Film & TV

James Bond and where it is headed next – is it time for change?

Secret agents and spies have come in many forms in recent years, from the animated Sterling Archer to the amnesiac Jason Bourne. However, few have failed to capture the imagination of the public in the same way as James Bond. Bond first appeared in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale in 1953 and no less than nine years later, in 1962, Bond appeared in his cinematic debut in Dr. No. Since his first appearance, portrayed by Sean Connery, there have been five Bond actors. Bond has appeared in twenty-four movies to date and we are slowly approaching the long-awaited Bond 25, a project shrouded in mystery and confusion. Originally, Daniel Craig, the incumbent, had no interest in reprising his role as the martini drinking womanizer and was even quoted as saying that he would rather ‘slash his own wrists than play Bond again’. Craig, however, was offered a huge deal, rumoured to be around $25 million, convincing him to don the famous tuxedo for one last time.

The Bond franchise has been one of the most popular since its inception, with Connery being a Gold standard for the smooth double-oh agent. Since Connery, each actor has added their own spin to the iconic character hoping to be remembered as the greatest. Roger Moore highlighting Bond’s humour and more comical side and Craig becoming the first ‘blond’ Bond. As we near the end of Craig’s tenure as Bond, many have begun to speculate who will become the next Bond. The name at the forefront of discussion, and controversy, is Idris Elba. Since Elba’s name first cropped up as a potential replacement for Bond many have come out in their support of the actor, others have shown clear opposition to the notion of a black bond, with Anthony Horowitz even stating that Elba was ‘too street’. Admittedly, Bond was originally described as having black hair and blue eyes and it is assumed that the character was white, however, most of the actors have failed to fulfil both criteria and if the vision of the director and studio is to have a black Bond then they have creative license to develop the character however they see fit. In the modern day, a black Bond should by no means be unfeasible if there is an actor suitable and right for the role. Elba is an all action actor and is definitely smooth enough to pull off character of Bond. However, in my opinion, Elba is too old to portray Bond. Craig, when he took the reins, was thirty-eight, allowing him to carry the franchise for thirteen years. Currently, the next Bond is scheduled to be released in late 2019, however, with current delays this is likely to be pushed backwards as many films are. Elba is currently forty-six. As the Bond saga has progressed the actors have, in fact, become slightly older, Connery was thirty-two when he first portrayed 007 but, before Craig, the three previous Bonds had been over the age of forty. Despite this, the recent storylines have often reflected upon Bond’s age and how his techniques have become outdated in the modern age. The studio should take a new approach and hire a younger actor in order to change the basis of the film for the audience, so they don’t feel as if they are sitting through the same films with different villains. The irony of this is that twelve years ago when Craig was hired, Elba would have been perfect for the role, however, the world struggled to comprehend a blond Bond – let alone a black one. Therefore, it is with regret that, despite his outstanding credentials and suitability to bring Bond into a more progressive era, Elba should not be selected, and a younger actor should be chosen in order to carry the franchise for a number of years.

There are a number of suitable British actors who have been speculated for the role from the biggest Hollywood stars such as Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hardy and Henry Cavill to more domestically recognised actors such as Aiden Turner, James Norton and Kit Harrington. There is a huge wealth of talent and potential actors who could fill the shoes of Craig. An outside challenger for the role could be Daniel Kaluuya, the star of Get Out, who is certainly talented enough, by the time the film is made Kaluuya will probably be in his early thirties and if there is a call for a younger Bond, then he could be just the man for the role. Like Elba, Kaluuya is a black actor and could be just the man to help the Martini sipping spy enter into the twenty-first and modernise a relatively outdated role, let’s not forget that Kaluuya has already starred in Johnny English: Reborn alongside Rowan Atkinson, highlighting his abilities in the spy genre…

In my opinion, whoever they pick for the role will grow into the perfect Bond, as long as they make the character their own. In hindsight, blond Bond was not an issue as Craig dominated the screen with his brilliance, the same will be said about the next Bond – and with the commercial succeses of Black Panther and Get Out the popularity and importance of powerful black leads is certainly apparent in today’s market.

By Jack Vavasour