Why It’s Okay For Bond 26 To Rediscover 007’s Fun Side

Why It’s Okay For Bond 26 To Rediscover 007’s Fun Side

Following the more grounded, realistic Daniel Craig era of James Bond, Bond 26 has the opportunity to rediscover 007’s fun side. Casino Royale saw the introduction of a grittier, vulnerable James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, and set the stage for the next four films in the franchise with its darker tone and emphasis on practical stunt work over elaborate computer-generated visual effects sequences. With that era of Bond coming to a close with 2021’s No Time To Die, Bond 26 can now steer the series in a new, lighter direction.

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The Bond series needed to adapt following the criticism levied against Die Another Day in 2002 for its silliness and reliance on unrealistic computer-generated effects for its action scenes. Casino Royale thus followed in the footsteps of the comparatively acclaimed spy film The Bourne Identity with its focus on character and darker tone. However, a slight lightening in tone in the later Craig era proves that the Bond series can still work in modern times without relying on pure grit. The James Bond franchise flourishes with change and Bond 26 can prove that by bringing the fun back to the series.

Related: Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond Has A Surprising 007 Character Record


Bond Needed Craig’s Darkness (But Not Forever)

Die Another Day, the last film of the Pierce Brosnan era of James Bond released in 2002 to poor reception from fans and critics alike. The film was reviled for its outrageous plot, over-reliance on product placement, and already-dated visual effects, especially in the infamous scene where 007 kite surfs away from an oncoming tidal wave. Die Another Day was a disappointment, especially when compared to another spy film released that same year, The Bourne Identity. Doug Liman’s grittier take on the genre was praised for being everything that Brosnan’s Die Another Day wasn’t with its focus on character development and action scenes rooted in practical stunt work.

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With the relevance of the 007 franchise seemingly waning, the producers of the series needed to drastically alter the super spy for the 21st century. The key to the series regaining its spot as the definitive spy franchise came in the form of new Bond actor Daniel Craig. Craig revolutionized the character, making even Timothy Dalton’s interpretation of 007 seem silly in comparison. In his first outing as Bond, Craig ditched the cheesy one-liners and over-reliance on outlandish gadgets in favor of Bourne’s brutal fistfights and more vulnerable characterization. This made the tone of Casino Royale considerably darker than any Bond film before it.

The gamble worked, and Casino Royale became the highest-grossing Bond film to that date (not adjusting for inflation) and received critical acclaim. Craig proved any naysayers wrong with his incredible performance as a darker and more Fleming-faithful 007. Casino Royale‘s grittier take on James Bond continued with its sequel Quantum of Solace, which maintained strict continuity with the preceding film in a first for the franchise. Unlike Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace was met with considerably mixed reviews from critics and audiences. The grittier tone of Quantum of Solace made the film feel more like a generic action film than an iconic Bond movie.

Later Craig-era Bond movies, such as Spectre and No Time To Die harkened back to the old-school Connery days, with a noticeable injection of humor when compared to the dour Quantum of Solace. These films had more of the Bond personality that audiences expected, and even brought back the evil organization, Spectre, that haunted the Sean Connery era of the franchise. Craig’s Bond lightened up considerably, even throwing around some quips that would make Roger Moore crack a smile. While an initial, grim change in tone was necessary for the 007 franchise to successfully return, it was not required for it to thrive.

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Related: James Bond 26 Could Make Roger Moore’s Moneypenny Wish A Reality

The World Has Changed Since Casino Royale

James_Bond_at_a_poker_table_in_Casino_Royale

When Casino Royale was released in 2006, audiences wanted little to do with the goofy Bond of the later Brosnan era. However, audience expectations change. Many of the most successful films of 2022, for example, no longer have the grim tone that typified Daniel Craig’s first two 007 entries. Top Gun: Maverick, the highest-grossing film of 2022, does not treat its lead character as a brutal killer, coolly shooting down enemy aircraft like it’s nothing. Maverick cracks jokes with his students, has an adorable relationship with bar owner Penny Benjamin, and cries when he loses his best friend.

Audiences no longer want the icy and brutal characters that populated the early Craig-era of 007, and Bond 26 has the perfect opportunity to capitalize on this. Instead of doubling down on the grittiness of Casino Royale, Bond 26 can change with the times by becoming more fun and lighthearted. The Bond franchise is more than capable of this, after all, it has changed plenty of times before. Goldeneye, the first Pierce Brosnan 007 movie, was much lighter in tone than Licence to Kill. This tonal shift paid off as Goldeneye revitalized the James Bond franchise after six years away from theaters, and made more money than both of Dalton’s entries, combined.

Spectre Proved Bond Could Be Fun (& Modern)

James Bond in the snow with a gun in Spectre

Later Craig-era Bond films, such as Spectre and No Time To Die, have already proved that the franchise can be fun, in a modern way. It doesn’t mean that franchise has to return to the casual sexism and awful puns of the 1960s and ’70s. Instead, the franchise became fun again by populating the supporting cast with more lighthearted characters, to both warm and contrast Daniel Craig’s Bond.

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Perhaps the best example of this aspect is the character of Paloma, played by Knives Out‘s Ana De Armas, in No Time To Die. Paloma is introduced as a newly assigned CIA agent, with only three weeks of training. Initially, it seems that her character would be a throwback to the Bond girls of old, but she quickly proves herself to be an incredibly capable agent, fighting off as many Spectre agents as Bond himself. Paloma and Bond have fantastic chemistry in their short time together, and Paloma is even able to turn down an advance from Bond, showing more agency than many female Bond characters were allowed in the past..

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Paloma is a great example of a character that can inject a sense of fun into the Bond series, without it resorting to the outdated and sexist tactics of old-school 007 adventures. Bond 26 will have its share of challenges, but the best lesson it can learn from Paloma is to increase the amount of these fun characters, that bring out a more fun side of 007. Now that the relatively gritty Daniel Craig era of James Bond has come to a close, Bond 26 now has the perfect opportunity to rediscover 007’s sense of fun.

Next: Madeleine Swann In Bond 26? No Time To Die Proved It Shouldn’t Happen

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