Mark Harrison

Jul 26, 2017

James Bond 19 will arrive in November 2019. Eon Productions still has much to consider…

This feature contains spoilers for Spectre.

It was announced this week that James Bond Will Return in November 2019, for the 25th movie in the series. After the box office reception and subsequent backlash against the previous film, 2015’s Spectre, there has been much speculation about the next film taking on a radically different approach, from casting to storytelling.

The signs strongly point towards Daniel Craig reprising his role for a fifth time, according to a report in the Mirror earlier this month and a recent confirmation in the New York Times that his return was “a done deal”. Despite Craig’s much repeated quote about slashing his wrists rather than returning, which the actor has since put down to being overtired by the junket schedule, it certainly looks like he’s coming back for one last go.

But Eon Productions’ announcement has left much to be announced, from the cast to the director, and even the distributor. Sony’s four picture deal ended with Spectre, and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are said to be shopping the franchise around to Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Universal and (most intriguingly) indie studio Annapurna Pictures. The only thing we know for sure is the US release date and that screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have written every Bond film since 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, will provide the script.

While promoting their BBC One adaptation of Len Deighton’s SS-GB, Wade replied, about the possibility of writing another film: “Never say never. But for sure, Spectre felt like it closed off a certain way of doing Bond. And I think whatever happens next will be quite different.”

Still, there are all sorts of ways that the franchise can continue, and we’ve rounded up the rumour mill to speculate on what the 25th Bond movie might entail, from a resolution to the end of the previous film to the broader possibilities in a market of cinematic universes.

The loose ends of Spectre

How James Bond 25 could reinvent the franchise

Even by the continuity heavy standards of the Craig era, Spectre left a fair amount of tentacles flailing by the time the end credits rolled. This is probably because the film was initially planned to link directly into the sequel, with screenwriter John Logan reportedly writing drafts of both the 24th and 25th films together.

But at the end of the film, Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld is still alive and in custody, and Bond hands in his Walther, apparently quitting MI6 and swanning off with Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann. That means any direct sequel would have to bring Bond back into the fold (for what feels like the fourth time in Craig’s run alone) and probably have Waltz and Seydoux reprise their roles too.

To open the next Bond film with 007 already looking forward to his next mission would be a welcome surprise, but it would be contrary to the kind of storytelling we’ve seen in the last four films. Plus, if you’re going to bring Craig back, it’s not going to be because they’re planning to start fresh just yet.

As has often been suggested since Spectre‘s release, we might be in for a reprise of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which Blofeld murders Bond’s wife Tracy after they’re newly married, at the start of the next film and then a focus on our hero’s revenge. If James is really going to settle down with Madeleine, it can’t last, and this particular version of the character already can’t catch a break with his loved ones.

Other returning stars would include Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Rory Kinnear, who are the first, best argument for not rebooting in the next instalment, after the supporting cast have been so strongly set up over the course of the last two films. Fiennes told us back in April 2016 that he was signed for three films, so you can bet they’ll be back along with Craig.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve got the best job in the world. I’ll keep doing it as long as I still get a kick out of it,” Craig told the audience at the New Yorker festival in October last year. “If I were to stop doing it, I would miss it terribly.”

One reason for the potential hold-up in announcing Craig’s return is that he will next be seen in a rare comedic role, as Joe Bang in Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, so maybe Broccoli and Wilson are waiting until that film is out of the way so that he doesn’t have another junket in which everyone’s asking him about the next Bond film. They’ll need him to complete the arc that was retroactively built by Spectre in making Blofeld the so-called author of his pain.

A ‘real’ Bond villain

How James Bond 25 could reinvent the franchise

It’s all the more interesting that Purvis and Wade are returning to write their seventh Bond film, thanks to their other comments on the SS-GB publicity trail.

“The thing is, I’m just not sure how you would go about writing a James Bond film now,” Purvis told the Telegraph in February. “Each time, you’ve got to say something about Bond’s place in the world, which is Britain’s place in the world.

But things are moving so quickly now, that becomes tricky. With people like Trump, the Bond villain has become a reality. So when they do another one, it will be interesting to see how they deal with the fact that the world has become a fantasy.”

If this is any indication of what they’re thinking for the next film, we could be in for an interesting and different sort of story. The producers and fans of the series probably lean more conservatively in their politics, so we doubt that there’ll be too much pointed criticism of current administrations, but imagine if this were a more topical Bond than we’d usually expect.

They might have SPECTRE interfering in elections or hijacking Trident, taking Commander Bond back to his naval experience for the first time in this run of films. Maybe there’ll be a Trump-y head of state as an antagonist, whether continuing in the thread of the 00 section being endangered by changing foreign policy, or a more overt baddy.

Purvis and Wade’s comments were widely picked up earlier this year, and given how theirs are the only names confirmed in the announcement, we’d like to think that they’ve got a good plot in mind. Now that reality is as silly as it is, the possibilities are endless.

Another reboot?

How James Bond 25 could reinvent the franchise

Of course, if it doesn’t all work out like we expect it to with Craig, the franchise could be looking down the barrel of another reboot. For reasons stated above, we doubt it would be quite as strong as Casino Royale, although that film carried over Judi Dench’s M even while going back to the beginning of Bond’s career. By the same token, you could keep M, Q and Moneypenny around but draw a line under Spectre and Madeleine if Craig really doesn’t want to do it.

In that instance, maybe it will be Christopher Nolan’s time to take on the franchise. His name has come up consistently as a potential director for the series over the years, and his fandom has shown in his homages to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service at the climax of Inception, and Licence To Kill at the start of The Dark Knight Rises. But when asked, his line has always been that he wants to make it his own, most recently in an interview with Playboy magazine to promote Dunkirk.

“I’ve spoken to the producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson over the years. I deeply love the character, and I’m always excited to see what they do with it. Maybe one day that would work out. You’d have to be needed, if you know what I mean. It has to need reinvention; it has to need you. And they’re getting along very well.”

Funnily enough, the time between Dunkirk and November 2019 would match up with the usual two-and-a-half-year gap between Nolan’s films, so maybe they’ve persuaded him over. It would be an even bolder move than recruiting Sam Mendes for Skyfall and Spectre, and might finally mark a transition from the producer-led Bond movies of old to letting filmmakers lead the way. We’d have to assume that at least means he’s co-writing the script though, and only Purvis and Wade have been named thus far.

‘Jane Bond’ – a female 00?

How James Bond 25 could reinvent the franchise

Among the ‘feedback’ of a small percentage of the internet in relation to Jodie Whittaker’s recent casting in Doctor Who (the best and most inadvertently brilliant of which so far is “What’s next, Jackie Chan as Poirot?”), there have also been many sarcastic comments about making James Bond a woman.

James Bond is not the Doctor – despite the many casting changes, it’s never once been established that the character dies and changes his DNA, so that’s far less plausible. But it remains that Craig’s entire era has been overshadowed by Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, the first and best leading lady of his run.

One way to change that would be to introduce female lead of the kind we haven’t really seen since Pam Bouvier in 1989’s Licence To Kill, who’s truly a match for Bond (even Michelle Yeoh and Halle Berry’s ass-kicking agents needed rescuing by Bond in their respective outings.)

Let me put this to you – in Spectre, Bond is taken off active duty after his antics in Mexico City, but goes off to Rome anyway, nicking an Aston Martin DB10 which has been tricked out by Q Branch. We’re told that the car was meant for Bond but then reallocated to 009, who never appears, so who’s to say that it’s another bloke? It would be nice to see more of the 00 section than just Bond in this era, and bringing that character into the fray would chime with the idea of connecting the next film to Spectre as well.

If you like, you could back it up with Ian Fleming by going back to a character like Gala Brand, a Special Branch agent who appeared in the novel of Moonraker, but was swapped out for astronaut Holly Goodhead in the barmy film adaptation. Cast any one of those great actresses who have previously remarked that they’d rather play Bond than one of his love interests, like Jessica Chastain or Gillian Anderson.

It would be a different tack for the films, and a smart way to address the most pertinent criticisms of the series’ portrayal of women, particularly following the previous film’s squandering of Monica Bellucci and the deeply unconvincing shift in Madeleine’s interest in Bond. More than that, it could go in line with other rumours about the franchise’s future…

The 007 cinematic universe?

How James Bond 25 could reinvent the franchise

To varying degrees, the series has always been influenced by the cinematic landscape around it over time. The 1970s gave us take-offs of blaxploitation, martial arts flicks and even Star Wars, while the current incarnation felt led by the Bourne movies. It’s not entirely surprising then, given the vogue for cinematic universes, that Eon is reportedly looking into expanding the franchise too.

Eon previously tried to build a spin-off around Wai Lin from Tomorrow Never Dies, and more notably, signed Halle Berry to a Jinx spin-off from Die Another Day set for release in 2004, intended as the start of a ‘Winter Olympics’ alternative series to the parent franchise. This project was cancelled a year before the planned release, but apparently, they’ve still got the cinematic universe bug.

We can all have a laugh at the possibilities of a Q or Moneypenny spin-off, but we have to assume they won’t only be taking inspiration from Marvel Studios. Look at how Fox is using its X-Men spin-offs to make vastly different films and we can already think of a couple of different Bond movies.

What if we could get an Old Man Bond type film, a la Logan, focusing on an older Bond doing one last mission. They’d inevitably go to Pierce Brosnan for this, but just imagine that movie with Timothy Dalton returning. On the opposite end of the age range, Charlie Higson’s Young Bond series of novels, exploring the early adventures of Bond at boarding school age, could be a lucrative spin-off for the family market.

All in all, Eon are probably focused on Bond 25 before expanding the franchise, but with a four year gap between films, they’ve certainly got enough time to mount a Nolan-directed soft reboot with a strong female lead, a Trump-a-like baddy and the potential for numerous spin-offs, if that’s where they want to go.

But what would be nice is if they’re able to reinvent the series as Skyfall did, holding onto the past with one hand while pointing towards the next 50 years with the other. Spectre is ultimately a film that went back on a lot of the previous film’s promises – here’s hoping that a fifth Daniel Craig film can redeem it, and leave the franchise in better health than they found it.

What would you like to see in the next James Bond film? Who should write the theme tune and sing the theme tune? Should they finally use Fleming’s 007 In New York title? Tell us what you think and if we’ve missed anything in the comments…