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Every James Bond movie is a story of its time




The era of Daniel Craig playing James Bond was a major change for the Bond franchise for almost 60 years. Craigs starred in the iconic role brought Bond into the era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its long-continuity stories, recurring characters, and expanded franchise world. So of course the new take that has been circulating in the wake of the last installment in the series is that the 2021 No time to die is the Bond film equivalent of Avengers: Endgame.

[Ed. note: Significant spoiler ahead for the end of No Time To Die.]

This statement seems quite correct, in that No time to die brings an era to a close, like the last film where longtime star Daniel Craig plays James Bond. Like Robert Downey Jr.s Tony Stark, Daniel Craigs Bond came into our lives bitter and cold, and bowed like a big old softie in a sentimental blaze of glory. And like End of Game, this 25th Bond film is too long, with a bloated and underwhelming middle that is destined to be overshadowed by its cathartic finale.

But Bond’s connection to the MCU goes beyond an individual comparison of a few movies in two franchises. It just reflects the chameleon nature of the franchise. Almost every entry in 007’s history has also been a reflection of the cinematic trends of its time.

James Bond vs. the MCU

Daniel Craig crouching behind shelter and pointing gun at Casino Royale

Photo: United Artists

Craigs works while Bond even straddles multiple eras and multiple trends. His first Bond film, 2006 Casino Royale, transformed the Suave Bond of previous eras into a badass assassin fit for a gorilla, fit for post 9/11 and post-Bourne’s identity age. That was 15 years ago, before the MCU turned our idea of ​​a successful hero into a unique quipmeister who saves the day while being relatively good-natured and certainly not sleeping with anyone.

Even Deadpool, the most recognized bad boy in modern cinemas, is more adorable than anarchic. No time to dieThe incarnation of Bond slicing apples in the kitchen for a little girl and even shedding tears over his poor relationship choices may seem a far cry from the character author Ian Fleming has described as a anonymous blunt instrument wielded by a ministry, but it’s just the franchise to roll with the hits, like it always has.

We have certainly all become more aware of this trend with the 2015s. Spectrum, which brought Bonds’ nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld out of the shadows and announced him as the author of all our hero’s pain. It was the same kind of cynical pimping that later resurrected Emperor Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker. This late-game reveal of the Craig Big Bad era was clearly an attempt to unnecessarily tie Craig’s inputs into an overall narrative, while also presenting Blofeld as some sort of Thanos character for the franchise, even though the character was Thanos. long before Josh Brolin snapped his purple fingers.

A replay of the Bond franchise and some contextual research done during the film’s most missed moments (looking at you, Clifton Jamess of them cameos as Sheriff JW Pepper), reveals how responsive the creators behind any given Bond film have always been, both to Bonds’ previous adventure and everything that was successful in the market. But films have become such trusted institutions that it’s hard to remember when they entered cultural consciousness on a wave of open controversy.

James Bond against the Vietnam War

Sean Connery, in a tuxedo and holding a cigarette, in Dr. No

Photo: United Artists

When the first James Bond film, Dr No released in 1962, the Vatican condemned it as a dangerous mixture of violence, vulgarity, sadism and sex. Sean Connerys Bond, with his murderous, hairy acting, and hairy sensuality, is a far cry from that year’s Best Actor Oscar, Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Made before spy film was an established genre, the film unusually fits the Ian Fleming novel it is adapting. His version of Bond is a traditional tough guy, more like a cinematic gangster with a cause than ardent fighters for the 1962 box office hits, from Laurence of Arabia To Mocking bird To The man of music.

But at the time of the years 1965 Thunderclap, The countercultural status of bonds had completely morphed into a traditional box office success. Years 1967 You only live twice must have appeared to be the wave-crunchy old Goliath of David-esque New Hollywood from Bonnie and Clyde, the graduate, Cool Hand Luke, and In cold blood. It is therefore not surprising that the next installment in the series, the years 1969 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, felt incredibly different from his immediate predecessor.

It’s notable for being the first (and best) serial entry to give James Bond a soul, but it makes perfect sense, given the cultural background, in an era dominated by anti-war sentiment over the conflict in the United States. Vietnam. George Lazenby’s Softer Leap, with his ruffled shirts and hayside proposals, fell more easily than Connery’s blunt killer for an audience weary of the political and social turmoil of the day. The wonderfully dynamic ski-POV cinematography in OHMSS flies in front of critics of the old guard from the time that Mike Nichols found the living room set animated shoot Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf too jazzy.

James Bond vs. Star Wars

A poster for Moonraker from the 1979s, featuring an array of Star Wars-style characters in space

Photo: United Artists

The copy model is best exemplified in the Roger Moore franchise offerings, where producer partners Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Cubby Broccoli seemed to take insatiable glee in switching from one genre to the next, tailoring their hero to any genre. what kind of movie that dominated the box office at the time. Bond flew from Blaxploitation in Live and Let Die at kung fu in The man with the golden gun, then topped by Moonraker, a flagrant capitalization of 1979 on the success of the years 1977 Star wars.

Even the years 1977 The spy who loved me sounds like a rebuttal to the critic that Moore couldn’t have made a Bond movie with the scale and style of The golden finger Where You only live twice. And for all the praise Just for your eyes won as one of Moores less wacky offerings, this is clearly an overzealous attempt to show that he, like Connery’s From Russia with love, can be serious.

After Moore has come Timothy Dalton, whose cold-blooded Bond killer feels as alien to Moores as the Pierce Brosnans Moore / Connery Bond synthesis feels next to Daltons. Or License to kill was a violent and gritty revenge flick for the climax of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone action flicks, Golden eye felt like the right kind of accessible toy commercial from a movie for the decade that put nipples on Batman and a giant robot spider in the Old West.

Viewing this James Bond backdrop as a chameleon, becoming everything his time demanded, it becomes easier to embrace and enjoy the franchise’s weak moments. The flaws in Bond films can be as goofy as they are dated, but they are often useful freeze frames of what action cinema looked like in a very specific era. At the same time, viewers can elevate the heights of the series as ravishing examples of cinematic kismet, where the trends of the time and the tastes of whoever held the keys to the Aston Martin combined to produce a Fall from the sky, a Casino Royale, a The golden finger, or one On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

It’s silly to lock up James Bond, to criticize any new take on the character as being too clumsy, too cranky, too violent, or too emotional. After all, no movie character has ever spent nearly 60 years in the industry without being malleable. Decades (and hopefully more Bond movies) from now, No time to die will be just another cinematic time capsule in a series full of them, an example of the franchise showing us where blockbuster cinema was in 2021. In the meantime, James Bond will return, to die another day.

No time to die

Price taken at time of publication.

The latest James Bond film from the Daniel Craig era pulls 007 out of retirement and reconnects him with the people he loved and hated most in his past. Now available for premium rental on digital streaming platforms.




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