Daniel Craig Done as Bond- Where Does the Series Go From Here?

The Daily Mail is reporting that Daniel Craig is done as Bond.  Craig has appeared in 4 films over an 11 year span as the legendary spy, 007, but has turned down an offer to return to the character for two additional movies.  Continue reading below for the details of the deal and to discuss who are the best candidates to replace him (since there will obviously be more James Bond movies).

Ever since the conclusion of shooting for Spectre, Craig has been saying that he had no desire to return to the character.  This was reportedly due to multiple reasons including the amount of work required to get his body in shape physically to look the part and perform the fight choreography/stunt work, exhaustion from the shooting schedule and physical demand of an action movie at his age, the knee injury he sustained during filming of a Spectre fight scene, and presumably because he’s currently 48.  He famously stated in an interview a while back that he would rather “slash his wrists” than reprise the character, but later softened his stance and appeared open to doing it “for the money.”  That clearly is not the case now because the report from the Daily Mail says he turned down an offer of £68 million (a little less than $100 million in U.S. dollars) for two films.  Let that sink in, he turned down $100 million dollars for two movies.

According to one source of the Daily Mail (via Screen Rant):

“Daniel is done – pure and simple – he told top brass at MGM after Spectre. They threw huge amounts of money at him, but it just wasn’t what he wanted.’ ‘He had told people after shooting that this would be his final outing, but the film company still felt he could come around after Spectre if he was offered a money deal.”

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If this was in fact Daniel Craig’s last time playing the character, now is a good time to look back at his tenure as the famous spy and see how his performance and his movies compare with the other actors who have played the same role.  I’m working on a more expensive post looking at the men who have taken on the mantle of Bond, but as a quick summary my thoughts are that he was the best actor to have played the part and he brought a physicality and depth to the role that hasn’t been seen in other iterations.  I believed Craig’s Bond was one of the deadliest men in the world in a way I never did with Brosnan or Moore.  In a day and age where audiences wanted to see their heroes nuanced, he allowed a peak at the toll that type of lifestyle takes on the individual instead of only glorifying the action.

As far as his movies, Casino Royale and Skyfall rank as two of the absolute best in the franchise.  Casino Royale may be the most rewatchable of all of them for me, and personally is up their with From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, GoldenEye and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  Quantum of Solace was forgettable and Spectre was a major letdown after Skyfall, but on the whole he had a strong body of work as Bond… possibly the best outside of Connery.  I know this changes dramatically person to person, but overall he’s my second favorite Bond behind Connery.

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So where does Eon Productions go from here?  There’s a couple of factors that need to be taken into account.  Firstly, the distribution rights for the James Bond films are now available to the highest bidder following the conclusion of the current contract with MGM.  While Craig’s films were generally all positively received and there’s a strong cast of characters in place surrounding whoever Bond might be, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that they may seek a fresh start when making this studio switch.  No matter what they do it would not have to be a reboot like most other franchises because Craig’s Casino Royale was the only real “origin story” among all the movies made so far.  Until the decision to have the Craig films be one continuous story, Bond was generally expected to simply walk into a new adventure each film with no real sense of continuity or connection to the other movies in the franchise.  With criticism of how Spectre tried too hard to tie all the movies together and made the Bond world feel smaller, it’s likely they return to the tried and true formula of stand alone films.

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What will the tone of the Bond movies be moving forward?  Historically each actor change has corresponded with a change in the franchise’s tone to reinterpret the character and keep the movies fresh.  Following Moore’s 007 that focused on gadgets, one-liners and over the top villains we got Dalton’s movies that were darker and gritty.  We then got the Brosnan movies that were big on spectacle and crazy gadgets by the end of his run, only to be replaced by Craig who was gritty and took on the terrorism of today’s world as opposed to the over the top villains of previous entries.  Looking at a completely different genre, if the Marvel vs DC battle is any indication today’s audience appears to now be leaning away from the dark/gritty/nuanced heroes and embracing the more comedic and hopeful approach.  Will that be reflected in where Eon goes after Craig hangs it up, that is anyone’s guess?

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Then there’s the question of who should play the famed agent.  In the 90’s there was a clear-cut frontrunner, where Pierce Brosnan was a no-brainer to take up the mantle.  Now there’s quite a few names being mentioned as potential options, but it seems like each month a new person is being declared the favorite.  The actors who are considered to have the best chance at playing Bond in the next installment are Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Damien Lewis, Henry Cavill and Michael Fassbender with Boylesports also listing Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Dougray Scott, Rupert Friend and Dominic West.  Hugh Jackman also threw his name into the ring, but that’s less likely due to his age at the start of filming and his country of origin.  OK, take a deep breath because that’s a lot to sort through.

My favorite for years has been Michael Fassbender.  He’s an immensely talented Oscar-caliber actor that would be able to perfectly convey every aspect of the character.  While Craig was the best actor thus far to embody the 007 role, he never really portrayed the suave ladies man who has become synonymous with Bond.  His age wouldn’t be a deterrent.  At 39 he would actually be one of the youngest actors to start his tenure as Bond.  Moore was 46, Dalton 41, Brosnan 42 and Craig was 40 during their respective first movies.  He could easily appear in four or so films.  Outside of him I would strongly support Idris Elba or Tom Hardy in the role.  Tom Hiddleston’s name has come up a lot recently, and while I believe him to be a great actor I have difficult picturing him in as Bond.

What do you think?  Looking back on Craig’s work as 007, how would you rank him and his movies against the other actors who have played the famed agent?  Who do you think is the best actor to play Bond in future films if Craig does in fact not return to the role?  Should the franchise start from scratch or continue with the cast and framework established with the previous few movies?  Share your thoughts below.

 

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