into the fray, and Lynch (of Captain Marvel fame) will be the one answering to Q’s beleaguered call of “Now, pay attention, 007″ from now on. This makes Lynch the very first female and very first black person to occupy the title of 007. But the fact is, we have no idea what that means for the series going forward. Here are just a few questions that arise from her casting:

Is James Bond Going to Retire For Good (or Die)?

Granted “for good” is already hazy assertion given the state of franchise media today. Bond could certainly retire for now and then crop back up as the central character the next time the franchise wants to completely reboot itself. But the character’s future has never been more up in the air as a result of the unique way that Daniel Craig’s iteration was positioned. While his introduction was, in fact, a soft reboot of the Bond canon, the films hinted that Craig’s Bond has ostensibly been through all/most of the classic Bond stories during the period between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. Spectre then capped off Bond’s character arc, essentially redoing the Vesper Lynd storyline with Madeleine Swann and having him walk away from the spy world. Even if he decides to help out his buddy Felix when asked, Bond’s story is effectively complete.

And if Bond makes it through Bond25 alive (because character death is certainly a possibility here), then he could just crop up in later installments as a grizzled, grumpy retiree who is tired of people continually bugging him for spy advice when all he wants is to sip daiquiris on his boat with a gorgeous person nearby for company. It seems like exactly the sort of cameos that Daniel Craig would be into at some point in the future.

Is The Bond Franchise Going to Become the 007 Series?

The Bond film franchise has had over half a century to sell their particular brand of masculinity—a brand that Daniel Craig himself has been pointedly inching away from with each film. There is a lot of talk on whether or not the character can, or even should, survive in a post #MeToo era… but that doesn’t mean that 007 has to vanish from the face of the Earth. (And given that the franchise is a license to print money, there’s no way it’s being shelved.) Now that we have a brand new character taking up the mantle, is this going to be the new modus operandi?

More to the point, will Lynch get to star in her own 007 film after this? Because if the character is introduced here only to be supplanted, that would read as an awful publicity stunt with no substance behind it whatsoever. But if Lynch becomes the very first new 007, who paves the way for others to take up the role in coming years, that would be a spectacular way of moving forward with a brand new outlook for a new era.

Are Bond and the New 007 Going to Flirt and/or Get Cozy? Is That Actually a Good Idea?

It’s possible that Bond and the new 007—whose name is Nomi, though we don’t have her last name yet—might share more than a license to kill. According to an insider leak reported on by the Daily Mail, “Bond, of course, is sexually attracted to the new female 007 and tries his usual seduction tricks, but is baffled when they don’t work on a brilliant, young black woman who basically rolls her eyes at him and has no interest in jumping into his bed. Well, certainly not at the beginning.”

Suddenly, Craig’s insistence on having Phoebe Waller-Bridge doctor the script makes a lot more sense here. If Nomi does eventually decide to have a fling with Bond, that could come off terribly if the film treats her more as a love interest than a new central character. Hopefully, the movie walks that line in a more entertaining fashion because come on, is there anything more hilariously in tune with Bond’s narcissism than a desire for 007 to sleep with 007? If they’re both equally cavalier about it, that could be one of the funniest things the franchise ever pulls off.

“Bond Women” Instead of “Bond Girls”, Huh?

Esquire reported that the new edict of the franchise states “We were all told that from now on [Bond girls] are to be addressed as ‘Bond women’.” This is the kind of detail that could bode ill rather than good. If the point is that we are retroactively referring to all female characters in Bond films as “Bond Women”, that’s considerably less infantalizing than the previous title, and isn’t a bad move. On the other hand, if we’re referring to the current crop of women in a potential upcoming 007 franchise as “Bond Women”, that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

If the series is trying to evolve, then the current characters in it don’t need to be defined by Bond at all. Nomi sure isn’t a “Bond Woman”, for starters. She’s 007, thanks and goodbye. Moreover, it would be wonderful to see some of the women in the franchise actually have relationships to one another. Nomi and Eve Moneypenny should be after-work drinking buddies, just to get the ball rolling.

Can the Bond Franchise Successfully Redefine Itself Outside of Its Titular Leading Man?

At the end of the day, the Bond franchise is in desperate need of a makeover if it’s to keep up with the world. Progress has been glacially slow where these films are concerned—we were given a female M nearly a quarter of a century ago, only to have her pushed aside in favor of a more traditional arrangement after Skyfall. Following that walk-back, it seems only right for the series to make a real commitment to change. People love spy movies, and the formula for Bond films doesn’t go up in flames just because the person at the center is no longer ordering questionable martinis.

While the Craig era of Bond movies made its central figure far more self-aware when it came to his treatment of others, maybe it’s time to see what the spy world looks like from a different perspective. It would be a great way to find out if there is anything interesting about the franchise that’s rooted in something other than the bodies of dead women. And it would be a prime chance for the spy film genre to get the workout it so desperately needs.

Emily Asher-Perrin wants it known that they adore Daniel Craig as James Bond regardless, and will certainly miss him once he’s permanently retired. You can bug him on Twitter, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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