Fanboys Fix It: 007 Problems with Daniel Craig's James Bond Films | Fanboys Anonymous

Fanboys Fix It: 007 Problems with Daniel Craig's James Bond Films

Posted by Anthony Mango Monday, October 25, 2021

The Daniel Craig era of the James Bond franchise has finished. After taking some time to fully digest how No Time to Die fits in the overall picture of his films as well as the series as a whole, I find myself echoing opinions I've had from the start.

Largely, my opinion about Craig's Bond films is a mixed bag. Some showcase the best elements of the 007 franchise, while others have unforgivable flaws. For every Casino Royale in the top 5, there's Quantum of Solace toward the bottom. The best Bond girl of all time may be Vesper Lynd, but Elvis may be the worst henchmen of the series. It's very hit or miss.

As such, and as another follow-up to our A Review to a Kill series, I'd like to tackle another edition of FANBOYS FIX IT—a segment where I like to not just talk about the issues I had with something, but propose ideas of how to improve it.

With that being said, how would I fix Daniel Craig's run of the Bond films?

Fundamental Flaw #001: Timing

Craig was Bond for 15 years and only has 5 movies to his name. In comparison, Roger Moore was Bond for 12 years and did 7. Sean Connery was Bond for 9 years and filmed 6 (and there was also On Her Majesty's Secret Service with George Lazenby in that time frame). Pierce Brosnan squeezed 4 in 7 years.

Realistically, over 15 years, Craig should have done between 6 and 8 movies, if not 9. It just so happened that every single movie appeared to be riddled with issues from production problems, injuries, legal stuff, a writer's strike and a pandemic.

Assuming in this fantasy world that I could prevent that from happening with the benefit of hindsight, I'd like to make it so Craig doesn't feel like this is taking away his best years of acting and resents the role (from public perception) and that he doesn't reach a point quicker where he's too old for the part. Granted, he looks better in his final appearance than any other Bond does save for Timothy Dalton by default, but that's just a testament to Craig's workout routine.

I also think more films overall would have allowed him to experiment more with the character in ways he didn't get a chance to. We never really got to see some tropes of the franchise given his own twist to it.

Fundamental Flaw #002: The Age Gap Storyline

One of my absolute biggest issues with his films is how they felt they couldn't tell a story unless there was a hook to it and fell into a trap of bookending it with his age.

The first film is "young Bond before he became the man we know." Then, they had no other idea for the second film, so they said "...well, okay, he's not 100% there yet, so this is the remaining bit of the previous one. NOW, he's James Bond, full in form."

Then, instead of getting a true 007 film per normal, they went straight into "old dog, new tricks" and saying that Bond has aged out of being useful for his job. Immediately, he's a rookie and then he should retire. What??!

That's like saying Batman went from training, having his first couple nights in Gotham, and then hanging up his boots without ever having Robin and whatnot. mean to tell me Christopher Nolan did that with his Dark Knight franchise? And then, Zack Snyder decided to start his Batman as a grizzled 40+ year old who had already had Robin die (and not even the right Robin) and wanted to retire? I'm sensing a trend. Hopefully, Tom Holland doesn't just give up being Spider-Man with No Way Home.

With the increase in number of films, that makes it so we can actually live with this Bond. The first movie can be his origin, the second can follow up on that, and we can have a few other films where he's fully realized before we start getting into aging him out of the role.

This means Skyfall, which I think should be the mid-point of this collection of movies just the same as it was here, shouldn't be about Bond being the Old Yeller, but about him being the "new toy" for M, in a lot of ways, while Raoul Silva was the old dog upset about being replaced.

Fundamental Flaw #003: A Reverence for the Old Tropes

This era of the series pats itself back on saying "We know the previous films loved tropes, but we're too good for that and we want you to know that." It's a problem that plagued the sequel Star Wars trilogy where a character who is the son of legacy heroes literally complains in plain dialogue that if you need to kill off the past in order to replace it with your own ideas, you should.

Look at how that left the series. People went nuts for the return of Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian and I bet you can't even tell me who Lando's daughter is. Go ahead. Try to name her without looking her up. Oh wait, you didn't even know that that character in The Rise of Skywalker was supposed to be his daughter? Awful movies.

But two of the ways the Daniel Craig era tries to push this agenda is by ignoring the gadgets and the lines from before.

We have smart blood three times out of these five films because they couldn't think of anything else to do. Those other gadgets they have are a tracking radio that is bigger than nearly all other tracking software or "call for help" gadgets he's had since even Goldfinger, a gun that only works if Bond's hand is using it (which we already saw in Licence to Kill), two watches and a couple cars that thankfully had some bells and whistles toward the end.

They flat out denounce the exploding pen from GoldenEye as if it was some ridiculous gadget. It's a pen with a grenade in it. That's much more believable than your alligator submarine. Make fun of that if you want to poke fun at how ridiculous some of this used to be.

They also try their best to avoid saying "shaken, not stirred" and "Bond, James Bond" and some of the other lines of normal dialogue, if not just to subvert expectations and play with the audience.

So in my fixes, I say give him more gadgets and just make sure you don't go too over the top with it. Put in the lines of dialogue that you'd normally do, but just find new ways of delivering them.

And for God's sake, do a traditional gun barrel in front of every movie. If you want to play around with it the first time with Casino Royale, that's something, but every film past that point should have had it. No excuses.

Fundamental Flaw #004: Moneypenny and Q and Felix

Part of the old era that should have carried over sooner is for three of the primary allies to be factored into the series more.

Felix Leiter shows up temporarily in three of the films and doesn't do much at all. I'd simply like to see him have more to do and to get more into the brotherly bond between them.

Q should have been there from the start.

Moneypenny should have maybe been there from the start, too. If not, maybe she's M's new secretary in the second film, but it shouldn't have played out the way it did. For my tastes, I don't think "Eve Moneypenny" should have been a typical Bond girl who is in the field and shoots Bond and then goes behind a desk.

There's nothing wrong with "Jane Moneypenny" either, for that matter.

Fundamental Flaw #005: Oberhauser and Blofeld / Quantum and Spectre

I get that legal issues stopped them from being able to use SPECTRE, but they didn't need to call the organization Quantum. That's a dumb name. Quantum of Solace is one of my favorite titles (despite how some people are too dumb to understand the words; that's their fault for being morons) but it makes zero proper sense when you find out that's the name of the secret organization.

Instead, it should have remained a mystery until they could have said SPECTRE. We could have been seeing hints about an octopus ring and all and been led to the conclusions ourselves without flat out stating that to be the case. Someone could have referred to themselves as a number, implying a No. 1 is out there. So on and so forth.

It obviously should have been SPECTRE all along, but it never should have been Franz Oberhauser. The idea of making Bond and Blofeld brothers, no matter what the connection point, is beyond ridiculous. They shouldn't know each other for anything other than work having had them cross paths.

So here's my rewrite where you get to have your cake and eat it, too.

Around film #3 or 4 (ideally #4) you have Skyfall. Most of the film plays out the way it does, where M is the focal point as a motherly figure, she's killed by Silva, it all goes down at Skyfall and we dive into Bond's past, etc. There's no "Bond is too old" subplot. You end with Mallory taking over as M, like in the movie, and since he's stuffy, he doesn't want Bond to go on a revenge mission.

But Bond is Bond, so he does. He's out to seek answers, to find this mysterious No. 1 and to kill him to get back at Olivia Mansfield's death. They love doing rogue Bond and we get to see that here in its own way, but with Moneypenny and Q trying to circumvent the new M's ideas of "nope, I have to prove myself to not be a pushover and I can't let Bond do this to undermine my authority."

Blah blah blah. Bond's lost everything from his childhood home and even Kincaid dies, his motherly M is dead, and he really has nothing left. Or so he thinks. That's when he gets a message from Franz Oberhauser, his foster brother for a short time frame. After Bond's parents died, he was taken in by the Oberhauser family. Bond has his issues, as we know, so he didn't really get along with them as he put up emotional barriers and the like. Once he reached 15 or so, he went into military service and went down this career path and never really bothered with them again.

Now, though, Oberhauser is being targeted to get revenge on Bond and he feels responsible, obviously.

Eventually, Bond meets Blofeld. He's just Blofeld. It's not some twist about it being Oberhauser, who is ultimately killed in the movie as the sacrificial lamb. Blofeld can even keep the "author of all your pain" line and say that he has no political motives for having gone after Oberhauser and all. He did it for fun. Just to fuck with Bond. Bond's messed with his plans too many times and now, any time he gets in his way, he's not only going to stop him, but he'll be looking for ways to perpetually target anyone he loves and to just ruin his life as much as possible.

Bond doesn't kill Blofeld, as Blofeld escapes. We know he'll be back at any random time. Nobody gets their wheelchair picked up by a helicopter and tossed into a giant exhaust pipe. No one is offered a delicatessen in stainless steel. But Bond does manage to fuck up Blofeld's eyeball and leave him with the iconic scar.

Fundamental Flaw #006: Madeleine Swann

For the most part, Madeleine Swann and the Mr. White saga was a retelling of On Her Majesty's Secret Service with some twists. The music cues in No Time to Die flat out call attention to this. But if you replace Swann with Tracy and Mr. White with Draco, that's basically what you get.

So why not just call them that?

"Mr. White" is his codename. Bond finds out he's actually Marc-Ange Draco. Instead of the name Madeleine Swann, his daughter is Teresa Draco, who is estranged from her father because of his crimes. She's married to someone named Count Giulio di Vicenzo (so she goes by Tracy di Vicenzo). Unbeknownst to her, her husband is a plant, essentially. He works for her father and his job is basically to always be in contact with him so he knows what his daughter is up to. He's never really been a husband, which is why he became so awful after they got married, because he's been keeping up the facade and he doesn't actually love her.

Bond can save her from di Vicenzo, who can be even the heavy/henchman of the film. You can maybe even keep the babyface turn for Mr. White where he wants to leave SPECTRE and he wants Bond to take care of his daughter. Naturally, White has to die, too. We end with Tracy and Bond as a couple. But of course, Blofeld is lingering.

I wouldn't have cast Lea Seydoux in this part, either. She's much better as a femme fatale like a Miranda Frost type character.

Fundamental Flaw #007: The Finale

I have two opinions about how No Time to Die ends. In one way, I think Bond is a tragic character and he kind of has to die to really drive home that point to the audience. However, in another way that I feel even stronger about, I think there are more ways to tell a tragedy than for the protagonist to die.

I had been saying leading up to the movie that I thought they would have the ending be that Madeleine dies and Bond is left to retire because he's going to take care of his daughter, who is the true "Bond girl" in a sense. We got something similar, but with Bond biting the bullet and leaving Madeleine alive with Mathilde.

Therefore, just switch it up. Tracy/Madeleine is killed, because Bond's love life is awful, and since he has a daughter now, he knows he can't go globetrotting as a super spy. He kills Blofeld, SPECTRE dissolves, and he's aged to the point where he can realistically retire anyway, so he's going to just raise his daughter instead.

So what do you think? What flaws from the Daniel Craig era of James Bond would you fix and how would you propose to fix them? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!


Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and podcast host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, fiction writer and more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.