With the release of SPECTRE on November 5th, the James Bond series now comprises 24 films spanning 53 years with a total run-time of 53 hours. These impressive stats have raised many questions surrounding the character of James Bond. Most importantly, how can one person work in the highly dangerous field of espionage for that long?
I truly believe that the films from 1962’s Dr. No to 2002’s Die Another Day are the stories of one person, while the series of films starting from Casino Royale up until the latest SPECTRE tell the story of someone completely new. There are a few reasons why I believe this, the first being that there is continuity between the Bonds of Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, and Brosnan. The strongest evidence for this is seen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (OHMSS), For Your Eyes Only (FYEO), and Goldeneye. The continuity in OHMSS is clearly seen when Lazenby’s Bonds reminisces over artifacts from Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Thunderball. This accompanies familiar melodies playing in the background featured in the earlier films.
In FYEO, Roger Moore’s Bond visits the grave of Tracy Bond who passed away in 1969, the same year that OHMSS was released. Tracy is originally introduced in OHMSS as a romantic interest of Bond’s, and is killed shortly after at the hands of Blofeld, who originally intended to kill James. Tracy is not the only character from OHMSS that is reintroduced; Blofeld returns once again and attempts to kill James. He fails once again, and it is implied that James kills Blofeld. Goldeneye also has several links to its predecessors. Brosnan’s Bond starts his tenure as Bond on a mission in 1986, three years before the events of Timothy Dalton’s last appearance as Bond in 1989. The second link Goldeneye has to its prequels is that when James interacts with the new M, played by Judi Dench, James speaks of Robert Brown’s M from a very personal standpoint. Additional examples of continuity include portraits of former Ms and the fact that Desmond Llewelyn’s Q has the same report with every single incarnation of 007 just to name a few.
Now when it comes to Daniel Craig receiving his license to kill, we are first introduced to him in 2006 with the huge success of Casino Royale. Considering that Casino Royale was James’ first mission in the novel series, it would make sense that some firsts would be explained, such as the two kills needed to receive a 00 number. This is acceptable, and quite frankly it is expected, given that Casino Royale is an origin story of sorts. The film has nods to its past with the revelation of the iconic 1964 Aston Martin DB5. This is, of course, the car that James wins in a game of poker, that one would assume is his own personal car. This car becomes troublesome later in Daniel’s tenure.
It is no secret that all of Craig’s movies are connected, which is made especially apparent in Quantum of Solace (QoS) and SPECTRE. All the villains featured in these movies are interconnected and there are constant references made to previous movies. The most blatant example is the opening scene of QoS during which M interrogates Mr. White, who was captured at the end of Casino Royale. I could go on pointing out all of the connections in the movies but for the interest of time, I’ll stop here and move onto the discontinuities introduced in the new era of Bond.
The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 makes its first appearance in 1963’s Goldfinger, when Q hands it over to James while revealing all the modifications he added, including the headlight, machine guns, and ejector seat. Now recall that Craig’s Bond wins the same model car in Casino Royale; this car later makes another appearance in Skyfall. The problem is that this car in Skyfall has all the modifications as the one in Goldfinger. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that Bond is without a quartermaster for his missions in Casino Royale and QoS, and isn’t given one until Skyfall. The car isn’t the only iconic entity with continuity problems.
SPECTRE is the 24th installment in the franchise. It is also the name of the organization backing Dr. No in 1962’s Dr. No. SPECTRE stands for Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, and this evil collective has one thing in mind, world domination. This is the organization that James Bond spends 20 years of his career chasing, and ultimately lost his wife to. This is why I find it odd that upon finding Sciarra’s membership ring, he doesn’t recognize the octopus symbol on it. It may be missing a tentacle, but still shares a striking resemblance to the original.
In Dr. No, the title character explains to James what SPECTRE stands for and the organization’s goals. With the evidence provided above that James is one single person, I find it mind blowing that in SPECTRE the only one who knows of this organization is Dr. Swann. Q missed it and more importantly, James misses this. The only thing that could have made this worse is if SPECTRE was explained to James for the second time. This leads this die hard Bond fan to conclude that somehow there is an alternate timeline in the Bond series.
Daniel Craig’s Bond has his own timeline separate from the rest of the series. I say this because it is the only way the Craig story arc makes any sense within the context of the rest of the franchise. As I stated above, the other five Bonds are all connected to each other in some way, whether that be direct references to other movies and characters or by having timelines intersect. Craig’s Bond is the only one that doesn’t do any of the above with the others. In fact, Craig’s Bond seems to be a do-over on the whole franchise, while trying too hard to make references to the older movies. I could easily write another article on all the easter eggs included in the Craig movies.
There is a great deal of evidence in the history of James Bond to suggest that the James Bonds played from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan are all the same person. Daniel Craig sets the pace for an entirely separate timeline, and is distinct from the rest of his predecessors.