The Name’s Bond, Emotional Bond?

This Vanity Fair interview alleged comment has made a lot of Bond world see red, but really? Are Broccoli and Wilson really out to ruin a 60-year-old franchise with an emoting Bond? Is this all a non-starter story, or is it some of the Bond fandom pushing back, when given an opportunity, saying firmly ‘No Time To Cry’?

Having *spoilers* heroically or callously dispatched Daniel Craig’s Bond into nano-bot smithereens, Broccoli and Wilson have an interesting job of resurrecting James Bond and finding someone who will commit to 10–12 years of filming, publicity, training, promotions, of being shot at, blown up and it seems, emoting.

Not sure where the whole ‘the old ways are the best’ argument has come from. Do they not know the ‘old dogs new tricks’ maxim? Having tried very hard not to give too much away, apart from James Bond needs to be a ‘he’ (pronouns he/him) and younger (10–12 years commitment), all that they’ve said really is that Bond’s hobby is resurrection — that Bond mirrors society just as society mirrors Bond, and really who came first, Bond or men who want to be Bond?

“Bond is evolving just as men are evolving. I don’t know who’s evolving at a faster pace.”

Which is quite a claim — Bond as sociological, socio-cultural influence. Moreover, they have a new start — they’re reinventing the character, the franchise, where is he going, where do they take it, who and what does that look like? Especially as the franchise is 60 years young this year.

What seems to have been missed in this interview is the bigger story — of desperately wanting to avoid Bond becoming a straight to streaming event, and of staying as a big screen, movie theatre, cinema going event. And how do they do that in the days of downloads and online content on the go?

Having observed the way that women are being despicably treated in certain nations at the moment, an emotional Bond in a world which often sets itself (and men) against women, is no bad thing. (Even if this is really what is being said here, which I’m sure it’s not — at no point does the word emotional get used — it’s more how do we keep the franchise going and cinemas filled?) Yet, No Time To Die, Tomorrow Never Dies and Quantum of Solace showed that Bond was quite capable of working with women as respected allies, as well as developing a more protective side. So why all the bad reactions to the idea of a Bond with *gasp* emotions!!!?!

Truly, though we don’t like to admit it, Bond always has been emotional, just perhaps in ways wider (and younger) society is less comfortable with and tolerant of today. Sean Connery’s Bond in very emotionally engaged ways slapped passing female backsides, sniggered at unfortunate punning sexualised female names and twinkled charmingly for the cameras, as well as emotionally dispatching villains with some relish and satisfaction. (Most dramatically in From Russia With Love). Roger Moore’s Bond emoted through jokes and in an increasingly frustrated way, dealt with saving and snogging younger and younger screaming, helpless women. Though there was charm, kindness and wit too (and sometimes some more equal partners).

George Lazenby’s Bond is perhaps the template for an emotional Bond of the future, running the whole gambit of emotions as Craig’s Bond has from love and vulnerability to loss and grief. He can be contrasted with Timothy Dalton’s raging Shakespearean Bond, seething with controlled anger, frustration, exasperation and revenge, as well as charm, romance and friendship. Pierce Brosnan’s Bond is perhaps the least emotional of the Bonds — coolly getting on with business, getting the job done, and yet even he is able to show an emotion or two when betrayed by a lover or former friend; in teasing Q or in being implicated in the unfortunate murder of a woman he loved.

Oh, but Bond is cool and cold and emotionless? Well sometimes, maybe more in the books, but in the movies, Bond is always emotional — even in a controlled or hidden way. He’s certainly no Le Carre spy, coldly onlooking. I am curious about what Bond values we’re all trying to hark back to and why the idea of an emotional man, especially Bond, is a bad thing? Is this really all the machinations of pajama clad teenagers — to effeminate Bond?!!! or even worse to do a Doctor Who on Bond, and get the women involved….

Intriguingly this article could actually suggest that in order to attract a younger audience to sustain the Bond franchise for another 60 years, you need to reflect some youthful Bond values — and who and what will that look like? Maybe it’s all a matter of perspective….and of really seeing what’s there, like that invisible car….

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Susan Tailby

Susan Tailby

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By Susan Tailby. Appreciator of arts and culture; things I've seen and enjoyed and you might too! Reviews all my own opinion....