Good Luck 007: Where do Daniel Craig and the Bond Franchise Take the Cinematic Juggernaut after Skyfall?

David Humphreys considers the next steps in Daniel Craig's plan for world domination and wonders if there are lessons to be learnt from past Bond's fourth franchise entries.

Spoiler Warning: the below discusses Skyfall at some length, including several later character resolutions and reveals.

Daniel Craig IS James Bond. If there were any remaining questions about that pre-Skyfall, the 23rd official James Bond outing, they have been well and truly answered, as the sixth actor to take on the Double O number made the role his own with his third appearance in the tuxedo.

All appears to be well and good with Bond. No more financial trouble surrounding his distributors, a solid lead actor - Craig has signed on for another two films and one would imagine the public will want more - a now established supporting cast and a seemingly promising future. Bond 24 and 25 are said to be in the pipeline with some rumours suggesting a story is already in development for Bond 24.

Skyfall, given the time elapsed between Quantum of Solace and its own release, due to MGM’s well documented financial collapse, served as a reboot to the reboot, reminding everybody why the series is so popular and why blonde is best for Bond, with another superb performance from Daniel Craig. It also marked the return of well-loved franchise stalwarts in the form of Q (Ben Whishaw) and the poorly disguised Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). Despite saying goodbye to Judi Dench as M, audiences welcomed in Ralph Fiennes’ Gareth Mallory into the role of Bond’s boss and into the most famous office in cinema, padded door and all.

All this said, one could say that 007 actually finds himself at a crossroads. Where does he go now? Given that the established order has been reset and no more awkward questions linger of Bond’s future, it is more important than ever that Eon Productions set Bond on the right track, in terms of story, casting and relevance. Craig and the producers are going to need every ounce of the card playing skill that served 007 so well in 2006’s Casino Royale.

Like they have before, those behind Bond need to look to the history books to determine the future. Only three actors before Craig have donned the tuxedo for more than three films and if the fourth instalments of Sirs Connery and Moore along with Pierce Brosnan are to go by, it is most certainly a case of tricky fourth album.

Sean all at sea.

'Thunderball (1965) James Bond heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme.'

Sir Sean Connery, on the back of the enormous global success of 1964’s Goldfinger slips back into the tuxedo once more and then slips out of it, into an interesting red-orange swimsuit-like outfit, harpooning villains with homicidal frequency. It’s arguable that the highlight of the film comes pre-titles as Bond flees a fight with a disguised widow on a jetpack and into his now beloved Aston Martin DB5. With a quarter of the 130 minute running time filmed underwater, it is easy to switch off from this underwhelming and flat Bond picture.

It also seemed to signal Connery beginning to look a lot more bored and tired of the role, given his well-publicised opposition to the constant press attention Goldfinger’s success had brought, something which eventually told with Connery initially giving up the Walther PPK after You Only Live Twice in 1967.

So what about Sir Roger?

'Moonraker (1979) - James Bond investigates the mid-air theft of a space shuttle and discovers a plot to commit global genocide.'

Bringing a lighter touch to 007, Sir Roger Moore was lauded for his initial incarnations as the most extraordinary gentleman spy in all fiction. Despite The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) falling a little wide of the mark, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) restored the audience’s faith in Moore as Bond.

Yet Moonraker is an outlandish and mostly silly attempt at tapping in to the space craze caused by the release of Star Wars (1977). Featuring a villain with metal teeth, a hovering gondola and a cringe-worthy, ageing, Moore talking women into bed, it’s hard to see how the actor bagged another three stints as 007.

Again, it could be said that the fourth film is the beginning of a slide for any Bond actor as 1981’s For Your Eyes Only was criticised for being boring, littered with product placement and Moore’s age again called into question whilst Octopussy (1983) saw 007 double as a clown, gorilla and an alligator. Some would argue that Moore’s final outing A View To A Kill (1985) was a similarly bad film, yet this writer disagrees entirely!

'it could be said that the fourth film is the beginning of a slide for any Bond actor... Moore’s age was again called into question whilst he went on to dress as a clown, gorilla and an alligator.'

Brosnan and the ice palace.

Die Another Day (2002) - James Bond is sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul who is funding the development of an international space weapon.

Pierce Brosnan’s fourth stint as the world’s greatest secret agent, 2002’s Die Another Day has been labelled, in some quarters, as quite simply the worst Bond film ever. An over reliance on gadgets and a weak attempt to celebrate the 40th anniversary of 007 saw fans and critics alike pan Brosnan’s final dalliance with the tuxedo. The less said about the facial reconstruction surgery and invisible Aston Martins, the better. It was even criticised by the first Bond in space – Sir Roger!

So where for Craig?

All the evidence and guidance is there, to avoid a flop akin to that of Quantum of Solace. It is important that the Bond team get a structure in place early and develop the story for as long as possible. It paid off for Craig’s first and latest films, giving them no excuse not to next time around.

The quips and gadgets have made a solid return to the Bond canon and can be developed and continue to feature in the small helpings we’ve had already. Despite what most have said, Casino Royale had its fair share of humour and Craig has proved he’s not immune to it in Skyfall.

Fans will clamour for a proper Bond girl again. We’ve not seen a decent bit of arm candy for 007 since Eva Green’s excellent turn as Vesper in Royale, so it’s high time Bond got lucky without them dying!

It would also be nice to see Craig’s Bond go up against the likes of a Blofeld-type villain, without falling into the trap of it being too camp. The latest incarnation of 007 has brought with him a fantastic sense of realism that perhaps will allow for the two to combine harmoniously.

The end of the film is also no place for the gun barrel walk.

So hopefully, come 2014, with the right director, the right story and some common sense we’ll be sat here in the knowledge that James Bond has done it again and proven that you really can teach an old dog new tricks, without having to resort to invisible cars and a clown suit.

David Humphreys is a third year Journalism student at the Unversity of Central Lancashire. When he grows up, he wants to be a magazine writer. He once managed to blag his way on to work experience at FHM, whilst bugging Empire to give him a job. You can find his take on life at The Journo Ref and follow him on Twitter @HumphreysWriter.

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