It was in 1962 that we first saw James Bond, aka 007 grace our screens in his signature suave style. Sean Connery set the journey in motion, and now we have seen 27 films and seven reincarnations of the iconic and unfailing character.
But in 2021, for the first time, we saw James Bond die in No Time to Die.
The Cold Charm of a Hero
James Bond has historically been the character that has never sacrificed charm, even if he sacrificed much else. Even his way of shooting an enemy, has been stylized for the signature gun barrel sequence.
There is much that has been given the prefix of Bond. There is a Bond song, a Bond girl, and a Bond villain. These tropes must be found in every film, a checklist of sorts that will be compared to the previous one and set a standard for the next one. The Bond songs win Oscars, the Bond villains will be foreign or scarred or both, and the Bond girls will be the most beautiful women you have had the privilege of watching on screen.
And yet, despite the individual lives each of these tropes take on, they are all supporting the main event. They are accessories that dress up the idol of the shrine, the unfeeling, unwavering, ever handsome spy that is James Bond. This is the larger-than-life character movies were made for, and he ticks every box.
The Reincarnating Avatar
It is the hero who has stood the test of time, but it has never been about an ‘actor’ standing the test of time. It is the nature of the role, that it passes from one to another.
Perhaps, there is no other character that comes with this caveat. There can be no single Bond. No one ‘Bond’ can be considered the final, or the ultimate. Personal opinions will thrive, of course, and it is encouraged that we all pick our favorites. But it is also simultaneously encouraged that we put together our lists of the potential next Bond. It is understood that the baton must be passed on. It is only a question of when, and how spectacular the run will be.
It is a shifting face that never has to be explained. We do not need logic in this story. We merely need a thread to follow and the familiarity of an unfamiliar Bond. Once he is worn in, and we have come to know him, love him or hate him, it is then that the system bends once again, and the curtains hang in wait for the next face.
The Daniel Craig of it All
While the baton has continued to pass with uproars of fury or jubilation each time, Daniel Craig has held the mantle the longest. For 15 years, he has been James Bond. And for 15 years, he has gone on to prove film after film, why he deserves his piece of the 007 mantle.
Whatever public feeling may have been when he took on the role, it is now only reverence and love for the man who plays the myth. The majority, is happy with his portrayal of Bond to continue, but there is also that itch that comes with Bond. We see it in the lists that have cropped up time and again, predicting the next Bond, and we see it in the eyes of Daniel Craig himself. It is time now for the curtain to hang once again.
But when a hero has served us so, and an actor has made his case this way, there is also a need to celebrate what has come. We must honour the actor this time, through the guise of the character. And so, in his final film, Daniel Craig received the honor no one else has. The honour of having his James Bond die. In fireworks and flashes, the hero disappears while he remains standing. It is farewell truly this time, to a reincarnation, no one is tired of.
There is ‘No Time to Die’ in James Bond’s life. After all, it is the promise of the character that he will return.