Why “James Bond 26” Can’t Be Another Origin Story


While Daniel Craig’s debut James Bond franchise was able to tell a compelling story of the origin of Agent 007, the upcoming sequel “Bond 26” cannot repeat this approach for many reasons. Now that “No Time to Die” has marked the end of Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond, the search for the next 007 agent is in earnest. The name of the lucky one has not yet been named, although both Tom Hardy and Jean-Jean Page have been bookmakers’ favorites for several months.

However, regardless of who ends up getting the coveted role, Bond 26 will need to do more than just remake James Bond. Although Craig’s later additions to the franchise featured a more playful, over-the-top tone than his first James Bond films, overall the actor’s time as 007 was defined by a noticeable tonal shift in the series. The Bond franchise has become much more mature, down-to-earth, and tough over the years since Craig played Agent 007, and now that change has to be reversed by the spy’s next cinematic adventure.

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Craig was not the first actor to offer a more serious reinterpretation of Bond: both in Timothy Dalton’s films about Agent 007 and in the infamous tragedy “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” allowed the suave superspy to show his sensitive side. However, Craig’s James Bond was the first version of the character to (mostly) abandon barbs, gadgets, and silly villains in favor of relatively realistic espionage. This has never been more pronounced than in his brutal debut Casino Royale, a sharp and brutal introduction to a character that also served as the origin story of James Bond. However, despite the fact that this 2006 hit received well-deserved recognition for its bold reinterpretation of Bond, the landscape of blockbusters has changed over the years, and now Bond 26 needs a lighter and less harsh tone. As a result, “Bond 26” cannot be another origin story of the famous spy.

Why Casino Royale became the origin story of Bond

The surprisingly brutal and brilliant Casino Royale was the perfect introduction for Bond performed by Craig and a touching story of the origin of Agent 007. The thriller was heavily influenced by the Bourne trilogy and the post-9/11 militant trends, eschewing major villains and self-aware quips in favor of anxiety and tension. Craig’s brooding Agent 007 was a more human version of the character than the franchise had ever offered, ensuring that the spy could still be taken seriously by fans and critics, abandoning the mannered elements that made Agent 007 famous. However, Casino Royale was unique in its reinterpretation of Bond as a more down-to-earth, believable spy due to the timing of the film’s release. Casino Royale appeared immediately after Batman: The Beginning, while Bond 26 will be released in an era when the multiplex is ruled by self-conscious, unsurpassed action films such as the Mission Impossible series and the Fast and Furious saga.

Why “Bond 26” Can’t Be Another Origin Story

Now that Craig is gone, Bond 26 should make the franchise interesting again. In order for the new version of Agent 007 to stand out in the crowded blockbuster market, the character must return to his roots and focus on what distinguishes Bond from Jason Bourne and Batman, and not on what the spy has in common with more serious characters. The hero of “Bond 26” should be less harsh and closer to his old, courteous self, which will allow the franchise to return the cheerful tone of the Brosnan era and the long-awaited laughter of the Roger Moore playing this role. This means no tragic romances and sad explanations of how Bond became so emotionally alienated between car chases and exploding pens, which in turn means that Bond 26 has no reason to be part of a series focused on backstory.

How to introduce the next 007 Agent to Bond 26

The James Bond franchise recently proved that the series can introduce a new memorable hero without having to justify his tragic backstory. The bright heroine of “It’s Not Time to Die” Paloma appeared for a few minutes in Craig’s latest film about Agent 007 and outshone everyone precisely because her character was not another gloomy and humorless addition to the franchise. Paloma’s meteoric debut effectively presented the CIA agent as a competent, resourceful and charismatic heroine, proving that the Bond franchise could do the same for the next version of 007 in Bond 26. A lively action scene highlighting Bond’s skills and panache effectively introduces the new 007 agent without going into unnecessary exposure.

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Should Bond 26 address Agent 007’s backstory?

It’s hard to say whether “Bond 26” should touch on Bond’s backstory at all if the film isn’t an origin story. Since “Bond 26” really should fit into the established ent of the franchise and should not overly rely on fan service, the safest option would be to avoid holes in the plot of the Bond franchise without discussing the origin of Agent 007. However, part of Bond’s appeal as a character is his dependable support staff, including the character likes of M, Q and Miss Moneypenny will probably require some discussion of the Craig era. That would mean turning to the death of Craig’s version of James Bond in “No Time to Die,” which could easily lead to Bond 26 getting bogged down in franchise lore. However, the sequel can get around this by finally confirming the popular fan theory that Bond is a codename. Starting the story with a new Bond, who has already proven himself as a spy, and without playing a novice agent once again, Bond 26 may later hint (as originally intended in “Die, but not now”) that he is the last in a string of James Bonds.

Such an approach would allow the franchise to balance the best of both worlds, ignoring the specifics of the origin story of the new agent 007, but at the same time confirming that the action of the film takes place in the same sequence as in the previous parts of the franchise. With this in mind, “Bond 26” could offer a more fascinating and dynamic James Bond formula than Craig-era films, while remaining safe in the knowledge that a sequel can bring back elements of the Craig 007 era without causing complex plot holes. The James Bond franchise has never been a masterpiece of internal consistency, and a more lighthearted tone would make it easier for fans to justify some plot misunderstandings, meaning there’s no need to over-explain the connections between Daniel Craig’s early 007 agent and the new James Bond. Instead, “Bond 26” should focus on making the James Bond franchise interesting again, rather than creating another redundant backstory for the famous character.