Nothing can kill James Bond. Not Jaws, Blofeld or a bevy of Bond girls with nefarious intentions.
Yet 007 remains vulnerable to one intractable foe in the 21st century. Cinematic virtue signaling. And it could happen, according to recent comments from the scribes responsible for the last gaggle of Bond adventures.
Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have helped write the last six Bond films, including the most recent installment “Spectre.” They’re currently plotting the 25th Bond film which may, or may not, star Daniel Craig.
The pair seem curious, if not eager, to bring in real world politics into the fictional spy saga.
“Each time, you’ve got to say something about Bond’s place in the world, which is Britain’s place in the world,” Purvis said to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper. “But things are moving so quickly now, that becomes tricky. With people like Trump, the Bond villain has become a reality.”
To be fair, at least Purvis didn’t play the Hitler card.
Bond. Brexit. Trump. Imagine the press. More specifically, consider how the most popular spy franchise in film history could become politicized in one swift move.
That might work for a smaller film with a modest budget. Bond movies break the bank every time out. It’s one reason the franchise falls back on product placement to ease the fiscal budget pain. Turning a franchise into a progressive talking point could dent its box office potential.
Just ask the Lady Ghostbusters.
The all-female reboot of the 1984 comedy classic ended up losing $70 million by some estimates. It’s hard not to pin some of the blame on the film’s marketing effort. Sony seemingly embraced the culture war fight stirred up by the casting switch, and the director and actresses piled on. The stars even appeared on “Ellen” alongside Hillary Clinton.
The media, trying to defend the reboot any way possible, did the rest.
It still seems unlikely Bond will fight against a Trumpian foe, right? The Broccoli family, which owns the franchise rights, has resisted pleas to make Bond either a black superagent or female. They’ve made modest concession to modern times – the newer Bond girls are more empowered than their predecessors.
Still, Bond endures in part because his DNA isn’t radically different from back in 1962 when Sean Connery first portrayed him in “Dr. No.”
The franchise refuses to get overtly political. Sure, 1983’s “Octopussy” featured a Soviet commander trying to force disarmament while the Cold War still raged, but it hardly merited any op-ed rebuttals.
As is, Bond doesn’t need additional press. The franchise is in great shape. Craig proved a fine choice to play 007, and his 2012 romp “Skyfall” netted north of $300 stateside. Most fans recoiled at Craig’s second adventure, “Quantum of Solace,” and others felt the re-introduction of Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) didn’t save “Spectre” from mediocrity.
Still, Craig kept the film series humming and will hand if off as a hearty money-making machine (assuming he keeps to his early word about retiring from the fake spy game).
There’s still excitement over the franchise’s future. Just Google “next James Bond’ and read all the stories suggesting who it could, or should, be.
That could change with an anti-Trump manifesto. For starters, the Bond movies take months to shoot. By the time the film hits theaters the Trump administration could have its sea legs. Or, we could be collectively burned out on Trump-bashing content. Just how long can Stephen Colbert and co. wage their comic war against the President before even Michael Moore cries, “enough!”
Bond, perhaps more than any other franchise, is ideal escapist fare. Every man wants to be James Bond. He’s cool, handsome and good with his fists. He’s a man of style and taste, and he makes women’s knees buckle.
Insert progressive talking points into “Bond 25” and suddenly the film will be politicized like just about every other part of modern life.