The James Bond casting carousel continues to revolve, even though Daniel Craig is locked into one more appearance as 007 and we don’t need a new Bond for at least 3-4 years, AT LEAST. Still, speculation runs rampant, and the latest rumor is that Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is set to offer the post-Craig role to Richard Madden, aka Robb Stark. I just yawned so hard I passed out.
This comes from the Daily Mail, so this isn’t something I trust 100%, and I’m not even sure why they would be offering the role of Bond now when they’ve still got to get Bond 25—a highly dramatic production— off the ground with Daniel Craig. There is literally no rush to name a new Bond. But the DM says Robb Stark is just days away from being anointed as Bond. So let’s examine this and see where it fits in the narrative. That narrative being: Chaos and Conflict.
It’s clear that audiences want something different from James Bond. Daniel Craig’s reinvention was good, but it’s also more than a decade old, and a LOT has changed in that decade. It’s not enough anymore to make Bond more of a soldier-tough type, to make him a little less debonair and more outright murdery. What people want now is something TOTALLY different, a complete reinvention, to reimagine Bond in our moment in the 21st century, and that has largely meant not white. The original Ian Fleming 007 novels were published beginning in 1953, and the first movie, Dr. No, came out in 1962. Bond’s natural milieu is post-war Britain, as the Empire fades and Bond represents the last vestiges of imperial superiority and control.
But by the time we get to the next Bond, it will be the 2020s. To say the world has changed is an understatement. And what people want from icons like Bond is to see them change, too. But Broccoli is adamant that Bond will never be a woman, so right away what Bond can be in the 21st century is limited. And the clamor for Idris Elba to play Bond is a signal that people are interested in a non-white Bond, but if they’re going to offer Richard Madden the part, then the response is “status quo”. If this is true, then what Bond producers want and what Bond audiences want are in direct conflict.
I’m not saying it would be bad. Richard Madden would be a perfectly okay Bond. But it’s unimaginative. It’s more of the same. Idris Elba would like to be excluded from this narrative, but there is still Chiwetel Ejiofor. Or Daniel Kaluuya. Or my personal vote, Dev Patel. There are so many interesting possibilities, and what a chance to reinvent the character not as a symbol of status quo but as someone from the fringes, from the outside, someone who had to fight tooth and nail to get there? Bond is supposed to be scrappy, and that’s a scrappy story. But what I get from this whole round of Bond casting roulette is that EON and Barbara Broccoli aren’t interested in reinvention. They’re interested in the status quo. So if not Richard Madden, then someone who looks a whole lot like him.