With the new James Bond flick Skyfall premiering today, we wanted take a look at some of the historical background and evolution of this internationally famous British spy. “Name: Bond, James. Height: 183cm Weight: 76 kilograms; slim build; eyes: blue; hair: black; scar down right cheek and on left shoulder; signs of plastic surgery on back of right hand; all-round athlete; expert pistol shot, boxer, knife-thrower; does not use disguises. Languages: French and German. Smokes heavily (NB: special cigarettes with three gold bands); vices: drink, but not to excess, and women. Not thought to accept bribes.” This Bond breakdown, as seen from the 1957 novel From Russia With Love, was Ian Fleming’s vision of 007. Take a moment to try and picture this Bond (who comes in at approximately six feet tall and roughly 168 pounds for those of us stateside.) Who does this more stark incarnation of 007 sound like to you, sans the black hair and heavy smoking? We’ll give you a hint:
Producer Barbara Broccoli—daughter of original Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli—wanted to reinvent the character, but fans and critics alike initially chastised the decision of casting Craig as the new Bond in Casino Royale in 2006. The "Blonde Bond," as they called him, was a new face for the Double O, especially since the dark-featured Sean Connery had set the mold with Dr. No in 1962. Yet from the casino to the Scottish Highlands—love him or hate him—Daniel Craig’s more visceral, tortured depiction of Bond has become the new 007 for a new generation.
The change of Bond was not the only overhaul the franchise has gone through. Starting with Casino Royale a new sense of realism was injected into the film as it steered clear of Bond gizmos such as the wrist-mounted dart gun Roger Moore used in Moonraker or the "Little Nellie" autogiro that Sean Connery flew in, in You Only Live Once. Daniel Craig's Bond stuck with the cars and guns and slowly worked towards the introduction of techie tinkerer “Q” in Skyfall, portrayed by actor Ben Whishaw. In the new flick, Q hands 007 a Walther PPK/S nine-millimeter that is coded to his handprint. A modest invention for the franchise, yet Craig’s 007 seems skeptical when he sees it. Q remarks, “What did you expect, an exploding pen?” The minimal nature of the tech pokes fun at Bond booby traps of old, while at the same time adding to the realism.
Craig has reportedly signed on for two more Bond films, so it looks like we’ll have enough material to see how this new chapter of the “Blond Bond” will formulate into something uniquely its own.