James Bond

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Name: James Bond
Abbreviation(s): Bond, 007
Creator: Ian Fleming (novels); Eon Productions (films)
Date(s): 1953-present
Medium: novels, films
Country of Origin: UK, USA
External Links: 007.com
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James Bond is the eponymous hero of a series of spy thrillers by Ian Fleming, primarily written during the 1950s and 60s (and thus heavily featuring the Cold War and mid-20th Century politics). The books have been adapted into a long-running movie franchise, still going as of 2015. The movies tend to be lighter and more ridiculous than the books, with more Spy-Fi technology. While the books do also have a large following, the fanworks-producing fandom for the movies is much larger. Adaptations to other media include comic strips and comic-books, radio series, TV (the first screen portrayal of Bond was a 1954 American TV play starring Barry Nelson), computer games, and a tabletop role playing game (1983-87). None of these formats seem to have led to fanworks.

Movie Fandom

The James Bond film franchise is produced by Eon Productions, founded by Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman; the franchise's current producers are Broccoli's daughter and stepson, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

The movies are usually divided according to the actor playing Bond, and their style has changed dramatically over time. The style of 'Bond Girl' used in the movies has also changed from relative unknowns hired purely for their looks to well-known actresses. The films from Dr. No (the first film, starring Sean Connery) up to Die Another Day (Pierce Brosnan's last) all take place supposedly in the same universe, though with an impossible timeline. This has led to the "codename" theory, that the name "James Bond" is passed along with the 007 designation to different agents, thus explaining his different appearances. The seriousness with which fans take this theory varies, and debates can get heated. An alternate theory is that James Bond is a Time Lord.

The first James Bond fanzine, Bondage Quarterly, started publication in 1974. However, it and most (if not all) other James Bond zines published no fanfiction.

The Connery-through-Brosnan universe is often called "Classic Bond" or "Classicverse". The reboot starring Daniel Craig is thus far called "Craigverse", though once Craig is replaced a new name will probably emerge.

Sean Connery

Sean Connery played Bond in the '60s. These are the films most directly parodied by the Austin Powers franchise. Connery's iconic version of the character is the one that has had the most influence on the general culture, though not the one with the largest fanworks-producing fandom.

George Lazenby

George Lazenby is quite unpopular with the Bond fanbase overall; however, some people consider On Her Majesty's Secret Service to be one of the better Bond films because of its casting of Diana Rigg (then of The Avengers (TV) and currently of Game of Thrones) as Teresa di Vicenzo (aka Tracy) as Bond's eventual wife, and its more serious tone. Its reputation is higher among actual filmmakers, named as a favorite by both Christopher Nolan[1] and Steven Soderbergh[2]. Lazenby revisited the role briefly and unofficially in The Return of the Man From Uncle (1983), where he played an agent known only as J.B. who came to the aid of the heroes.

Roger Moore

Roger Moore is the face of big, dumb, sci-fi-ish 1970s and '80s Bond. Fans of Sean Connery's Bond tend to dislike these movies.

Timothy Dalton

Timothy Dalton's movies were an attempt to bring the franchise closer to the books again with a more serious tone. Though often attributed to the post-AIDS panic 1980's, Bond's on-screen near-monogamy is also more in line with the depiction of Bond's "on-screen" sex life in the books, which usually only feature one sexual partner per story. Dalton had been approached to play Bond for On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but as a big fan of the books he felt that, at 25, he was too young at the time. Dalton was in two films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, and was scheduled to be in a third until the studio's subsequent legal and financial problems went on for too long.

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan took over the role in the '90s. These movies were the first after the end of the Cold War, the first to feature a female boss for Bond, and the first after a long hiatus in the series. They also debuted just as internet access was first becoming widespread in the mid-1990s, making them the first to have a significant internet fandom presence.

At the time of his casting, Brosnan was hailed by fans as a welcome return to a more Connery-like Bond based on his performance as the somewhat Bond-like Remington Steele. In fact, he had originally been cast to succeed Roger Moore, but NBC sabotaged the deal when they un-cancelled Remington Steele, due to the upsurge in interest in Brosnan after he was announced to be the next Bond. A smaller Bond subfandom grew up around the slash pairing of James Bond/Alec Trevelyan based on the first Brosnan Bond movie, GoldenEye.

However, after GoldenEye, the Brosnan films grew more and more campy and cartoonish, leading up to Die Another Day, considered by many fans to be the worst of the franchise. Die Another Day was the first Bond film to be released after September 11th, and its campiness was deemed out of place, if not outright offensive, in the post-9/11 world. It also had the misfortune to be released only five months after the critically acclaimed The Bourne Identity, which had changed audience tastes in spy films. In addition, Eon Productions had finally regained the rights to the first novel, Casino Royale, making a reboot replete with Bond's origin story the most logical progression of the franchise.

Example Fanworks

Communities

Daniel Craig

The Craig Bond movies, starting with Casino Royale, are a reboot of the series and are intended to be grittier than the cheesy '70s Moore Bond movies or the slick '90s Brosnan ones. Casino Royale inspired a modest amount of fanfiction, with the canon romance of James Bond/Vesper Lynd being most popular, followed by James Bond/M.

After Skyfall, there was a flurry of fan work production centered mostly around the pairing James Bond/Q, based on the casting of Ben Whishaw as the new Q, but also featuring a significant minority of fics focused on the pairings James Bond/M and James Bond/Raoul Silva. Skyfall also reintroduced Miss Moneypenny, a staple of the Classic films and source of UST with Bond, as field agent-turned-assistant Eve Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris (who previously played Tia Dalma of Pirates of the Caribbean).

In December 2014, the title and cast of the 24th film, SPECTRE was announced. The title refers to the terrorist organization that are behind Bond's foes of the Connery (and Lazenby) movies. Eon had been unable to use the organization and it's iconic leader, Ernst Stavro Blofed, since then due to copyright disputes (see "Unofficial Movies" below). Though no actor was announced as playing Blofeld, fans correctly speculated that (former-Inglourious Basterds villain) Christoph Waltz's character "Oberhauser" (the son of Bond's father-figure in the novella "Octopussy") would be revealed to be Blofeld. This marked the first time that a villain from the Classic series was rebooted and introduced into the Craigverse. In addition to the return of fan-favorite Ben Whishaw as Q, they announced that Andrew Scott, who played Jim Moriarty in Sherlock (BBC), would be playing "Denbigh", an MI6 officer. This has led to an upsurge in "Bondlock" crossovers, which were already quite popular to begin with. Other actors in the cast with ties to other fandoms are Monica Bellucci (Persephone in The Matrix sequels) and Dave Bautista (Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy).

Example Fanworks

Unofficial Movies

Ian Fleming's enthusiasm to see Bond films get made led him to sell rights to Casino Royale separately from the rest of his novels, as well as co-authoring a screenplay that would later become the novel Thunderball with film producer Kevin McClory, who retained equal copyright. As a result, two non-Eon productions of Casino Royale and one of Thunderball have been made.

The first Casino Royale was an hour-long teleplay that aired on CBS in 1954, starring Barry Nelson as an American agent known as "Jimmy" Bond. The most notable aspect of this adaptation, aside from it being the first, was that the role of the villain Le Chiffre was played by legendary actor Peter Lorre. In 1967, with the Eon franchise in full swing, Columbia Pictures (which owned CBS) decided to turn Casino Royale into a spoof movie. Despite a cast which included several different actors playing James Bond, such as David Niven, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen, as well as "genuine" Bond girl Ursula Andress, the film is largely regarded as a critical and financial failure.

In 1983, Kevin McClory decided to exercise his right to make his own Thunderball movie, for which he convinced Sean Connery to return to the role. Titled Never Say Never Again, a sly reference to Connery's earlier assertion that he would "never" play Bond again, the film was a modest success.

As of November 2013, Eon Productions has gained the exclusive rights to all James Bond stories and characters, as well as the "unofficial" films.

Book Fandom

The original Fleming novels are noted for their darker, more realistic tone. Fleming shows Bond as less heroic and much more flawed than the films (at least until the Craig reboot).

Though fewer fanworks are based on the novels, many movie fans read the novels to flesh out their understanding of Bond, though discarding book-Bond's far more prominent casual racism, sexism, and homophobia. Surprisingly, the novels often portray the "Bond girls" better than in the films, with more agency and a larger role to play in the plot. For example, in the film of Dr. No, Honey Ryder serves almost no narrative purpose except to be chained up and later rescued by Bond; in the novel she's a self-taught expert on the wildlife of Jamaica, and when she is chained up, she frees herself and beats up a henchman for his uniform before setting off to kill Dr. No.

Though the books make vague references to Bond's frequent assignations with various women, within the stories themselves Bond usually only has one sexual partner. His depiction as a womanizing lout in the movies was largely inspired by the far more sexually conservative context of the 1950s and early '60s in which the books were written. Bond's sex life in the novels (with the exception of allusions to affairs with married women) would not strike the average 21st century reader as particularly promiscuous. Indeed, Ian Fleming once jokingly defended his creation, saying that as far as the books showed, Bond only had about one lover a year. However, Fleming himself was a notorious womanizer and based Bond largely on himself.

Another fan-favorite character from the books is CIA agent Felix Leiter. Though he appears in many of the films up until Dalton's Licence to Kill before reappearing in the Casino Royale reboot, his role is usually more prominent in the books in which he appears. A notable difference between book-Felix and movie-Felix is that book-Felix is mauled by sharks in the second novel Live and Let Die, a fate which befalls movie-Felix in Licence to Kill. While the movies used the opportunity to remove his character from the franchise, in the books Felix reappears with a hook-hand and a sense of humor about it, and having left the CIA to join the Pinkertons (though he still helps out the CIA on occasion). While James Bond/Felix Leiter is not a common ship, it is often requested in kinkmemes and fic exchanges such as yuletide.

Possibly the first James Bond slash fic was written by British literary critic and friend of Fleming's Cyril Connelly, who wrote the parody "Bond Strikes Camp", which appeared in the April 1963 issue of The London Magazine. In the story, M orders Bond to go undercover in drag to seduce a Russian general, who turns out to be M in disguise.

Example Fanworks

Links

References

  1. Christopher Nolan's IMDb trivia page
  2. Steven Soderbergh's blog