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The Plot for James Bond 26? We Have a Theory

The James Bond franchise will never die. It’s an institution at this point, and part of the secret of its longevity is its malleability. The producers behind the franchise—from original leads Albert R. Broccoli & Harry Saltzman to current overseers Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson—have always worked to keep Bond relevant in whatever way they can. Sometimes that means introspection like GoldenEye, Casino Royale, and Skyfall, but more often than not, it means imitation. If you look through the Bond franchise, especially starting with the Roger Moore movies, you can see the producers chasing trends like Blaxsploitation with Live and Let Die, kung-fu movies with The Man with the Golden Gun, hard-edged action with the Timothy Dalton movies, or something akin to the Bourne series as they move towards the Daniel Craig era. Bond doesn’t lead the way as much as it looks for what’s profitable, which is how as recently as Spectre you get a film trying to connect standalone Bond movies because of the success of Marvel movies.

So what does this mean for James Bond going forward? No Time to Die is almost certainly the end of the Daniel Craig era. Craig has said as much with regards to this being his last outing as 007, which means the producers will need to reboot. There will be plenty of speculation over who gets to play Bond, but that’s not a particularly interesting question. The question of who plays Bond doesn’t matter as much as the framework that actor is put into. That framework is frequently influenced by larger filmmaking trends, and that gives us a clue of how the Bond series is going to change.

Before I go any further, I want to make clear that this is just a theory. I have no inside knowledge of how EON Productions is proceeding with the Bond franchise post-Craig. This is just an educated guess based on the history of the series and how its producers seek to emulate other hits with the Bond franchise.


Image via MGM

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What you can see right now in the blockbuster landscape is the legacyquel. The term, coined by Matt Singer of ScreenCrush, is when you reboot a franchise, but tie the reboot to legacy characters. So, for example, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a legacyquel. It puts new characters at the forefront who will lead the series with the implicit blessing of the previous generation of leads, who now star in a supporting capacity. Other examples of this include Creed and Terminator: Dark Fate.

So what does this mean for James Bond? It means I can easily see the producers casting a much younger actor into the lead role. While Sean Connery and George Lazenby were in their early 30s for their first Bond movies, ever since the producers have skewed slightly older, going for actors in their late-30s, early-40s with Roger Moore as the outlier at 46 when he first started playing Bond. A younger actor not only allows the producers to have the same lead for a longer period of time should the casting work out, but it also helps the legacyquel plot, which is inevitably an origin story of sorts.

As for the “legacy” part, you have a few options: Lazenby, Dalton, and Brosnan (Moore passed away in 2017 and Connery died in 2020; Craig has made it abundantly clear that No Time to Die is his exit from the series). Lazenby and Dalton are unlikely given their relatively short tenures as Bond (one and two films, respectively), which just leaves Brosnan, who’s still got goodwill headed his way, and would probably like a chance to go out on a stronger note than the abysmal Die Another Day.


The way you could handle this reboot is that “James Bond” is a codename that gets used by multiple agents. Unlike the Craig timeline, the Brosnan timeline never states that James’ parents were named “Bond”, so you have the opening to make Bond a codename that is handed down. From there, the plot is relatively simple as you take a young, up-and-coming agent who is trained by a seasoned veteran. Sure, that’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, but I’m pretty sure the Bond franchise is not above stealing from a franchise that in turn was clearly influenced by Bond.

Of course, this is just one direction the producers could go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, in whatever event, the producers choose to cast young and go for a more aggressive reboot regardless of how No Time to Die performs. Bond survives through adaptation and reinvention, and with the inevitable casting of a new 007, it will be time for Bond to be born again.

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