This is the 25th James Bond film in the canon, but more importantly right now, it is the fifth and final one for Daniel Craig. The sixth man to play Bond (if you exclude David Niven’s bizarre outing in 1967) turned 51 this year, and will be hanging up the tuxedo and the Walther PPK for good.
Excitement over a new Bond movie and tributes to Craig are well and good. But there’s a bigger topic hanging in the background. Who’s next? Now it’s one thing being able to put away a vodka martini, and these days most of us could even have a fair stab at baccarat thanks to online sites like ComeOn. But as Carly Simon said in the theme tune to The Spy Who Loved Me, nobody does it quite the way Bond does. It’s a heavy mantle for any actor to bear – so who are the likely candidates?
The very name sounds like a pseudonym that 007 might adopt, and Norton has impressed audiences in his roles on TV series like Happy Valley and War and Peace. He clearly has the acting chops and screen presence, so surely it is meant to be? No less an authority than Diane Keaton has given him her backing as the next Bond, and at just 32, he could carry the role for the next 20 years. The only potential concern is whether he can translate that TV success into the biggest movie franchise on the planet. Some feel it is too much too soon.
After almost 60 years, there’s an argument that the Bond franchise needs a refresh, something a bit different. Barbara Broccoli has said the time is right for a non-white Bond and let’s face it, Elba would slip effortlessly into that tuxedo. This time last year, he was seen as a front runner, but here’s the problem. He’s just turned 47, and is barely four years younger than Craig. Still, he looks the part and remember, Roger Moore continued in the role till the ripe old age of 58, so let’s not rule Elba out just yet.
He’s got the looks, he’s got the screen presence and he’s box office through and through. Also, at 42, he’s old enough to carry the weight of Bond’s past, but young enough to establish himself as the Bond of the 2020s. In fact, the biggest barrier to Tom Hardy becoming the next Bond might be Tom Hardy himself. He’s not a man to be pigeon-holed and once an actor has played Bond, it can be hard to see him as anything else.
We said Bond needed a shake up. A black Bond – why not? A female Bond – well, it seems to have worked for Doctor Who. How about a black female Bond? The movie world is buzzing with the rumour that the star of Captain Marvel and Still Star-Crossed won’t just be in the next Bond movie, but she will actually be 007. In the me-too era, it would certainly be an elegant way to side-step Bond’s womanising habits.