Bond and the never-ending franchise
Sunday, November 8, 2015 - 6:31pm
I remember dressing up with a cape and a wand to see the midnight premiere of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” I bought my ticket weeks in advance, waited in line with 100 other wizards for spooky-themed snacks. Most importantly, I got to the theater early to pick the best seat (right behind the railing so I could put my feet up).
I was excited to see the movie because I’d read all the books. The evening oozed anticipation more than surprise. I, along with everyone else in the theater, already knew what would happen, and that’s exactly why we were there. That’s the case for fans of any book series-turned-film franchise. I’m sure (though I don’t have any first-hand experience) that the “Twilight” movies brought out just as passionate a crowd.
However, James Bond is different. No one dresses up in white tuxes and sips martinis in the movie theater to celebrate the next 007 addition. Although that would be pretty suave, James Bond is a different kind of series, if you can even call it that. “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” have a beginning and an end. Everybody (and I mean everybody) cries at the end of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” because they know it’s over. I’m assuming no one cried at the end of “Spectre,” the latest episode in the adventures of James Bond, even if they thought it was the finale of 007. An air of possibility hangs over the ending of a Bond movie — the possibility of another film or another Bond somewhere in the not-so-distant future.
This begs the question: Will James Bond ever be over? I don’t think so, or at least not in my lifetime. As long as a Daniel Craig look-alike (though it’s about time for some diversity) can throw on a tux and shoot a gun, there will be more movies. And that’s interesting, seeing as James Bond was originally a book series. It would, therefore, make sense to have a set beginning and end. But the storyline has spiraled off from the novels completely, drawing on elements from all the books in each film rather than following their plots exactly.
Bond is a bit like Sherlock Holmes in the way the stories, both stemming from books, are malleable — actors, time periods and plotlines can be adjusted to fit popular demand. In the past 10 years, both Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch have played Sherlock, the former in a ho-hum film adaptation and the latter in a brilliant BBC TV series. Bond has been played by seven men, ranging from the mediocre Pierce Brosnan to the classic Sean Connery. Anyone can play Bond or Sherlock, in a way that doesn’t exist in other series. Only Daniel Radcliffe can play Harry Potter (and that’s a fact). But, like Sherlock, Bond can embody different representations; many different actors (who all look eerily similar) can take on the role.
Maybe Bond films are just too profitable to give up on. The 2012 installment “Skyfall” made over $1,000,000,000. That’s not too surprising, considering these films are full of everything the public loves: sex, guns and unnecessary explosions. Bond lives adjacent to Marvel Comics’ superheroes (another series of sorts that will never die) and down the street from more sophisticated spy thrillers, making the franchise a unique blend of artistry and mass market appeal.
Maybe one day, our hero will meet his fateful end, but perhaps, the allure of sex, guns and fast cars is just too good to pass up.