Evolution. Mention that word in most public schools around this country and it will be treated with heated arguments from both sides of the issue. Did man evolve from the ape? Were we created in this image that we survive in today? Though that fact is debatable and has been through the court systems 100 times over, the fact that James Bond, Her majesty’s number one super secret agent, has gone through intense evolution in his 22-movie span is not debatable.What started as an Ian Fleming novel about a super sleuth has turned into the most popular secret agent movie series. Fleming’s stories usually revolved around Cold War topics, giving viewers a good old fashioned ‘anti-red’ feeling at the end.
The first evil super group that Bond battled in his never-ending quest to change the world was SPECTRE, led by Bond’s arch nemesis, the cat stroking, swivel chair maniac, Blofeld. Blofeld threw everything he could at James (who was portrayed by Sean Connery throughout the duration of the SPECTRE series) in the forms of Goldfinger, Dr. No, and tanks filled with hungry man-eating sharks. Of course, all these men could have easily put the secret agent away at any time, but SPECTRE was an evil group that loved intricate plots. Most famously shown when Goldfinger decided that a bullet to the head was outdated and would rather cut Bond down the center with a laser beam.
Once the battles with SPECTRE died down James Bond changed his appearance a bit from the slick black-haired Connery to the older looking womanizer that was Roger Moore. With the exit of Connery from the series the plots began to deter from a hint of realism to the most ridiculous themes the writers could think of. Instead of dwelling on the Cold War motif that the series thrived on Fleming and his band of writers ventured off to the preposterous.
“Moonraker” featured space battles with laser guns and a madman attempting to blow up the world and bring about a new utopia in space. A little far-fetched but at the time space travel was a hot topic.
In “Live and Let Die,” Bond battled voodoo priests and drug dealers in the heart of New Orleans. The movie was a tad bit offensive, but it was made to look like a blaxplotation film. Moore sure did look ridiculous running through opium fields in his voodoo garb and long time viewers of the series were longing for a plot that went back to the old Bond ways.
However, there was no such luck for the viewer as Moore’s brand of Bond led the fans through wars with gold-bullet shooting assassins with dwarf servants and submarine battles that proved bad guys lack the ability to aim their firearms. After all the hardships Bond featured in the 1980s, the insanity was finally topped with film that is widely considered the worse Bond flick in history. “Octopussy” featured offensive stereotypes that even John Rocker would cringe at. Traveling gypsy sexpots, turban wearing bodyguards, and circus freaks with pinpoint knife accuracy to name a few.
With Roger Moore approaching the tender age of 60, it was time that the fans demanded to see a new personality take over the role of Bond, considering everyone was getting a bit queasy seeing a man their grandfather’s age seducing woman 30 years his minor. Timothy Dalton had a solid two-film run in which Bond returned to his raging war against the Communists in Russia before heading south of the border to battle drug lords of South America.
It seemed that Bond was returning to its clever plots with plenty of comedy and complex gadgets that fans of all ages could enjoy when the series hit its peak. Pierce Brosnan made his debut in “Goldeneye”, a well-written and suspenseful edition to the series that featured a good friend turned ‘Lienz Cossack’ agent, 006. Bond continued a heart wrenching battle with the rogue agent and fans fell in hate with the much despised computer geek Boris Grishenko, portrayed by Alan Cumming.
After the success of “Goldeneye” it appeared the writers ran out of ideas. “Tomorrow Never Dies” featured an insane newspaper mogul who decided that starting a war was a great way to increase newspaper sales. I know that in this modern age the newspaper is a dying trade but The Quad does not agree with nuclear threats as a means to sell papers.
After the insanity of “Tomorrow,” Brosnan tackled another member of the criminally insane Bond villian club in the form of an oil tycoon. This film was ok but I struggled to believe that Denise Richards, the woman married to Charlie Sheen for so long, was the person to trust when it came to disarming nuclear warheads. I don’t picture the main character of “Wild Things” as the leading candidate nuclear physics.
Brosnan made his exciting final installment as James Bond battling a Korean soldier, turned Machiavelli, turned English gentleman via plastic surgery, Korean freedom fighter. I do not care how advanced plastic surgery is these days, there is no way to believe that Dr. 90210 could make Kim Jong-il look like Prince Charles. However, a Korean man turning into a complete English gentleman was no where near as far-fetched as Bond’s most infamous gadget in this film, the invisible car. Steve Spielberg can take note too about his explanation of how it is possible to make dinosaurs no longer extinct. It does not matter what scientific mumbo-jumbo you feed to the audience, there is no way in the world that car can become invisible with the driver inside it. A laser watch? That is pushing it but it could happen. Invisible car? I don’t think so.
With the rumors of Batman deciding to reboot the series to free the plot from years on continuity, the creators of Bond decided to tag along with a darker, more realistic version of the super spy’s adventures, this time starring Daniel Craig. Bond becomes completely differentiated from grandpa Roger Moore and out of this world Pierce Brosnan and becomes a young agent just starting his career. Instead of a million cool gadgets that perplex the mind thinking about, Bond now must rely on his wit to survive.
Instead of Baccarat, a game that only few understand the rules of, Bond ventures into the more popular world of playing super villains in Texas Hold’em tournaments.
With the newest enstallment of Bond films just hitting theatres now fans must swallow their love of the tall tale super hero James Bond and fall in love with the new Bond. A new Bond that actually falls in love with instead of sleeping with every female he meets.
This Bond has feelings, emotions, and not a zinger for every comment thrown his way. If you love realism than go to the theaters as soon as possible to catch Craig’s newest portrayal of Bond, but do not expect to see unworldly gadgets and mad men trying to conquer the world via super computer satellites. It just is not in the evolution of Bond, James Bond.
Ken Schmidt is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at KS609536@wcupa.edu.