After Spectre, Daniel Craig famously said that he’d rather slash his wrists than play James Bond again. Fortunately, his suicidal ideation came to an end when he was offered the equivalent of the GDP of a (not especially) small country to return in No Time to Die.
Originally slated for late 2019, the film was delayed by the departure of original director Danny Boyle. This was reportedly due to a script dispute, and we can only imagine that Boyle’s vision included Bond having a jaunty heroin-fuelled adventure around Edinburgh, before bastardising some Beatles songs, and then helping that kid from Skins win the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Then COVID-19 reared its terrifying and tedious head, and a film that was intended to be released in November 2019 will finally debut on 30 September 2021 across the UK. But what happens next?
It’s pretty likely that Craig’s Bond will hang up the tux after No Time to Die, and will finally seek treatment for psychological trauma, before appearing at the MI6 sexual harassment disciplinary tribunal, leaving the field wide open for the next 007. Who should it be?
The older statesman action movie star
It’s not as though speculation about the possible successors to Daniel Craig is anything new, and the same names are often waved around. But the simple fact of the matter is that time may no longer be on their side. As the years go by, male actors aren’t subjected to the same level of scrutiny as their female counterparts, and mainstream audiences are perfectly satisfied to see an older statesman type of action movie star (hi, Liam Neeson!). It’s not unthinkable to imagine the Mission: Impossible series continuing for another decade or two, where the only thing a villain would need to do to thwart Ethan Hunt is disconnect his colostomy bag.
Long haul Bond
With all that said, Daniel Craig is 53, which is hardly ancient, but he was a sprightly 37 when he was announced as Bond. Since the successful candidate is contracted for multiple entries, with a new film every two to three years (if not longer), it’s not as though the new Bond will be unleashed until the mid-2020s. This means that many of the usual suspects may have sat on the shelf for too long to debut as Bond, no matter how damn good they might have been.
The window of opportunity is closing
Idris Elba will realistically be in his early 50s by the time Craig’s 007 successor is ready for launch. Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender will be at the tail end of their 40s. By the time they’re done playing the character, the series’ omnipresent product placement will probably have to include erectile dysfunction medication, as Bond needs a boost in order to seduce an undoubtedly much younger woman with undeniable daddy issues. Apologies to Idris, Tom, and Michael, but it’s unlikely to be you.
The young guns
It’s not like there’s a shortage of suitably dashing British actors who would look good in a tux while performing extrajudicial killings in the name of the UK Foreign Office. In fact, the longer Craig has stayed in the role, the longer the list of intriguing possible replacements grows. Many of these actors have built impressive filmographies in recent years, and many of them were still totally unknown back when Craig first became Bond. Think of Regé-Jean Page, who set hearts and loins a-flutter in Bridgerton. The next James Bond still has not been chosen, and surprisingly enough Regé-Jean Page has emerged as the new favourite according to a spokesperson from Sports Betting Dime.
Licence to Kaluuya
The Bond powers that be could save themselves a lot of effort by just watching old episodes of Skins. After appearing in the show in a minor role, Daniel Kaluuya has done himself proud, even acquiring a new BFF named Oscar. His stellar work in Judas and the Black Messiah aside, he’s unquestionably capable of getting the job done while still showing some vulnerability (Get Out), as well as unashamedly enjoyable popcorn cinema with gravitas (Black Panther).
Another Skins alumni who could easily be issued with a licence to kill is Jack O’Connell, who would organically continue the suave with rough edges characterisation of Craig’s Bond.
The right age
A clear benefit that these contenders have is that they’re all in their 30s, which is about the best age to become Bond, allowing for credibility as a one-man killing and lovemaking machine, while still permitting longevity in the role. Henry Cavill has wobbled a bit outside of the DC cinematic multiverse, but he’s a recognisable face who would be a downright dependable Bond, even though he might not appear to be the most revolutionary choice. He’s a strong challenger, and came close to the role before Casino Royale, ultimately not going the distance due to his relatively young age at the time (22).
Expect to hear Richard Madden’s name whispered loudly when the Bond casting rumours reach fever pitch. This is largely due to his unflappable gun-toting turn in the BBC’s Bodyguard, which could be viewed as a six-hour audition tape for 007. He’s about to make a home in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the upcoming Eternals, and given his contractual obligations to the MCU along with the subsequent significant time commitment, he might be unwilling to jump back and forth from one massive franchise film to another over the course of the next decade or so.
The Bonds over the years have ventured far from Ian Fleming’s original depiction, where Bond was permanently in his mid-30s, (with the mandatory retirement age for 00 agents being the broken-down and decrepit age of 45). Bond was always slim, 6 ft in height, with black hair, and a “cruel mouth.” While the cinematic Bonds have more-or-less stuck to this basic outline (excluding James Blond, as played by Craig), it’s hardly an essential checklist. So, sure, Bond doesn’t have to be caucasian, however, he’s likely to always be a he.
There are clearly other 00 agents, so hopefully, some female super spies will get their overdue screen time if the Bond franchise ever becomes a cinematic universe. In fact, the 007 mantle in No Time to Die will be held by a female agent, played by Lashana Lynch (even though this will probably revert back to Bond fairly shortly after the opening credits). So there won’t be a Jane Bond anytime soon, even though Gillian Anderson put her hand up if this ever was to happen. It would be just like Agent Scully, if she killed more people and bedded a vast number of men, and it would be an utter delight to watch.